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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 6M ago

Most people would look at this post and go, what? But as always, just wait to see what I mean.

Most people (maybe not most, but a lot) of people I’ve ever heard talk about addiction talk about having the disease of “more.”

On a walk this afternoon, 65 hours after my last binge, I realized that I have the disease of enough. 

I used to ask myself,

Am I good/worth enough?

Do I belong enough?

Is there enough food for me? 

How can I become small enough? 

Did I burn off enough? 

My family used to comment that I would “eat like I was going to the electric chair” and tell me to “take human bites.” These comments didn’t help me, in fact, they probably made me internalize a lot of the mentality that I was “broken.”

Realistically, now I know that there is a glitch in my brain that falsely tells me that there is not enough food and that I better eat as much as I possibly can so that I get enough. This comes from dieting and starving beginning at age twelve; I built myself a deprivation mechanism that fossilized itself into my brain so hard, that when large quantities of food are present, my brain thinks its the last time I’ll ever eat again.

The reasons why I binged on thanksgiving this year are many. For one thing, I disassociated pretty bad when I got to the table, as if it were just me and the plate. I took a three hour nap after my meal and still felt sick. I wasn’t proud at all.

To my surprise, I woke up the next morning and felt SUPER charged with the energy to recover and do better. I don’t know where it came from; I think maybe I just knew that I didn’t want to feel the way I felt the night before…disgusted, alone, defeated and depressed. 

I went to a meeting with my cousin, and another one later that evening, and another one last night where I shared in front of a room full of 50+ people that I needed support. I asked myself two questions on paper last night, “How do I get better at asking for help?” and “How do I make g-d everything?” and I think that meetings and support systems will reveal the answers to those questions as I go forward.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that staying sober is pretty easy on me but, if I’m in active eating disordered behavior, that becomes a thousand percent false.

I never drank problematically until about a year ago, when I spent a month drinking at the same bar. During that time, I learned how connected my eating disorder and my problem of drinking were. My body image issues were the primary problem, but I learned quickly that if I drank, I no longer was conscious of what I looked like and I couldn’t really coherently think about what other people thought of me–or what I thought of myself. 

Even after I stopped drinking alcohol, I was so judgmental (one of my go-to defects). Today, I realized that this was how I behaved because I saw people the same way that I assumed they saw me, which was how I also saw myself–worthless, inferior, undeserving. And I kept blaming the internalized voices of my abusers for these projections, when realistically, it was a way of keeping up self will. Those voices that emotionally manipulated me down to nothing started as the voices of other people, and then started to sound a lot like me.

I blamed my higher power for that for so long, even though it wasn’t her fault. I couldn’t trust a higher power because what had g-d ever done for me, anyway? I had to control my life. I had to protect myself. I had to find ways to survive abusive people. I had to successfully hide my identity from my family. I had to save the world and still make it home in time for dinner. All the stability in my life has always depended on ME. How was staying sober or free of self harm or away from disordered eating any different?

Those messages I received as a kid that I was small or unimportant came from people who chose their own form of self-will over unconditional love. And it gave me a model for allowing my own forms of self-will to run my life into the ground, on and off for the past (almost) 12 years.

And to think I kept this up until it attacked me head on this past week. 

I binged because my higher power wasn’t invited to the table with me where I sat and ate for almost 10 minutes in virtual silence. I didn’t give a power greater than myself a chance to protect me, and that’s on me. I was busy making sure I had enough, belonged enough, felt like enough–when in reality, I was born enough.

48 hours

Stare at your plate

eat, take more

eat, take more

until you can’t 

take anymore

you remember 

this time last year

you were well 

because you invited god

to your table

where is your god now

and why did you make her small?

because it’s all you know 

how to do

shrink yourself,

to feel like your life 

is your own 

except god didn’t have to

get smaller with you 

it’s not god’s fault 

the same way it wasn’t 

your fault

when they chose self will

over unconditional love

so you sit here 

and stare at the plate 

taking more,

promising you’ll make up for it tomorrow,

hollow yourself out 

until your body is screaming,

you’ll keep choosing self-will 

over unconditional love

and you can’t hear your body

screaming

“We are both so much more

than enough.”

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is considered a subsymptom of most eating disorders. It involves “a disabling preoccupation with perceived defects in appearance which makes sufferers excessively self- conscious.”

In both active ED and in recovery, I’ve experienced body dysmorphia (also often called dysmorphophobia, to emphasize its positioning in the realm of cognitive distortion rather than reality); and the feelings that come with it–anxiety, shame, dissociation, guilt, worthlessness. These emotional parts of the disorder itself are visceral and real experiences.

But in a few arenas of this recovery community, I’ve also heard expressions of dysmorphia linked to “feeling fat” and “being fat”, even (and especially) from the most thin-passing of people.

I shouldn’t even have to say why this is inherently problematic in that it alienates actually fat bodies, dismisses fat peoples’ corporeal reality to a fleeting emotion (which it most definitely is not) and reinforces fatphobia by centering thinness as the ideal to achieve even in the face of deadly illnesses like eating disorders very much are.

It recycles in the already disordered brain the idea that fat is a bad word. 

As an activist, I’ve often been thrust into the conversation regarding the use of “fat” when a person just really is trying to express that they are deep in dysmorphic thinking as the person who had the responsibility of educating thinner people about the ways that their language instigates healthism, size discrimination and weight stigma.

While I didn’t mind at the time, I had to step back and really ask people to do their own work and their own research to understand why this kind of speech is dehumanizing to bodies like mine. Further, it is even harmful to people who are thinner than me because it positions them in a cognitive distortion that suggests that they “better be careful” or they’ll “end up like (fat person)”. This is the recipe for body dysmorphia perpetuated by our own culture. 

What it mostly comes down to is a gross misunderstanding of thin privilege. 

Thin privilege CAN and actually does often exist in the eating disorder recovery community. The most represented “recovering/recovered” body is the thin, white, cisgender female, and despite being two of the three, I’ve experienced a lot of frustration with this paradigm of privilege in what is supposed to be the “body positive” movement.

How can we claim to be positive and inclusive of ALL bodies if only certain bodies are being represented? It sure does make it look a lot like the white thin-passing people are the only ones working hard at recovery, while people of color and trans people who may be experiencing dual dysmorphia/dysphoria are working really hard not only to recover but to be seen.

Centering thin bodies in this movement also purports a hugely missed opportunity for fat people with eating disorders to speak on their stories. Fat people can experience restriction, and thanks to our diet culture, they do–often.

Fat people in the recovery community don’t only struggle with binge eating disorder and other disorders that are characterized by weight gain, though for some, that is our story. I’ve said it so many times on this blog…when I was in the throes of binge eating disorder, I was in a “healthy” or “normal” weight range…whatever that means.

Only after eating intuitively and settling into my body’s needs did I begin to gain weight in recovery…and not because I was necessarily eating more, but because my body was trying to readjust to all the years of dieting, restricting, excessive exercise and bingeing cycles that I used to abuse and numb myself through trauma and my severe anxiety.

“So thin people should just stay silent about their experiences, even if they ARE uncomfortable in their bodies?”

When mindfulness of one’s language is called for, sentences like this are often a response. People, especially those with privilege, really hate to feel like they are being silenced. Silence isn’t what’s demanded of those with eating disorders, no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

And even still, sometimes silence isn’t so bad. Because the less we talk, the more we can listen to what those experiences look like, sound like, act like and are like for other people.

Those of us with ED experience know that silence is what makes that eating disordered voice grow larger and louder. However, when being asked to consider how you use “fat” or express your dysmorphia, you’re simply being asked to consider the reality of others in the context of your own.

When I ask people who are in anti-diet circuits or even in recovery forums and settings to question why they “feel fat” and when I am quick to label their jargon as disguised or internalized fatphobia, I am met often with a lot of resistance.

Speaking in terms of social justice, this is a lot of the same thing that happens when white people are asked to question their implicitly racist behaviors and how those behaviors may signal that there are pieces of their identity that they benefit from that others don’t have the same privilege of doing on a daily basis.

I can’t take my fat off my body at will. It’s not a costume. It’s not an emotion. I can’t package it up into a feeling. I’ve tried that before, and it put me in a place where my body was at war with itself constantly from the time I was 12 years old until I was 23. 

“But what about when I DO feel larger than I might actually be?” 

Words you can use instead of “I feel fat” to describe your brain’s distorted relationship with your body:

“I’m feeling really bloated right now…it’s only temporary.”

“Wow! What I just ate maybe doesn’t feel so good all at once. Next time I try this meal, I’ll eat a little slower so I don’t feel so overcrowded, overwhelmed or sick.”

                             “My body feels different than it usually does.”

“I’m feeling a little out of sorts; how can I distract myself?”

                              “I can only compare myself to myself, and even then, comparison doesn’t help me live in the now.”

These are all statements that ask us to get curious about what’s really going on in our brain and to connect that to our actual, tangible reality.

And it does that while also not contributing anymore to the deepening our culturally constructed bias against fat bodies.

These thought patterns encourage me to step away from comparison traps, to view bodies in a more socially conscious way, and remove normative ideas about bodies from the center of my own individual consciousness, and maybe eventually, from the ideas we all have about what it means to be “in recovery.”

Feeling weird in your body is, and I hate this word–normal. But the harder we work at smoothing out that weirdness and becoming comfortable and curious about how different it can feel and look within us day to day, the softer and more gentle that strangeness gets.

Our bodies are not static, and feeling different in them every day is how we are supposed to live this life. I know that as long as I feel at home in this body, I’m free to feel as experimentally weird and different as my range of sensory and emotional experience allows. Dysmorphia is a big part of my story, but it doesn’t have to be escaped through fatphobic rhetoric that ultimately widens the gap between my empirically fat self and the worth and value I have as a person. 

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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 9M ago

Love shows up in the most unlikely places.

Seriously, who would have thought a city that is so famous for its crazy, double-digit inches winter snowstorms could be so full of magic?

One thing I never knew about the beautiful city of Buffalo was that it is an absolutely incredible place in the summer. 

My girlfriend and I went for her sorority sister’s wedding last week, and we made a little vacation out of it. I fell in love with the city, I learned so many new things about my relationship and myself, and I fell in love–with her. 

We spent the first night wandering around the canal side of town, and came across some really cool stuff–a shark girl art piece, boardwalk trivia night, and a few characters from around the city. 

Also–THE FOOD! Beef on weck, pretty good pizza (coming from a native metro-New Yorker), Buffalo wings, stuffed banana peppers, HUGE burgers, and every ten feet, a bar with their own brewery or a brewery close by that makes all their own beer. Of course, I did not partake in the drinking for obvious reasons (sobriety).

The day after we arrived, we hiked the Buffalo River through all the old grain silos and down past the canal side where we were on our first night in the city. It was easily one of the most calming, beautiful, and spiritually energizing things I’ve ever done. If you’re ever in Buffalo, go see Silo City–it’s unreal, and perfectly legal to tour–unlike almost all other abandoned sites you’ll find anywhere.

We came back to Silo City, this time for a vertical tour–yep, that’s right. My fat ass went up 11 floors of 110 year old spiral staircase, down more metal staircases, up a ladder, across an air bridge, and through three different grain silos that were built during or before 1930. I’ve urban explored since I was 15, but never with a group of strangers and most certainly never that high up.

And even though my fear of heights is like, OVERWHELMING, I still wasn’t as afraid of falling more than 14 stories as I was of maintaining my recovery while on this trip.

I realized that my fear wasn’t because I was angry at my girlfriend, or angry at anyone else–it was because I was in a physical and emotional space where it became really, really hard to keep my sobriety while being surrounded by so much celebration and so much actual alcohol and food all at once. And for me, staying sober is necessary to keep my ED recovery, too. I was in sensory overload, for sure.

So how did I do it?

Connection.

We had spent the day walking around, we toured the Martin House, originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and went to see the Hotel Henry, on the former site of the Buffalo State Psych Center.

I started getting really restless, irritable and discontent--which is what happens when you’re in your ego, far from prayer, and thinking only of yourself and your small problems.

My friend from home (shout out to Ryan) urged me with GIFs to go to this LGBTQ AA meeting ten minutes from our hotel room. I was able to ask my girlfriend to drop me off and get me there, and I’m so grateful I did.

An aside–Buffalo has an INCREDIBLEEEEEEE LGBTQ+ community.

The speaker spoke so much truth into my story. The perfectionism, the comparison, the feeling out of place. More and more people told my story and I realized that it was my higher power speaking through the people in this meeting, whom I would likely not see again.

I got their numbers anyway, and one of them was the reason I figured out why I was being such a brat–because I was so scared of losing everything I’ve been working for in recovery from my eating disorder and beyond.

They got me through the rehearsal dinner, where I wanted to cry because we sat three feet from the open bar. 

They got me through the rest of the night following the rehearsal dinner, when I finally opened up to my girlfriend about why I was being so mean and that I felt so scared. We compromised and and she thanked me for my realness. Relief.

Communication

…is something I’m notoriously terrible at. But Cait (yes, she and I have the same name…it’s….a thing) makes me so good at it. It’s easy to articulate things when someone wants to listen and grow with you and understand, even if they know they might not ever understand. 

The more we communicated, the more we were able to draw solutions out of the next twenty four hours.

She stayed for the wedding after party and I went back to our hotel room alone. I asked for what I needed, and it began with that meeting at the end of our trip. I set boundaries like I never have with another person before.

My fellows and my girlfriend weren’t the only ones I was in frequent communication with. My higher power was there this whole time, and I think that kayaking trip was when I felt it most. I was in my own head every second of that trip before the miracle of a meeting I went to, except when I was out on the water paddling through the wind like a champ.

Commitment

Maybe the feeling of “so in love” was a symptom of wedding fever; maybe not…who knows. Seeing all the dancing and the staring into each other’s eyes intently and the speeches and the love and the crying was enough to make me look at my own love and see nothing but perfectness.

Even in the face of imperfection. 

My girlfriend thought the ceremony was a half hour later than it actually was, so of course, we missed it. IMMEDIATELY she started to cry once she realized. I tried to preach acceptance as best as I could, and let her have a good time, dance a little, talk a little, reassure a little, get grounded a little.

Typically, I am a dancing MACHINE at weddings. But as I said, this wedding had me particularly anxious and vulnerable. So I didn’t leave my seat much, except for (obviously) the Cha Cha Slide. 

Then, our song came on. (“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran).

We were the only slow dancing queer couple on the floor, and the self-consciousness set in REAL hard. But I looked at her and sang the words and stopped caring. And I loved every second of it.

For three minutes, I was committed to being myself. I was committed to love and to not caring what other people thought. 

And that instance made me realize that I’m committed to loving this person as much as they love me.

And that means being honest with them, even if I have to lay out that honesty while being an angsty, frustrated and resentful mf. 

I loved Buffalo. I love being in love. I love my recovery. And I wouldn’t trade any of my life for anything (except maybe I’d move to Buffalo).

xo

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This week, I went to about 10 minutes of a twelve step study workshop before I shut down. 

Literally, full trigger tears and an overwhelming sense of being immediately alienated from the room.

This person opened a workshop about the 12 steps by addressing and creating alarmism (a “hook” for her audience, if you will), around the “obesity epidemic” and the faulty statistics that go with it.

In my recent work on steps 6&7 in my eating disorder recovery, I have been learning to still give feedback that is important for the cohesiveness of my existence with the world, without stomping on that person’s truth altogether and making them feel small simply because I am hurt by their actions.

A close friend encouraged me to give the feedback, because as she said, so many people are unaware and feedback (but not attacks on their personality or their lack of knowledge), ultimately makes us better people. So I wrote an email when I got home.

Hi (name redacted),

My name is Cait, and I am a volunteer and regular participant at (organization redacted) I was at your workshop briefly this evening and I want to address some feedback that I have regarding some of the opening statements you made.
As a person in solid recovery from three different manifestations of eating disorders, and someone who lives in a body that is probably classified as either “overweight” or “obese”, I found myself immediately shutting down when you brought up these statistics and let them stand on their own to be falsely conflated to the disease(s) of alcohol & drug addiction.
(Organization) is the place where I was able to explore the information I am about to share with you, and personally, it was really triggering for me to hear the opening of your workshop in this context, as this very process of disembodying the social construct of weight being a function of “disease” used in this way is inherently somewhat problematic.
This kind of thinking is the very same thought pattern that perpetuates the diet industry, which makes more than 65 billion dollars a year letting people know that they are always one bite away from being a walking health risk (despite the fact that our consumption often has little to do with it, as 77 percent of our bodies’ health predispositions are determined by genetics), that they are broken people who can be fixed by following a magic set of rules that will change not just their body size, but how the world perceives, welcomes and includes them. 
Obesity as a standalone issue in our society is socially constructed, and in a lot of cases misused to create outright prejudice around the people who meet the ‘criteria’. It is a fact that any qualified statistician can tell you that the very act of weight causing disease and weight being correlated with any given disease are not empirically the same set of information.
When you said 70 percent of Americans are obese, there was no acknowledgement of the fact that there is buy-in from a diet consumer culture that creates those statistics. I know that “breaking down weight stigma” isn’t the workshop you’re running—but letting this statistic hang in the air as a way to analyze the steps seemed to serve only the purpose of creating a “wow” factor that confirmed sizeism and healthism among members of your audience.
Several years ago, the set of standards for what “obese” is was shifted, such that millions of Americans became suddenly obese overnight, based not on consumption of food but on a deliberate, fatphobic shift in the data. This shift in numbers was purposeful and meant to create a panic—we live in a world where politicians have literally said that fat is more of a risk to American society than terrorism. In one fell swoop, our war on terror became a war against fat—and thus, against fat people.
Food as an “addiction” has also been long debatable. I am an ex-member of Overeaters Anonymous, and it is my truth that the way I was guided by almost everyone I interacted with to view food and my body in that particular fellowship made me more paranoid, obsessed with food, and disconnected from my body’s needs than I’ve ever been.
It actually kickstarted the most recent manifestation restrictive end of my eating disorders, which were a part of my life for nearly 15 years. It is no surprise that OA works for so many, because it still has a mental framework that props up weight loss as a back-burner goal. It is a function of diet culture.
Letting this rhetoric about “obesity” and the idea that “food addiction” and substance abuse are biologically the exact same process circulate is potentially harmful to people, and frames shame around people in larger bodies when this stuff is spoken about.
Eating disorders—because that’s what we’ll call the whole spectrum, from restriction to exercise bulimia and orthorexia to compulsive eating—are similar, but not the same, as drug and alcohol addiction. I have experience with alcohol abuse and if I treated my ED the same way I recovered from alcohol, I assure you I probably wouldn’t be alive to write this feedback to you today.
Compulsive eating is just as much an eating disorder as anorexia, but neither are an “addiction”. What people with ED’s are addicted to, most of the time in one way or another, is perfectionism and a sense of self that involves intense anxiety, control issues, and body dysmorphia. 
Food is a substance, just as water or hydrogen peroxide are substances, but not a “drug”, and is something we need to regulate our bodies for the purpose of sustaining life. I gained more weight in my recovery than I ever did while actively in my eating disorder, and am in perfect health—but that’s not the fat person’s job to justify to the world.
Creating discourse around this that lets obesity stand alone and conflate a lot of its causalities with drug addiction doesn’t leave room to explore the socially unjust implications of disembodiment in this process. It is statistically, sociologically and psychologically known that weight stigma is actually far more of a health risk than being fat itself is. There is empirical information to support this, which I would really recommend looking into.
Some of the best resources I have read to this point are Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch, Body Respect by Dr. Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor, Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon, and The Fat Studies Reader by Ester Rothblum & Sondra Solovay.
Their work is integral to breaking down what we have been conventionally sold about our bodies and how they work, how they should be treated in society over a certain size, and how to deconstruct this information using research that supports all bodies.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.
Cait O.
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I can promise y’all this post is going to be part rant, part analysis, part grieving process, all realness, and a lot of emotional work.

Today after a lot of sad reflection I’ve started to wonder what the absolute heck is happening to the body positivity movement.

Or maybe I’m just now realizing that it has never truly, wholeheartedly meant to include specific bodies over a certain size all along.

Once I have examined all the privilege I have being in a body with a voice in eating disorder recovery, body pos, and fat acceptance all at once, I realize it’s probably the latter. 

I’ve started to realize that body positivity as it stands, really hasn’t told us anything new for a long time. I say this because it’s rooted and it survives and thrives in a big hearty pot of western (white) feminism. It’s worth acknowledging that as a white cis person, I benefit from this. But as a fat person, I don’t, and neither does anyone bigger or more brown or differently abled than I am.

Being body positive and fat positive aren’t the same thing.

…In much of the same way that saying you’re not a racist and rejecting white supremacy aren’t the same thing. Just like tolerance and acceptance aren’t the same thing (though in a lot of settings they are problematically and incorrectly conflated). Taking one of these actions does not automatically signify doing the other.

Loving your body and giving people space to love their bodies too does not altogether erase attitudes and inherent policies that are fatphobic. It does not erase or remove thin privilege or the fact that people do indeed benefit from being smaller on an economic, social, and systemic basis.

And if you’re a body positive influencer who is in an “acceptably fat” body, standing next to a fat person for a picture and hoping that your privilege and success will somehow rub off on them and make them be seen isn’t fat positive.

Thinness is a western ideal.

So it makes almost perfect sense that even in “body positivity”, that thin, cis white bodies are at the top of the pyramid.

And maybe they don’t mean to be, but it’s hard to unlearn old habits. Western spaces colonized, stole and claimed the rest of the world as we know it, and I think that despite the best efforts of western ideals to shift and to (even if only cosmetically) pass themselves off as inclusive, western ideals are failing to hear the demands for accountability from all the other cultures that differ from us. 

Thinness is one of these old habits that continues to die hard.

In some eastern and many African cultures, the larger a body you were in, the more status you received. In western cultures, the converse of the above statement is true. You are assigned more personal value, more social currency, for the less space you take up in the world. Thin is not merely a vain statement of fashion, but a distinction of class,  moral character and righteousness. And to pretend that this has not carried itself into body positivity is, for lack of a better word, dense.

Thin members of the body positive community need to start doing better than taking pictures next to or with other fat women and hoping that somehow their thinternet success will rub off on us fat girls and make us worthy of being heard, too. If you want to actually share our space, move away from your privilege, hand over the mic to people with further marginalization than you, and let them speak.

This sort of non-specific callout post includes me.

I have learned and grown the most from the women of color who claim their bodies as their own and reject notions of body colonization. I have done so, often from the internet sidelines. I don’t deserve awards or accolades for not demanding emotional labor from people who don’t need to give it to me. But I think something can be learned from the very act of not making demands of people who are already deep in the struggle for representation, power, and a slice of this self-love that seemingly does in fact have a size limit. 

First and foremost, I listen.

I tell people about the wonderful work being done by people like Sonya Renee Taylor and Dianne Bondy (@diannebondyyoga) and  Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn) and Rachel McKibbens (@vulturekiss) and J. Aprileo (@comfyfattravels) and Jes Baker (@themilitantbaker) and Ericka Hart (@ihartericka) and the list goes on forever.

I am so grateful to them for my own voice and for love of my body and for taking my body out of a harmful context and putting it back into a context that recognizes its place in a world where there is so much struggle for people who are like me and in some cases even more struggle for people who don’t.

Freedom from restriction is still the dominating recovery narrative.

Though there are a full spectrum of eating disorders that we know about, somehow a lot of the bodies represented in the ED community and those who stake a claim in the body positive movement are ones who have struggled primarily with restriction.

While I am not aiming to detract from these particular stories, I think that again, thin privilege is at play here. Binge eating disorder wasn’t, after all, seen as even being a real eating disorder until only five years ago, despite being the most common one that Americans are faced with symptomatically. There is a lot that comes with unpacking the particulars of this. Let me try:

We as a society value being thin, but only thin enough to keep oneself alive. And for every body, this looks different. Let’s not forget that fat bodies can too be acting out restrictive behavior, despite preconceived notions about how their body became a fat one in the first place.

Those with binge eating disorder are often seen as just having no willpower, and are often congratulated for the very same behaviors that doctors and loved ones worry about when they are displayed in anorexia/ARFID patients. This stigmatizing and incorrect assumption is made clear by the fact that it wasn’t even listed in the DSM until 2013.

In other words, doctors got to blame binge eaters (whom society also doubly denotes as being virtually all fat people) for an eating disorder for all of medical history until this century.

And because of medical perceptions and the misinterpretation of correlation and causality between weight and health, weight restoration for anorexia patients is often seen as a function of this lack of willpower in people with BED. This in itself is a direct result of fatphobia, on both a social and medical scale.

This brings into play the idea that fat bodies can’t be participants in body positivity without being trolled by the health police.

The comments I have seen online about fat bodies, direct and indirect, expressing false “concern” for a person’s health, which when called out by the victim often reveals itself in its true form; nothing more than fat hate and deeply internalized weight stigma.

For people like me, weight loss or restriction is encouraged; and only bodies that are in danger of dying due to their smallness to begin with are allowed to show signs of weight gain and be applauded for it. Fat bodies are often locked out of body positivity in the name of health, which is why fat acceptance takes a radical extra step to ensure that fat bodies are actively being seen, tolerated, and accepted.

And even still, entertainment and mainstream media often make attempts that fall significantly short of humanizing fat bodies. Take this new show Insatiable for example–one that aims to address binge eating disorder and weight-based bullying by caricaturing it, only to actually play into and further normalize narratives rooted in fat hate.

I wrote a position statement on just the trailer alone, but I’ve heard enough about the first few episodes from a few blogs to know that it does far more harm than good. This show, as I’ve said before, does nothing but allow the dehumanization of fat people to sink further into the western psyche by neutralizing the oppression of larger bodies (not to mention not even having any actual large bodies on the set in the first place).

Before anyone asks, I won’t be giving the show “a chance” because I think it does a lot of damage to girls like me by making us re-live the trauma of growing up with the assumption that we were just fat, lazy, and, well, insatiable.

I’m all about growing through distress tolerance but I don’t need yet another media reminder that “just stop eating” is the recovery cure-all I’ve been waiting for for almost 13 years. If I wanted this kind of advice, I would still be interested in diet culture. Not to mention the classism, bad modeling of emotional regulation, and further stereotyping of addiction all in just the first episode. Big yikes. 

And somehow none of it manages to create a fat girl who stays that way and claims victory because of, not in spite of, what size she is. There is no body acceptance narrative to even be found. And without the presence of body acceptance, you can forget fat positivity altogether too.

Body positivity cannot exist without fat positivity.

I mean, so far, a lot of the time, it has existed without fat positivity across the board. But body positivity without fat positivity, fat acceptance, rejection of white supremacy, rejection of cissexism and heteronormativity and the intentional visibility of differently abled bodies is CRITICAL to creating a body positivity that is truly inclusive and intersectional. Body positivity doesn’t lock out anyone from the experience of personal, community body love through representation, peace, and when it calls for it, recovery.

So we need to do away with all the healthism, the pushing and shoving to get to the top of the pyramid, and dismantle the pyramid altogether.

We also need to agree to stop giving air time to shows, platforms, people, places and things that undercut people’s reality or their emotional health in pursuit of ratings or recognition. Evaluate the message, the message underneath the message, and lean into the impact that certain work has on you. Use that impact to hold creators and spaces and even law makers accountable for the ways that their actions may miss the mark on addressing and challenging weight stigma, or worse, ways that their work may contribute to it.

As a community we also need to note that none of this work exists without body diversity, and no voice deserves more air time than another. But without a doubt, there are certain voices that are getting most of the air time anyway.

Follow accounts, bodies and lives different from your own. Stand alongside people who have different experiences than you and ask them what they need. And when you ask, don’t just wait to respond–listen.

Ask. Listen. Act. Stand back.

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From a really early age, we are taught opposites as a way of categorizing things in our brain. Humans are conditioned to put things into filing systems based on what they are not, more often than what they are.

While this is a helpful skill for visual and spatial discrimination in our early development, it can turn into social discrimination and hardline rigidity in our adult lives.

The systems of binaries we create for the purpose of more convenient categorization don’t actually match up with the realities of our diverse world. There is more to us than just fat or thin, straight or gay, black or white.

An example that we struggle with as a society right now is the acceptance of non binary gender identities.

Even in the area of orientation (an identity entirely separate from gender), we are doing okay but could be better.  I struggled with my identity from the beginning of my adolescence until maybe the second year of college. I identified as bi to my friends and for all intents and purposes, to myself, but never really became fully comfortable or felt “in place” around guys.

When I came out at 19 to my mom, I told her I was a lesbian–but I knew it was more expansive than that. I have since opted for the term queer; an umbrella term that sits comfortably in the middle of non-hetero identity.

A lot of bi people experience bi-erasure; this notion that a person can’t be truly bi, but that either they are just needy and greedy or “not a real” gay/lesbian person.

And there are certain merits we give to people who cosmetically conform to the binary identities we have, even while they exist outside the margins with as little visibility as possible. Lesbian women can be lesbians on their own time, but must perform and exist as women (mostly by paying their dues to the male gaze) in the outside world. But often, fat people, trans people, and many others don’t have the same set of performance privileges (Vade & Solovay). The further into the margins you get, the less flexibility you have to be yourself; even behind closed doors.

This kind of dichotomizing happens both outside and within the queer community, and its a way of labeling that asserts a moral superiority that is just as socially constructed as the identities themselves.

It also does nothing to resolve the issue of breaking down the gender binary, and plays right into the harmful gendered stereotypes that non binary people find themselves having to apologetically aspire to in order to be perceived as “real” men/women. But guess what? Their very existence makes them “real”.

Binary thinking not only limits our relationships with each other, but also limits our realities, language surrounding those realities, others’ realities, and everyone’s understanding and empathy towards those realities. 

And even with the added factor of gender, food gets moralized even more deeply along with body image. (Cis) women are taught to aspire to thin bodies, and made to apologize for non-thin ones. At the same time, nobody seems to care what size trans women are because the binary tells us that they are and should remain invisible.

We can do our best to combat this by uplifting the voices of those who are non binary, fat, of color, differently abled, and who have different realities and experiences than those who are in set norm populations altogether.

For my recovery, one of the most dangerous dichotomies of all is the one that moralizes food. 

All food serves a purpose, and it doesn’t exist to be labeled “good” or “bad”. It exists to be enjoyed, to provide energy, to serve as a backdrop for social gatherings, and so much more.

It took me years to unlearn the patterns of thinking that told me that eating Oreos or skipping a day (or two or three) of working out made me a bad person. I did a lot of work to start seeing my body as my friend, and using food for whatever purpose it had in context. Sometimes, I eat cake because I want to. Sometimes I eat broccoli because I want to. Now that I don’t exist in binge cycles and eat with my brain in deprivation mode, I eat any and all foods that I enjoy because I want to. 

Lately I have also been battling with the idea that I am not allowed to feel full, that it’s bad to feel full, and that if I do start to feel full I must exercise to “get rid of it”. These are tried and true eating disordered thoughts that our culture has turned into normal patterns of behavior. 

It’s considered normal to avoid foods you like because they’re “too fattening”.

It’s considered normal to exercise so that you can “earn” dessert or even a meal.

It’s considered normal to be inundated by calories printed on the menu when you order out at restaurants (at least in New York).

It’s considered normal to want to aspire to not look like that fat girl you know.

Thin has been considered normal for a long time, and statistically speaking we are getting new standards here in the good old United States. In this country, a size 14 woman is considered the average. But our attitudes haven’t caught up with us yet, because we still give an incredible amount of privilege, status, and deference to thin people. 

There are unspoken policies that pit fat people against the thin and create fatphobia and weight stigma, which cast fatness into a moral problem (Huff).

The same good/bad attitudes about foods are extended to bodies, depending on what bodies are consuming the “bad” food.

In order to be seen as trying, credible, valid, fat girls have to be eating salads at their desks alone at work–aspiring to be smaller.

If a fat girl eats a donut, it’s seen as an eternal “gotcha”–“that donut and all the other ones you probably eat are why you look like that!”

If a skinny girl eats a salad, she’s doing the right thing; participating in the maintenance of her thinness (which is like, more than 70% genetic, most likely, unless she has an eating disorder or a hyper-metabolic health issue).

If a skinny girl eats a donut, no one has a damn thing to say about the space she takes up, how that space is related to that donut and how it justifies hurling prejudice at her until she changes her habits.

Our need to categorize things in such rigid ways can turn into real time, unfiltered, and really-hard-to-unlearn-as-adults prejudice. Fat people bare the brunt of this in their everyday lives all the time. I learned this the hard way when I tried explaining HAES to my mom and she just completely told me that I was flat out wrong…

Even though there is empirically tested, scientific research that weight stigma is actually more of a pre-cursor to health issues than weight itself; and that causality and correlation are not the same thing when it comes to health conditions that have been considered to be caused by a person’s weight or fatness.

Our first step is to change our attitudes about split thinking before we can ever hope to change policies that affect the lives of LGBTQ+, fat, differently abled, or any other marginalized group. The “us” and “them” is what creates stigma, oppression, marginalization, and even policy that furthers the disparities among us.

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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 10M ago

So I know I just wrote a really important post like…four days ago. But churning out stuff on this blog has become my default coping mechanism lately.

I have seen and taken in a lot of information today. This past weekend, I watched a documentary on the life of Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, who died of a heroin-induced heart attack at age 27. 

This morning, I was listening to his posthumously released spoken-word album An American Prayer, to the track “Curses, Invocations” — he ends the poem with the verse, “I will always be a word man…it’s better than a bird man.”

Words are healers for so many of us.

But I digress. This is all somewhat connected, I promise. I was walking through NYC this morning and afternoon, listening to people on the train, finding myself in resentments toward people I didn’t know, and frustrated at how rude people can be, especially on mass transit. Sweating, trying to get to an interview on time, and noticing people struggling and thinking about all the assumptions we make about others dawned on me a lot as I walked through Manhattan trying to find where I needed to be.

When I got home, my brother called me and told me to Google Demi Lovato’s name, and that she had been hospitalized for a heroin overdose just hours ago.

Like I said, I know it’s only hours-old news, and I was already in your feeds just days ago. But writing about this, news that shook me really hard, is the way I’m going to process it all right now. Bare with me, please. 

The first thing I did when I read the article about Demi’s overdose was text my friend Lexie to ask if she’d heard. A conversation ensued.

A while ago, we’d both shared our frustrations over a Twitter storm she was involved in about pulling a ‘prank’ on her bodyguard that involved being touched nonconsensually. 

I pretty much at that moment decided that Demi, in my eyes, was cancelled. I was really upset that a person who was such a fundamental part of my recovery would do something like that and shrug it off so thoughtlessly.

I didn’t take the time to think about the invisible struggles that people are often going through when they lack self-awareness the most. I judged a person who, in all honesty, I didn’t know and couldn’t have known was making errs in judgment like she did, probably because of shame.

And worse, I wanted her to feel shame because I’d like to think, that as someone who is deeply invested in justice and love and compassion, that anyone I chose as a role model would do better. But I realize as I am shaken by what is happening in her life, that she is human. A human who is sick and suffering, just like so many of us.

Most people know somewhat about Demi’s eating disorder relapse last year after breaking up with Wilmer Valderrama, and the recent release of her song “Sober”, in which she bravely admits to relapsing in the area of substance abuse, had a lot of people in her corner encouraging her to find recovery again.

During this conversation with my friend, a fellow person in recovery from ED and other mental health issues, we both shared the possibility that maybe Demi hasn’t been truly okay for a long time. 

And that’s more than okay.

I don’t know Demi Lovato personally, but I would be kidding myself if I failed to admit that she has been an integral part of my recovery and my own resilience. Her strangely appropriative relationship with the LGBTQ+ community hasn’t always sat well with me, but she has also done something that a lot of people can’t or won’t–shown up for herself and for millions of others in the face of the darkest struggles a person can go through.

Demi Lovato embodies vulnerability and courage.

She has successfully been the representative of “its okay not to be okay” for a really long time. Even after her relapse was reported last year, that was the message that I think we all got–that it’s okay to falter and keep working on ourselves. There is so much power in being honest, but it’s imperative to always be following up on that with the people who need it. Because these attitudes and behaviors aren’t always visible to the entire world at all hours of the day. 

Some of us may not think the person doing best needs check-ups; but I can assure you, connection is the very thing that keeps recovery alive. 

Like Demi herself has said in the past: “Recovery doesn’t get a day off.”

None of us, despite whether we are one of the 65 million people who follow her on Twitter, knows Demi’s life day in and out. Since she has shown up as the face of recovery for this generation–a person who has seemingly overcome self harm, self hate, drug abuse, childhood trauma, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and an eating disorder–so many people have looked to her for inspiration and found it; myself included.

I remember seeing her at IZOD Center in 2014 and sobbing uncontrollably as she sat at the piano and sang “Warrior”. I cry every time I do a cover of the song myself, because so much of it is my truth. 

I, too, have had to recover from depression, crippling anxiety, abuse, codependency and an eating disorder simultaneously. I know that it often doesn’t happen all at once, and that the parts of your behaviors that aren’t “as severe” can seem like an okay thing to cling to because that’s the trade off your brain makes.

Once you are in recovery from one thing, your brain tries to sort the rest out, prioritizing your vices by which one will kill you last until they’re all no longer useful.

I liken it to playing something I call “symptomatic wack-a-mole,” because it can seem like just as you’ve got one symptom of your mental illness cared for and patched up, another one rears its ugly head.

And it’s not always as easy as “I’ve got this.” In fact, most people who can confidently say “I’ve got this” all by themselves, don’t really “got this.” Macklemore is a really good example–and one of my favorite recovery advocates to produce raw, unfiltered art on the realness of recovery.

Macklemore Starting Over lyrics - YouTube

At that concert four years ago, I had no way of knowing whether or not, at that exact moment, Demi was okay. Just like most of my family or friends and especially not strangers on the internet or even sitting around me at the concert that night had no way of knowing whether or not I was truly okay.

The best way to find out if someone is okay is to ask them. When you’re finished asking, listen. 

When you are held up and expected to represent an entire community of struggling, sometimes even broken people, self-care can be so hard. And the shame of falling from that image is even more tough to cope with. And when people depend on your success, your voice, and your triumphs to make a living, the burden only gets larger. And pretending, inauthenticity, and half-truthful recovery can only propel a person so far until those old vices start to get in line and fight for first. 

Demi Lovato - Old Ways (Audio Only) - YouTube

The one thing I was really floored by is that Demi is now (at least according to the reports) using opioids/heroin. For a lot of people, this is a ‘point of no return’ type of drug problem. But it’s way more common than we try to convince ourselves it is. I live on a literal island where the opioid epidemic is at its worst in our entire country. And it is grueling and scary and heartbreaking all the time.

As someone who shares a lot of struggles with Demi Lovato, I said to myself when I read this that she probably feels so powerless right now. Lexie pointed out that she felt that Demi still, to this day, despite recovery, probably feels this unstoppable desire to be perfect.

Being given the assignment of poster child for mental wellbeing is emotionally exhausting a lot of the time, and sometimes–I know from experience–this work can be counterproductive to our wellness in a lot of ways. Perfection was and likely still is the first thing I was addicted to. So many of us with eating disorders live this truth to its fullest extent.

I hope that with this instance of relapse, despite how public it is becoming, we can have conversations with each other about the invisibility of illnesses like addiction and mental health (which undoubtedly go hand in hand). Awareness is great, but often not enough. We must move from awareness into action.

We cannot treat brokenness, addiction, or shame without compassion and vulnerability. I have seen some really, really awful things in the comments of the articles I’ve surveyed about Demi’s overdose in the past few hours (Looking at you, TMZ). 

This may be an opportunity for Demi to get real and even more raw with her art. Thus far, her sobriety has been a public event, so much a part of her label-created image as an ex-Disney starlet. Her powerlessness as a celebrity, and as a celebrity in recovery, is so much bigger than herself, and the stakes are high. I think the pedestal on which she has been placed is holding her back more than anything, and I hope that she can find peace and freedom on her own terms as soon as possible.

Until then, it’s on us to let her heal, check in with ourselves and our loved ones as we cope with the realities of things like addiction and disease of the mind. Demi Lovato’s words, her image, her humility and her courage have all taught me first and foremost that no matter what we believe in, we must first believe in our own worthiness. 

Get better soon, Demi. Cheering for you. xoxox

-inbetweenqueen

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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 11M ago

Today in our culture is a fatphobic mess: I’m sure you’ve seen the trash that is Insatiable all over the internet today.

For those of you who are new to the fatphobic, absolutely disrespectful and diet-culture laden series trailer premiere, welcome.

I’m not going to post the trailer itself here for people to view. You can look it up on your own if you want to see the word “fat” weaponized back into its pejorative form, stereotypes about binge eating perpetuated, and bullying toward a fat person (who isn’t actually a fat person) normalized and used as a feature plot for “revenge.” 

Yep, it’s everything terrible you thought it would and could be.

Basically the main character, Patty (chosen because it rhymes with “fatty”…how original)…who is actually just Debby Ryan in a fat suit (which I don’t even have to tell you is insulting), is being bullied for her weight constantly. At one point in the trailer, she is assaulted via being punched in the face, causing her to have to have her jaw wired shut for an entire summer. During this time, she loses a bunch of weight (apparently) and becomes thin and “hot”, (two words not synonymous by default) and uses her new appearance to get revenge on the people who hurt her emotionally and physically throughout her teenage years.

I’m not going to use the rest of this post to take my anger out on Debby Ryan (I already did that on twitter for most of today), especially after she defended her role in the show for the purpose of “spreading awareness about binge eating disorder” … which we all know is a bunch of absolute BS considering that the show’s literal premise is that now that Patty is thin after restricting for a full two months, she has infinite possibilities to be “a brain, an athlete, or a princess” (none of which her fat was stopping her from doing in the first place).

I found the entire show’s poor excuse for a plot line even less disturbing than the advertisements for it, laden with stereotypes about fat people, loaded fatphobic language, and outright justification for the show’s existence.

Ryan Seacrest even had the audacity to use the term “binge-watch” to encourage people to view a show that does nothing but validate the mistreatment of fat people until they are thinner. I guess binge watching is more okay than binge eating because you don’t get *gasp* fat from watching too many terribly written TV shows. Maybe the thin privilege reeking from this series will enter my life by osmosis!

It makes it seem a lot like the whole “inside every fat girl there’s a thin girl dying to come out” trope pushed on us to be not just a point worth making, but one that fat girls should be expected to hear and take seriously. Not just that–it propagates the myth that once we find ourselves under all that fat, we will somehow be more deserving of respect than we were before. 

Let’s address some realities of binge eating disorder, from someone who has more than 10 years experience with the behaviors that come with it–and then some.

Debby Ryan did get one thing right when she was trying to justify her role in this atrocious Netflix Original. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder on the spectrum. This is according to both NEDA, BEDA, and even the DSM. But despite this, BED wasn’t even recognized as a disorder until 2013–so for a long time, people with BED have gone largely misrepresented or underrepresented altogether. And it’s not okay.

The creator of the show, Lauren Gussis, even revealed her own struggle with an eating disorder in adolescence. But anyone who has survived an ED, who lives in a fat body (which she doesn’t), should know that content like this is irresponsible and dangerous. 

It’s also worth noting that #insatiable is netflix’s second offense on the ED population. This is “To The Bone” for fat people. Fat voices, scream and make a mess about this. Thin people in recovery, stand by in solidarity as best as you’re able #NotYourBefore #EatingDisorders

— theinbetweenqueen (@inbetweenqueen_) July 20, 2018

People who have had my disorder haven’t been represented because BED is something that people think can be fixed by sheer willpower alone. I tried to mitigate this behavior through exercise bulimia from age 12 forward. I would binge and then exercise excessively to “get rid of it”, and lived in a “normal sized” body for most of my life.

Binge eating disorder stole my happiness, my ability to enjoy exercise for literally twelve years, some/a lot of my friendships, my self-worth, my ability to form romantic relationships that were healthy, my intimacy, my self-assuredness, my self-respect, and my perception of beautiful. I didn’t have trouble getting into relationships because of my body, I had trouble with healthy relationships because of how I saw my body. It was a personal hell that I would do anything to never have to live through again. I’m 24 today, and I’ve literally been in and out of binge/emotional eating/purge/restrict/severe dysmorphic cycles since before I was ten years old.

I was able to fly under the radar despite my behaviors, hours a day working out in my basement or in a gym or running, and avoid appearing “sick enough” to need treatment. My behavior was normalized. Binge-exercise cycles are normalized as “diet and exercise” or “wellness” in our entire social structure. Strangely enough, it wasn’t until my recovery, when I gained weight, that concerns were expressed about my “health”.

At 17, my assessment for an eating disorder went as follows: “Stand up, take off your jacket” ([male] doctor glanced at my body), said “Okay, if I prescribe you __________ it should make you lose weight or stop eating as much.”

I was given medicine. Not behavior intervention, not nutrition referrals, which are standard for ED treatment.

I continued to binge despite this, for all four years of college thereafter. My senior year when I came home, I tried OA, and let me tell you how much it didn’t work. I spent four months restricting, made myself 26 pounds smaller, and gained all the weight back plus about 50% more, just like diet results statistics predicted I would. I was less emotionally healthy than I had been when I started. OA is a narrative that has been present in representation of fat characters like Mike & Molly, a show that lasted six seasons starring Melissa McCarthy.

I like to think it’s not on anymore because people are really tired of seeing fat people only take up space in weight loss narratives. These roles literally shrink us down to nothing on so many levels, and hold up the myths about binge eating disorder as a widely diagnosed but incredibly misunderstood disease.

This show perpetuates everything about fat people (who don’t always have binge eating disorder, by the way) that isn’t always the truth. We are ALL not worthless, lazy, disgusting, self-hating eating machines. We are not all sitting at home “stuffing our holes” (a REAL classy line from the Insatiable trailer itself) while thin people are out having intimate lives that we somehow, as directly implied by Debby Ryan’s voiceover, don’t deserve because of our body size.

If we are here to tie BED and fatness, fat shaming, and fat hate and all that comes with that together, let me tell you: they need better excuses, because not all people with BED are fat. And not all fat people have BED. For like, 8 years of my disorder, I wasn’t.

And to address the title directly,  I was not insatiable; because it was never about the food.

Hey @DebbyRyan I had binge eating disorder for upwards of 14 years and let me tell you, being punched in the face and having my jaw wired shut wasn’t how I recovered. Don’t you DARE justify fatphobic content you’re complicit in to equate your work to my history. #insatiable

— theinbetweenqueen (@inbetweenqueen_) July 20, 2018

In fact, this word is loaded with really negative emotions for me specifically.

When I was seven years old, my parents were divorcing and I was just NOT coping well (understandably). My life was all over the place, and being in second grade and having both parents be first-responders in 9/11 who were gone a lot was already really hard. Emotional eating became a big part of my life, and I wasn’t really super conscious of that because at seven years old, self-awareness only runs so deep, you know?

Until an after school program teacher said, to my seven year old face as I asked for more Saltines for snack:

“It’s like your hobby is eating. You never stop!”

This is literally, the defining characteristic of insatiable.

I was not insatiable, however. I ate when I wasn’t hungry more times than I could ever account for for like, almost fifteen more years after those words were said to me. I ate past the point of fullness just so I could become less and less myself. Because I didn’t like myself, and the society in which we live helped make that concrete. Enough was something I never knew existed, because I never felt like enough.

I ate past my full signals more times than I can ever account for. I ate more calories to get away from myself and burned them hours later for the same reason. 

I exercised for more hours than I will ever be able to get back, purely out of self-hate.

I was not insatiable. I was destroying my body from within, and nobody thought to stop me because we live in a world where the very act of self-mutilation by restriction is ACCEPTABLE. 

I have never known what “enough” was, until I found recovery. And guess what? I’m bigger than I’ve ever been, but I’m also happier than I’ve ever been, no matter what anyone has to say about it.

This show is about teaching thin people how to hate fat people, including the fat girl/former fat girl herself. It’s more fuel for the fires of thinspiration, thin privilege, weight stigma, and size discrimination all at once. I will not be erased or silenced by sizeism, and I won’t let anyone else be, either. And trust me…the pushback that this show is receiving is giving me a lot of hope, despite being sooooooo tired of having to tell people why it’s okay for girls/guys/folk like me to exist as we are. 

Looks like I’ll be watching Dietland in a puddle of my own happy/sad mad cleanse tears this weekend.

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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 11M ago

Being patient with my body size in recovery has been super frustrating recently–something that I haven’t entirely mastered yet. Especially lately, when the summer clothes are coming out of the closet, it’s been extra difficult to feel “at home” in my body (pride pun intended).

As I’ve said before in previous posts, I’ve definitely gained weight in recovery. I don’t know how much, but since starting my first phase of recovery, the OA diet, in 2016, and leaving it behind four months later, there’s an absolute possibility that I weight more than I did then. I haven’t gotten on a scale since last summer, but I can feel and see the tangible change in my Clothes sizes. (which are all over the place–M, L, XL, 0X, 1X, 2X depending on the brand!)

This all being said, I am a living example of diet failure. Those of us in the post-diet world know that relative statistic that 95% of diets fail. What this actually means is that the diet fails people, people don’t fail the diet. They are buying a product that came damaged, and are blamed when the damaged product doesn’t work. What the “95 percent” thing actually means is that 95 percent of the time, restriction based weight loss isn’t ever sustainable.

Further, it has been shown in studies that people who diet restrictively go back to the weight they were before the initial diet, and then gain 40 percent more. This isn’t meant to scare anyone, because I think the idea that “dieting will make you gain all your weight back and then some” is an anxiety provoking thought that has inherently fat phobic implications on its own.

Instead, I reframe this thought in such a way that reminds me that if I’m really anxious about my body size now, participating in the futile act of dieting to make myself smaller than I currently am will land me right back here and potentially produce more anxiety until I unlearn all the fat hate rhetoric that society has so fiercely bestowed upon me.

What I’m learning in recovery is to be happy and healthy at any size.

I’ve spent a lot of time since learning all these numbers and nutrition stats trying to find my own way to recover and re-integrate my body back to its own conception of “normal”. And what I’m developing is this process I have named and coined as re-childing. 

Shifting Recovery

When I started “recovery”, recovery looked a lot liked a diet–because it was a diet. Binge eaters are often prescribed weight loss as recovery, especially if they are subjectively “overweight” or “obese”.

Patients with anorexia (I say patients in this sentence strategically, because I was never a “patient” to treatment for an eating disorder since I was always a “normal” weight) are often prescribed weight restoration as their form of treatment. Their body weights put them in the hospital; but their disorder is seen by many medical professionals as my recovery solution.

I spent four months losing 26 pounds, and being under a lot of stress and anxiety over when (what time), I ate, how much, and who with. I weighed myself compulsively, and created a lot of anxiety about eating “on time” rather than listening to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness.

After four months, the OA lifestyle and all that came with it wasn’t sustainable. I had more people paying attention to what I ate at post-meeting diner gatherings than helping me work the actual program and all its principles.

I’ve met some WONDERFUL beautiful people in OA, who have encouraged me in and beyond my journey with that phase of what I considered to be recovering at the time. These same people respect that my disease is bigger than overeating. I come from emotional eating, bingeing, restricting, dieting, exercise purging and back again.

After this shift, I stopped exercising for a long while–a few months short of one year–and gained weight doing it. I kind of sat with this weight gain, however, because I was adamant to not exercise until I could do it without compulsively counting the calories, doing the math in my head that verified I had “gotten rid of” my lunch or worked out until I had “permission” to eat more for the day.

These processes were internal, and my relationship to exercise probably just looked really dedicated and motivated to the outside world, but I was doing so much damage to myself and my already tricky knees and back joints (I was a runner who loved to run until 10th grade when I discovered I had hip dysplasia that impacted my knees).

I re-integrated an exercise plan into my routine and my life over the past few months. I have discovered what I enjoy (hiking, walking and yoga!) and learned to put movement that doesn’t suck into my daily life. And I’m doing only those things, with a touch of dance and everyday moving.

My favorite suggestion comes from Linda Bacon’s Body Respect: I park at the far end of the lot at my job and enjoy a few extra minutes of walking to the office to sign in each morning. I also have located several different spots nearby to walk, and my partner and I have visited them a lot throughout the spring!

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating has done so much for me–it is insurmountable exactly how much. It has become about more than just eating when hungry and stopping when full–I have learned through the Intuitive Eating principles how to choose foods that help my brain function better, what food actually does for me, and how to re-process things about my body image that weren’t fully healed. It has taught me how to shut out the external food policing messages that come from family and social messaging, which have throughout my life solidified into concrete messages that have come to sound a lot like my own voice, even when they’re not.

The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating!

These principles are so important to me, and have made me really interested in the nutrition components of food and what it can do for me. With intuitive eating, I’ve learned that carbs are in fact brain food and we need them if we want to keep functioning, even as we rest.

I have a serotonin imbalance, so I focus a lot on serotonin-producing foods and omega-3 fatty acids for mood boosting. I also hydrate a lot more often and have rediscovered my childhood love for raw veggies as snacks!

My Re-Childing Theory

Most of us have no memories of being newborns or infants–but scientifically speaking, our bodies were designed to eat when they were hungry and stop after we weren’t. Despite the fact that whoever raised us got no sleep when we cried out of hunger at 3 in the morning, we were listening to our bodies when they released ghrelin–the “hunger rumble” hormone in our stomach that told us to feed it.

As we grew, our parents or caregivers were the ones who created our eating schedule in an effort to structure our day as well as their own. But how much of that eating schedule was actually in tune with our own hunger cues?
How often as children were our bodies still hungry even an hour after dinner? It’s got less to do with the “growing boy/girl” nuances we push on children as they develop, and more about their hunger and fullness signals trying to fight against a somewhat arbitrary and self-imposed food routine.


The idea that “you can’t possibly be hungry” an hour after dinner is a myth, and as children, whether we are granted permission to be hungry and eat shortly after a meal affects our development and relationship with food and eating. I know personally that it did exactly that for me.

Lots of healthy foods were available in my life for most of my childhood, and lots of unhealthy ones were, too. I had a good balance of “play food”, quickly prepped food, and nutrient dense food–but was always told either when or how much to eat (my dad’s side of the family were their own Clean Plate Police).

While I understand that parenting is SO time-consuming and that dinner gets made when and however the person cooking often sees fit, more dialogue about family food preferences and hunger schedules should be taken into account.

In our society, its considered rude to eat before everyone at the table has been served. But what if I’m not hungry and everyone else is eating? There shouldn’t be judgment if I have to make a plate for myself and heat it up later.

I can still sit with my loved ones and socialize while they enjoy their meal. Food is so often a really important sociocultural bonding tool, but participation in the food, for me, doesn’t always have to be required. In the case of restrictive disordered folks, challenge yourself to participate in the conversations and the food. There is still opportunity to be present while honoring yourself.

Just the same, parents shouldn’t push kids who are done with their dinner. If anything, teach them that whatever they don’t finish can and should be saved for later, as an effort to not be wasteful.

In households who are privileged enough to have food security, training eaters from a young age to not take more than they need could be useful in creating intuitive eaters who are mindful of the presence of socioeconomically imposed food insecurity and wastefulness.

I am re-integrating my body to its natural state; by listening really closely and carefully and not eating after my body says it’s finished. I’ve done this sometimes by overeating by accident and noticing my threshold without judgment. It’s all about fine-tuning and sometimes, that means willing to be a little physically uncomfortable.

Another form of re-childing my body’s relationship with food and body image is reframing the way I experience and think about movement. Instead of saying “I wasted today and didn’t exercise; I’m so lazy”; I think about it in terms of my relationship with nature. I don’t want to waste my “outside time” or my opportunity for that day to interact with the beauty in my neighborhood and beyond.

When we were kids, there was NOTHING worse than not getting to play outside. I go back to this thought often. When I was a preschool teacher, we would often say to the children, “Clean up your toys fast so you don’t lose outside time!” and they would get right to cleaning up and have more than enough time to play and laugh and run around with their friends.

There are only so many daylight hours, and certain tasks can be done at anytime. Being able to do this social movement activity was so important to them, and not out of a compulsion to move. I don’t like losing my “outside time” as a grown-up, either!

We all are learning and growing in this recovery process, and it is up to us to find out who our inner child is and to feed, nourish and love that child back to life using everything we have learned as adults. I know for me, it has been the most gratifying, healing, sometimes frustrating but always altogether meaningful process thus far. Get to know who you were before the self-imposed rules, structures and external messaging.


How are you implementing reintegration into your life?

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Royally Incomplete by Theinbetweenqueen - 11M ago

Being patient with my body size in recovery has been super frustrating recently–something that I haven’t entirely mastered yet. Especially lately, when the summer clothes are coming out of the closet, it’s been extra difficult to feel “at home” in my body (pride pun intended).

As I’ve said before in previous posts, I’ve definitely gained weight in recovery. I don’t know how much, but since starting my first phase of recovery, the OA diet, in 2016, and leaving it behind four months later, there’s an absolute possibility that I weight more than I did then. I haven’t gotten on a scale since last summer, but I can feel and see the tangible change in my Clothes sizes. (which are all over the place–M, L, XL, 0X, 1X, 2X depending on the brand!)

This all being said, I am a living example of diet failure. Those of us in the post-diet world know that relative statistic that 95% of diets fail. What this actually means is that the diet fails people, people don’t fail the diet. They are buying a product that came damaged, and are blamed when the damaged product doesn’t work. What the “95 percent” thing actually means is that 95 percent of the time, restriction based weight loss isn’t ever sustainable.

Further, it has been shown in studies that people who diet restrictively go back to the weight they were before the initial diet, and then gain 40 percent more. This isn’t meant to scare anyone, because I think the idea that “dieting will make you gain all your weight back and then some” is an anxiety provoking thought that has inherently fat phobic implications on its own.

Instead, I reframe this thought in such a way that reminds me that if I’m really anxious about my body size now, participating in the futile act of dieting to make myself smaller than I currently am will land me right back here and potentially produce more anxiety until I unlearn all the fat hate rhetoric that society has so fiercely bestowed upon me.

What I’m learning in recovery is to be happy and healthy at any size.

I’ve spent a lot of time since learning all these numbers and nutrition stats trying to find my own way to recover and re-integrate my body back to its own conception of “normal”. And what I’m developing is this process I have named and coined as re-childing. 

Shifting Recovery

When I started “recovery”, recovery looked a lot liked a diet–because it was a diet. Binge eaters are often prescribed weight loss as recovery, especially if they are subjectively “overweight” or “obese”.

Patients with anorexia (I say patients in this sentence strategically, because I was never a “patient” to treatment for an eating disorder since I was always a “normal” weight) are often prescribed weight restoration as their form of treatment. Their body weights put them in the hospital; but their disorder is seen by many medical professionals as my recovery solution.

I spent four months losing 26 pounds, and being under a lot of stress and anxiety over when (what time), I ate, how much, and who with. I weighed myself compulsively, and created a lot of anxiety about eating “on time” rather than listening to my body’s cues of hunger and fullness.

After four months, the OA lifestyle and all that came with it wasn’t sustainable. I had more people paying attention to what I ate at post-meeting diner gatherings than helping me work the actual program and all its principles.

I’ve met some WONDERFUL beautiful people in OA, who have encouraged me in and beyond my journey with that phase of what I considered to be recovering at the time. These same people respect that my disease is bigger than overeating. I come from emotional eating, bingeing, restricting, dieting, exercise purging and back again.

After this shift, I stopped exercising for a long while–a few months short of one year–and gained weight doing it. I kind of sat with this weight gain, however, because I was adamant to not exercise until I could do it without compulsively counting the calories, doing the math in my head that verified I had “gotten rid of” my lunch or worked out until I had “permission” to eat more for the day.

These processes were internal, and my relationship to exercise probably just looked really dedicated and motivated to the outside world, but I was doing so much damage to myself and my already tricky knees and back joints (I was a runner who loved to run until 10th grade when I discovered I had hip dysplasia that impacted my knees).

I re-integrated an exercise plan into my routine and my life over the past few months. I have discovered what I enjoy (hiking, walking and yoga!) and learned to put movement that doesn’t suck into my daily life. And I’m doing only those things, with a touch of dance and everyday moving.

My favorite suggestion comes from Linda Bacon’s Body Respect: I park at the far end of the lot at my job and enjoy a few extra minutes of walking to the office to sign in each morning. I also have located several different spots nearby to walk, and my partner and I have visited them a lot throughout the spring!

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating has done so much for me–it is insurmountable exactly how much. It has become about more than just eating when hungry and stopping when full–I have learned through the Intuitive Eating principles how to choose foods that help my brain function better, what food actually does for me, and how to re-process things about my body image that weren’t fully healed. It has taught me how to shut out the external food policing messages that come from family and social messaging, which have throughout my life solidified into concrete messages that have come to sound a lot like my own voice, even when they’re not.

The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating!

These principles are so important to me, and have made me really interested in the nutrition components of food and what it can do for me. With intuitive eating, I’ve learned that carbs are in fact brain food and we need them if we want to keep functioning, even as we rest.

I have a serotonin imbalance, so I focus a lot on serotonin-producing foods and omega-3 fatty acids for mood boosting. I also hydrate a lot more often and have rediscovered my childhood love for raw veggies as snacks!

My Re-Childing Theory

Most of us have no memories of being newborns or infants–but scientifically speaking, our bodies were designed to eat when they were hungry and stop after we weren’t. Despite the fact that whoever raised us got no sleep when we cried out of hunger at 3 in the morning, we were listening to our bodies when they released ghrelin–the “hunger rumble” hormone in our stomach that told us to feed it.

As we grew, our parents or caregivers were the ones who created our eating schedule in an effort to structure our day as well as their own. But how much of that eating schedule was actually in tune with our own hunger cues?
How often as children were our bodies still hungry even an hour after dinner? It’s got less to do with the “growing boy/girl” nuances we push on children as they develop, and more about their hunger and fullness signals trying to fight against a somewhat arbitrary and self-imposed food routine.


The idea that “you can’t possibly be hungry” an hour after dinner is a myth, and as children, whether we are granted permission to be hungry and eat shortly after a meal affects our development and relationship with food and eating. I know personally that it did exactly that for me.

Lots of healthy foods were available in my life for most of my childhood, and lots of unhealthy ones were, too. I had a good balance of “play food”, quickly prepped food, and nutrient dense food–but was always told either when or how much to eat (my dad’s side of the family were their own Clean Plate Police).

While I understand that parenting is SO time-consuming and that dinner gets made when and however the person cooking often sees fit, more dialogue about family food preferences and hunger schedules should be taken into account.

In our society, its considered rude to eat before everyone at the table has been served. But what if I’m not hungry and everyone else is eating? There shouldn’t be judgment if I have to make a plate for myself and heat it up later.

I can still sit with my loved ones and socialize while they enjoy their meal. Food is so often a really important sociocultural bonding tool, but participation in the food, for me, doesn’t always have to be required. In the case of restrictive disordered folks, challenge yourself to participate in the conversations and the food. There is still opportunity to be present while honoring yourself.

Just the same, parents shouldn’t push kids who are done with their dinner. If anything, teach them that whatever they don’t finish can and should be saved for later, as an effort to not be wasteful.

In households who are privileged enough to have food security, training eaters from a young age to not take more than they need could be useful in creating intuitive eaters who are mindful of the presence of socioeconomically imposed food insecurity and wastefulness.

I am re-integrating my body to its natural state; by listening really closely and carefully and not eating after my body says it’s finished. I’ve done this sometimes by overeating by accident and noticing my threshold without judgment. It’s all about fine-tuning and sometimes, that means willing to be a little physically uncomfortable.

Another form of re-childing my body’s relationship with food and body image is reframing the way I experience and think about movement. Instead of saying “I wasted today and didn’t exercise; I’m so lazy”; I think about it in terms of my relationship with nature. I don’t want to waste my “outside time” or my opportunity for that day to interact with the beauty in my neighborhood and beyond.

When we were kids, there was NOTHING worse than not getting to play outside. I go back to this thought often. When I was a preschool teacher, we would often say to the children, “Clean up your toys fast so you don’t lose outside time!” and they would get right to cleaning up and have more than enough time to play and laugh and run around with their friends.

There are only so many daylight hours, and certain tasks can be done at anytime. Being able to do this social movement activity was so important to them, and not out of a compulsion to move. I don’t like losing my “outside time” as a grown-up, either!

We all are learning and growing in this recovery process, and it is up to us to find out who our inner child is and to feed, nourish and love that child back to life using everything we have learned as adults. I know for me, it has been the most gratifying, healing, sometimes frustrating but always altogether meaningful process thus far. Get to know who you were before the self-imposed rules, structures and external messaging.


How are you implementing reintegration into your life?

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