Questioning reality

Occasionally something will happen — a family member blurts out a troubling comment, a stranger in a store offers unsolicited advice, a coworker makes a grotesque assumption — that makes us question reality. Do we really exist? Does Marianne really feel good when dressed in an eye-catching manner? Does Lesley ACTUALLY go to the gym? Having to always justify our existence takes its toll. That’s the topic of today’s podcast.

Oh, and I say the c-word, but it’s the title of a book so it’s totally cool.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Finding a Healthy Medium, Newsweek article on how eating disorders are ignored in people who aren’t thin

Fat people who deny their plus size (I’ll take Awkwardly Titled Op-Ed Pieces for $1000, Alex.)

Women En Large (also check out The Adipositivity Project for good measure)

“Dogs and cats, living together… mass hysteria!”

Cunt, by Inga Muscio

BELLY FAT (Y’all, I watched about a million diet-pill commercials on YouTube and could not find the one Marianne and I were discussing, but the pertinent part IS shown on this Baltimore news segment from 2005)

The music heard in this episode is by Wasaru.

11 Responses to “Questioning reality”

  1. Gabbi Says:

    Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou – this was a really touching and crucial topic and the episode brought up so much that is so raw and close to my heart. I hope you gal’s are okay with secretly imagining you both as my Fat Fairy Godmothers invisibly accompanying me around making sarcastic comments at all the body hate mongering and health hysteria I see during the day and supporting me in a weight obsessed world. In asking permission for this little fantasy I am of course just wondering about the ‘fairy’ aspect – do you mind being my secret pep-talk fairies? Sorry if that sounded a little kooky- im just feeling quite emotional after listening. Anyway just wanted emphasize just how fantastic you both are and how grateful I am that I can listen to your logic and rationality.

  2. Apple Says:

    Thank you for mentioning the fact that any person can have an eating disorder regardless of their weight. I had/ have been “obese” for most of my life despite always being active and eating a limitedly processed vegetarian diet since I was 16 (10 years ago). I had style and made most of my own clothes and dated extensively. But I have never had good mental health and one way that this manifests itself is in periods of extreme calorie restriction.

    When I lost 70 pounds in a 6 month period (a “healthy” rate of weight loss according to most sources), I got continuous praise from strangers and friends. People wanted to know my “secret” for weight loss (I didn’t tell them to spend hours a day searching the internet for calorie counts and obsessing about recipes you’ll never make, baking food for others and not eating any yourself, avoiding situations where you’ll be expected to eat in front of others, cutting food into tiny pieces and moving it around your plate, eating only when you fear actually losing consciousness). A quarter of my hair fell out. In pictures of myself from that period my face is this awful grey color and my eyes are sunken. When I finally got help (I finally talked to my doctor last year, despite my “normal” weight, she believed me and now I have a HAES anti-diet nutritionist and support) and stopped being so obsessed with food and started gaining weight, my family wanted to know if I had okayed quitting my diet with my doctor. And I’ve relapsed again and I am physically sick all the time (this week for example) and have had to take off more work this spring than I did my first year working here. When I was fat I never got sick, always had energy, could think clearly, and was more productive and creative. As a mid range bmi for my height “healthy” person (I’ve never been underweight regardless of what I ate) I am a mess.

    There are proposed changes in some of the eating disorder guidelines for the DSM-5 which may help expand awareness of eating disorders by the medical community (they removed the hard numerical lower weight limit for anorexia and changed it to “markedly low weight”, decreased the frequency of binge/purge behaviors for bulimia, and added binge eating disorder). I just wish our culture didn’t automatically associate weight loss with increased health.

  3. Fatphobia + Eating Disorders = Hot Mess « Label Angst Says:

    […] + Eating Disorders = Hot Mess Jump to Comments So I was listening to the latest fatcast today. Good stuff. Good good good stuff. Highly recommended. I take back everything I said after […]

  4. Lotta Says:

    Hi! I love your show, totally love it. But I must say that the last episode made me confused. I myself struggle with my body, and have done so for many years. I think that fat acceptance is a great concept, and I want to reach that point myself.

    But I thought that fat acceptance was about not dieting and instead love my body as it is? About intuitive eating?

    Because if I eat less than I burn, then I lose weight. I have done it over and over and over again (and is sick and tired of it). For periods, when I eat less than I burn, I also stay thin. Then, when I cant control the food any more, I gain the weight back again.

    But now you tell that you eat and exercise exactly as a thin person, and still are fat. And you tell me that your concept of reality is shaken when people don’t believe you. When you say that the things you say in the show you shake MY concept of reality.

    Please explain more! Do you really mean that it is physically impossibly for you to loose weight? For me it certainly is not. I just thought fat acceptance was about not WANTING to loose weight, but instead eat as much as you want and be happy with that.


  5. Anna N. Says:

    First off, loving the podcast!

    Secondly, you mentioned reading novels with positive fat characters – do you have any suggestions for books like that? Or maybe ask for suggestions from your listeners? I read a lot but I can’t think of anything that really fits that category and I’d really be interested in it.

  6. Michelle Says:

    I will echo, echo, echo the sentiments and thank you both for your podcast. Especially questioning reality and having periods of self doubt when outside sources are telling me my experience is wrong. Not sure what to say to people because I suffer from staircase wit, so I just wind up shutting up and changing the subject…then rant at my sympathetic boyfriend when I get home.

  7. Lesley Says:

    I have loved all of the podcasts so far. I just have one teensy request: is it possible to make them a bit louder? I can pretty much always hear Marianne, but I sometimes have trouble hearing Lesley. The speakers on my laptop aren’t great, but it sometimes sounds as though the volume is dropping in and out.


  8. Lesley Says:

    Re: the sound — Ugh, I know. In fact, immediately prior to getting this comment I readjusted the track levels and replaced the existing file with a louder one, because it was bothering me. I think it’s a problem with the microphone I’m using, so I plan to replace it asap. Sorry about that! I’m still learning this stuff. 🙂

  9. Heather Says:

    I really enjoyed this episode and have been thinking about many of the issues you raised. I am one of those people who suffers from “cruelly revealing photograph”-itis and this spring I decided to work on it by taking more pictures and by following the Fatshionista Livejournal feed. Would love to hear you talk more in the future about how media and photos play into fat oppression, and how you and other FA activists are reclaiming them. Also fascinated by the issue of being/performing/embodying fat online and in virtual spaces … The paradox of promoting fat visibility where you have more control of your visibility, and how it’s different from live activism and activism on TV.

  10. Jean Says:

    I have listened to a few of your podcasts and have some thoughts on this one in particular. First of all, let me say that I am questioning your conclusions and not your personal experiences. In your podcast, you stated that some fat people have good eating and exercising habits and almost imply that people are fat by chance. And I have certainly known many thin individuals that eat a lot and exercise little so I can follow your logic and personal experience that some fat people eat normally and exercise regularly. However, I can’t reconcile your conclusions and the fact that the percentage of fat people in America is so much higher than it is in really any other country around the world. If we just want to consider America, why is the rate of obesity in America growing? If your comments are true, then wouldn’t America, and really every other country, have had a significant percentage of fat people throughout history? Why is obesity a growing trend and something that we see so much of in America? I am having a hard time understanding the validity of your conclusions when I consider these thoughts.

  11. Heather Says:

    Since listening to this episode, I’ve been tuning in more to the “cruelly revealing photos” trope in media and on the interwebs… It is such a cliche in articles/websites about weight and dieting… “I realized I had to lose weight when I saw a photo of what I REALLY LOOK LIKE.”

    But photo images do not = REALITY. The appearance of a still image depends on the angle, depth, lighting, background, etc. An object looks different photographed from a high or low angle, up-close or medium depth. An image of part of your body looks different from a full-length shot. Foreshortening and other perspective factors make a difference. A photo captures one frozen instant – but in reality, we are in motion.

    Of course a photo image can be different from a mental image, and the difference can be surprising, shocking, disappointing. But the photo image isn’t the same as “objective reality”… it’s just a view from one unique perspective, at one unique instant in time.

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