Tag Archives: african-americans

carnival of eating disorders #23 – part 2

here’s part 2 of eating disorders carnival #23, a monthly blog carnival about eating disorders, body image and related issues. part 1 is here.

intuitive eating: challenge the food police
through thick’n’thin has a series of posts where the book “intuitive eating” by evelyn tribole and elyse resch is discussed. the book contains ‘the in-body experience’… 7 steps to reclaim the normal eater within’. here is step six – challenge the food police

scream a loud ‘no’ to thoughts in your head that declare you’re ‘good’ for eating under 1,000 calories or ‘bad’ because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. the food police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. the police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loudspeaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. chasing the food police away is a critical step in returning to intuitive eating.

weight loss and online wellness
tami blodgett presents weight loss journey posted at online wellness: a safe haven.

it’s almost january and you’re planning a weight loss journey. a typical january first: here you are, totally hating being overweight. you wake up every morning totally uncomfortable. you dread spending another day carrying around this excess body fat! it’s the time of year to begin again and your thoughts turn to self-improvement. “that’s it!” you say. “i’ve had it!” join online wellness association member, kelly lacost, as she prepares you for your 2009 weight loss journey.

binge eating to become official
if you hate yourself because for years, you’ve done things like get up at 1am and empty a carton of ice-cream, drive from one fast-food place to another so that they won’t notice how many hamburgers you eat in a row, or have a double piece of pie after five helpings of dinner – well, it’s not clear whether you REALLY have problems. at least not according to the holy grail of psychiatrists, the DSM-IV, which includes binge eating disorder as an “eating disorder not otherweise specified”. that’s about to change.

it’s estimated that anorexia affects about one percent of the U.S. population and bulimia 4 percent. binge eating disorder eclipses both, affecting about 10 percent of the population but it has yet to be recognized as a diagnostic eating disorder unto itself. despite the vast range of eating disordered behaviors, there are exactly three disorders one can be classified with: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and eating disorders not otherwise specified (ED-NOS). binge eating disorder falls into the latter category, a vague catch-all diagnosis for people who don’t fit one or more of the criteria for anorexia and bulimia. those classified with ED-NOS can range from a morbidly obese binge-eater to a 90-pound girl who meets every criteria for anorexia, except she still menstruates.

the rest is here, at the f-word.

seniors and body image
i found this blog the other day and thought i should include it here. this post is 2 ½ years old but still interesting.

last year a 63 year old woman i was working with at the time told me that she hated herself because she is so fat. hated herself! and, she added, that if she ever lost weight she still wouldn’t be able to like herself, because she is old! to me, both fat and old, that was a tragedy. what chance is there that a 63 year old woman is going to finally get either thin or young? which means, for her, what chance is there that she will ever be able to like herself? and, what can she accomplish in the world if all of her energy is expended on hating herself? is she going to fight for fairer wages when she is busy counting calories and calling laugh lines wrinkles?

what, do you suppose, would happen if we took all that attention that we now spend on hating ourselves and avoiding mirrors and wearing vertical stripes and counting calories and reviewing everything we’ve eaten so far this week to see if we can “afford” two cashews and breaking out in rebellion and then hating ourselves for eating all of the cashews — what would happen if we took that pathological self-involved energy and turned it outward? if we stopped weighing ourselves and started weighing the politicians and corporate CEOs and far right demagogues who profit from our unhappiness?

the rest is here. don’t forget to go to the last post on this blog; it’s quite moving.

black and beautiful
black is beautiful – or is it? weight and wrinkles are not the only things people are concerned about when it comes to body image. a girl like me is a short student documentary concerning the issues of identity and standards of beauty.

love your body
i missed love your body day back in october! really hope i’ll be present for it this year. fortunately, anastacia caught it – and wrote a beautiful letter to her body.

in honor of love your body day (which i just found out about this afternoon via jezebel), i have written a letter to my body. i’m posting it here with the hope that, if i falter or forget, i will have the strength from reading this to straighten myself out.

dear body,

i’ve been thinking about you quite a bit lately and shaking my head with wonder that i have treated you so horribly for 31 years. i have taken you for granted, thinking that i can do whatever i want without repercussions. i just assume you will cooperate and adjust and it’s untrue and unfair; it has never worked. you have tried so hard to tell me, to warn me, to force myself to open my eyes to the fact that you’re tired and you will not cooperate if neglected. you’ve bitch slapped me about the drinking, the drugs, late nights, self-starvation and an infinite number of ways i mistreat you, and i never noticed or cared. it has taken a long time, but i am finally starting to listen, to open my eyes, to treat you as an ally, to work with you and not against you. and even though i have done nothing to deserve it, you are cooperating with me. (i would, however, like to file a grievance against my intestines. we shall address this privately.)

eating disorders, a mental health issue
last but not least, laura collins points out that an eating disorder is a mental health issue and asks the provoking question maybe we need to start stigmatizing for not having a mental disorder?. she’s concerned about parents who slink away from discussing their childrens’ mental health issues and wonders what’s really so bad about it when, according to some statistics, 50% of young people are dealing with them. here’s what she says about the brain:

it’s an organ. it interacts, more than any other physical system, with the world. it learns, it changes, it responds to the society and circumstances of its time and place. its vulnerabilities are also its strengths: we humans often respond to the world in miraculous ways. we create art, we shelter babies, we invent unthought-of of things, we stare down dangers – these require a nimble mind. a risk-taking and highly responsive mind also at risk for malfunction, just as complex machinery fails more often than a simpler tool.

a commenter challenges her:

i agree that mental illness is very real but i have a hard time believing that half of young adults suffer from it. i get annoyed when people who don’t have an illness claim to have it. it trivializes those of us who actually do suffer from illnesses.

what do you think? is mental illness easily trivialized? do you see eating disorders as a mental illness?

thanks to all the wonderful, thoughtful contributors. i’m looking forward to the next eating disorders carnival on january 31.   in the meantime, do you have, or do you know, a post that would be a good addition to this carnival? if so, please submit it here or drop me a line.

obama: yes we can!

obamaslavedriver in brazil“yes we can!”

i’m imagining the hero of my NaNoWriMo novel, joe – or kosi, his african name – watching obama’s acceptance speech tonight.

“yes we can!”

my novel spans close to 250 years, starting with a west african amazon who ends up a slave in louisiana. joe is her grandson. he dies and – well, he hangs around, learns things, starts to help people.

when he was a slave on that plantation by baton rouge, what would he have said if someone would have told him that in 200 years, a black man would become the president of the united states? and not just any president – a president committed to unity.

if someone would have told joe, a man who enjoyed the love of a man as much as the love of a woman, that this president, within the first few minutes of this historical speech, promised to bring together “young and old, rich and poor, democrat and republican, black, white, latino, asian, native american, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled” – would he have run away from the plantation, to die at the edge of the swamp? would he have stuck around and said,

“yes we can?”

how impossible that would have sounded for him back then.

yet later, when joe decided to hang around even after death, he began to learn … and maybe it’s the same lesson that obama learned.

but i don’t know what obama learned. what i know is that he is one of the few politicians who has ever captured me. there is something of gandhi and dr. martin luther king about him. what i know is that obama’s message goes straight to my heart:

“yes we can!”

would obama have been able to send that message 200 years ago?

i don’t think i’m making much sense right now. i am awestruck by what i have just witnessed.

“yes we can!”

i’ll let that take seed in my heart, and i’ll send the seed to my joe, and ask my muses to water and shelter it and send it good sunshine, so that my novel will blossom and be of service to the world; a tiny little metaphor, i’ll hope, for a peaceful, united, and affirming future for this great country to our south, america.

blogathon: the temple of my familiar by alice walker (a book review)

copyrighted in 1989, alice walker’s the temple of my familiar is anything but new, at least to our way of thinking. to miss lissie, one of the book’s main protagonists, the 19 years that have intervened since then would be but a barely noticeable blip, seeing that she can remember lives back to the times when we were still living in trees.

this book is definitely not about paganism [note: this article was originally written for and published in the page of pentacles]. it is about how infinitely complicated, painful and inspiring human relationships are, human relationships of all stripes: mother/daughter, man/woman, woman/woman, black/white, black/black. it is about the possibilities we have for forgiveness and renewal.

for those of us to whom relationships are at the core of our human experience, what topic could be more important? many people start their walk on a spiritual path because they are confounded and hurt by what happens between people.

and while this book is not about paganism, most of the characters are pagan, in one way or another. their pagan ways are a natural part of their lives. this is one of the reasons why the temple of my familiar has been so important to me all these years.

it shows real people suffering, loving, laughing, cooking, eating, doing normal and strange things, and doing all of this in the presence of spirit, a presence that is just as normal as cooking gumbo, getting massages and sewing dresses. this is a spirit who does not make it all better. it does not promise a better life in the afterworld like the christian god that tried to comfort the slaves whose lives leave their traces all over this book. it’s also no fluffy-bunny new age spirit who promises all the sparkly riches of the world if we just say the right affirmations. it’s just there. and it’s that there-ness that keeps on speaking to me, the presence of spirit that shows that there is no other choice but to keep going, that we have to fight for justice, that we need to look for the ways in which we can understand each other.

it’s a spirit of which mama shug, a self-proclaimed priestess, who some of you may know from the color purple, said “that there was only one thing anyone could say about … and that was – it had no name.”

and what about familiars? in her casual explanation of the origin of that word, miss lissie first points out that there might be a reason why fairy-tale witches are always dressed in black – maybe they actually were black, those dark-skinned goddess lovers of africa who used to live somewhat peacefully in europe before the witch hunt. then she tells us that they never really forgot from their previous lives that people and animals used to be friends.

so there we were, the dark women, muttering familiarly to every mouse or cow or goat about the place … the animals and our children were our world. foolishly we thought the animals and our children, at least, would not be taken from us. but the inquisitors, set in place to control us, declared ‘consorting’ with animals a crime … there was something about the relationship she had with animals and her children that deeply satisfied woman. it was of this that man was jealous. the animals can remember; for, like sight, memory is renewed at every birth. but our language they will never be able to speak; not from lack of intelligence but from the different construction of their speaking apparatus. in the world of man, someone must speak for them. and that is why, in a nutshell, goddesses and witches exist.

and mama shug, who never invites anyone into her house again if they step on an ant without apologizing, takes her witchy mutterings further and writes down twenty-seven beatitudes, each starting with “helped are those …”:

helped are those too busy living to respond when they are wrongfully attacked; on their walks they shall find mysteries so intriguing as to distract them from every blow.

helped are those who love the entire cosmos rather than their own tiny country, city or farm, for to them will be shown the unbroken web of life and the meaning of infinity.

helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception, and realize a partnership in the creation of the universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.

helped are those who love all the colors of all the human beings, as they love all the colors of animals and plants; none of their children, nor any of their ancestors, nor any parts of themselves, shall be hidden from them.

yes, that-which-has-no-name helps.

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link;if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps. thank you!