Quick Hit: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me”

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!

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About Megan E. King

Supahfat, queerfabulous, feminist, writerly-type. Cat person. Loves dirty bass lines.
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8 Responses to Quick Hit: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me”

  1. Oh Megan, my love, thank you so much for writing this and bringing such empathy and honesty. Initially I felt such unfettered rage about Jess throwing us all under the bus for her personal gain, so I really appreciate you bringing some levity to the situation. Some days I feel so exhausted being vocal about my body love and I can imagine its that much worse for Jess. I’m just so bummed that no personal responsibility was taken and that we look like a bunch of evangelists trying to get her to drink this poison of body love. I do wish her the best and I really hope she finds what she’s looking for. Thank you for being so smart and hot always

    • I’m glad you liked it!

      I think it’s important for us to really continue to hammer home the point that the headline for the piece is not accurate. It’s sensational and harmful, and it doesn’t describe what happened to her at all. She may have thrown us under the bus, but if we get enough of us talking about it and contextualizing it, I’m pretty confident we’ll roll that mother over and climb out from under it. BUS METAPHORS!!!!

      Love always. ❤

      • Cybele says:

        Hello Megan! Found your blog for the first time and enjoyed your perspective. I agree with you that the title is the biggest issue for me in Jess’ article. The title and the little monster voice (as you called the disordered eating tone) that says “but I’ve got to lose 30lbs more (weight). Personally, I think it’s positive to talk about health, IF we recognize that health takes all sorts of shapes and sizes. Simply put, Weight is NOT a good indicator of health. I’m going to keep saying that until I’m blue in the face!!! If we don’t admit that losing weight is a futile pursuit 95% of the time and is not a good indicator of health we are perpetuating vicious diet cycles. Also, how are people supposed to find their way, if they can’t trust themselves as guides of their own life. If I can’t trust that I can love myself and through that love be my healthiest guide (using intuitive eating and exercise) – WHO is supposed to guide me. The diet industry? I don’t think that model is working for people. People, and women in particular, need to be encouraged to trust themselves. Then we can have a discussion about a health awakening that continues the journey of analyzing our mental and physical health in a positive sustainable way. Anyway, I appreciate that there are other voices out there that are bringing back the positive to a struggle so many of are experiencing or have experienced. Check out The Body Positive for such a voice in the storm.

        http://thebodypositive.org/blog.html

        TBP doesn’t want to shame Jess or any one. We just want to get back to our truth which is that true love, deep self-love (the kind that ask your body what nutrients it needs, can afford, what sleep it needs, what movement it needs and does it’s best to provide for the body – heart and soul – it loves) is the truest way to happiness and yes, health.

  2. The Rotund says:

    It’s worth noting, though, that no matter how sympathetic she appears – she’s also launching a Conscious Weight Wellness (already trademarked) speaking thing with the guy who developed the flex diet, apparently. So, while I AM sympathetic to her in many ways, there are still a lot of things that just stink about this.

    Recovering from eating disorders is so hard. I worry that she is contributing to that difficulty for other people with her sensational headlines. 😦

  3. Eld says:

    I don’t know who Jess Weiner is. Apparently in my years of FA I’ve completely missed her. That said, she is pissing me off. I think you sum up my feelings well in this post Megan. She’s essentially taking hits at FA with very little logical reason. I mean, yes, she was pre-pre-diabetic, that is hardly the death sentence it is being toted at. And while diabetes can be a difficult illness for some, we as a society tend to talk about it in the same way “polite society” used to talk about Cancer — in hushed whispers and euphemisms — as though the illness is He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

    I think I also feel betrayed. As if FA isn’t fucking difficult enough, which Weiner knows since she has been part of the FA movement, now we have to deal with the exaggerated claims of HAES killing people by the admission of one of our own advocates! I feel like some progress was being made, more chips were etched out of the rock that is mainstream media and FA was not being lauded as the “crazy” movement as much. Now the cycle is going to start all over again.

    And how many times does it have to be said that diabetes, both kinds, is linked to genetics and environmental factors (the latter having very little to do with food).

    • Betrayed… yeah, I get that. It makes me feel a little sad, though – clearly, her convictions must not have been that strong to begin with. If only I could become famous based on something I… hey, what’s that, a diet????

      I vote that one day, we make buttons that say Diabetes /= Voldemort. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Fridays Are Precious | Brass Tacks

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