Holidays, Food, Women, Willpower, Bullshit

There are so many things wrong with this one piece in the HuffPo that I don't even know why I violated my self-imposed no-HuffPo policy.  (They have a strikingly irresponsible track record with ED and body image coverage, IMO.) I'm not actually linking to it up at the top here, because I don't want to give it any more traffic than it's invariably gotten.  I'll link to it at the bottom.  Hopefully that will minimize the number of you actually clicking through.

The gist of the piece is around "decision fatigue" and how it has an impact on willpower.   Specifically, the discussion revolves around the holidays.

The piece is chock full of statements that on their own would be fine and dandy, even really practical advice ("[Mistakes] make you human... Give yourself a break," "Ratchet down the stress by putting things in perspective").  So far, so good.

However, then you have to put those statements into the context of article.

The context is, of course, that "willpower" is harder for women to exercise than for men (because, lady brains), and of course "willpower" is defined mostly in terms of decadent holiday food (and drink) (because, lady existence: defined by lady waistlines).

Because of course it is.

First of all, I find the "eating yummy things and having willpower are diametrically opposed" meme to be bullshit of the smelliest variety.  It's related to the ignorant belief that anorexia has to do with willpower.  Sure it does.  Just like OCD has to do with the willpower to push through and just check that door lock one more time.

But second of all, and more to the point, I 100% grok the experience of "decision fatigue."  I could be a social scientist's perfect specimen in observing the paralysis that sets in just due to the overwhelming stress of oh my word, it's all too much (especially when the paralysis itself just adds more to the much).

I don't deny that many people (particularly people socialized in the female way) DO view their food and drink activity, especially at holiday time, as a function of willpower or lack thereof.  I am aware that it happens, and moreover I am aware that it happens to me.

I just think that it's total bullshit.  (You're reading this, so you might just agree.)  Articles like this, that just go ahead and assume that of course you're going to have trouble not shoveling Christmas cookies down and of course you're going to agonize over each extra pig in a blanket?  Well, articles like this just play right into that total bullshit and perpetuate it.

What if - just run with me here for a second - we, as girls and woman, didn't spend our holiday-time lives from age 4 or so assaulted by the message that holidays can be stressful, and our stress will get taken out on all the holiday food?

What if - keep with me a little longer here - we spent our lives hearing that holidays can be stressful, and our stress will get taken out in different ways, because we are different people?

I know, I know.  That's just silly.  We're all really the same and we're all doomed to eat too much over the holidays, and what's more, beat ourselves up over it, not because we've spent our lives being told, "You're going to beat yourself up for eating too much holiday food!" but because, lady brains.


Here.  Here is the crap article that buys into every assumption of Western femininity and food ever.


TIME "Ideas" Has New Idea: Fat People Are Gross

Oh my quarks, I'm going to murder something. Maybe this writer's hard drive.

This week,'s "ideas" section features "Let's Stop Being Passive About Fighting Obesity" by Shannon "Fat People Are Gross" Brownlee.

"Even among thin people, who wouldn't be affected by the surcharge (and who therefore might even see lower health insurance premiums, although the survey may not have explained that), support for the fat tax fell short of a majority. Why? Smoking is seen as being completely in the individual's control, whereas obesity is viewed as a result of a combination of complex factors."  

It should go without saying that such a view of obesity is CLEARLY hallucinatory, amirite?

Here.  This should tell you about how she feels about overweight people:  "body mass index, the current term for degree of excess weight,"

Yeah, no.  body mass index is not the term for "degree of excess weight."  You aren't minus a BMI if you have no excess weight.  You aren't aiming for a BMI of zero.  That would mean you don't exist.

Talking about how the effects of second-hand smoke finally allowed people to really take up the anti-smoking cause, the writer argues, "Maybe it's time to be at least a little more willing to similarly demonize excess poundage."  

To paraphrase Kate Harding's tweet about this piece, I'mma need Shannon here to show her work on how "excess poundage" isn't already demonized enough.  

Why am I on about this?  Especially after radio silence, except for pictures here and there, for a few months?

You know how this reads to me, as someone with an eating disorder that is sometimes straight BN, sometimes AN-P?  This reads to me:

"Gaining weight is a terrible idea.  Gaining weight should frighten you.  Once you start gaining weight, you don't really have any guarantee you're going to stop.  Even if you don't end up obese, you'll end up chubby, and just like it says in this article, once you gain weight, it's incredibly hard to lose it.  Best not to gain any weight.  Just to be on the safe side."

That's how my eating disordered brain translates this article.

And let me be clear.  I need to gain weight right now.  I am officially at the cusp of an anorexic BMI.  It is nonsensical that I should be afraid of gaining weight.  However, that's what an eating disorder does to thought processes.  I get stressed (or sad, or what have you), I reroute it to food and weight, and my brain latches onto pieces of crap like this pageview-trolling travesty, and just kind of does its own thing from there.

So screw you, Shannon "Fat People Are Gross" Brownlee.  A BMI is not a "degree of excess weight," obesity is not the equivalent of secondhand smoke, and you sound like a hateful troll.