Doctor, it hurts when I do this

For the last year or so, I've been reading in the fat acceptance community of blogs (start here, here, or here). And for the last little while, I've been reading everything I can find in that community and outside. It's consumed a good part of my day.

I've been reading not to figure out which camp I align with and which politics and frames of reference I'll espouse, but to inform what *I* think about the healthiest attitudes and habits for my own body. The first thing I've figured out?

I can't rely on my own generalizations about health to be accurate and I can't know with certainty which research is incontrovertible and I can't prescribe anything absolute about what's right for YOUR body and YOUR mental health. And without generalizations or accepted truth or absolutes, what's left?

At best, I can tell you what things cause me concern for my body and mind and the bodies and minds of people I love. At best, I can share with you where I am in my thinking. And I can tell you some thoughts and behaviors that have helped me be happier and more active (and which have been harmful), and sure, sometimes I'll state them as absolutes or directives. I'll do it because I'm careless or in a headstrong moment or because I'm tempted to Create An Effect With Words.

So please watch out for the absolutes. Please don't agree with them readily. Please say to yourself, "Well, that's what Ann thinks."

Over the coming weeks I'll be sharing some decisions, thoughts, and plans for the preservation and care of my own body. I don't say that any of these are Right Decisions. I don't even say they're coherent decisions. They're where I am and they're honest and based on thought, reading, listening, and personal observation. And they're flawed from the get-go, because I don't know everything, not even about myself.

I'm working through this. I'm not finished figuring out what I think. It's a tough enough job just making all the things I think fit together -- resolving their contradictions.

I'm not afraid of contradictions. Of all my fears, that's not one -- because I've found that the only time I'm perfectly consistent is when I'm either lying to myself or short-changing someone else's valid experiences.

So no matter what I say, I'm not speaking for any of the camps or communities on the subjects of fat, weight, eating, size, or body image. I'm a declared independent.

The first decision I'll share with you: I'm going to be far more careful with the time I spend online reading others' opinions and news reports. Even when I agree -- even when I am grateful for the time and thought and effort -- even when I appreciate the communities -- even when a piece of information is interesting or compelling -- even then, after a while, my head hurts.

It hurts from reading absolutes. And I understand the reasons for speaking in absolutes. But listen to them for very long, even when I agree, and I feel like I'm in a room full of people yelling at me. My blood pressure goes up. Even when I agree.

Y'know? If you read this blog and it ever makes you feel worse for how you've spent your time, I will give you a huge virtual hug before you walk away. 'Cause it's a punchline, but it's close to my truths: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

So don't do that.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)


Foodie said...

Have I mentioned I love your blog. ;)

Maire said...

When you tune out all the white noise so you can actually hear your thoughts, hear your heart beating...that's healthy, right?

Happy Birthday!

Compilador said...

" So no matter what I say, I'm not speaking for any of the camps or communities on the subjects.... I'm a declared independent."

I just clicked when I found your name in Foodie's Blog. I'm glad I did so. As you may have noticed, I extracted a beautiful paragraph you wrote in your last post. I think that this statement may apply to any field, problem or uncertainties we face every day...We're independent!!!, we're free!!! Thank you for reminding to us such a simple but beautiful feeling.

Ann Pai said...

Maire, exactly! You might like this too: I love the idea of "tuning out white noise" - since white noise is supposed to help you tune out other things!

And compilador, hi! I hope you come back and visit. Bring all your exclamation marks - they are welcome here!