Four Tomatoes or a Bag of Chips? Secrets of the Woman in my Mirror

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On judgments, assumptions, ideals of beauty and building my sense of self on a rock.

By Trisha Baptie | Twitter: @trisha_baptie

I’m going to share a secret with you. You may know this already. It’s one I get judged for all the time and a secret that is steeped in snap judgements and affects my life daily. (In fact, it’s a conversation happening on my Facebook wall right now.)

The big secret?

I. am. fat.

I KNOW!

Pick-your-jaw-up-off-the-ground-shocking, right?

Being a former prostitute does not help in any way.

As I take to the stage or people see a pic of me for the first time, I know the first question in some people’s minds: “Did she look like that when she worked?

Or: “Did she make money looking like that?”

Which is sad. Can we see just how commodified women as a gender are that the question keeps creeping up in people’s minds?

Just the Way I Am

It’s OK. Really I don’t mind. Really. Because I get to wake up every day knowing a deep, deep truth, Jesus loves me EXACTLY the way I am. I have had this vid on repeat for days now: 

How freeing is it? How affirming?

I am not a fat person who is secretly sad inside. There’s no skinny person in me trying to get out. In fact, I was thin for a good portion of my life.

I have never felt better about myself. I no longer smoke, do drugs, drink excessively, engage in unhealthy sexual behaviour, or find my self-worth in others’ feedback.

My truth of who I am is built on a rock, not sand. I’m not swayed by mean comments concealed in “concern.”

“Don’t you want to feel better, healthier?”

You’re making a huge assumption I don’t already feel good and healthy.

The barrage

These are huge assumptions made solely on appearance–assumptions that discriminate as we are reminded every minute of every day by every form of media everywhere we look that we must pluck, wax, enhance here, but decrease there, learn how to walk on elongated toothpicks, have busts that are lifted and separated, butts that are big but in exactly the right way, that stick out but not wide. No hair on our upper lips or chins, but eyelashes that are long and lush. It is a never-ending barrage of standards that are unobtainable and based solely in consumerism, capitalism and patriarchy.

Women’s insecurity is HUGE business; it encompasses the cosmetics industry, diet industry, plastic surgery industry, fashion industry, etc.

And now it includes our BC government, which has rubbed me the wrong way to no end. See this story.

It is becoming more and more OK to judge people of size, based solely on appearance and, in fact, many find it OK to speak aloud those judgements. As if somehow I and others are unaware of what we see in the mirror. (But just so we are clear: I see a fine diva in mine). As if somehow–based entirely on my appearance–you may judge my health.

In the name of trying to save healthcare dollars that will be spent on “obesity-related diseases,” we belittle, name-call, judge and try to shame people into a different body.

Work out?

The Government’s announcement assumes that people of a thicker size don’t work out, participate in physical programs or know how to eat.
I mean, what single mom has an extra hour, three times a week to work out?

Does she even have childcare? Can her budget allow for trips to the grocery store every few days to buy fresh?

I work out.

In fact I have never driven. I’ve taken transit my whole life, so I walk daily. I can carry $132 worth of groceries for 25mins to get them home. That’s gotta count for some kinda workout. ; )

We have to remember thin can be just as unhealthy. Anorexia and bulimia are rampant and a huge health concern and cost plenty in health care dollars.

The cost of a tomato

Poverty can be a huge contributor and we must look at that.

According to The Globe and Mail, in rural places, four tomatoes can cost over $8. A bag of chips? $5. You got multiple kids to feed–what are you going to buy? Single parents on income assistance and the working poor have a daily balancing game of providing the basics, so cheap food it is. And cheap food is carb- and sugar-heavy.

Have you ever tried cooking a healthy meal with food bank food?
Have you ever been out with your kids, ran outta snacks and have a choice between a $5 6-inch sub or $6.50 for three cheeseburgers and everyone gets fed?

Do you pick one kid to feed well, or do you feed everyone?

What’s my point?

Could we please stop the instant judging in the name of “health?” Could we see ourselves beautiful like here and here. Could we just stop buying into some predetermined (predominantly patriarchal and misogynistic) ideals of beauty, health and acceptability?

Yes, obesity will cost us health dollars; so does anorexia and bulimia. So does the ordinary joe who gets alcohol poisoning on the weekend. So does overdoses by people who use drugs recreationally on weekends.

We ALL make choices that affect our health and will probably bring us in contact with the medical community at some point in our lives. Could we just please STOP picking on those we have deemed the easiest to judge by hiding fat-intolerance behind the veneer of “concern for one’s health.”

Questions:
-Who do you see when you look in the mirror?
-Do you judge people based on appearance?

About Trisha
Trisha Baptie is Executive Director of Honour Consulting and founding member of EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating). In 2008 she won BC’s Courage to Come Back Award for her bravery in transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, for giving the murdered women of Vancouver a voice through her trial coverage of Vancouver’s serial killer and for her ongoing activism. Follow Trisha’s tweets at @trisha_baptie or friend her on facebook. She recently founded EVE (formerly Exploited Voices Now Educating.)

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