Archive | July, 2010

30 Days of Dinner – Own It.

30 Jul

Suzanne’s perspective

I want to explain why I have been photographing my dinner for the last 10 days, and why I will continue to do so, for at least the next 3 weeks.

Quite a few years ago, I went on a “Weigh-Less” diet.  I was attempting to lose the few kilos of weight I had gained in the middle of high school.

It was a pretty regimented eating plan, and you had to weigh most of what you ate, including your rice and veggies.  Although the diet probably worked (and continues to work) for a number of people, it didn’t work for me.  I lost weight sure… but I completed the diet more obsessed with food than I was before.  Although my eating issues are well documented, I was not fixated with food and portion sizes as a child.  I would go so far as to say that the “Weigh-Less” diet, was the start of a life-long obsession over what goes in my mouth, and in what quantities.  I have sustained a low weight most of my adult life through unhealthy methods to the point where it has impacted on my health.

dinners : day 1 to day 5

The “Weigh-Less” diet may have tried to teach me to consume a healthy balance of carbs, proteins and fats, but what it actually taught me is, I could not, and should not, trust myself to dish up a portion of food on my own.  It taught me, without rules and structure in my diet I would not have the ability to determine when I was full, or even when I was hungry.  Without referring to the cheat notes in my pocket, I couldn’t possibly navigate a buffet, or even the contents of my own fridge.

I needed discipline and rules, and I needed to apply them every day, at every meal, in order to remain thin.  I learnt those lessons well – it has lead to a lifetime of guilt and indulgence-incurs-a-penalty thinking.  I need to keep a firm grip on myself – after all, just like bankruptcy; we are all only one pay cheque away from The Chubby.

Diets and fear of obesity have sucked all the joy out of cooking for me.  I am afraid of food.  I am afraid of sauces and marinades, and am deeply suspicious of anything delicious.  For the last few months, as a single person living alone, I have existed on Woolworths pre-prepared “slimmer’s” frozen meals (they know how to put stuff together better than me, surely?) and toast.  When I go out and socialize I end up eating too much, more often than not, so deprived am I of anything even slightly tasty or satisfying.

The joke is that this see-sawing, without allowing myself to resort to the tactics of the past to compensate, has resulted in me being about one week away from the chubby.  It is an understatement to say I feel cheated.  Not only has my virtue and denial not resulted in me being as lean as a blade, but I am not enjoying food any more than when I was on one of my oats and peas eating plans of the past.

There is also the matter of green.  Not the lack of vegetables I eat (although that is also a factor), but the amount of trash I currently generate living off those little pre-packaged meals.  Oh… and also the amount of “green” I spend buying them, at R30 or R40 a pop.

dinners : day 6 to day 10

I wondered how I could motivate myself to make a change.  I wanted to challenge myself as follows – try to make dinner from scratch.  Try to look at food properly, and interact with it.  Try to allow my body to choose what it wants and needs, without rules and prescriptions.  To trust myself at the buffet again.  To trust myself at the fridge.

I didn’t want to go on a diet, and I didn’t want to start pretending I am always perfect and virtuous, like the film stars who claim to only eat steamed fish and salad for dinner every night.  I wanted to be real, warts, the occasional take-out, and all.

So enter “30 Days of Dinner”.  I wanted to make an honest account of what I eat for dinner every night, by photographing it, and posting it on Facebook, and every ten days, in this blog.  My dinners now have nowhere to hide.  I have promised to post the good, the bad and the sad, and I welcome any comments or feedback you might have.

I encourage anyone interested, to take the same challenge.  Own your dinners!  Proudly say – I ate that! Yeah!  Boast about your culinary adventures, and confess where you are fallible.  Let’s rediscover our passion for food, and make our choices based on our taste buds (with a dash of social responsibility) rather than wall-charts and calorie counters.  Allow your body to make its own choices. Remember the world you lived in, before it got twisted and warped by diet culture.



REAL women have curves?

20 Jul

Suzannes Perspective

I recently came across a support group for women struggling with self esteem issues, called ‘REAL Women Have Curves’ (unrelated to the film, starring America Ferrera, with the same name).

I have a couple of questions.

What the ferking hell is a REAL woman?

If your answer is “dem ones that have curves!” then I can only assume flat chested athletes are fake women.  I could also assume fat men are real women, as they have curves too.  A fake woman can become real by getting fake tits I suppose.  How nice.

And how about that word “curves”?  Don’t you love a lame euphemism?  Fat people generally get round, past a certain point of weight gain, and most curves are eliminated.  Instead of boobs going out, waist going in, and butt going out, it all pretty much goes out.  So maybe “curve” would have been better than “curves”.  Unless of course, you deliberately wanted to exclude the extra supersize large fatties from the self esteem class.  Only Anna Nicole porny looking curvy types please.  No round people or flat people because they surely aren’t real women either.  Yucky!  Send them away!

Keira was so grateful the hollywood magic men could make her into a "real" woman...

We need to consider the way we talk about how people look, in order to make a point.  If you are dissing the opposite of those you seek to build up, you are doing it wrong.  Let me give a few examples of statements I found on the web this evening :

“American men actually prefer a woman who is somewhat meaty over the anorexic bimbo types”

It doesn’t sound too bad at first glance.  Its motives are sympathetic, and it is written in the same tone as one might use when telling a child “don’t worry about those silly bullies”, when they return home from school with a black eye. The writer is attempting to make an overweight blogger feel better, by letting her know that not every man is looking for the thinner physical ideal.  I get that.  But then SAY THAT.  It is not necessary to use insult to comfort, even if you feel as though insulting the “lucky” or “privileged’ (the Thin) can’t really be considered an insult.

Consider flipping this statement to :

“American men actually prefer a woman who is somewhat boney over the bingeing moron types”

Can you see where the line was crossed?  If my adapted quote had been posted anywhere by anyone, it would have been flamed by several horrified respondents.  Interestingly, the real comment didn’t manage to solicit a single response from anyone who felt strongly enough to leap to the defense of the underweight.  Attaching personality traits and intelligence levels to physical characteristics is offensive.  You do not get a free pass because you are ripping off thin people.

Beth Ditto - a certain recording artist?

Here’s another quote I found :

“Study after study has shown that men prefer women who have meat on their bones to those who resemble a certain hotel heiress”

How do you feel about this flip :

“Study after study has shown that men prefer women who have more muscle than flab to those who resemble a certain recording artist”

Why is it necessary to make other people feel inferior, in order to feel good about ourselves?

I would like to point out to the creators of groups like “REAL women have Curves” that there is NOT a big pot of self esteem somewhere, that we all have to share, and which isn’t quite big enough to provide us each with a decent ration.  Me having a bit,  does not deprive you of the chance to have any.  It really isn’t necessary for you to beat me over the head to try to grab mine.  Look in your pocket.  DON’T ARGUE WITH ME. Look in your pocket!  See it?? Yes exactly.  You have your own self esteem.  Same as me.  You just have to take it out of your pocket, and pin it on your chest.


What is willpower?

12 Jul

(Heather’s Perspective…. PS: This blog was written almost 3 years ago… and it’s about more than willpower-to-resist-food.  Suzanne – can you see any changes in ‘that’ me – to ‘this’ me?  Answer me in the form of a comment! x)

Croissant or the apple....?

There are people in the world who possess iron-clad willpower (Everest mountaineers and Olympic gymnasts spring to mind).  Iron-clad willpower people tend to be  healthy, fit, strong and exceptionally driven.  They achieve all kinds of fantastic goals and conquer all kinds of tremendous challenges.

They are the people on the covers of TIME magazine and National Geographic… those who embark on solo-hikes to the North Pole.  Or ride mountain bikes across the length of Africa.  Or swim the English Channel with only one arm because the other arm was blown off by a landmine on the occasion when they were trekking through the jungles of the Amazon to deliver life-saving medication to previously undiscovered groups of pygmies.

And yet… for every iron-clad willpower person who flick-flacks their way into the record books – or achieves yet another awe-inspiring victory in their chosen field of brilliance… there are a couple million other people who struggle with the simplest of tasks:  to NOT eat the plump, freshly-fried, glazed donuts sitting temptingly on the snack table at their company’s latest brain-storming session.

Iron-clad willpower people don’t think about donuts.  Donuts hold no sway over them.  Unfortunately… I cannot be counted amongst the esteemed ranks of the former.

For me, willpower is this mysterious elusive, exclusive quality that seems to have cleverly evaded me… for my entire life… (we have a kitchen rat that does the same thing!)  Where does one ‘find’ willpower?  How does one muster it up?  Can it be bottled or bought?  Can it be figured out…. understood?  Prescribed?  Categorized?

Yesterday… in a temporary fit of irritation-crossed-with-self-pity…I scoffed down a pack of mini glazed donut holes from Woolworths.  And I felt sick afterwards.  But mostly annoyed and disappointed in myself – in that – as much as I’d love to be on the cover of TIME magazine… or hailed by the critics for making some kind of huge, impressive difference in the world… I feel more like a really frail and fallible individual, trying to hack my way through the impossibly thick, jagged and unpredictable boughs of life… with a small, blunt machete… in an attempt to reach my goals and dreams which lie hidden somewhere, in amongst the tangled undergrowth.  And I constantly wonder:  will I ever get there?  Or will I just be hacking and struggling and fighting… until I die?


The joys of shopping for Fat Clothes!

7 Jul

(Heather’s perspective)

As you may have already gathered, I don’t fit into normal sized, normal clothes that normal people are able to buy from the normal shops.  No, I have to buy my clothes from the very special shops… with very special clothes… for very special super-sized ladies (insert condescending company tag-line and jingle here).  Now normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this – at least there are options available to me and places where I can actually buy clothes that fit me.  The problem I have with the fat-lady stores isn’t that they sell clothes for fat ladies…. it’s rather the collection of utterly vile clothes that’s on offer at said stores!

Penny C (a part of the Edgars group) is one such brand.  The brand, named after ex-Miss-Universe… Penny Coelen-Rey… (who, ironically, has never had a fat day in her life) offers overweight women an ‘exciting’ collection of floral ‘blouses’, jeans embellished with enough studs and sequins to make Dolly Parton proud, nylon granny pants in flattering shades of lilac with a crease ironed down the middle of each leg… and denim skirts with tiers of frills, edged with white lace (Think I’m exaggerating?  Ask my thin sister who accompanied me on one of my dreaded clothes-hunting trips!)

Donna Claire (part of the Foschini group) is not much better.  There seems to be a belief amongst the buyers, and indeed makers, of plus-sized garments that fat women are:

  • Definitely 45 years old or over – so there’s no ‘young’ or remotely trendy clothes to be found (on the contrary, lilac and florals abound!)
  • Fat women are ‘jolly’ and ‘loud ‘n proud’ and would like the loudest most garish clothes possible.  Therefore… each and every item has 2 or more of the following:  sequins, studs, bows, frills, iron-on prints of something cheesy, lace, fake leather strips, fake gold clasps and many more delightful options.
  • Fat women surely don’t have sex.  Therefore, why make anything decadent or luxurious in satin?  (Like maybe a simple black satin nightie with a matching gown…?)… Oh no, instead – we are offered cutesy, children’s pajamas and nighties… embellished with teddy-bear prints, cupids, hearts, fluffy pinkness and printed with sayings like: “Cute and Cuddly”.  Oh, goody-gum-drops!

Here’s some photographic evidence (photos taken by my sister in dressing rooms of the abovementioned stores)….

Beetle Juice jersey with flared denim skirt, anybody?

Clingy, shiny, pixelated-TV-pattern shirt with stomach bow... and flared office skirt.

And... my personal favourite: Pale pink crimpelene, camel-hoof creating pants... with ironed seam down the leg... with delightful, matching, magenta blousss with giraffe-skin pattern, bejeweled neckline and flared sleeve. Yeah, baby!


Weight. The Final Frontier. These are the voyagers of the starship supersize.

6 Jul

Suzannes Perspective (this rant originally posted on Facebook)

It is the nature of human beings, to find a friendlier face, for our socially unacceptable afflictions.

Alcoholism has become a disease, which means the victims now include those who hold the bottle, instead of just those who hide from those who hold the bottle. Promiscuity is the manifestation of a tragic childhood, instead of just a love of sex and attention and a lack of interest in the consequences. Violence is the fault of TV, pc games and plastic guns, instead of twisted being what twisted does.   We molest, because we were molested. Tossed about by circumstances and genetic predispositions – we are molded into the beasts we are – like so much helpless clay.

“You did the best you could.. considering”.

Give a fucked up person an excuse, and they will grab it with both hands. Give a fat person a pie, and they will grab it with both hands.

google search for "funny fat girl" - result 1

This is one socially unacceptable affliction that doesn’t get to have a friendlier face – by its very nature, obesity is stuck with the chubby face that it’s got. You are fat. Who to blame that on though. Hmmm. Can we perhaps attribute your problem to a syndrome or a disease? Well, not really, because you Sir, have a thin twin sister, and you Ma’am, had a perfect childhood. Your own fist lifted it to your mouth.. we all agree on that, so there isn’t an imaginary stranger to blame that on. You didn’t do it? Yeah right. You wear the evidence on your hips.

It’s not even “cool”, like bulimia or anorexia, which although tragic, hold in their grip victims who seem rather brave and noble, and jeez.. pretty flippen disciplined ey?   We want to hear all about it, in endless magazine articles and made for TV movies. We want to see pics of bony asses and hear about the clever ins and outs of how they did it. “Karen, after being rejected by a modeling agency, starves herself into a hospital bed, before finding the strength to overcome”. We can’t get enough of that shit. I don’t see all that many made for TV movies about “Sarah, after being rejected by a boy in high school, ate her way into type 2 diabetes and size 26 pants, before finding the strength to attend a water aerobics class with normal size girls”. Who would want to watch that? What’s so impressive about that “battle”?.. just don’t lift your paw to your mouth you fat pig.. all the regular people yell in unison.. “less food, more exercise!”

Google search for "funny fat girl" - result 2

An anorexic or bulimic is never the monster a fat person is. We all know that anorexics are type A personalities – overachievers. Fat people? Dim witted simpletons. Silly creatures with no self control. Lazy people. The difference has something to do with how society views “greed” (picture the marshmallow monster from ghost busters, blubbering down the road), in contrast to how it views “self control” (virginal, dainty creature says no to pies AND cigarettes!) – even the extremes of which, we can’t help admiring the virtue in.

But here’s the thing.

A fat person ruins their OWN life (a new take on the expression “biting the hand that feeds you”?).  As far as bad habits go, it’s a one victim crime. If you grew up in a home with an alcoholic, all the explanations in the world as to how the drinker in your life was a victim “of the disease” don’t help all that much to patch up the damage done by having them as part of your life, or for the terror and verbal abuse inflicted on you. Did you have a slaggy mom or a violent dad? Great that they get to weep in therapy about their traumatic childhoods, after robbing you of yours. You can love them, you can move on, when you see that they are trying to beat it? Right? Shame? Right?

So.. did a fat person ever chase you down the street and steal your ice-cream? Did the extra biscuits your mom ate in front of the TV cause you trauma?

Not so much?

Google search for "funny fat girl" - result 3

But yet we are ashamed to admit we are related to very fat people. We disown them, we shame them, and we laugh at them. We can’t respect them.

Here’s where I am heading with this : Would you walk into a room of alcoholics and point and laugh? Would you post pictures of their red noses on Facebook, their clammy complexions and little booze paunches? Pics of their diseased livers? I wonder why that isn’t funny. It’s not though. Not a total scream like a pic of a fat chick lying on a bed.. you know. Looking fat. Ha ha! Hilarious! *point point, weeping with joy*

If the only person a fat person is hurting is themselves, why do we have to get on at them so much? Is it just because “we don’t want to have to look at it?” Well, I suppose, in the same way we don’t want to have all those homo’s loving each other in our faces. They can do it if they really have to, behind closed doors, but we just “don’t want to have to look at it”? That’s tricky for fat people, as they have to make their way through the world in their bodies, and they can’t zip them off like a wetsuit, just so that they don’t offend thin folks. I am pretty sure they would be happy to do that for you, if they could.

What they probably won’t do, is have the courage to agree with this post, or even acknowledge they have read it. I noticed an echoing silence from anyone even a single kg over their goal weight when I posted a link to a horrifying article about how some men sexually pursue fat women “for sport”. It’s called “Hogging”.

The only fat woman comfortable responding was my sister (and no.. I don’t need to use a euphemism, she would prefer I said “fat”, not “large”.. not “curvy”). Heather knows who and what she is, and is confident enough to defend her personal boundaries. If it gives her away as being fat? Hell. Denial is a door that is going to smack you in the face sooner or later right?

So… let me raise my glass to every other woman of a certain size.. who will never read this, who would have gawped at the title and assumed my intentions were the regular kind. I think I get it. Gotta pretend that they are cool with it.. got to keep up that happy jolly façade all the time.. gotta do that.

That’s probably the only way to survive.


How not to sell avos

2 Jul

(Heather’s perspective)

Eat... Eat... Eat!

So… the other day, I was sitting in my car, waiting for the robot to go green when an avocado salesman approached my window and tried to sell me a box of avos.  Now, I actually love avos, but on this particular day I had no cash on me, so I politely shook my head.  Not to be deterred, the avo salesman enthusiastically continued with his sales pitch;

“Special price avos – just for you, I’ll give them to you for a special price”

“No thank you” I said politely, keeping my eyes straight ahead and waiting impatiently for the green light.

“But I have a very special price for you .   Nice, ripe avos.  Here, have a look!”

“No… thank… you”, I said with a firmer tone.  Hoping he’d get the message.

“Please ma’am, please support today!  I’m offering you a very good deal, ma’am”

I shook my head firmly.  But the salesman remained unswayed.  He started to get animated.

“But I can see that you eat!”

“Excuse me?” I said, turning to look at him, confused.

“I can see that you’re an eater!” he said, whilst pointing animatedly through the window at my tummy rolls, “I can see!  I can see!”.

At that moment, the light turned green.  What else to do but drive on…?  What else was there to say?  He was, after all, right.  I am an ‘eater’ as he so succinctly puts it.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time.  I could write a book of stories of things that complete strangers have said to me about my weight… and a separate book on what family, friends and peers have said.  I guess I could feel hurt, insulted and bitter but, to be honest, it’s just too draining and a pointless waste of time and energy to get bitter about it.  I rather just laugh about it.  Best medicine, after all.


Another reason why it sucks being fat…

1 Jul

A few years ago I (Heather) started a series of illustrations on why it sucks being fat… here’s one of them (hope the text is readable!)