Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Off their meds" jokes

On July 26th, Stephen Colbert commented on El Idiota's tweet that transgender people will no longer be allowed in the U.S. military. He said, "Today I really think he's off his meds because today he went from crazy to cruel."

To anyone reading this: please stop making "off their meds" jokes because they're insulting to those of us who take daily medication to manage a mood disorder. Such comments suggest that not taking our medication makes us jerks, assholes, idiots, dangerous or offensive to others. In case you don't know it: mood disorders are not characterized by stupidity, cruelty, offensiveness or meanness and the people we're most dangerous to are ourselves. It was the height of insult for Stephen to suggest that El Idiota's behavior is characteristic of someone with a mood disorder. I like Stephen and watch his show a lot, but that "joke" made me angry.

More people than you think take daily medication for mood disorders and chances are, you're hurting someone when you say those things. So please don't do it, and please have the courage to stop others when they do it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Weight loosening

Here's an update on how my attempt to lose some fatness is going: it's...kind of...going. Since I last posted about my continued fatness two months ago, I had some pretty discouraging weeks. This is what I filled them with:

1. I tried to exercise more, which is to say exercise at all. And then I stopped again.

2. Same old tug-of-war between my sweet tooth and my desire to eat better.

3. Discouragement, frustration, self-loathing.

4. Staying on my meds and seeing my professionals regularly (yay!).

5. Getting help from Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) guru Brad Yates. This was the best thing I did: I committed to tapping every day with his video called "Love Your Body (weight loss??)" (I started on June 10th).

At a loss as to how to make myself eat better, exercise, stop bingeing on sweets and stop hating myself, I committed to tapping with Brad on YouTube every day because I didn't know what else to do. For seven weeks it got me no results at all. I had trouble with his phrase "I love my body," so I changed it to "I accept my body" and when I couldn't do that either, I changed it to "I take good care of my body."

That phrase worked. In late June, I re-read a book on the Indian ayurvedic approach to health and found that its tips on how to eat well felt right for me. My digestion improved. My mood stabilized. My hunger reduced. I felt satisfied with less food and less meat. But my favorite shorts still felt uncomfortably tight and there was no change in my weight.

So I kept tapping with Brad in spite of my frustratration. In late July, I decided to re-read Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight. It led me to consider what emotional reasons might still be causing me to hold onto my fatness.

Keep in mind: I've been doing EFT for years on my emotional reasons for staying fat (they had to do with my former marriage, fear of love, fear of life, etc). For years I've been clearing those reasons out: tapping and clearing, tapping and clearing. My weight went down to 155 in 2015, but went back up to 170 in 2016, and up to 189 during my major depression in 2017. I've been well aware of my emotional connection with fat. But clearly there was more to do.

So I sat down and imagined myself at different weights and in different situations and realized I still had a fear of being seen in public. That fear made staying fat feel safer. So I worked through that fear last weekend, with plenty of tapping, crying and visualization. I also needed some cookies, ice cream and Ho Ho's, so I had those I without beating up on myself for doing it.

And I felt that fear move. And I felt it clear.

Last Monday I tried on my favorite shorts again...and they were loose. Loose! Even though I'd had cookies and ice cream and Ho Ho's! How does that work? I don't know. I spent Monday feeling stunned and disbelieving and it wasn't until Tuesday that excitement and gratitude kicked in. 

Today I feel hope and I'm committed to tapping with Brad for as long as it takes to clear the rest of my fears about being thin, which I imagine will keep coming up as the weight comes off. (Brad Yates has many YouTube videos on all kinds of topics. You can also find one to teach you how to tap.) 

I'm clinically obese right now and will be for another 25 pounds. In fact, I might not reach thinness, but if I can just give my lungs most of their breathing room back and bend easily to buckle my sandals, I'll be glad. Is it possible? I think it is.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Word "Lady," Part One


Re-posting this from 2012 because it feels like it needs to be said again. With editorial changes.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the Midwest who uses the words "woman" and "women" instead of "lady" and "ladies." Am I the only one who learned during the 1980s that "lady" is euphemistic and sexist? Am I the only one who doesn't think it's rude to call someone a "woman?"


Historically, the terms "lady" and "gentleman" connoted a standard of social behavior and social standing. A “lady,” in particular, was supposed to be modest, pure, clean, asexual, etc. All women aspired to be "ladies." "Ladies" were higher class and more strongly marked as feminine, which often meant needing to be taken care of, handled with delicacy and shielded from the rough world of men.

Clearly, most Americans no longer see women as needing to be shielded from the "men's" world. So why do we default to using the word "lady" instead of the unmarked word "woman?"

Many Midwesterners (I live in Chicago) argue that when they use the word "lady," they aren't using it with it's old historical meaning. It's just a word now. But I argue that any use of unequal terms perpetuates inequality. If Americans used the word “gentlemen” in our daily speech as much as we use "ladies," we would be using equal terms. But we don't. We use “men." We call men "men" and women "ladies." When English speakers shifted to prefering the word "men" over "gentlemen," why didn’t we make a similar shift to the word “women?”

I believe it's because people -- however unconsciously -- still imagine that our females are polite, feminine, delicate people who need shielding from the world of males. A man can be any kind of man, but we prefer a woman to "act like a lady," with certain expectations of restrained appearance and behavior. Even for people who don't believe this, using the word "lady" when we don't use the word "gentleman" equally, evokes the double standard of behavior we all grew up with: boys will be boys, but girls must become little ladies as soon as possible. 

Using the word “ladies” when we’re not using the equivalent term “gentlemen” reflects our historical sexism. I'm a woman, unmarked and free, but each time someone refers to me as a "lady" I feel suggested expectations of ladylike behavior: "ladies" don't use swear words, sit with their knees apart, burp in public or make their sexual desires clear. None of those protocols appeal to me, so please don't bother calling me a "lady."

If you're one of those people who only feels comfortable calling women “ladies, ” then at least be consistent about also calling men “gentlemen.” Belief in equality is reflected in using equal terms for females and males, such as talking about "men and women," or “girls and boys." Referring to females as "girls" or "ladies" in the same breath that you refer to males as "men" is offensive.

Speaking of offensive, I don't know when it became rude to call someone a "woman." No one acts like it's rude to call someone a "man." In fact, "being a man" is seen as admirable. But I've had people tell me that they use "lady" because it sounds young while "woman" sounds old, and that "lady" sounds familiar while "woman" sounds distancing. These views indicate that the word "woman" has some negative associations. I cry out in the midst of the heartland: Does no one see the sexism in how the word "woman" has negative associations while "man" does not? And don't you want to push back against that by using the word "woman" in a neutral or positive way? It seems they don't.

My Midwestern friends are bewildered by these views. They think "ladies" is a perfectly innocent word that's respectful and polite. I'm the odd one out on this one, probably because I came of age in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s. But I can't ignore the connotations of that word, especially contrasted with the less-than-neutral view of the word "woman." And it's especially hard for me to hear the terms "men" and "ladies" used as if they're equivalent. When someone is referring to full grown adults, I find "men and ladies" just as insulting as "men and girls."

Stop thinking that just because you mean no harm, you're causing no harm by using historically specific words (people also use that defense when they use words like "retard" and "n-----"). I'm a woman: strong, equal to men and not afraid to be impolite. Let's take the negative meanings off of the word "woman" and call things as they really are.  The word "lady," part two.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

My Black Is Beautiful

"The Talk" is a TV commercial for Proctor & Gamble that shows conversations between Black parents and their Black children about the realities of their lives in the U.S. The ad was done by BBDO New York advertising agency and was released in July.

Let us not forget that this is how it is: both the message of the commercial and the conservative backlash that calls it racist.


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Only Bad Owners

FICTION
Sunlight skipped off the surface of the lake and pierced the eyes of the dog owners and their charges.

"Oh, Dan," said Imelda. "The new laws about dogs who attack people are so strict. Don't you think?"

Dan turned away from his Great Dane, who was tentatively stepping into the low surf, and said, "Hey, if you can't control your dog, it's three strikes you're out. People shouldn't even own dogs if they don't know how to properly take care of them. And taking care of them means conditioning them to get along with other people and animals."

"But to make the penalty death? After just three attacks whether or not the dog actually bites anyone?"

Dan turned to Imelda and glared, "If it keeps idiots from mismanaging their dogs, I'm all for it. Are you worried that Malachite might go out of control on someone?"

"No, of course not!" Imelda scanned for her red boxer, finding him snuffling in the sand several yards away. "He's had nothing but the best from the very beginning. He wouldn't hurt a squirrel."

"Well, then I guess we have nothing to worry about. Bilby! Here, Bilby!" The Great Dane loped over to her owner. As Dan led his dog out off the beach, he said, "See you later."

Imelda watched the two of them pass the gate with the out-of-date sign that said the beach was for people only. No, they didn't have to worry, but she knew someone who did. Since the revised law for dog attacks was passed, one of her neighbors had gotten a German Shepherd rescue dog. It was the cutest thing, but at two years old, it hadn't been socialized well. It eyed everyone suspiciously and even snapped at Larry, its new owner. Twice while Larry was trying to train it to walk on a leash, it lunged at someone who hadn't paid attention when Larry had warned them to stay back. Twice. One more time and someone wasn't going to be going on any more walks.

Imelda let her eyes drift over the lifeguard's chair. The woman in it had binoculars to her face, scouring the water for the slightest sign that a dog was in trouble. Imelda felt better since they'd increased the lifeguards on this beach. Her Malachite liked water, but tired easily and Imelda wasn't quite strong enough to lift him herself.

The next day Imelda happened to open an email that gave updates on local news. She ignored the latest crime statistics and announcements about new businesses and then gasped at the item in the "Loving Our Babies" section.

It had happened. Larry's dog had bitten a third person and that was it. Imelda started to email a fellow dog owner, decided that wasn't fast enough, and picked up her phone to dial. She got her friend's voicemail.

"Malaquito!" she called her boxer. "Let's go for a walk!" She hustled the two of them out the door and towards the beach.

"Dan!" Imelda staggered over the sand to the first person she knew. "Did you hear? Larry's dog tried to bite someone three times. He'll be the first person caught by the new law!"

"Yup," Dan said. "That's how it goes."

"But it's not right!"

Dan looked coldly at Imelda. "There are no bad dogs, Imelda. Only bad owners. If you're too imcompetent to train your dog to behave, you get what's coming to you."

Imelda gazed at the shining water, speckled with frolicking dogs. "But Larry's not a bad person," she said mournfully. "He doesn't deserve to die."

They stood in silence for a minute. Then Dan said, "At least his dog will get a second chance with a better owner."