Thursday, May 22, 2014

Basic Kindness

Let's revisit this image because it's my favorite image that I've ever helped create. Basic Kindness. What does that even mean? It's a philosophy that I try to live by (as with anyone I sometimes fail). Today I want to talk about basic kindness to yourself. Taking care of your own emotional well being. My last blog post stirred up a lot of turmoil from both internet trolls and people genuinely upset that I wasn't pro WLS or even tolerable of it. Most thought I was a horrible friend for protecting my own emotional well being. Like I'm supposed to come last just because I'm in a friendship.

The fact is that friendships end for a variety of reasons, but I think looking out for your own health is a pretty good one. During the internet troll brigade I was threatened, called sexist slurs as well as your basic fatphobic ones, but the big ones were the ones attacking me for having struggled with an eating disorder. I was called weak for doing something dangerous to become thin while my friend getting weight loss surgery was called brave for doing something dangerous to become thin. See the hypocrisy here from the weight loss community? People get defensive when you disagree with their choices. But regardless of how "weak" I was for having an eating disorder it is something that did happen to me and something that's a lifelong on going process to heal from. In short, diet and weight loss culture can be very triggering. Not only did I deal with an ED, I also dealt with self harm. Again, self loathing can be very triggering and can cause a recurrence or even a hospitalization. Bipolar is not fun or easy to deal with. I think it speaks to something about our culture when mental illness is so stigmatized. Weak for being mentally ill? I suppose people are weak for having lymphoma too? No no, that's one of those okay illnesses that we're allowed to sympathize with.

My point is that if someone were around something that could cause a recurrence of cancer and they wanted to distance themselves, no one would bat an eyelash. When you struggle with a mental illness and want to distance yourself from something that could hurt or even kill you? All bets are off. But just because mental illness or even the need to take care of oneself emotionally and mentally is stigmatized doesn't make it right. You have ever right to take care of yourself. You'd defend yourself from someone physically wouldn't you? So why not defend yourself from someone emotionally and mentally? It's okay,  you have the right to walk away. You have the right to be kind to yourself and to put your well being before anyone else. Yes, losing a friend sucks and I'm sorry that my friend has to go through that, but do you know what sucks worse? Ending up almost dead in a hospital room because I couldn't walk away from toxic people. A friendship shouldn't hurt you, it shouldn't drain you, it shouldn't make you worse off than you were to begin with. That goes for any relationship, by the way. If you're around someone who's toxic and bringing you down then have the courage to walk away (it's okay if you don't though, but know that it's an option).

Take care of yourself and your needs. You're important too. You matter. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


My heart is heavy today and has been since Saturday when my best friend dropped the bomb that she's getting weight loss surgery. The betrayal, hurt, and anger that I've felt since then is mind boggling. Since becoming involved with fat acceptance I've cut body negative people out of my life. I've surrounded myself with people who are positive and work hard for a wide variety of human and animal rights issues. In other words, good people. Positive people. People who make a difference in the world. So my world was rocked when my best friend, after hiding it from me for months, told me that she was getting cosmetic surgery to become thinner.

My  friend is the captain of her own underpants and she can get cosmetic surgery if she wants to, of course, but I'm captain of my own underpants as well and I have the right to cut out people who compromise my mental or physical well being. Having gone through a decade long eating disorder where I was constantly praised for starving myself, over exercising, and abusing diet pills, I can't watch someone I care about put themselves through a medically induced eating disorder.

I look forward to the day when weight loss surgery is banned as medically unnecessary, dangerous, and bigoted. Weight loss cosmetic surgery represents the extremes that our society will go to to eradicate fat people. For all of the horror that a person feels when they see a very thin person with an ED, it doesn't seem to hold true for fat people with ED's. While I have a lot of personal experience with that, this experience seems to hit closer to home Perhaps because my friend was involved in the fat acceptance community. I thought better of her. Not brainwashed by society's standards.

Internalized fatphobia is a horrible thing.

The bottom line is that we applaud fat people for doing dangerous, irresponsible, unethical, things that put our lives on the line in the name of thinness. But how would the world react if the opposite were true? If thin people literally risked their lives to become fat because they thought it looked prettier? I have a feeling I know the answer.

So, I suppose I've finally experienced a personal casualty in the War On Fat. During my own struggles I came close to losing my life, but this somehow feels so much worse.

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