Would it be Easier to be Thin?

- POSTED ON: Jan 06, 2014

We’re at the beginning of another year, and … like most people… I’ve been spending time evaluating myself and my life, thinking about my past and future goals and behaviors.

I’ve been involved in this weight-loss/maintenance struggle for a very long time. Sometimes it is harder to do this than at other times. Maintaining positive eating behaviors is more difficult for me whenever my positive eating behaviors fail to bring me positive weight results in (what I consider to be) a timely manner. This describes my current situation, which … even though I am currently a “normal” size …. makes today one of the hard times.

My lifetime path has involved a continual struggle to get and to keep my body at or near a “normal” size. I was born in the 1940s; was a child in the 1950s; and a young adult in the 1960s and 1970s; middle-aged in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and am now old in the 2010s +. At the end of this year my age will reach the seventies.

At every weight, I’ve always been healthy. My motivation for this lifetime struggle has never been “health”, it has always been vanity. It comes from a strong inner drive, established in my childhood, to force my body to fit into the norms of the culture in which I live. Unfortunately, I also have very strong opposing desires/needs that drive me to eat a variety of foods that my body tells me are delicious, in amounts which my body turns into fat.

I find maintaining my body at a “normal” weight to be extremely difficult. Even after 9 years of maintenance, even at the very top edge of a “normal” BMI, or even within the “overweight” area, I remain in a biologically altered state, my still plump body acts as if it were starving and works overtime to regain the pounds I’ve lost. To lose and keep off weight, I, as a “reduced obese” person, must eat far fewer calories and exercise far more than a “normal” person who maintains the same weight naturally.

For many years, my Set Point has been inside morbid obesity. It might have been more normal in childhood, and even in adolescence, but over the years of yo-yo dieting it ratcheted up. All evidence indicates that an increased Set Point is a one-way-street. I am certain that becoming a “normal” weight, and maintaining that weight for the past 9 years has not caused any reduction in my personal highest Set Point. For more information on this issue, see my previous posts in the DietHobby ARCHIVES.   Non-Diet Guru's can advise Intuitive Eating all they wish, but all that does is settle a person's body into its highest Set Point.  I know from my own experience (plus watching others) that "listening to my body" and eating what I wish to eat when I feel hungry, and stopping when I feel full",...  would result in my 5'0" tall body weighing over 250 lbs again.

This past year I’ve read quite a lot of books and blogs by people discussing “Fat Acceptance”. This has made me more consciously aware that each of us can choose whether or not we buy into our culture’s standards of beauty, and each of us must decide individually whether working to become a “normal” weight is a viable personal option.

Below is a Thoughtful Essay which discusses that issue. At this point in my life, my own personal choice is to continue on with my current weight-loss/maintenance struggle. However, if I were presented with the information which is now available here in 2014, together with the knowledge that I’ve obtained in the 60 years of my dieting lifetime, ……and if I were a young or middle-aged, morbidly-obese woman,…… my choice might be different… maybe I’d stop trying to be thin and work to accept always staying fat.

Would Life Be Easier Thin? 
                by Regan Chastain, Fat Acceptance Advocate @ www. danceswithfat

I see a lot of weight loss schemes sold based on the idea that life will be “easier” when you’re thin. It’s a common question that I get asked when I’m talking about fat civil rights activism and demanding respect – “But wouldn’t your life be easier if you were thin?

There are a lot of things that might make my life easier – if I were taller some things would be easier (reaching stuff) but some things would be more difficult (standing up on a plane). There are plenty of ways that I could change in various situations that would make my life “easier” based on people’s social expectations, religious beliefs, stereotypes etc. but that doesn’t mean I should make those changes.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the answer is “yes” – that my life would be easier if I did not have to live under the constant stigma that comes from not conforming (or trying to conform) to the social stereotype of beauty. This is still highly problematic:

First, even if being thin would make my life easier, nobody has any proven method to get it done. Currently the best that science can offer me is a 5% chance for success and a 95% chance of failure including ending up heavier and less healthy than when I started. I’m going to pass on that.

But it goes beyond that for me. Even if it was proven possible, the cure for social stigma is NOT for the stigmatized group to change (or attempt to change) in order to gain acceptance. I do not believe that the solution to bullying is to give the bully my lunch money and hope they stop beating me up. I think that the evidence is pretty clear that, in the absence of some pretty drastic circumstances, I’m not going to be thin. I don’t think that’s a choice.

But that’s not what it’s about – it’s the decision to stop trying to be thin. That is a choice and a difficult one because it takes me out of the “Good Fatty” category (people who get some modicum of approval from the stigmatizing group because they are ‘trying” to do what the group says they should), and puts me firmly in the “Bad Fatty” category- someone who opts out of the diet culture and so is subjected to the full vitriol of the stigmatizing group. (It’s important to understand that the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is never the fault of the fat people involved – it’s a function of the people who stigmatize us and it needs to die. )

So, though my life might be easier if I were thin, or if I were at least seen as trying to be thin, I’m not interested. Because where does it end? If someone else gets to tell me what my body should look like, what else do they get to decide for me? What other power do I have to give away? I got a fortune cookie once that said “The person who trims themselves to suit everyone soon whittles away to nothing.” I think that if I want social change (and I do) then the first step is to stand up and say No.

No, I won’t do what they want me to do just to gain begrudging, conditional respect and humane treatment that I will only enjoy until I change myself to suit them. I will demand my civil rights now, as I am, and I will fight for them if I have to. They need to back off my fat body, if they want a war on obesity, I will give them one.

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Existing Comments:

On Jan 06, 2014 Alma wrote:
Health has never figured into my reason for wanting to lose weight either. In the 60's, I was model size (36-24-38) at 5' 8" and had some tough times that kept me thin. After a few years, the weight crept on but still I was healthy. My reason also was vanity. Now I have changed to health concerns. With age, I realize I need less weight to master safe mobility. The extra weight is not good for my joints that scream out when walking with bags of groceries or handling stuffed turkeys. I need a Tiger Balm massage to motivate myself upon waking unless I want to sound like I fell out of a Rice Crispy box. Yes, Tiger Balm silences the Snap, Crackle and Pop and allows me to master the day but less weight would help tremendously. I am edging on the 70 mark and need to become healthier ASAP but my love of food is great!

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