After years of body image issues…

…I decide to take part in Boobquake.  It started as a silly thing, but has taken off in ways unimagined by the person who started it.

When I told Conall about it though, he laughed at first.  When he realized I was serious, he said to me, “You aren’t as shy as you pretend to be.”

It’s amazing to me that the man who has known me for the past 13 years would not understand what kind of a step this is.  Last summer was the first time I walked outside in shorts in years.  So, you’d think he’d understand.

Shyness has nothing to do with my clothing choices (although I am very shy when I first meet people).  The clothing choices I’ve made have always been about hiding myself so I didn’t inflict my fat, my ugly on other people.  Going outside in shorts was the first step in really believing that I don’t have to worry about what other people say about me, what they think  about me.  By deciding to participate in Boobquake, while I’m also laughing at the thought that any god would be so petty as to destroy the world, or pieces thereof, because women dressed immodestly (by certain men’s standards that is), I’m also putting myself out there.

I’m taking a stand and saying it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks of me or my looks.  That I’m going to dress how I want to dress.  If somebody doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.

Now if I can only find a way to explain it to the hubby so he’d understand.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good guy, just sometimes … dense.

Coming to a Store Near You!

About a month ago, I bought Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett.  I’d never read Terry Pratchett before, but love the Neil Gaimen books I’ve read.  Part of the reason I finally decided to read Good Omens is because I thought I was going to loose my geek license.  So many people have expressed surprise when I admit to not having read it.  They expect a bibliophile like me (who’s read all the books in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Universe series, the M.Y.T.H. Inc. series, 2/3 of the Xanth novels, some of Gaimen’s other stuff — including some of his YA books — and many, many others) to have naturally have read this.

Ah well.  There’s only so much time, and sometimes there’s just not enough time to read everything I want to.  But at least I’m reading it now.

And something in the book really, really caught my eye:

One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse has been busy while he’s been waiting for the apocalypse to happen.

Two years of Newtrition investment and research had produced CHOW (TM).  CHOW (TM) contained spun, plaited, and woven protein molecules, capped and coded, carefully designed to be ignored by even the most ravenous digestive tract enzymes; no-cal sweetener, mineral oils replacing vegetable oils; fibrous materials, coloring, and flavorings.  The end result was a foodstuff almost indistinguishable from any other except for two things.  Firstly, the price, which was slightly higher, and secondly the nutritional content, which was roughly equivalent to that of a Sony Walkman.  It didn’t matter how much you ate, you lost weight.

He followed CHOW (TM) with SNACKS (TM) — junk food made from real junk.

MEALS (TM) was Sable’s latest brainwave.

MEALS (TM) was CHOW (TM) with added sugar and fat.  The theory was that if you ate enough MEALS (TM) you would a) get very fat, and b) die of malnutrition.

Good Omens Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett C 1990

Now, I know that this is satire, but doesn’t this really sound like what’s happening?  In our schools they are trying to cut back calories so much in the school lunches, there’s hardly any nutrition in them.  We keep being innudated by things in 100-calorie packs that have ingredients you have to have your PhD in chemistry to be able to pronounce, much less know exactly what it is and what it does to the body.

Then there’s Olestra.  Olestra is synthesized using a sucrose molecule, which can support from six to eight fatty acid chains arranged radially like an octopus, and is too large to move through the intestinal wall and be absorbed. While it’s not exactly mineral oil, it’s still be processed to give absolutely no nutrients, and in fact, it inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients (source same as above).

If it weren’t for the fact that the original copywrite of the book was a full eight years before Olestra was used in food manufacturing, I’d think that the authors were parodying Olestra.  Instead, it looks like they were merely being prophetic.

For myself, I have long been against engineered foods.  I’d rather obtain my protein from eating meat, rather than drinking a drink that has either soy or whey in it.  If I want soy, I’ll eat edamame.  If I want a milk byproduct, why not just drink milk?  (Yes, I know I’m blessed with a tummy and system that doesn’t have issues with milk, but the people I know who have issues with milk also have issues with milk by-products like whey.)  If I want corn, I’ll eat it off the cob (or frozen from a bag) — I don’t necessarily want an engineered corn product in every single thing that’s on the market.

But the above quote really makes me wonder.  Is this what we’re coming to?  Where everything we eat is engineered to have so little of everything we need — vitamins, minerals, fats, calories, you know, the things that make a body healthy and strong — that we are all going to die of malnutrition?   Whenever I see diet meals in the store and read all the additives in the list of ingredients I just have to wonder where’s the food (to paraphrase the 80’s Wendy’s (TM) commercials)?

I don’t know what the answer to this is.  I know it’s not a question most people are asking.  But maybe we should.  Maybe we should ask the hard questions.  If it’s true that obesity has increased by (whatever the percentage this or that talking head is quoting today) and it’s still a major increase from 30 years ago even after the rate has been adjusted for the arbitrary lowering of the BMI – overweight range in 1998, then WHY is it?  By the 1970’s the US as a nation was, and had been, mostly industrial based for many years.  The switchover from a mostly agricultural culture to industry came fully during WWII (if I recall my 8th grade modern history classes correctly from all those years ago).

So, if the problem was Americans getting lazy because they weren’t out doing hard, physical labor 12-14 hours a day every day spring, summer, and fall, why didn’t the obesity epidemic happen in the 40’s?  Or 50’s?

Since it didn’t, what happened?

Somebody really needs to look into that, and then follow it up with logical questions.  You know, questions like, if that was when sugar was taken out of most products and artificial sweeteners and other engineered things were put in, could that be part of the cause of the so-called obesity epidemic?

Oh, wait.  I forgot.  It can’t be anything like that, because we all know that the fatties bring it on themselves by having no self-control.  Of course nobody’s ever going to look into those questions.  There’s no need to.  What was I thinking?

People are getting it

Conall and I moved into our own place (an apartment) about a month and a half ago.  Near our new place is a gas station that sells a lot of milk products.  I know, it seems weird to me, but it works for them.

I’ve never thought to go to them for milk, because I get my milk from the grocery store, and I have a store care which gives me .03 off each gallon of fuel if I use the gas stations the grocery store has affiliated with.  At the $2.50+ per gallon prices these days, I’m willing to go to the station that gives me .03 off.

However, about 3 weeks ago, the milk and gas station had somebody drive around the apartment complex, giving out free milk if people wanted it.  Okay, I’ll try it.  After all, it’s free, right?  As the lady was asking me what kind I wanted, she was pointing out that their milk has a higher fat content than in the grocery stores, so I might want to have the 2% (this after I told her I wanted the full fat milk).  I repeated I wanted the full fat milk, and she went to the truck and got that kind for me.

Conall and I haven’t bought milk at the grocery store since.

Last night we had to stop at the gas station to get some more milk, and talked for a bit with the woman behind the counter.   Conall and I told her how we’re just drinking more milk, because it tastes so much better.  That led into talking about fat content and how the low fat products add sugar and other things to make the product taste better (because when you take the fat out of a product, it doesn’t taste as good and it doesn’t satisfy you as well).

And that led into her talking about her growing 16 year old son.  The one where, the night before last, she bought two large pizzas for dinner (for 3 people, herself, her 5 year old son, and her 16 year old) and how he ate one and a half pizzas by himself.  She also told of how he was in a growth spurt and very active in sports in his school.  Her complaint about him eating one and a half large pizzas by himself wasn’t the “omg!  he’s going to get FAT!” that we hear so much lately, but the “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep enough food in the house until he’s done growing!” complaint.

She gets it.  It was so nice to talk to somebody who did not express any morality about her son eating so much.  It was nice to hear the complaints you used to be able to hear from parents back in the 70’s and 80’s.  You know, the “my child is a growing teenager and I just can’t keep enough food in the house”, complaint.  It was really nice to be able to talk to a mother of a 5 year old who is hitting a growth spurt.  She told a story of how they went to a McDonalds Restaurant recently, and she asked her 5 year old what he wanted to eat.  He wanted a hamburger meal AND an order of chicken nuggets.  She didn’t think he’d be able to eat all that, but she purchased it for him, thinking they could take the chicken home and reheat it in the microwave later on.

He ate it all.

And her concern wasn’t that he was going to be fat for eating all that.  It wasn’t that he was going to be part of “the obesity epidemic”, and die young of diabetes or heart attack or whatever.  No.  Her concern was, if he’s eating that much food at 5 years old and going through a growth spurt, just think of what was going to happen when he was in his teenage years!

The other thing that we talked about was how she’s given up dieting.  (I swear I did NOT come on all fat activist and tell her dieting is teh ebil either!  She brought it up.)  She said she got frustrated with diets where they’d say, “If you have a craving for x (whatever wasn’t on the diet like cookies or cake or whatever), don’t eat that, eat an apple instead.”  The reason she was so frustrated was because, she’d eat the apple, not feel satisfied, so eat another apple, still not feel satisfied, so eat another apple.  By that time she’d eaten 4x the amount of calories that was in that one cookie she would have eaten had she just, you know, eaten the cookie she was craving.  And if she’d just eaten the cookie in the first place, she wouldn’t feel so bloated because she would have stopped at one.

People are starting to get that food isn’t the enemy.  That real food is better than low calorie/low fat stuff that has tons of additives to make it taste better (but which doesn’t satisfy what the body is wanting or needing).  People are getting that moderation is the key, and that, as adults, we really do have the choice to eat a cookie.  Or an apple.  Or a piece of cake.  If that’s what we really want.

And people are starting to get that the diet industry doesn’t so much care about their clients health as much as how much money they get in a year.

I’m very glad we had the chance to talk last night.  It was a very nice to have a stranger talk about these things and not try to make me into an evil witch for daring to drink full fat milk, or eat a cookie when I want one.