Trigger warning for disordered eating
In a classic case of “there’s two sides to every story,” a pretty visible FA personality called Jess Weiner wrote this thing for Glamour which is literally titled “Jess Weiner’s Weight Struggle: ‘Loving My Body Nearly Killed Me.'”
Crickets? Is that what that sound is?
Marianne Kirby put her “ranty pants” on and ripped the article a new one. And then Kate Harding (of the now defunct, but once dearly loved Shapely Prose) wrote for Jezebel and gave Weiner a chance to respond, and in doing so made what Weiner said seem somehow… less asshole-y.
Oh, you’re interested in knowing what I think? Thought you’d never ask.
Jess Weiner is in recovery from an eating disorder. As a person who is also in recovery (and currently struggling with food and eating issues), I know for a fact that it is overwhelming to both keep quiet that little monster inside of you that wants you to shun food and that craves that empty, hungry feeling, and also to be mindful of your health. Since my disordered eating intersects with my fatness and with my socioeconomic status (which is low), eating is the bogeyman for me. Eating is terrifying. It’s often a struggle for me to read my body’s signals correctly, and sometimes I end up feeding it when I’m not really hungry, and sometimes I wait until I’m far past the point of hungry. I unlearned my body’s signals many years ago.
While I’m anxiously trying to figure out when I should feed my body, I’m struggling to be able to have enough food around, period, to feed it with. To be quite honest, my health doesn’t even factor into the equation. And even if I was food-secure, I’m not sure that I would be able to handle thinking too much about how healthy I am. That little disordered eating monster gives me enough to worry about as it is.
So I can easily understand how a person might be suddenly caught off guard by hir health. I fully expect that to happen to me one day… you know, if I ever get into a position to have access to healthcare again. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but disordered eating? It fucks with you. It makes something very simple an extremely complicated, emotional, anxiety-inducing issue. Sometimes, just getting something down (and keeping it there) feels like an accomplishment – regardless of what it is.
I can empathize with Ms. Weiner, surely. What I have no sympathy for is the title of the article. First of all, Ms. Weiner didn’t “almost” die. She was diagnosed “pre-pre-diabetic.” And then she altered some behaviors and her health improved. She did not almost die. And even if she did, her self-acceptance was not what did it to her. I’d say it was a lack of awareness of her health and her body. By her own admission, she hadn’t been to a doctor in 16 years.
Instead, Ms. Weiner (and Glamour) chose to take a shot at the fat acceptance community. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but there is a very large contingent of people (most of them perhaps on the internet) that believe that self-esteem fosters TEH FATS, and that the best way to “fight obesity” is shame, shame, shame. Like, we fatty-fats are not allowed to feel good until we’ve become former fatty-fats.
The diet industry relies on shame to be profitable. It tries to make you feel shitty enough to spend your hard-earned money on a product which, let’s face it, probably isn’t going to work anyway. But now, they’ve got this extra ammo. Not only are they going to make you feel ugly, they have testimony from a formerly proud fatty that says that all of that self-esteem you’ve worked so hard to earn IS GOING TO KILL YOU!!!!
Media sensationalism FTW!