Friday, April 25, 2008

The latest greatest diet: Rotavirus

The gist of a conversation overheard by my desk at work:

Woman: The doctor said I have viral gastroenteritis. I just can't keep
anything in me so I'm pretty much on clear liquids.

Man: That can't be good.

Woman: Actually I've lost 8 pounds so far! It's not how I'd choose to
do it, but I sure did need it.

Man: Well then, at least something good's come of it.

Ok let's bypass the part where this woman is at work with an incredibly contagious disease and touching all the office equipment (phone, copier, postage meter, etc.) that I and others (including several pregnant women) have to use. Let's even bypass the part where she could have at least sprung for some clorox wipes to carry around and wipe down any common surfaces she touches. That's a lot to expect anyways from someone who doesn't even wash their hands after using the bathroom (whole 'nother rant). Let's jump right to the part where she's happy she contracted this horribly contagious, very uncomfortable disease that provokes constant and violent episodes of diarrhea....simply because she's 8 pounds lighter.

Are you f***ing kidding me!?

First of all, it's probably water weight from the dehydration of diarrhea. Secondly, there's no way of maintaining weight lost from a forced starvation liquid diet and the equivalent of a laxative purge. Thirdly, has the myth of thin=health really gotten so bad that people would rather be very slightly and unnoticably thinner than, say, not trapped in a bathroom fighting intestinal cramps and liquid poo?

Serious and absolute *headdesk*

The man never even blinked at the idea that being a whole 8 pounds lighter was a benefit outweighing the drawbacks of Rotavirus. Who ever said that the myth of thin doesn't cross gender lines?

It's also creeping me out considerably that this non-hand-washing disease carrier had just been sitting at my desk, using my computer, touching my phone and keyboard while I ran an errand for her division. My IRL friends will now be laughing at the mental image of a Zim-like episode involving lysol and a full-body biohazard suit.

Must now bathe my keyboard and mouse in rubbing alcohol.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Appreciation for my body

Yesterday I found yet another reason to appreciate my body and all it can do.

For the non-horsey folks, let me explain that "longeing" a horse means to ask them to move in a circle around you at the end of a long flat nylon rope called a longe line (Americans tend to spell it phonetically, i.e. "lunge" line). I was longeing Sunshine (a Belgian draft horse) and when I asked her to trot she decided she'd rather have a freak-out and bolted away at a gallop. That's usually the point at which people either let go of the line (and hope the horse doesn't step on it and break their neck/leg since the other end is attached to the side of their head) or get pulled right off their feet and dragged across the field. I'm not used to letting go (yeah yeah, Freudian much?) so I just took a good grip, dug my heels in and threw my weight backwards and down against the weight of the horse. Of course, no human being can really win a tug-of-war with a 2000 pound scared animal who's really determined to go away. On the other hand, if a horse is well trained, they may stop if they feel enough resistance to be convinced that they're attached to a stationary object.

I can apparently be a very stationary object when I want to be.

She actually ended up repeating the trick a few minutes later, which tells me that she's so used to it working (and consequently getting back to the barn and not having to work anymore) that it's more a show than an actual panic. After the second runaway (where she actually managed to drag me a few steps before stopping) she was very well behaved. I think a few more sessions of "who's the boss" and her manners on the ground will improve considerably.

The point is that I very much believe that if I were the medical world's "ideal weight" I would have been face down spitting dirt and watching the horse disappear through the gate. As it is, I thank the powers that be that I took some online advice and wore gloves, otherwise I'd be out several layers of skin. It was my weight that made the difference in winning that particular contest. I've been fat all my life so I rarely take notice of how much I use my weight or my fat to physical advantage in life. The difference Fat Acceptance has made is in noticing how much my body does for me. I have hips and a belly to balance heavy boxes when I need a hand free. I have strong legs to climb with, strong arms to lift with. I have a butt to pad my falls and thighs to wedge against heavy furniture when it needs moving. I have 300+ pounds of living anchor to drag a bolting draft horse to a stand-still.

What wonderful gifts to have!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alternative Healing

I'm interested to hear if any of my readers have explored alternative medicines or therapies, either through mistrust of the current medical practices or to avoid a fat-hating doctor.

For example, many of the women I know (including myself) will exhaust herbal options before setting foot in a doctor's office (mmm...sage honey cough syrup...). I also know a few people who have become disgusted with their doctors and turned to acupressure, massage therapy and Reiki energy healing with various levels of success.

I'm not putting any sort of value judgement on any system. There are, sadly, very bad doctors out there. There are also very good ones if people have the means to seek them out. Just as there are quacks, thieves, and talented and ethical healers amongst most alternative therapies. Perhaps the reason so many fat people turn to the alternatives is that they feel the holistic therapies are more likely to treat them as an entire person instead of a BMI. Possibly there's also a perk in that I've never met a Reiki master that insisted their clients step on a scale before pulling out the chakra crystals. Either way, I believe that the growing popularity (and insurance support) of alternative therapies might actually get more fat people to seek some form of diagnosis and treatment in good time instead of too late. Perhaps one of the more important purposes of the FA movement is to convince us that we do not deserve to live with pain or illness. Once we can convince every human being that every other human being has a right to equal access to medicine (regardless of weight, age, color or socioeconomic bracket) I think it will narrow many equality gaps in our society.

In the meantime, every doctor should be required to read the blog "First Do No Harm" before they're allowed to venture into the world of human beings. It may remind them that their patients and they are the same species.

Friday, April 18, 2008

CEDNEC AWARD: Your fat makes you fat?

In what I consider the pinnacle of Ouroboros logic, today's CEDNEC award goes to a group of scientists who have declared that being fat is what makes people fat.

Proving that stupid news races around the world much faster than the beleaguered Olympic Torch, the story comes from Popular Science, The BBC, and CTV British Columbia. Each features the requisite scare-pic that have become almost stock; a headless fat caucasian belly in as unflattering a pose as possible. At least Popular science shows some originality here; their picture is a closeup of frying bacon that will turn any vegetarian an interesting shade of green. Even the fat ones :-)

The Canadian researchers claim that abdominal fat cells produce a hormone (Neuropeptide Y, dubbed NPY). They claim that "NPY increases fat cell number by stimulating the replication of fat cell precursor cells, which then change into fat cells."

Their theory is that this appetite-stimulating hormone is released by the belly fat, triggering excess hunger, causing the fat person to overeat, creating more fat from the precursor cells created by the NPY.

The researchers are, apparently, all ways of giggly over the "possible therapeutic applications" of this discovery (i.e. drugs that block NPY production or uptake, i.e. appetite suppressants).

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Maybe the entire underlying premise that fat people eat more than thin people? Maybe. That's a good start at any rate. Many studies have actually started out with the determined intention to prove that fat people eat more (on average) than thin people, but could not do so. Of course we all know (either personally or anecdotal) a fat person who does eat a lot. We also know a thin person who can pack away four-square plus snacks and never put on an extra pound. That's what "on average means." But, of course, these researches must have some secret hidden (unreferenced) knowledge that shows every fat person secretly binges hourly on cartons of baby-flavored donuts cooked in bacon fat and topped with double cream...all in the thralls of overactive appetite hormones. My goodness, all this time and what we really needed was another unproven, theoretical new appetite suppressant. Because anorectics are such an innovative and never-before-tried method of losing weight. And oh-so effective. Evidenced, of course, by the fact that they've been around for over a century and look at how fewer fat people there are.

Oh, and I love how they assume actual binge-disorder eating has anything to do with physical hunger. What are these, high-school biology students?

But effectiveness has rarely stopped the pharmaceutical diet industry, and when the research institute behind the study (Lawson Health Research Institute) lists it's "Worldwide Business and Industry Partners" as: "including large corporations such as Bayer, Eli Lilly, Fujisawa, GE Medical, GlaxoSmithKline Inc, Medtronic, Merck Frosst Canada, Novartis, Pfizer, Schering...." You really have to wonder whether the science behind this was ever actually intended to be disinterested.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A point for Miss Conduct

Still hacking up bits of alveoli this morning, so I was happy to find a positive note for my post today in catching up on the weekend's media. As someone who generally doesn't follow advice columns, I find myself an increasingly loyal fan of the Boston Globe's "Miss Conduct". The advice in the column has found a stronger voice in the most recent writer and most advice boils down to the ever-essential but often-forgotten "Don't be an AssHat" as a solution for most social quandaries. Of course, she puts it more politely. She also, as a rarity amongst any media reps these days, extends the "Don't be an AssHat" policy to fat people.

For instance, in this week's column she addresses a letter from a woman who writes with great concern that her son has put on weight since meeting his girlfriend four years ago, despite everything she (the mother) has done to pressure him into staying thin. Miss Conduct's response?

"You can either have a fat son who loves and trusts you, or a fat son who
sees you as the enemy. Your choice."

In other words....another adult human being's body is none of your business, even if you happen to share some genetic coding with it. You have no control over it, so you can either accept that person's body or remove yourself from the equation. That's it. Your actions and your words are the only thing you can control in life, and you have complete and total responsibility for them. Hence, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" (-Eleanor Roosevelt) but any inferiority you try to thrust upon others is yours to own as well.

Essentially? "Don't be an AssHat".

The son and his girlfriend certainly sound like they're in FA...anybody recognize the mom?

Monday, April 14, 2008

OT: The Plague

The gap in recent posts is due to my having contracted the plague and died.

Ok, so I'm only mostly dead, and the plague is really the flu that's made the rounds of my office only to land squarely upon my head in time for the weekend. Other then a few forays out into the wilds for Nyquil and fruit juice I've been pretty much stuck inside since Friday. The good news is that I finally read the collected works of Willa Cather that I've been meaning to get to since last Christmas, and finished "The Count of Monte Cristo." The bad news is that the only book I have left unread in the house is something I picked up at a yard sale because it was only 10 cents and mentioned the Magna Charter on the dustcover. I started to read it this morning, but the author used both "scurvy knave" and "dastardly cur" in cold blood within a paragraph of each other. I threw it rather violently across the room and took more Nyquil. Maybe I'll pull out Ayn Rand later...I'm already bitter and cranky so it can't do me any further harm.


So in lieu of something more profound or activist-oriented....I'll just refer you to Ottermatic and her video of cute baby otters doing cute baby otter things. It's like Theraflu for the soul.

Also? Sneezing Panda. This never stops being funny, even after a year.

Friday, April 11, 2008

OT: Send a single mom to Disneyland

As forwarded from my Tante', I'm putting a request out for folks to help a hardworking single mom in the Bay area win a trip to Disneyland. She's had a hard year and because she raises her kids all by herself she rarely gets to treat herself or them to a vacation. Now she's entered in the 106KMEL Bay Baby contest. You don't have to live in the Bay area to vote. If you'd like to participate, go to:

Scroll down to the voting galleries and click on gallery 10 (Jan-Jer).

You can scroll through the babies, or just click on the "vote for me click here" on any baby's picture. You'll get a list, and you're looking for "Jazmyne-2" at number 44. Click on the button next to her name, enter your e-mail address and submit.

I can imagine very few things harder than being a single mom without the ability to give the kids all the fun stuff other kids have (and that I had growing up). You can vote every day, so if you're interested, please take a moment to do so!

Blackburn grandmother refused operation

The Blackburn Citizen posted an article on a local woman being denied surgery because of her weight. Apparently the doctors felt it was less of a "health risk" to send her home to live on high levels of daily morphine doses than to figure out the correct anaesthesia for a woman who weighed a whole 238 pounds. Oddly enough, the doctors who gave her a hernia operation two years ago didn't think she was too fat to operate on at 280 pounds. In fact, the same hospital didn't have a problem 9 months ago when her original surgery date was only bumped when they discovered she was anaemic. Now she's suddenly "too fat" by the opinion of one doctor, and being tossed out of the hospital to get by as she can at home. Apparently now that there's an "epidemic" on, doctors have to save all the medicine for the thin people. In the meantime, the hospital chose to discharge the woman without explaining exactly how she was expected to lose 3 stone (42 pounds) while in constant pain from kidney nodules and cervical cysts, plus suffering from asthma.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The beginning of the end for medicinalized food?

In response to the ballooning trend of translating food into medicine, The U.S. World and News Report has brandished a rather hefty pin.

Last time I went to the overpriced supermarket nearest my neighborhood, I remembered again why it was worth visiting. Not that I needed to pay $6.00 for a bottle of shampoo, but the produce section is full of such pre-season temptations as lemon plums and papaya. Last time I visited they had little cards set up over the displays suggesting how to best prepare the more exotic fruits n' veg, but also little takeaway recipe cards featuring the food. A genius of marketing, if you ask me, since the recipe card has a nice shopping list of all the other ingredients which the store has thoughtfully stocked. This time, however, the recipe cards were gone. Instead there were blazing neon signs advocating some minute nutrient of the food that cured everything from dandruff to cancer in small, highly selective "clinical" trials. Very annoying. Personally? I don't peruse the store with the thought of "what would go better with roast beef, beta carotene or lycopene?" I'm pretty sure I don't know anybody who does, either. (Although I might be surprised, I know some strange people).

What this new article from the U.S. News and World Report points out is that when the trials were expanded, nutrients extracted from the original natural substance (like beta carotene pills instead of whole carrots), not only did these medicinalized nutrients fail to live up to their claims to help; they often caused actual harm:

"The poster child is beta carotene, which not only didn't stave off lung
but actually appeared to increase rates of the disease among
smokers. (A similar outcome was reported earlier this year with
.) "

Of course, the problem is that the issue is worked into an article that is, primarily, about weight loss. The article talks primarily about the trend away from individual nutrients in food, and more towards the wholesale appropriation of a particular culture's diet. I find it ironic that the same people who would scorn the belief behind the voodoo doll would wholeheartedly embrace the modern witchcraft of "If I eat like this person, I can become them."

""You find out who's healthy, then ask what they're eating and how much
they exercise," says K. Dun Gifford, founder and president of Oldways
Preservation Trust, the Boston-based food issues think tank that developed the
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. "

Since there's kitchen-witches hedge-witches, I suggest we could coin this new breed the "health-witch". They concoct bubbling blender brews of the blood of blueberries and curdled milk (i.e. yogurt). They chant affirmations into a lighted mirror at twighlight, dress all in (slimming) black and inscribe their darkest secrets and arcane recipes into the grimoires they call food diaries; all in search of immortality.

Not all of them have cats :-)

To think that we can adopt the genetic code of a group of people by adopting their food is, at best, silly. Even to someone who honestly thinks that directing energy into a poppet and a candle can help someone overcome health issues.

"So, is it that easy: We all just have to eat like the Greeks (or the
Vietnamese, or the ancient Maya)? Well, yes and no. First, most of the evidence
comes from observation, not rigorous scientific trials, so it doesn't prove
cause and effect. "

What's that? A whiff of logic? in an article about dieting? Whodathunkit? Pity it's so scarce.

(Before anyone gets tetchy, I DO believe in voodoo dolls. I also believe in the efficacy of healing rituals, if they're done well. I've never claimed to not be a hypocrite. I also believe it's healthy to poke a little irony at your own beliefs every once in a while.)

Friday, April 4, 2008

OT: Jo At Work

You know, I've been really playing with the idea of learning how to draw so that I can translate some of the funnier episodes at work into a comic strip. It would be vaguely like Dilbert from the perspective of the receptionist. I even have a title for it: Jo at Work. I've got a few gems scripted out, like the day the boss asked me to send an e-mail to let everybody know that our power was out.

Get it?
True story.

I hope I can swipe Kate's *Headdesk*. Maybe she'll let me pay royalties in pumpkin bread.

But then I found this, and wondered if my comic strip was even necessary, when Dilbert says it so well:

Hmm...maybe I'll wait until we work the kinks out of our idea to pitch a sequel to "The Office" and use all the brain-killing administrative tales for episode filler. The sequel is tentatively named "The Regulators," and feature a lowly field office of a "purely fictional" environmental protection agency. Basically like "The Office", but where you get to go with the inspectors as they don hip boots and slog through a wetland looking for endangered species while hoping some pissed off golf course developer doesn't show up with a shotgun.

Great comedic moments will include contractors who submit their applications and construction plans in crayon, a budget that doesn't allow us to turn half the lights on or buy paper towels for the bathrooms, and screaming crazies who think the mafia is poisoning their drinking water. We've got the first season without even beginning to make stuff up.

I think it might just be a hit with the right casting. I demand Hugh Laurie!

But then, who doesn't?

Narf :-)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Velvet D'amour interview!

Velvet D'amour, the groundbreaking model for Jean-Paul Gaultier was interviewed yesterday by GMTV. They cover quite a bit of ground in the interview, including her career and her view of the modeling industry. My favorite line from the interview, which is going in my quotes is:

"I am not about getting rid of thin models, what I am about is diversifying
our notion of beauty so that it is more inclusive because I feel at present
there are so many people who suffer due to an unattainable beauty ideal."

At 6' and around 300 pounds, Velvet holds her own on the runway against any woman, big or small. It's so good, then, to hear her talk about embracing diversity of all kinds in fashion, to better reflect the actual world we live in. Why shouldn't fashion reflect the world, fat, thin, and everything in between?

There's always a misunderstanding when others see a movement that there must inherently be an enemy with a face. Pursuing humane treatment and equality for fat people doesn't mean I hate thin people (although I'm not especially crazy about people who want to make me thin), any more than being a feminist is about hating men. An elevation achieved on the heads of others is always an imperfect and temporary elevation. Any pursuit of civil rights (or even just civil behaviour) cannot succeed by violating the civil rights of others. That's why hate (of fat, thin, male, female, etc.) is self-defeating when asking others to not hate you. For anyone to be human and comfortable in their body regardless of size, all sizes of bodies must be treated with respect.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thin is the new Fat

Well it's official, even thin people are too fat. A Washington Post article explains why even thin people can be secretly fat, or as they label it, have "normal weight obesity."

"Lopez-Jimenez said the study shows that just because your weight may be normal for your size, it doesn't mean you aren't at risk for heart disease and diabetes. "

hmmmm....I do understand that stigma dies hard, and the obesity panic is so ingrained in the health researcher psyche that it constitutes an unhealthy obsession, but couldn't they just as easily take from this study the conclusion that since thin people get these diseases as well, fat doesn't actually CAUSE heart disease and diabetes? That there's some other cause unrelated to body composition (like, say, genetics or lifestyle?)

Sadly, that more obvious conclusion goes whizzing over the heads of reporter and researcher alike. Instead of eliminating fat stigma, they're simply going to extend it to include anyone with any body fat at all:

"Even a small amount of extra fat where it matters most can wreak metabolic havoc, increasing risk for diabetes and heart disease, while leaving you with a body weight that looks perfectly innocent," Katz said. "Excess body fat in the belly is a menace, whatever your weight. This study should sensitize patients and providers alike to this concern."

Sensitize = make paranoid? Seriously, at what point does society “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let loose the dogs of war”? When will the average person realize it's gone too far, that everyone's going to die eventually, and no measure of obsession with fat or health will make one immune? When everyone is starved into an "acceptable" 10% body fat?

All I know is, the more people they push under the fat umbrella, the more will eventually push back with the sudden realization that instead of numbers, they're talking about you.

"One expert agrees that normal body weight is not synonymous with good health. "

Absolutely, my dear anonymous "expert." but with the opposite meaning you intend it. One more step will get you, I'll even help. Repeat after me: "...and therefore, high body weight is not synonymous with poor health." Atta boy. You'll get there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2008 NOLOSE Conference!

I have no idea how many of my readers are queer, bi or trans women, but for those who are, I wanted to pass this on!

The date has been set! Mark your calendars for:


September 26th through the 28th (Friday-Sunday).

Meet us by the pool at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Northampton, Massachusetts for a weekend packed with fattastic fun, food, friends and other good stuff! We're all hard at work, planning to make this year's conference the best ever! There are a lot of exciting things in the works. The Clarion has charm, a great location and a staff that is already excited to hang out with all of us. As always, choosing a venue was no easy feat. We have a very diverse population and we have lots of factors to take into consideration. All in all, we are pretty psyched about the Clarion, and we are sure most of you will be too.

Keep your eyes open for more detailed information about the conference as it becomes available and, as always, if you have some ideas about what you'd like to see at NOLOSE this year, let us know! Expect to see a call for workshops in the very near future, because that's how we roll.

For more information about NOLOSE and to keep up with the calendar and new information about the upcoming conference, please visit is a volunteer- run organization dedicated to ending the oppression of fat people and creating vibrant fat queer culture. NOLOSE started out as the National Organizations for Lesbians of SizE. As the years passed and the organization grew, we changed our mission to include not only a broader community of queer women—dykes, lesbians and bisexual women—but also transgendered people.

NOLOSE and the annual NOLOSE Conference are explicitly trans-inclusive. We want to make it clear that NOLOSE invites all fat queer women, all fat trans and gender-variant folks and our allies to participate.