So I’m apparently permafat

We’re taking a break from the regularly scheduled autisms (I SWEAR that ME book post will be up very shortly) to talk to something near and dear to my heart.

Fat.

There is probably some fat pretty close to my heart, right? I’ve never excelled at anatomy. But I know the body has fatty layers abounds. Anyways.

I recently tried a ketogenic diet. I wanted to lose weight. Most of my family was doing it, both parents, sister, brother in law, sister in law, and then me.

I quit after a week. I had the “keto flu” according to most keto-ers I know, and hey. No ill will to those who live and love keto. But when I lost substantial amounts of weight before this, I never went through a period of my body going into crisis mode.

I’m bipolar. I’m… fatigued in general every day. I know what dead feels like and let me tell you, this was advanced darkness.

We put so much folk wisdom into “listening to our bodies” but when it’s time to lose weight, shut the fuck up body, you’re the enemy.

I don’t want to fight food. I don’t want to wage war with my body. But that’s what I’ve always done.

I’ve always been fat, or so the story goes. Actually, I don’t want to play this game. 99% of my life I wasn’t fat. But 100% of my life I’ve been told I was.

Recently I brought this up to my mom. “No, you were never heavy.” I used to diet with her. I don’t want to direct and rage at her, though. She has her own fat-demons and no parent is pure enough to keep those from getting to her child.

And so, when I was a kid– probably 9 years old, maybe younger, maybe a little older– I told my parents I thought I was fat. I had that spindly prepubescent child body. I got mad that they wouldn’t believe I was fat.

I’m not sure who told me I was fat. It’s easy to blame the media, or my shitty gradeschool friends. But whatever it was, when I was just a little goddamned noodle, I thought I was fat. I wish I had a picture handy of what I looked like when I was 9, just to laugh.

When I was 11 my neurologist told me to lose weight. I think I was 11, might have been older. I don’t remember what my weight had to do with my sleep paralysis.

Here’s a reference photo from later. Homecoming dance, 9th grade of High School. Look how fat I was.

(I loved this dress. Still like the color, but the cut was not for me. I should really recreate it.)

Homecoming

Also can we derail to talk about who in the hell did my makeup? Someone actually put that red eyeshadow on me and said it looked good. It was probably the girl who insisted pink wasn’t my color. She probably did my foundation too.

But yes. Those are the deathfats right there. I think I probably weighed 150 pounds then, 5 foot 4. I remember getting teased by this shit-ass group of boys about how I had to weigh like 200 pounds.

I’m sincerely confused. I wore a size 8 then. I think. According to a BMI calculator that was only 5 pounds overweight.

I dieted a lot. I felt bad a lot. I got bullied a lot, by those same boys. I remember being mad when girls on the internet who said they weighed 120 thought they were fat. I remember being mad when anyone said they were fat if they were skinnier than me. I was fat.

It was around this time that I went to a psychiatric hospital for severe suicidal ideation. I gained a lot of weight (I want to say I peaked at 165 pounds) because they basically forcefeed you there. It was to make folks with eating disorders eat. I was mad. I didn’t have a disordered relationship with food or my body. I was fat.

I took archery classes when I was 16 years old. I was nervous about being athletic again, being so fat. I had taken a girls athletics class in 7th grade, where the coach said to my mom that she’d rather have a million me’s than a bunch of the naturally athletic girls. Because I tried. I sucked so much at running, and the hardest thing I’ve ever done was run a mile in just under 10 minutes. I sucked at everything. Because I was fat.

But anyways. I took archery classes. I worked to pull back the heaviest bow I could. Here I am with it, very extremely fat, but I always liked these photos because they made me “look skinny.”

20120818_143815

God if I could jump in a TARDIS right now and shake that girl so hard. Also correct her form, but mostly shake her. And congratulate her on hitting that little ball in the far right corner.

Now it’s time for the SWIM SUIT CONTEST!!!

19 years old:

blacksoot

Angeries at fatphobia, here. Also pictured is a picture of me, 4 years old, with a hamster. I was so much happier when I was skinny and had a hamster.

(hamster could not be reached for comment)

Now, 21:

Bloosoot

That suit has a weird little slimming panel in it, but you could still see my thighs! And my arms! In all FATTY FAT FAT GLORY.

See, there’s a reason these are swimsuit pictures now, instead of weight-obscuring action shots and obligatory homecoming portraits.

I learned I was fat. No, I learned I was always going to be fat. I apparently had no choice in the matter. My weight would fluctuate but it would always be deemed fat by society, doctors, shitfucker boys in 7th grade, everyone.

You can tell me I’m not fat, but honestly I’m so done caring. You can say it’s for my health but the health that worries me the most is in my brain, and I wouldn’t be surprised if what’s hurting it is the constant ping-pong of “just lose weight” “but you look so pretty.” I’m trying to improve how I eat, but even when I eat the best, when I exercise the most, I still have doctors telling me to lose weight. I’m still panting after a few minutes of walking, and nobody will bother to figure out why I have trouble breathing because “it’s probably just an extra 10 pounds on your chest”

Honey a hundred pounds ago I was panting for breath as my classmates teased me in gym class. As my coach said that I tried harder than anyone else.

So if exerting myself further than anyone else has to, if dieting myself ragged more than anyone should have to, if all of that doesn’t get me to a weight that the world deems acceptable? If it doesn’t fix the problems everyone thinks are “just weight”, then why the fuck am I doing it? 

I’m so done trying to lose weight actively. If it happens, it happens, but there’s otherwise no goddamn point.

I wanted to for my wedding, yeah. But. I tried on dresses a few months ago.

bepwed

I think I can deal.

 

Advertisements

A – Z of Autism: F is for Fighting Fire

There are a lot of messages in our culture about anger.

Basically none of them are good.

“Don’t fight fire with fire,” “hate breeds hate,” and the more recent, “love trumps hate.”

Sure, we get the messages on righteous anger, on passion. But more than anything we’re told that anger is useless at best, invalidating to our cause at worst. In the name of not dancing around my point, I’ll just state my guess as to why this is now.

Anger works, and the people in charge (of whatever power structure we’re fighting) know that. They know that anger, that passion, is what makes change happen, and they don’t want that. So they demonize it.

Or, perhaps, it’s just that anger makes people confront the demons that live within them, and we don’t like that. If someone’s angry at us, either we or they have done something wrong. It’s much easier to say that anger is the demon than to point at anything within ourselves.

The thing is, though? Anger works. Anger works so well. Active, angry passion is what shakes people out of their complacency long enough to learn. It’s what wakes people up to the fact that their actions are not okay. It’s what makes them not make the same mistake in the future.

Passive love and subtlety do almost nothing, save for win over people who are close to our side anyways. But when someone wants you dead, no amount of love will make them change. You could love them with all of your heart and more, and the only one who will change is you. You’ll learn. You’ll learn to be bitter, to be jaded, and that nothing you ever do will work. You’ll learn that you can’t change the world.

That isn’t true, though. It just takes anger. And sure, you can’t yell at someone enough that they’ll start thinking you’re a person. But you can yell at them long enough that they’ll know they can’t get away with verbalizing such beliefs.

And for those in the middle ground? Those who aren’t vested in their belief you’re not human, who just kinda… grew up that way? You might be able to  reach them with love, but they may just take your kindness as an indication that your concerns aren’t serious, or your passivity as a message that you’ll continue to tolerate them regardless. After all, if this was serious, wouldn’t you be mad? And yes. If you get angry, they may go ahead and say that you invalidated your own concerns with your emotions– but they will never be able to say you weren’t passionate.

And passionate we must be– should be. Because they do want us dead. They would prefer we had cancer (and to illustrate how insidious this is, I wasn’t even looking for creepy, murdery parents’ books when I found that one). Indeed, many parents of Autistic people make us dead, because it’s much better to be a murderer than have a living child that couldn’t live up to your exceedingly high expectations. Especially with how often a murderer parent faces little more than a slap on the wrist for their crime. Sometimes they want us cured, or never born. We can go back in time to the olden ages of the early 2000s, when the Hear Their Silence rally spread hatred for those of us already living and extended a threat to those yet to be born, with a phone number of 1-877-No-Autism and  message of unity around, I don’t know, our graves? You can see some emails around it here and here.

Do note where the anger really stems from, though. Either you call things out so kindly that nobody hears your voice, or you get angry enough that they start shouting back.

And again, the middle ground. The middle ground can be the hardest to reach with kindness, because you’ll approach them kindly, and then they’ll set up a Meeting to Discuss things after the damage is done Kindly, and you’ll discuss with them Kindly and they’ll discuss back Kindly and you’ll have another Kind Meeting but the thing is, at this point the damage was done about a month ago and there’s a good chance you’ve still made no progress at these meetings where you’re allowed no passion, no bite.

But the minute you’re shaking in front of an authority figure, your voice cracking, your eyes blazing in fury, and you tell them outright that what they’re doing is wrong, you get results.

So I’ll continue to be angry. I’ll continue getting results. And I’ll have friends, new activists usually, who will wonder why I’m so angry. Who will insist on trying things their way, the nice way, who want to be friends with everyone so that we can all get along.

I’ll let them, too. Because I had to learn, once, that kindness is moot when someone wants you gone.

I’ve been kicked off of a blog network for calling people out nicelybecause those people were my bosses. I learned they’ll find a way to demonize you if they don’t want to hear your message, that they’ll remove you from sight regardless so you might as well take some blood with you.

I’ve learned that asking for written-down-rights to be respected in a psychiatric hospital leads to threats of solitary confinement. I’ve learned that backing down in fear leads to token gestures of goodwill while they still deny you basic personhood. What if I had been a brave child? Taken solitary, screamed and flailed against the walls in anger? I probably would’ve gone on to sue the hospital like I intended. But, the thing about those proper venues of anger– legal suits and such– is that they take energy that a mentally ill 14 year old doesn’t have.

I’ve learned that friends will leave you and groups will ostracize you when you ask them to be nicer about mental illness. I’ve learned that anger can’t change that, actually, but a burning vitriol will shine a light on who your real friends will always be. While, you know, the fake ones kick you in the gut.

So I’ve learned this anger. But the thing is? I shouldn’t have had to. My elder Autistics already learned these lessons on anger and effectiveness. If I had only met them sooner, I could have learned to harness my anger, grow my anger.

Maybe that’s what I’m doing now. I’m no elder, but I’ve been doing this for a while longer than many of the Autistics I know in person. Maybe I just want to write this out so they know why I’m angry, and know that they should be too.

And yes, you have to know how to use your anger. There’s a time and place for everything and nuance to every skill. But you can never learn to wield a weapon that you won’t pick up.

 

The Problems with the Ashley Treatment

Content Warning for forced sterilization, forced childhood, and mention of sex and sex abuse

Not a lot of things make me angry enough to blog anymore.

Well, apparently, the Ashley Treatment still does.

The Ashley Treatment is a “treatment” where a disabled child is forced to remain in a child’s body forever for the convenience of the parents. They’re made to stay small so that they can be managed easier by full-sized adults, and they’re sterilized and never allowed to go through puberty. It’s being considered in Oregon.

Let me spell out why this is gross. First, adults don’t belong in children’s bodies. No, not even disabled adults, because “disabled” doesn’t cancel out “adult”. Adults simply are not children, regardless of how profoundly disabled their minds or bodies are.

But it goes beyond the basic morality of not forcing an adult to look like a child. What the Ashley Treatment does is it takes away the person’s chance to go through life like everyone else does. Thing like the “pain” of puberty are a part of life that all people are entitled to (this doesn’t really conflict with transgender rights, by the way– just put “the correct” in front of puberty).

It might sound kind to take the possibility of pain away from someone whom you don’t think could comprehend it, but what you’re doing isn’t sparing them. It’s robbing them of what makes life, life. Life is a roller coaster of pain and pleasure, of happiness and sadness. If you take the pain and sadness out of their life, there’s nothing to contrast the happiness with. It leaves life horribly one dimensional.

Now, you might be thinking “well I don’t think the girl in question has the capacity to understand that her life in one-dimensional.” Here’s the thing about that, beyond that it makes me want to spit venom: You don’t know.

There are four possibilities here, two of which I don’t even want to entertain, but I will because this is my “hold hands and be nice” blog.

  1. She can’t comprehend losing part of her life, and this process is done to her, and mentally she technically doesn’t suffer.
  2. She can’t comprehend losing part of her life, and the process isn’t done, and the only person who suffers is the parents who suddenly have to change adult diapers.
  3. She can comprehend losing part of her life, and the process isn’t done, and so she goes on enjoying life the way life is meant to be lived.
  4. She can comprehend losing part of her life, and the process is done, and suddenly you’ve irrevocably taken something away from someone who wasn’t able to stop you.

Tell me what the worst case scenario there is.

Yeah, it’s number four. It’s certainly not number two. But let me talk about why it’s number four first. The thing is, we don’t technically know if she would be mindful that something like this was done to her. We can’t obtain her consent. But when you can’t obtain someone’s consent, the answer isn’t “ask someone else.” The answer is a hard “NO,” unless we’re talking a life-saving procedure. We’re not. We’re talking about a procedure to make things easier and more palatable on the parents. With that, let me talk about why it’s not number two.

Parenthood is not for parents. Parenthood is not about parents. Parenthood is and always should be for the benefit of the children, because regardless how profound the disabilities your child comes out with, you chose to create them. You now owe it to your child to have their best interests in mind. You owe it to your child to care the most about what will allow them to lead the most enriched life possible.

You should not get to take your child’s life and alter it for your convenience. Which, really, is the point of making an child never grow up– convenience. Though, as I mentioned, it’s also about making a child’s life more easily digestible.

That’s the point of taking away a female child’s breast buds and uterus. Though I’ll insist that breasts are not inherently sexual, that’s neither here nor there, as that’s how they’re perceived by most of the society dictating that a disabled girl’s breasts should be removed. This has to be about reducing how adult an adult looks, and by extension how culturally sexual an adult looks. Breast growth just doesn’t hurt enough that breasts can be justifiably removed with that in mind. But  reducing how “sexual” a disabled adult offspring looks is, to some people, a good enough reason.

Parents are often grossed out by the thought of their children having sex as adults. Society is often grossed out by the thought of disabled people having sex. Put those together, and you have the parents of disabled people being disgusted by the thought of their children growing up to be sexual. And so, parents do what they can to keep their adult children un-sexual.

This is another issue of consent, one that is jumbled up with other issues of consent. Parents might argue, “my child won’t be aware enough as an adult to consent to sex.” That might be a good point. But if they can’t consent to sex, they also can’t consent to you taking their ability to be sexual away from them (ignoring here that breasts and a uterus are not necessary for actually engaging in sexual activity, just necessary for looking the part of “adult who can have sex”).

Beyond that, there’s actually nothing wrong with sexual activity between consenting adults, or involving just one adult, even if said adult is disabled. Sex and choosing whether or not to partake in it is a part of the human experience, and everyone– everyone– deserves the right to make the most informed decision that they can according to their mental capacities.

What a profoundly intellectually disabled adult’s decision process looks like might differ from that of a non-disabled adult, and it would almost definitely benefit from the guidance of a third-party with their best interests in mind, but that doesn’t make it less valid. As an example, I could see two intellectually disabled adults being able to engage in sexual activity together with entirely valid consent. Between an intellectually disabled and non-disabled adult there would probably be issues with power differentials, though.

While we’re on the subject of sex and consent, I would be wrong to fail to mention that making an adult small and light makes it that much easier for abusers to abuse them. I sincerely hope that this requires no explanation.

So really, it is the polar opposite of ethical to do this to a person. You rob them of intrinsic aspects of their life, and you ignore their bodily autonomy to override their consent, and you put them at risk for abuse. All in the name of parents having an easier time. All in the name of convenience.