The 2 Genders: Fat and Muscle

Content warning for transphobia.

A stack of magazines was donated to my work. There were a couple religious magazines full of bigoted content that isn’t worth getting. But I am in utter disbelief about this particular infographic.

From “Answers: Building a Biblical Worldview” September/October 2019 issue.

O

The article states that our culture “needs a biology lesson” due to our “confusion” about sex and gender. And then a few pages later, they attempt to explain the difference between (cis) men and women. Apparently , one of those “biological” differences is that (cis) men convert food to muscle, and cis (women) convert food into fat.

I would normally say, “you can’t make this stuff up!” But clearly, they just did.

I recognize that estrogen plays a role in the accumulation of body fat. But this is still such a gross over generalization, I don’t even know where to begin.

Oh, Renfrew

CONTENT WARNING: for fatphobic language and one number.

The Renfrew Center (a chain of eating disorder treatment programs) published this article in their newsletter. I hope to take a deeper dive later later. For now I just want to say, are ways to covey your struggle in addressing your own biases and fatphobia that aren’t this:

https://renfrewcenter.com/

Spit in a Cup

I might get paid $20 (on an amazon gift card), for spitting in a cup. I did have to answer a bullion question about behaviors and traumatic events in order to qualify.

EDGI is an ambitious global effort to rapidly and efficiently ample, genotype, and biobank 100K samples for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of eating disorders…EDGI will deliver “actionable” findings and genomic results that 1) reveal fundamental biology, 2) inform clinical practice, and 3) inform new therapeutic targets…EDGI will accelerate genomic discovery for all three eating disorders. Our results will be mined for relevance for improved therapeutics and impact on psychiatric practice within a precision medicine framework.”

-Eating Disorders Genetic Initiative

EDGI: The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative

I would NEVER participate in genetics research for, say, my autism. Because “preventing” autism means “preventing” autistic people. But understanding people’s genetic predisposition to eating disorders is a worthy cause to me. The website does seem to consider Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder the “three” disorders , and I don’t care for that. But at least one of the question surveys asked about ARFID, EDNOS, and OSFED diagnoses.

I wish more money and research was put towards dismantling diet culture, white supremacy, income inequality, food insecurity, and implementing accessible universal healthcare. What good are “clinical practice and new therapeutic targets”, if the treatment is not accessible? How can someone heal from an eating disorder in an environment at war with their body, or one in which they cannot adequately feed themselves and/or face stigma for eating the foods that are accessible to them in their own communities and cultures?

But my spit can only do so much. If they send me the kit, I’ll post updates.

“Don’t Call Me Fatso” by Barbara Philips

I stumbled upon this book in the playroom of the residential treatment facility I work in. (It’s a program for women, some of whom, bring their children.). I immediately recognized the cover from a meme, but wasn’t familiar with the story. “Don’t Call Me Fatso” is a children’s book about a girl who gets teased for her size and decides to lose weight.

I am disappointed, but not surprised. The book was published in 1980. The only remotely progressive things about the story are that it features a blended family, a male nurse, and a protagonist that may be latinx and/or biracial.

At the beginning of the book, we hit the ground running with fat people stereotypes. Rita eats her lunch quickly. She complains about her mom packing carrots and tries to trade them with a thin classmate for cookies.

That same day, the students gets weighed by the school nurse. Rita learn she is the heaviest kid in the class. Later, when her peers tease her, Rita’s teacher responds appropriately. He remarks, “People come in all shapes and sizes.” The rest of the book goes downhill from there.

At home, Rita tells her stepfather she’s being bullied because of her size. He is sympathetic, and  shares that he used to be teased for his ears. She tells him she likes his ears, but she doesn’t like to be fat. Instead of echoing Rita’s response, and reassuring her about her body, he states that he wants to lose weight too, and they agree to stop eating dessert and drinking soda. The word “diet” is mentioned.

Next Rita goes to her mother and asks her to stop packing cookies in her lunch. Her mom is surprised because cookies are her favorite.  Rita responds, “They were my favorite part, [but] I don’t want  to be fat anymore.” Her mother expresses that she wants to lose weight too, and she suggests they exercise together.

Her mom suggests jogging. Rita decides to try swimming instead. She finds it difficult at first. One day, she gets made fun of at the pool. She binge eats, and her step father walks in on her and asks why she is eating candy. He encourages her to continue the diet.

As a person with a 10+ year eating disorder history, reading the part where she’s only eating “good foods” as her friends ate the “junk food” she craved, was relatable. Even in fiction, it is disheartening to see a child go through this, and have it framed as positive and virtuous.

At the end of the book, Rita learns that she lost a little bit of weight, and grew an inch taller.

There is no nuance in this book. There is no talk of “moderation” or cutting back- much less intuitive eating and joyful movement.

Rita gives up her favorite foods. She finds an activity she enjoys, but it’s still implied that she doesn’t swim for the joy of movement- she does so to change her body. She starts to stand up for herself a little bit, only after she’s started her diet.  Again, I sadly relate to this. As a teenager I was bullied for my size, then praised by those same peers when I lost weight as a result of an eating disorder. 12 years later, I still struggle with my eating disorder, and live in a larger body. There is no shame in my body size-  but it’s very common for people my size to have a history of disorder eating or chronic dieting.  This book shows the beginning of a diet-binge cycle or possible eating disorder, but ends before there’s any weight regain or significant consequences.

This author wanted to take a sensitive approach to issues like bullying and body image and children, but offers a solution that is unsustainable and potentially dangerous. Even people who encourage children and teens to watch their weight and track their food intake would be appalled by this book.

I am going to take this opportunity to platform a more recent children’s book, that I haven’t read, but have hard praised: Her Body Can by Katie Crenshaw & Ady Meschke.

Cosmo: Sex and Calories

So (last month?) Cosmopolitan actually published an article (study?) about how many calories 12 women burned when they had sex. Another reminder that body liberation still has a long way to go. I do sincerely feel that Cosmo has improved a great deal in my lifetime, but maybe I only feel that way because now that I’m a 20-something, my cohort is demographic they actively pander to. And with each generation, supposedly, we progress socially. I want to emphasize that the article does go onto say sex should be enjoyable- therefore we shouldn’t be thinking about how many calories we are burning during it. But I’m sure there are other ways to reach that conclusion!

But sadly. This is progress. Here’s what they said on the topic last August. Content warning: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a28624677/how-many-calories-burned-during-sex-and-foreplay/ )

See also:

Do you want to tell her, or should I?

Lizzo and Billy Porter were included in a list of new proposed style icons (in contrast to Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn types.) I like this.

Dove has a long history of using “body diversity ” to promote products like cellulite cream. This was called out directly in America the Beautiful (documentary I’ve talked about previously) and this 2005 salon piece. They have run some recent ads in cosmo featuring transgender and non-binary models.

Life Update: New Job and Covid-19

(The mask in the photo is not mine and can be purchased at ShopMagicSociety.com.)

Pertaining to this blog. I have so many drafts of posts, maybe some that are two thirds of the way written. I want to talk about books (and in the rare, rare case, films)- true and fictional- that represent eating disorders accurately and with sensitivity, that center marginalized people. I also want to revisit the YA novels I read at different phases of my illness and recovery. But I rarely finish any of them. I feel like I could write six posts alone, just on “To the Bone”, ‘Disfigured”, or “Wintergirls”. I have a stack of  books dog-eared, full of highlighting and post-its, that I want to write about. Movies I want to see on this topic. But I am scared to consume anything else and have it added to this to-do list. At times I’ve wondered if this is the right medium for me- if I should be doing analysis videos or host a podcast, but there’s too much of a learning curve with the technology. I wish I was better at finishing projects. Zines, blog posts, jewelry, my long furby, individual collages…I leave so many things unfinished.

An update on my life:

A story I probably rehashed multiple times on this blog pertains to my eating disorder, mental health, and how it’s impacted academics and my career. I went to treatment and started to recover from my eating disorder my senior year of high school. I went to college. I was extremely fortunate, because a parent had recently become a full-time professor, and that meant no tuition or fees. I continued to struggle with anxiety and depression, which peaked my senior and junior year, but pushed myself into a master’s degree program. I could have AT LEAST given myself the summer off. But it didn’t feel like an option. I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital that May for suicidal thoughts. They kept for a week. I got out, took my final exams the following week and graduated, then started grad school the week after that.. I studied clinical mental health counseling.I intended to take the National Counselor Exam when I finished grad school, but felt that if I wasn’t cut out to be a therapist, a master’s degree would get me further than my bachelor’s. School was what I knew. Undergrad was the first time I felt I was succeeding in anything that truly mattered. Through college I had struggled to keep minimum wage food service/retail jobs. And those seemed to be the only jobs available to me with just a bachelor’s in psychology. I took out an exorbitant amount of student loans. I managed to stay afloat for 3 years, but had a lot of difficulty finding an internship. This had a lot do with autism traits and anxiety, that I couldn’t mask in interviews. This delayed my graduation twice, and eventually, anxiety, depression, and a Bulimia relapse led to grades that  got me dismissed from the university, and my appeal for readmission was declined.

I spent a year focused on treatment and recovery, and continued working at my part-time, dead end job., I was extremely fortunate I had the financial support to do so. But I still have medical debt from a hospitalization 2 and a half years ago. On top of my student loan debt. I then applied for Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)  services, and worked with a job developer for another solid year, applying to jobs, fixing my resume, writing cover letters, and taking these bizzare online assessments that seem to weed out candidates for the most arbitrary reasons. I rarely got interviews. I applied mostly for administrative/data entry roles. There were a few oddball things that came along. I applied for one hospital job, and was asked to interview or a lab tech position in which I would be handling all kinds of human specimens and possibly discharging bodies from the morgue. Then there was a packing, mail-room type position for a dental lab that constructs teeth, fillings, etc. The man told me the decision would be made that same day, and it was. They decided to “go in another direction”, which sounds a lot more like firing someone than not hiring them. After interviews, no one ever expressed interest in me, even if I called to follow up. At the beginning of this year, II was strongly considering “moonlighting” at the local bobblehead museum, as they were hiring someone just for the weekends, and they paid better than my now FULL TIME dead end job, but they never called me back.

I rarely applied to any job in social services, because my  experiences in grad school and the internship hunt lead me to believe I wasn’t cut out to work in mental health.

In January or February of this year, I applied for a job at a substance use treatment program where I had actually applied for internships twice in the past. And they expressed interest almost immediately. (This was the same day I was told I wouldn’t be interviewed for the supervisor position I applied for at the dead end job. I’d written a cover letter, thinking even if i didn’t want the position, the interview would be good practice. And they didn’t even want to do that.)  The agency called my job developer shortly after my first interview. After a second interview and some brief shadowing I was hired., and began officially in early March. My position involves working in the residential houses, helping clients with their chores, as well as enforcing rules, and ensuring safety procedures. It’s similar to the job I had in my college dorm my senior year of undergrad. So starting in March I did a week of training to be certified to work in a “group home”. I left my dead end job. 

AAAAnd then our state, rightfully so, started taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. My first week working in the program, we consolidated the two residential houses into one. Which meant all clients and staff were placed in one building. The woman who was supposed to train me was out sick, and to my knowledge, still is over a month later.  During my second week, they announced temporary closure, and began discharging residential clients. Being an essential provider, my employer didn’t close specifically because of COVID-19. They had to go on “pause” due to low staffing and call-ins both related and unrelated to the pandemic. So immediately I had concerns both for the wellbeing of the clients we discharged, many of which were in early recovery, and my own job security. I didn’t know if there would be any available work for me to do with clients no longer living on site.  Because of my asthma, I thought I would be eligible for a paid 2 week leave, due to some of the new legislation that passed. All I needed was a doctor’s order. My doctor told me to continue working, wear a mask, and save the leave in case I got the virus later, and I was furious at first. I think my fears were well-founded in the fact I didn’t have health insurance in March due to switching jobs (I hate this country). So if I got the virus, and things got particularly bad, I could generate thousands in debt from a single hospital or urgent care visit. But ultimately, she was right, because the virus isn’t going anywhere, and I could still be infected and need time to recover. At last glance, I’ve only accrued 7 hours of PTO.

I have been fortunate in that for the last 5 weeks, my employer has given us cleaning tasks, additional training, and webinars so that we still can work and be paid. These last 5 weeks I’ve been working 30-40 hours, but the agency has been able to pay those of us who are full-time, our full 40 hours a week. And this is great for a multitude of reasons. Until coming to this agency, I have never had a job where I was scheduled 40 hours a week. My last employer considered 33 hours full time, and it was a huge push to get 36 hours. Minimum wage should be higher than what I am earning now. But at this new job, they are starting me t

So we’ve done less than desirable tasks like deep cleaning. We went through old client belongings that were left behind, as well as items that were donated to the agency. Now the attic now looks like a mini goodwill store full of clothing for clients and their children. I’ve been trained more thoroughly than I would have under different circumstances. I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with my coworkers, and work with folks from different shifts and different departments I might not otherwise meet. I have gotten in-person and zoom trainings from staff about medication assisted treatment (methadone, suboxone, etc.) breast feeding, safe sleep practices for infants, smoking cessation, and numerous other topics. I’ve attended/watched pre recorded webinars about trauma informed care, motivational interviewing, sudden infant death in black families and their mourning process, Anxiety Disorders and OCD, Compassion Fatigue, etc. I’ve also  gotten paid to watch documentaries.I have been so afraid I am losing everything I learned in both college and grad school, it was great to be in an educational setting again. But this time, no exams, research papers, or GROUP PROJECTS. 

I do still have my concerns and anxieties. Prior to my last dead end job, where I somehow lasted for 5 years, I have a history of being fired or “laid off” when my mental health became a problem, or simply because I didn’t learn the tasks fast enough. (This was mostly in food service.) I’ve been working at the clinic only a month, but I haven’t been performing the job I was hired to do, so my experience with clients is extremely minimal.  My “people skills” are rusty. At my last job, I sat and talked to a computer all day.. My DVR case closes after 90 days of employment (the end of this week!) and then I’m no longer eligible for job coaching or other services, and no one has gotten back to me as to whether this can be amended under the circumstances. 

I still have to learn the delicate balance of boundaries, but thankfully, this is a job where I don’t have to hide my mental health history from clients. This clinic is one of the few agencies I’ve encountered that hires Peer Support Specialists, people in strong recovery that work with clients from the perspective of firsthand experience.  I am not a Certified Peer Support Specialist. It’s something I have considered in the past. I don’t want to be a Peer Support Specialist in a Substance Use Recovery program, because I don’t personally struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. But it’s been great to work with people that are open about their recovery and treatment history, and know that if it’s done extremely carefully, I can share with clients, if it’s for the right reasons. 

Next week, the plan is to reopen the program and slowly admit high risk clients who may need the treatment most (pregnant people, those who use IV drugs, etc.), who have been thoroughly screened for the illness, and have no more than 5 clients at a time. Hopefully, this will be the start of my new normal.

Wtf

I wrote a post at my computer and now I’m going to have to open it in google docs or email it to myself to copy and paste from my phone. I don’t know WordPress isn’t working on my laptop. But when I click “write” it puts me in an infinite loop of redirecting me to dead ends.

I feel like my ultimate example of this was when I was in eating disorder partial and needed to eat breakfast before treatment. I also needed to take Uber to the clinic on the days i couldn’t find a ride. So I orders an egg McMuffin from Uber eats, and after eating it, ordered a ride. It was the same driver both times and then I died.