The Fat-O’-Sphere

The Movement

We say we’ll be successful and dream-fulfilling and athletic and happy – when we’re thin. Our fat becomes our excuse. We put off our lives until we achieve this magical state. And those who are already thin are still looking for that magic – the magic that supermodels exude from the runways, the magic that cheerleaders and dancers are supposedly showered with. When we look at that belief, we realize its silliness, but it still festers in the back of our minds.

We can achieve our athletic dreams in the body we have now. We can travel, publish our novel, meet our prince charming, dance in public, win a competition in the body we have now. We don’t have to wait to be thinner, tanner, more toned, more exfoliated, more fashionable. Who we are right now is enough.

The Fat-O’-Sphere is a network of blogs, sites, galleries, and people that makes up the Fat Acceptance movement. In its extreme form, it is tumblrs splattered with images of obese women in lingerie, spurning skinny people in an effort to grab equal rights for overweight individuals, but the more sane, educated bunch are about accepting our bodies at whatever weight we already are – freeing us to love and care for ourselves.

The Fat Acceptance movement is about, well, accepting fat. It’s about being realistic about the actual threat of obesity and expecting the same treatment of obese and overweight individuals as their thinner counterparts. Even if you don’t agree with the movement, it is so refreshing to read the words of these Fat-O’-Sphere writers. They are rebels, unafraid of taking up space or declaring their opinions.

It would be difficult to find a movement so contrary to the voices of your eating disorder!

However, as you explore, make sure you remember that sexual desirableness doesn’t make you a woman. What makes you a woman is your love for others, your aliveness of spirit, your gentleness as well as your impertinent rebellions, your strength as well as your sweetness. Your womanness is found in what you do and who you are, not what you look like. You don’t have to prove that you’re sexually appealing to prove that you are valuable. You are already valuable. 

Fat Doesn’t Make You Lazy, Mean, Ugly, Jealous, Petty, Self-Loathing, or anything else. Fat makes you fat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Further Exploration

Here are the highlights of the Fat-o’-Sphere. Some of these links are currently updated, some of them are not, but they are all worth exploring. 

Associations

Association for Size Diversity and Health

National Association for Advancing Fat Acceptance

Health at Every SizeConsider signing the pledge!

Blogs and Vlogs

Shapely Prose

Joy Nash’s Fat Rants

Size Atedeals specifically eating disorder recovery

Articles and Individual Posts: For & Against

Geez Article Reprinted on “Two Whole Cakes”: Why the World Needs Fat Acceptance

Time Magazine: A Brief History of the Fat-Acceptance Movement

“Rogue Priest”: Concerns About Fat Acceptance  (Comments are also valuable)
Pictures
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Minimalism

minimalism

The Movement

Minimalism invites us to step out of the consumer frenzy. Minimalism is a refusal to be bamboozled by sparkly ads or the impulse items glittering at the checkout stand. It’s about spending less, buying less, owning less. When you stop struggling to own the new house, the newest car, or the newest Apple gizmo, that’s minimalism. When you treasure time and people over possessions, that’s minimalism. When you quit wasting your mind-space on cheap shows  and celebrity gossip, when you quit trading enjoyment for entertainment, that’s minimalism.

Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

– Fight Club (1999)

Minimalism is about simplicity. But more than that, it is about enough.

The Connection

Minimalism and eating disorders? Is this just a shameless plug for some bizarre cult?

Eating disorders are hungry. Hungry for acceptance, for preciousness, for adventure, for love, for safety, for satisfaction. We are hungry for enough, but there’s never enough. Especially not at the bottom of a bag of potato chips or the toilet bowl or a minus ten pounds.

I love the chorus from this worship song,

“All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough”

Jesus is enough. He is enough. I no longer need bulimia. I don’t need to cope with the mess. I have a Savior who rescues me from the mess. He can satisfy that deep screaming that sends me blind and weeping over the toilet bowl, mouth bulging with food I can’t even taste, vomit stinging my nose. He can satisfy the thirst for purity and new beginnings that sends me off into the world of fasting and exercising and dieting. He is bigger. And his satisfaction is ever so much better. Because though I have to return again and again to the euphoria of bingeing and purging, again and again to the new beginning of a weight loss regime, with one word from Jesus I am utterly complete. Love.

 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.) 

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

– John 4, The Message

The People

Minimalists define their lives by this philosophy of enough, though their philosophy is not always rooted in Jesus Christ. Radical minimalists own 100 items or less, some of them even choose not to own a home. Another group uses minimalism as a tool to look at their lives and their culture with fresh eyes and to separate themselves from the hubbub of consumerism – the more more more newer newer newer philosophy. They don’t use minimalism as a label, and they own more than 100 things, but they understand there is a time for enough.

What are you willing to explore?

 

Here are some incredible sites to tease and appease your curiosity:

The Minimalists

Castles in the Air: make sure to check out Nina Yau’s archives, she has some powerful posts on minimalism.

Becoming Minimalist

Miss Minimalist


30 Days of Elegance

30 days to elegance is a lovely way to replace self-destructive habits with self-nourishing ones. I’ve spent so much time hurting my body, it feels strange – but good – to nurture myself. – RB

Surrounding your life with beauty is not just about makeup or the latest trends in style. You can create and discover the essence of elegance in everyday life. The definition of elegance is “tastefully luxurious.” I invite you to create little pockets of pleasure for one month. Whether you are helping a friend out or treating your mom to lunch, it’s the little things in life that make a difference in our attitudes and outlook. Nothing is more “extravagant” than a positive, giving approach to life.

Day 1: Write a note to someone you know in an assisted-living center.
Day 2: Begin a “grateful journal” and write something you are thankful for once a day (keep it at your bedside). When you’re feeling down, be sure to read it.
Day 3: Collect some flowers and place them in your kitchen.
Day 4: Drink your coffee or tea from an antique cup.
Day 5: Learn a French or Italian word for the next thirty days.
Day 6: Read a Jane Austin novel or any classic author.
Day 7: Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s or GiGi.
Day 8: Use a beaded or silver cup to hold your Q-tips or cotton balls.
Day 9: Donate books or magazines to your local women’s resource center or nursing home.
Day 10: Read some poetry.
Day 11: Write a poem or a song (I used to do this in high school and now have started again).
Day 12: Practice standing up straight; you’ll appear taller and confident.
Day 13: Listen to classical music or an opera. Maybe do a bit of research about the person who wrote the piece.
Day 14: Take out the good china, light some candles, and eat in the dining room tonight.
Day 15: Tame your tongue—no gossiping (we should do this every day, all the time).
Day 16: Book a nail or hair appointment at your local cosmetology school (half the cost if not more than your local salon.
Day 17: Visit your local garden club. Take a book to read while surrounded by the beauty God created. We have Leu Gardens here in Florida; I have a membership and love going there.
Day 18: I love biographies—read about someone that inspires you.
Day 19: Go to a tea room with a friend, mother, sister, or daughter.
Day 20: A museum may be the answer to get away from it all—observe.
Day 21: Frame a scripture or quote that captivates you.
Day 22: Wear your expensive perfume today or make your own.
Day 23: Go to a park and sketch some nature (you don’t have to be a great artist).
Day 24: Book a massage at a salon, or at a massage school for half the price.
Day 25: Wear a cashmere cardigan or scarf. Can’t afford one? Pashmere is wonderful and I bought one for $5.
Day 26: Watch a sunset or sunrise.
Day 27: Name your house. Why should the Biltmore have a name and not yours? Okay, so it has five hundred rooms where some of us have only five. Name it anyway; it is your history. How does the Ballestero Cottage sound?
Day 28: Drink your water from a goblet or enjoy a smoothie in a crystal glass.
Day 29: Draw a bath with essential oils, then soak to the sounds of soothing music and relax by candlelight.
Day 30: Wear your pearls!

True confidence, just like true beauty—comes from knowing that God created you as a uniquely beautiful woman with much more than your face to offer the world!

Excerpted from Beauty by God.

©2009, Shelly Ballestero

Original article found on Christian Women Online

Piercing the Isolation

Photo by Heather Buckley

Speak Out

Your disorder would love to curl up in the catacombs of your mind, gorging on your silence. Don’t let it. Speak out. Whether that means writing a long email to a trusted friend, making a phone call, or confessing in person over tea, it’s important to tell another person about your eating disorder. Eating disorders can be a painful, shameful thing to share, but when we fling our secret monsters into the light, we strip away all their convoluted power, leaving us free to embrace the sunshine.

Bulimia was my safety web. I spun my own world around myself, blocking out all the horror and hurt of the world. Taking the first steps out of my tiny, safe world was terrifying. More than once I tumbled back inside bulimia, scared and miserable. I still fight the urge to huddle away instead of facing the light.

Your comfort zone might be a shrunken raisin right now, it might only reach across the street. So walk two streets. Take that terrifying step. It gets easier, I promise.

 

Get Involved In Something Bigger Than Yourself

Visit Love 146 and start a task force in your town to fight child sex trafficking. Raise awareness for Invisible Children to end the use of child soldiers and restore hurting places in Africa. Join the Peace Corps. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Volunteer at a pet rescue. Walk for pro-life. Race in a 5k for a disease that you or a loved one has struggled with.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something that gets you busy. Don’t just buy the t-shirt, get involved.

Remind yourself that there is a wonderful, wild world out there, and you can use your body to make a difference in it. Your body is capable of movement, strength, loving touch, performance, rescuing, teaching. Surprise yourself with your capabilities.

 

Sandy Crow: Starve

Photo by Valentin Ottone



She weighs the consequences
That hover on the scale:
To starve, to overcome this;
To eat, only to fail.

Her empty stomach aching
To drop just one more size—
Her image, frail and shaking
Disgusts her clear blue eyes.

Her collarbone is hollow,
Her arms but branches bare.
Her eyes, they paint dark shadows
Of “ugly” everywhere.

To this blinded perception
Body and mind she gave.
“Control?” Only obsession;
Empowered—yet enslaved.

Be honest; you are starving!
They simply cannot see.
They ask, “Why aren’t you eating?”
And you lie so earnestly.

Step off the scale; return now
To the one who for you died.
At His feet lay your cares down,
And you shall be satisfied.

You don’t have to feel forsaken,
You don’t have to bear the scars,
For the Bread of Life was chastened
So you wouldn’t have to starve.

Sandy Crow

Journal Entry: Savor

I bought eleven notebooks and a pack of colored pencils – Crayola, 94 cents. I picked up a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, extremely non-literary, thrilling fluff.  I have a packet of poetry from a best friend sitting on my desk, unopened.

I just want to be crazy and me and not the girl I’ve been. I want to savor. I want to believe in six impossible things before breakfast. I want to dream of cold castles and lush flying carpets, rose petals stinging my cheeks with freezing dew, the smell of bleached grass crushing underfoot. 

I’m giving up on this war. The binging. The vomiting. The fasting. The dieting. The restricting. The overexercising. I’m done. I’ll doodle white flags in the margins of my notebooks. 

When I eat, I will enjoy my food. I will roll my strawberry over my tongue, every taste bud sizzling, a burst of juice staining my lips pink, the tiny seeds and hairs prickling the roof of my mouth. I refuse to be ashamed of eating. I refuse to complain that I don’t deserve food because I’m fat. I will delight in food.

And then I will move on to the next treat. Writing. Coloring. Books. Poetry. 

That’s my mission for today. To taste my whole life, not just what’s on my plate.

Sincerely,

Rebekah

Rebekah Burcham struggled with bulimia nervosa

for almost six years before she fully embraced recovery.

Read her recovery journal here.

Loving Hatred

Hatred is maintained by squeezing your belly constantly, checking your thighs, paying attention to the rub between your arms and your sides, poking your calves. Hatred is maintained by scrutinizing every picture to determine how fat you looked rather than noticing your best friend grinning beside you. Hatred is maintained by struggling to manage the wobble of your body as you exercise rather than focusing on stretching your muscles.

Why? People struggling with eating disorders share hate in common, but not the reasons for hating. Take a little time in your head or your recovery journal exploring why you choose to hate yourself.  If you’re having difficulty, try flipping the question around. What do you risk if you love yourself?

If you hate yourself enough, you’ll be able to change. If you stop hating yourself, you’ll stop seeing yourself as you truly are. You’ll become a fat frump who never adjusted to puberty, bingeing on noodles almost as limp as your hair. You’re miserable now, but all the self-hate will magically float away when you finally deem yourself Good Enough.

Liar.

You do not body check to investigate for an inch of success.  You body check to keep yourself wallowing in disgust. Stop. When you hate yourself, you’re so consumed with yourself you don’t have time to love others or worship your Creator. But when you lift your eyes from your belly, you’re free to jump into a big fat juicy life.

 

Rebekah Burcham struggled with bulimia nervosa

for almost six years before she fully embraced recovery.

She now co-edits UNGLOSSED magazine and manages

Big Fat Juicy while tackling her freshman year of college.

Wake Up

If you’re lethargic, wake yourself up. Make your bed in the morning and stay away for the rest of the day. Don’t skip meals, not even breakfast – even if you binged yesterday. Do your homework in the sun. Walk down to the library and flip through motley picture books. Make homemade playdough.  Play. Go to the park and swing. Read Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. Turn on Lady Gaga and dance like a maniac.

Even if you’ve chosen to lose weight as a part of your recovery (as when overcoming compulsive eating), remember that losing weight isn’t just about calories in, calories out. Not for us. It’s about tossing our food obsession behind us and plunging into a big fat juicy life. When you’re happy, you want to go on adventures. You want to window shop and swim and roller-blade. Don’t join a gym – live! The fat will peel off. You won’t need it to protect you anymore.

Make a list for today’s playtime. Mould a tiger out of pink clay? Print some colouring pages? Draw a mandala? Jog down to the park? Tell a five year old a story? Hit the children’s section of the library and shamelessly enjoy Lois Lowry, Shel Silverstein, Gail Carson Levine, C.S. Lewis, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief?

If you’re not sure what to do, enlist an expert. It can’t be too difficult to hunt down a willing kindergartener.

    Awake, O sleeper,

   and arise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.

Rebekah Burcham struggled with bulimia nervosa

for almost six years before she fully embraced recovery.

She now co-edits UNGLOSSED magazine and manages

Big Fat Juicy while tackling her freshman year of college.

The Point of No Return

Why is today different? Why is now the time of change, as opposed to any other time you’ve tried to recover?

For me, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. My mouth was chewed up from vomit. I was lethargic, nosing through the day with my head down and feet shuffling. If there was food at a party, the party was ruined; I’d obsess about how I could get more more more or how I could eat nothing without anyone catching onto my game. My relationships were buckling under the weight of secrets. I was stuck in my head. I was miserable. And I was one year away from college. The support and boundaries my family had offered were about to disappear. So I would either end up killing myself with my eating habits, or I had to come clean and learn to live immediately. I was willing to do what it took. If that meant forgiving myself, fine. Giving up bingeing? Sure. Letting myself make mistakes? I was on it.

Are you? Only you can make that choice. Only you can say, there’s no going back, I will be the freest creature under the sun. 

Write out a quick list of challenges you have been successful at before. Maybe you graduated a year early, maybe you finished a 10K race, maybe you wrote a poem, maybe you were accepted into that internship, or maybe you passed that awful math final. How did you overcome the obstacles in your way? If you’ve never been successful at anything, not even pouring yourself a glass of water without spilling down your front, don’t use this as an excuse to moan. Use this as a chance to prove you can be successful at something huge. Recovery is a feat of wonder. Once you’ve got recovery under your belt, even glasses of water won’t stand in your way.

Today is different. Today, you have the power to decide never to go back to your eating disorder. You’ll relapse, struggle, sure. But you won’t belong to it anymore.

Make a quick short-term goal. It could be rebutting all negative thoughts for an hour. It could be refusing to binge for a week. Whatever you choose, make a note of it in your recovery notebook and celebrate if you succeed. If you fail, make a smaller goal and try again.

You can do this. I can do this. We’ll prove to ourselves and the world that today is different. And we will never go back. 

Journal Entry: Paris and Bowling Balls

Photo by Anathea

I’m afraid of recovering from bulimia.

I’m terrified of being healthy of mind, of heart, of soul, as well as of body. I’m terrified of being happy. My life would explode in new, uncomfortable ways. Old ruts wouldn’t serve, I’d have to seek out fresh friends, academic challenges, sports, adventures. I’d probably go to Paris. I’d probably publish a novel. My passions would suddenly morph into bowling balls and my dreams into flaming torches – real live things I’d have to juggle. 

And what if I failed that? 

It’s not so bad hiding in my room and failing at being nobody. But what if I unveil my potential to the world, sparkling and singing and swirling, what if I show people everything beautiful about me, and I’m still not good enough?

That kind of failure would actually hurt. 

Sincerely,

Rebekah

Rebekah Burcham struggled with bulimia nervosa

for almost six years before she fully embraced recovery.

Read her recovery journal here.