Recent posts

Should Strong Be The New Skinny?

The slogan “strong is the new skinny” has been making the rounds this summer, with mixed results. One blogger embraces this attitude, wishing she’d learned it sooner and saved herself a lot of grief, while another blogger thinks that idealizing strong bodies is the same as idealizing skinny bodies, just with a different image being idolized. I would advise proceeding with caution, as we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that being strong carries with it all these positive character traits when in actuality, different people experience strength differently. Some people put on muscle quickly, while others don’t; some people feel pride in their strength, while for others it’s a reflection of a career or hobby (such as mountaineering or rock climbing). And finally, “strength” means different things to different people: to some it might be the ability to crank out push-ups or pull-ups, while for others it might be the ability to go through one’s daily tasks, from opening pickle jars to carrying babies, without fatigue or pain. Continue Reading →

Weight Gain And Personal Responsibility

I’ve blogged about size acceptance and body-policing comments in the past, and I’m aware of how much body- and weight-related issues can impact a person’s self-esteem and general well-being. Thus, it’s interesting to note that some of the emphasis on personal responsibility for weight gain that we’ve been seeing in American culture may be misguided. According to this report, it’s not just American humans that are getting larger in the last few decades – it’s also laboratory animals (from monkeys to mice) and domestic animals (such as cats and dogs). Whatever the causes, it seems like a lot of the problem is systemic, rather than being solely an issue of personal responsibility as it’s often framed in the mainstream media. Is this much consolation? Continue Reading →

Benefits Of Seeing Your Body As Separate

I think and write a lot about mind-body dualism, and in the past I’ve made blog posts about how dualism affects Western ideas of gender and sexuality (see part one here and part two here). In general, I tend to agree with feminist scholars about how dualism is frequently a negative force in women’s lives: when we become conceptually affiliated with the body and not the mind, we become reduced to our bodies. When we act in ways associated with masculinity, we are reviled and punished. And so on. For these reasons, I was intrigued by Ragen’s post at Dances With Fat about seeing her body as separate – and how that became a good thing in her life. Continue Reading →

Weight Commentary And Thin Privilege

Because our culture equates thinness with beauty, it’s supposed to be a compliment when someone says, “Have you lost weight?” Indeed, we’re conditioned to feel good when we hear those words, as though we’ve accomplished something. I don’t mean to downplay the sense of accomplishment of people who have been trying to lose weight, and have made progress, but rather to question why it’s acceptable to comment on someone’s weight in this fashion. See, I’m beginning to think it’s hypocritical to encourage comments on losing weight, while saying that it’s rude to comment on someone’s body that’s overweight. Part of what got me thinking was this RoleReboot post on thin privilege, and part of it was recently having the experience of someone asking me if I’d lost weight. Continue Reading →