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Monday, February 04, 2008

for the love of the human body

We live in a culture obsessed with body image.

The other day I was looking up sleeping disorders and ended up at a young woman's blog.

The blog was about her daily life and her eating disorder. I nervously looked through her photos, all self-portraits of her gaunt frame, bones poking out of her skin. In her writing she complained about her BMI being healthy.

Following her links I discovered an endless cycle of these blogs. Sites one after another focused around calorie counting and self-loathing. Photos of unhealthy girls referred to as "thinspo" for "thinspiration".

The blogs are mostly written by young girls who criticize themselves severely. They blog everything they eat during the day, and many write about fasting and falling into a state of depression when they break down and eat something.

What scared me most was the intensity of these blogs, the support from other girls with the same problems, the numerous photos of stick figure celebrities and the girls themselves.

This morning I discovered another type of blog. I was looking at the New York Times website and found an article published about the Fatosphere, a recent blog circle written by "fat" or obese bloggers.

The blogs were a breath of fresh air in comparison. Particularly one called the F-word, subtitled 'Food. Fat. Feminism.'

On her blog, Rachel Richardson writes about her experience with obesity, with an eating disorder, being unhealthily thin and now pleasantly plump.

Richardson is quite stunning, although she calls herself fat I would call her more of a curvy babe. She is all about loving your body, eating healthy, and enjoying her heavier weight despite cultural norm of what dress size a woman should fit into.

Her site features a TV appearance on the morning show, where the host says that people must look at her and think "Wow, she's unhealthy." She boldly defends her fine health, explains that yo-yo dieting is what's unhealthy, and appears as radiant and as healthy as any woman to me.

She is presented as a phenomenon: not only is she fat (and I hesitate to use this word because it has such negative connotation in our culture), but she's healthy, AND feels good about herself!

I don't know how we got to the point where loving our bodies has become such a challenge.

I want to live my life loving my body and enjoying the pleasure of food without guilt.

In our culture it is a challenge, but I think it's one worth working towards.


Blogger MiMi said...


I agree with you, it is a challenge.. A very hard one.. I can speak from experience.. I cant think of the last time that I ate and did not think about what I was eating, whether it is unhealthy or not and of course whether i would get fat.. And it seems that even if you live a healthy lifestyle but enjoy things at times.. You always think about that.. I love food and I cook everyday...slowly i am realizing that I need to enjoy my life and as long as you are healthy, whether its at 110 or 150 you need to love yourself and be happy! thank you for your inspiring post!!


4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post, but at the same time, had to laugh a little about it. I know you enjoy every bite of life, but you're much thinner then I would expect from someone with such a love for food.

Never trust a thin chef...

9:27 PM  
Blogger Mary-Laure said...

I did some research into those issues for a course in anthropology and psychopathology (yeah, reallY) so I can recommend lots of books about the issue if you're interested. Susie Orbach's feminist 'Hunger Strike' is a good place to start...

10:00 AM  
Blogger Gillian Young said...

Mimi-Here's to good health and happiness, above all else. Thank you!

anonymous- I promise I'm a trustworthy chef, don't let size fool you! My food is delicious, and good for you too!

mary-laure- It is a fascinating subject, I will check out Hunger Strike when I'm done working through my Christmas books! We read a great article in Sociology on the subject as well, I believed it was called Cutting Girls Down to Size..

1:19 AM  

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