Body Image

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    Maya Lorde

    You Do Not Have to Be Healthy to Be a Worthy Fat Person

    When I told my trauma therapist that I was no longer dieting (something I had been doing for 43 years), her response was typical. She was shocked because of my size. She said, “If I can play mother for a moment, I hope you are eating your fruits and vegetables?” In my mind, no one asked her to assume I was not eating them, and if I wasn’t, so what. She added, “I guess if you are being healthy and it is what you have decided, we will see.” What a slap in the face. Now if I want to stop dieting and ruining my life physically and mentally, I must also qualify that decision. I cannot just be fat and free from diet culture and stigma, but I must still meet up to the ideal of healthy (whatever that means). What does healthy mean? Thinness, is that the health standard? Hourglass shape? Fair skin? Ripped abs? Flat tummies? Perfect BMI? No limp? No scars? Unblemished skin? I would really like to know since I do not seem to understand how that ideal is an obtainable goal for me. I am Black, thick, blemished, disabled, and knock-kneed. When I told my doctor that I was not going to diet anymore, and intentional weight loss was no longer my mission, she said “OK, but will measure your blood pressure and A1C to determine how you are doing health-wise.” The reality is I have health conditions that no matter how much weight I lose, I will never meet the “healthy standard.” Not all fat people can obtain “good health.” Some of us are chronically ill and it may not have anything to do with how much we weigh. If my worth is caught up in being “healthy,” I lose all day long. To blame fat people for their health outcomes is absolutely wrong. You do not have to meet society’s definition of “healthy” to be an acceptable fat person. You do not have to allow others to determine your fitness to exist in your body, no matter what condition it is in. I am a fat, Black, lesbian, disabled woman. I do not meet the definition of healthy. My worth should not be based on my health status. I often hear other fat people make the excuse that at least they are “healthy” despite being fat. This is ableist and discriminatory. Where does a sentiment like this leave me? I have chronic conditions that render me “not healthy.” Does this mean I am doomed to always being a less than? Am I relegated once again to the margins even in the fat community? I want you to know you are worthy of love and adoration regardless of your size and or health status. The measure of “healthy” is made up and in no way determines status. Fight against the urge to judge yourself because you are chronically ill and fat. Even if the medical community tells you that your chronic illnesses are a result of your size, this does not always bear out to be true. We are told we have worse health outcomes than people with so-called normal BMI, but what is left out of the equation. We receive poorer health care if any at all. When we get up the nerve to go to the doctor, we are often mistreated — from no chair in the waiting room that accommodates us to being forced to weigh for no apparent reason, not having a gown that fits us, or seeing a doctor that won’t make eye contact appearing to be disgusted by our size. We go to an appointment about an ear infection but the doctor starts talking about our weight and the “fact” that we are destined for an early grave. What if the doctor said, “Come back when you are feeling better, and I will give you a physical and answer any medical questions you may have?” What if the doctor said, “It is good to see you, it has been too long, and I care about your wellbeing and want to make sure you have all you need.” What if the doctor signed you up for preventive screens and got you to specialists you may need to see? What if the doctor took a thorough history to see what might be genetic? What if the doctor treated you with dignity and respect? We do not go to the doctor because we do not get this kind of treatment. Our chronic illnesses and cancers are caught in later stages and therefore we often die earlier. It is not your fault the medical establishment has failed you and those who produce research findings have lied to you. I encourage you to stand up for yourself. Do not tolerate mistreatment because of your fatness. The “healthy standard” was not built for us, so let us not even put it on. You are worthy, you are acceptable, and you are lovable, no matter your waist size or health status. Do not take on what society is dishing out. You deserve better. Be Mighty strong!

    Community Voices

    Body dysmorphia TW (do not read if u struggle with body image or have an ED)

    I hate my body. i hate every bit of it. I have skinny limbs but a big round fat stomach. Its disgusting. All these girls are more attractive than me and have perfect bodies. Even the new girl my TW r@pist is talking to has a perfect body. Was I not good enough for him because of my body? Am I only good for sex? Am I that worthless? #SexualAssault #jealous #BodyImage

    Larissa Martin

    When Caregivers Comment on My Weight as Someone With Cerebral Palsy

    I am a person with a disability. I have cerebral palsy and am an amputee as well as being a wheelchair user. I also have an intellectual disability. I cannot transfer, so I must be lifted in and out of cars, restrooms, etc. So, this being the case, I have had to rely on aides and family to lift me. Over the years, my weight has fluctuated. I have gone on diets twice; once I was successful, but the last time I wasn’t. Eventually, I changed my lifestyle and have been vegetarian for the past three years. I love to eat healthy most days. I do enjoy some junk every now and then. I have had issues with body image and how I see myself. However, I am in a good place with that at this point in my life. That’s not to say I don’t still struggle; it’s a work in progress and it always will be. I have had two different personal care aides over the years, one for 10 years. My most recent aide has been my aide for about four years now. The one thing they have both said to me at one time or another is, “Either I am getting weaker, or you’re getting heavier.” Recently, my current aide said this — and mind you, she knows my history with my other aide and how I felt about myself for years. I don’t think she said it to be malicious; it was more of an off-handed comment. I said, “I am sorry,” because that has been my go-to response whenever an aide or family member makes a comment about my weight. I immediately go to that because I feel like it’s my fault, even though I know it’s not. This time, when I apologized to my aide, she replied, “What does it have to do with you?” My mind was blown! In my mind, it has everything to do with me! How could it not? If not, why say that knowing how sensitive I am about this topic? When people do this, they’re pretty much saying I am fat and need to lose weight. If you were in my position, wouldn’t you feel offended and hurt by comments like this? I would rather have a conversation instead of this constantly being said to me for years. It makes me question myself and my self-worth. Another comment I heard from my dad when we got my first accessible van was, “I am so glad we have this now.” I interpreted that as, “Thank goodness I don’t have to lift you anymore.” That might not be what he intended, but that’s where my mind went. In society people with disabilities, visible or invisible, have enough to worry about, whether that be accessibility, employment, or their own struggles with their disability. We don’t need caregivers or family members making comments to make us question our self-worth as individuals. We are enough just as we are. I think people do this because they don’t want to have hard conversations. They don’t know how, and they think this is a good way to approach this subject. Or possibly they’re just trying to be hurtful. Either way, it’s not OK for something like this to ever happen to you. Everyone’s weight fluctuates, disabled or not. I think if able-bodied people had this done to them, they would understand how upsetting it can be. We don’t need to change — society needs to accept us as we are. I may or may not be getting heavier, but your words hold more weight.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    I just saw my dad for the first time in close to five months and guess what he said? Those meds you’re taking are making me fat and I’ll get obese. I’m 181cm and weigh about 80kg so this should be normal weight. This came from the same man that complained a lot when I was severely underweight with questions about whether I was sick or not eating enough. I already hate my body as it is but to have him throw it in my face like that is a little too hard. I’m not surprised really we don’t have much of a relationship and he thinks my illnesses will just fade away. #BodyImage #BipolarDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Anxiety #ihatemybodynowmorethanever

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    How People With Body Dysmorphia Are Negatively Impacted by BBL Culture

    Years ago I wrote a story called “Black Girls Get Eating Disorders, Too.” It detailed my struggle with body dysmorphia and eating disorders due to a certain nuanced stigma specifically associated around Black women’s bodies. What I didn’t say was at the time I was casually and secretly looking into body surgery. Being 26, I was raised during Y2K skinny culture, then as I hit puberty the narrative started shifting and the “ideal body type” (gag) changed from super skinny to curvy hourglass. Songs, media, influencers, and celebrities reinforced this “slim thick” body type. They started getting surgery to gain it without being transparent, claiming that they worked out and that’s how they gained their curves. The goal for a lot of people became gaining that perfect peach booty and companies told you how – eat these foods, do these leg day variations, waist trainers, teas, detoxes, lollipops, the list goes on. If all else failed, there was also the elusive Brazilian butt lift (BBL) surgery. Some people could afford the expensive surgery here in the United States, but other people decided to travel to other countries to get more affordable surgeries. Then there were people who were so passionate about having a snatched waist and “fat” ass, that they resorted to backyard surgeries that are potentially life-threatening. Cardi B detailed how dangerous and painful her illegal butt injections were . In July 2017, a woman in New York was killed by her botched butt injections. In March that same year, a phony Florida doctor was charged with manslaughter for the same thing. I remember back then, getting a BBL seemed like a solution. I would look at myself, only to look at undisclosed BBL bodies yearning for that specific look, but I couldn’t afford a trip to Build-a-Body, so my body image-related depression worsened. For the record, I want to note I’m not anti-surgery. You should be able to do whatever you want with your body. Go forth and get that nip-and-tuck or stay natural. Your body, your choice. That being said, I do firmly believe there’s a direct correlation between my body dysmorphia, society’s love of ass, and my consideration of going under the knife before my body had even “fully” developed. However, I’m nervous when I think of young folk whose bodies haven’t developed completely into adulthood, making decisions like that based on societal trends that will shift and change, only to serve as a reminder that you will never be good enough. My consideration of going under the knife wasn’t because I really hated myself, but rather that I felt like I wasn’t “good enough” in the eyes of the world. I thought no one would think I was attractive if I didn’t have that boom bam booty. The problem isn’t openly promoting body enhancement surgeries. It’s lying about them, or making people feel that they are lesser than unless they have one specific body type. It’s damaging for a lot of people, especially the body dysmorphia and eating disorder crew who already struggle with body image issues. Like I said, I’m pro-choice in every way and that includes surgery, but when you’re a celebrity or influencer with a large following and you’re not honest about a body type you’re capitalizing off of and pushing, you are actively harming people. Go get your surgery and live your best life, or don’t and rock what your mama gave you. Love what you have or take that power and make it what you want, but make sure it’s actually what you want, and not what you feel you should have in order to be valid and worthy in the eyes of others.

    Community Voices
    Linda Silano

    Why I've Struggled With My Body Image as a Woman With a Disability

    I have often wondered about body image, especially my own body. I grew up with a visible physical disability that has affected the way my body looks. I guess you can say that my body may look different to others due to the fact that I have had multiple fractures throughout my life, which left my body with deformities. It is very difficult when you are constantly judged or criticized based on how your body is viewed. Don’t we have the right to choose what we want to wear? Does anyone have the perfect body? Who gets to decide what perfection is? I do believe that how we see ourselves is way more complicated than how others see us. First, we need to start loving the shape of our bodies regardless of what they look like. Our bodies are our bodies; they do so much for us. We let the toxicity of others get inside our brains. Throughout my life, I have had people comment on my body. I’ve heard hurtful comments such as, “Why are you wearing that?” and “A man will leave you for a woman with a much nicer body.” Yes, these comments have hurt me and I let them dictate how I feel about my body. I don’t want to feel ashamed of my body. I’ve learned that I need to decide what goes through my armor. Set boundaries by not allowing people to decide how I feel about my body. I get to decide how to feel. It’s unfortunate because I have let what people have said about my body affect me to the point of disposing of my garments because I thought they looked hideous on me. My message for anyone struggling with body image is this: You are the gatekeeper of your own life. You get to choose who and what you let into your life.

    Why Mental and Physical Health Conditions Make Haircuts Hard

    When you live with a health condition, hygiene can become an uphill battle. Teeth go unbrushed, showers may be forsaken, and for a lot of people, hair becomes a challenge. Sure, to some people, hair is just hair. For others, it’s not that simple. Physical and mental health conditions can severely impact not only how we treat our hair, but also the styles and maintenance of it all. Like any relationship, it’s completely fair and valid to have a complicated relationship with your hair due to life with a health condition, and that’s why a lot of people end up trimming, cutting, or even chopping their hair off. We reached out to The Mighty’s community to see what their relationship was with not only their hair but also hair cuts . Here’s what they had to say: Getting my hair cut is how I practice self-care: “Getting my hair done really helps with my major depressive disorder ( MDD). It’s also an escape from the brain fog and pain from my fibromyalgia. For those few hours, I can feel normal again.” “I wear a bold haircut that is colored in the front and top. It’s my statement to the world. You can knock me down but I’m getting back up. Just a little bit of ‘F you’ to those that like to hurt me. So I face the anxiety of the drive to the salon and find that once I’m done, I’m very relieved.” I cut it myself so I can accommodate my needs or sensitivities better: “I cut my own hair and have been lucky to keep it short and manageable. I miss the thought of having your hair done for pleasure, though – as it’s always dependent on how much energy I’ve got versus how I can manage. To explain having a hairdresser cause pain and relapse is so alien to people, they can’t truly understand. Same as having a bath!” “‘I started cutting my own hair with help from my daughter at the start of the pandemic. I’m immunocompromised so I stay away from public spaces. I have a short bob because muscle weakness makes my arms too tired to comb long hair. At this point, I’ve figured out how to cut a cute bob! Plus, I don’t go anywhere but doctors’ offices so it’s not like it matters if I mess up.” “I started cutting my own hair because my neck instability can’t take the aggressive combing and pulling stuff. With long hair, I cut it twice a year and I usually split it in two days.” “I’ve had a super shaggy layered cut for years that I can cut a bit off at a time, never makes me too tired, and I can ignore it as long as I need to. I add random color streaks every now and then for fun. Because I’m immunocompromised, I’m scared to go out for anything other than emergencies. Finding ways to be shaggy from home has helped me stay safer.” I keep it simple: “As a Black woman, I simply stop relaxing, coloring it. I just cut it down to a very short, very cute little afro. Wash and go. I only go to the shop to keep my hair shaped into my tiny little afro.” “I hate sitting in a chair too long, my neck and shoulders hurt. I wear my hair long: easy to put up, and less salon time.” “I have no hair due to chemotherapy. No need for haircuts or shaving, either! One of the silver linings in the cloud of cancer .” I never have the energy to get it cut so I let it grow : “I struggle with leaving the house and keeping appointments when I make them. I used to take great pride in my hair, regularly having it done, but now I’m lucky to visit my hairstylist about once or twice a year.” “I tend to let my hair go rogue. If I have a fibro flare, forget the hair cut – everything hurts so don’t touch me.” “It takes me days to talk myself into going. Afterward, I want to be an ostrich and hide my head.” “I never have the energy, nor can I plan ahead and know if I’ll be well enough in a week’s time. My hair is down past my waist and is horrible to wash and dry but I can’t think of a way around it.” My mental health makes it tough: “ Social anxiety and depression makes me put it off for ages, despite knowing how much a haircut helps my mental health and how needing it cut really makes me feel bad about myself. Now, with COVID-19 and restrictions lifting, I’m putting it off more than ever.” “Going to the salon usually makes me anxious. The stylist usually tries to make small talk and there’s only so much you can talk about the weather or your job, what you’re doing over the weekend, etc. I find small talk to be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.” “Visiting a hairdresser has always been an emotionally draining experience for me due to body dysmorphic disorder. Being forced to sit with my own reflection for any period of time is extremely challenging and has often resulted in panic attacks and suicidal ideation. In recent years, I’ve asked my hairdresser to cover the mirror with something, explaining that I have severe body image issues. This has worked out OK for me up until now, but it’s always a dreadful experience and one that carries with it so much shame for me.” My physical health makes it tough: “I have trigeminal neuralgia (which involves severe facial pain) that is set off by the slightest touch. Having someone hovering around my head is very stressful. I tense up waiting and watching for my stylist to accidentally brush against the side of my face. Even when she doesn’t, the anticipation and resulting tension bring on other symptoms. It’s a shame because it used to be such a pleasure to have beauty treatments. Now, instead of making me feel good, I dread it.” It takes a team of people to manage my hair cuts: “My mum usually cuts my hair. I keep it shorter than I used to because it’s easier to brush, wash and look after in general.” Finding creative solutions make it easier: “The people at my hair salon know that I come in with my hair prewashed (I get dizzy when I lean back into [the sink]) and they know by now that I like to be in and out as fast as possible. I always call ahead to see when a good time is for a walk-in to make sure there isn’t a wait.” “I have multiple chemical sensitivities, including fragrance. So I’m letting it grow out, and I’m actually enjoying having it long! I try to wash it no more than twice a week, and I rarely heat style my hair anymore. I’m noticing a lot less breakage and fewer split ends. It’s much less maintenance. I get my sister to trim and color it a couple of times a year.” “I do it myself, or with a helper, to get the cut that I really want. I started doing it because I couldn’t afford to pay for haircuts that made me feel bad about myself. But I’m also letting it grow out! I keep the sides and back buzzed and let the top grow long. It’s the style I want, but couldn’t seem to get from a hairdresser, even when I asked specifically.”

    Community Voices
    LKR

    Non-Physical Compliments

    <p>Non-Physical Compliments</p>