Monday, June 30, 2008

Rating Our Community

A question that's been weighing on my mind centers around whether or not this blogger community is a helpful resource for those struggling with eating and body issues. As someone who swears by the power of group therapy, I think of this community like a group--a place where bloggers get and give support, offer each other helpful (and sometimes directive feedback), and find comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone. So, why even ask the question?

To start, let's face it, those struggling with e.d.'s are a competitive bunch. Bloggers posting about their diets, their symptoms, their collective ups and downs might trigger others to think and act in unhealthy ways. A woman who partially identifies with others to start may, through exposure to constant dialogue about food and weight, develop even more of a focus on these things herself. We all enjoy identifying with a group, so I there may be a pull toward dysfunction as a way to connect with others. True, participation in the community is voluntary, and the emergence of symptoms in this fashion is likely indicative of an underlying tendency, but I can't help but wonder if blogging (reading and writing) can actually make things worse.

Overall, have you found the food/body blogging community to be helpful or hurtful? Take the 2nd EWHAED poll to weigh in. . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Fat Experience Project

From the trenches. . .

Hi there -

I wanted to let you know, in hopes that you might let your audience know, that I've recently launched a new project that I'm very excited about!

The new project is called "The Fat Experience Project." and you can view it here:

The goal of the Fat Experience Project is to map the global experience of fat in a way that is human, has a face, a heart, a mind, a body and a voice. The Fat Experience Project is an oral, visual and written history project which seeks to be a humanizing force in body image activism. By collecting and sharing the many and varied stories of individuals of size, the Fat Experience Project seeks to engage with, educate, empower and enrich the lives of people of size, our allies and the world at large.

As the project grows, it will be filled with first-person, non-fiction narratives (in text, video or mp3 format) that speak to the many and varied aspects of the life lived large. Some of the content will come from interviews already gathered on an extensive 2-month road trip (with the lovely Val Garrison) in both audio and video format. Some content will come from trips on the horizon. Most content will be submitted via thewebsite by readers such as yourself.

It is my hope that the project will be a community tool to combat prejudice/stereotype/discrimination as well as to help externalize shame so it can discussed and dissipated. The things we keep silent about are the things that do us the most harm. Shared burden is lighter. I am hoping, as well, that the project may eventually be used as a humanizing resource for fat studies and social anthropology courses.

I am writing to ask for your help in both the promotion of and the participation in this project. It is my fondest hope that, ultimately, with time and resources, this project will grow beyond a specific and exclusive fat focus and move toward addressing the many intersections of shame.

In the meantime, I would love your help in the form of passing this along to your readers/mailing lists/friends/family/anyone you feel may benefit from hearing about this project.

I also welcome comments, constructive criticism and volunteers.

Thanks for your time and energy!
Big BIG love

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Diet Plates

Self magazine clued me in to these plates, replete with inspirational messages designed to motivate that stalled dieter in you. Self writes:
Customize your plate with a diet motto: write you own or select one of the sometimes shocking prefab versions ("No seconds, fat ass"--hey, whatever works for you, but we think this one is a little mean. . .)
A little?

Would you use a plate like this, or know anyone who would? What would you want your customized plate to say? I'd like mine to convey something simple, like "Enjoy Your Meal!" or something like the image I found below. Anyone up for a visit to your local pottery painting store? I'll publish your photographed plates. . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Thanks to the EWHAED communications team for forwarding me this. Thoughts?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This Is Who I Am

I just finished This Is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Sizes by photographer Rosanne Olson. In the book (which I've added to the EWHAED book club list--scroll down to the right), Olson captures the bodies of women of all shapes and sizes. . . women of various ages, ethnicities, professional backgrounds. . . modestly posing nude or nearly nude and then discussing their thoughts and feelings about their forms.

Olson's project was born of early influences. In her introduction, she reveals: "In a sense, this book arose from my own experiences. As a teeenager, I encountered anorexia, which helped give me insight." She had me right there--what an interesting way to phrase it, not "struggled with," or "suffered from," but "encountered."

And so, Olson focuses on encounters, on the experiences of the women she captured on film--experiences of being in the world with their particular bodies, experiences we've all had working toward certain expectations of and standards for our bodies, experiences we've had judging others' bodies and ourselves.

Olson writes:
I wondered what would happen if I invited women of all shapes and sizes to discuss their feelings about their bodies and then let me photograph them in the nude. My goal was one of completel revelation--not hiding behind clothing but exposing both body and mind. What would we learn about ourselves? What would we learn from each other? Would we--could we--become more compassionate? Not only toward ourselves but toward one another.
I emailed Olson to tell her how much I enjoyed reading her book, and she noted that other therapists have contacted her with analogous types of praise. It seems we similarly appreciate the therapeutic and socio-political implication of Olson's work--observing other women's bodies and what they have to say about them can be a tranformative experience. The women are beautiful, their stories compelling, and I recommend you take a look.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Media Bites

We continue to be bombarded by media messages about weight and shape, as if we're constantly dodging attacks. Last week alone, AOL News told us "How Not to Look Fat in Tank Tops," new mom Angela Kinsey, of The Office fame, shared with People that she's not yet "red-carpet ready" (what kind of ridiculous bar have we set?), and in US Weekly, actress Marisa Tomei revealed her means to weight-control success: "I pray a lot, like, Keep me skinny, please."

All this in just a few days. . . Did you see it? How do you react to these kinds of media messages? Is there a way to insulate ourselves?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tri On

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a local bike shop, trying on triathlon gear. The largest size tops and bottoms they had was a 10 (their Large), roughly equivalent (via my scientifically sound method of trying on the clothing myself) to a typical Size 6. . . begging the question that if you're looking to get into the sport, and wear larger than a Size 6, how do you outfit yourself? (Additionally, if you'd like to complete a triathlon in a destination that requires you to fly, you may have to cough up some extra bucks, according to a loyal reader and friend who forwarded me this.

Are you familiar with larger-sized triathlon clothing? Should the cycling shop be carrying larger than a Large?

If you're a larger woman, how do you try a tri?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Jenny, Jenny, Who Can I Turn To?

Have you called Jenny, yet?

Y'all know I'm anti-diet, so why am I asking? Last night, I considered calling Jenny myself. I wanted to know about this diet (which bills itself not as a diet, but as a "weight-loss program"), just as I have about others, in order to write with journalistic integrity, unbiased by my predetermined ideas (remember my Medifast blast?) But, I can't do it--as you might recall, my Zone Chefs experience was atrocious, and I'm not willing to give a diet (even by another name, even for the sake of research, even for only a week) another shot. But, more and more, I'm hearing people turn to Jenny--whether it's a good program or the company has great marketing, I'm unclear--now, even the big and beautiful Queen Latifah's on board!

So, my questions for those of you who have tried Jenny Craig are:

1) Did you like it?
2) How was the food?
3) Did you feel hungry on the program?
4) Did you lose weight?
5) If you stopped, why did you stop?
6) If you stopped, what happened to your weight?