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Saturday
May122007

Packaging

On the heels of The Secret, Sarah and I were encouraged to watch What the Bleep/Down the Rabbit Hole so bought it and have watched it front to back, sideways and downways... it really is great, even if there is a quarter of it I cannot begin to comprehend. (Physics is a quantum leap out of my league.)

Watching the Director's Q&A the other day, I was struck by one segment in particular.

Ramtha, a channelled being (through JZ Knight) was being complimented by a studio executive... the Director sat listening as the exec raved about how much she loved what Ramtha had to say, how profound "she" was, how "her" words meant so much to her. When the Director realized who the executive meant, she explained who Ramtha was and it seems the Los Angeles studio head became livid, feeling duped.

Confused, the Director clarified that the executive previously thought Ramtha had terrific, even life-changing thoughts to share, but once she realized the information came through a human voice, the entire message was discounted? The very angry studio head said that was exactly what happened.

As the discussion unfolded on film in front of me, the Director and Producers chuckled about how often in our lives... even in our days... do we do this very thing. If the information comes in the package of Mr. Giant Many Letters After His Name Who Works at the Big Famous College says something, it most certainly is correct, right? If Mr. Few Letters After His Name Who Works at the Community College says something, it holds a lot less weight than his Mr. Giant Man's word, now doesn't it. (I can't even put a question mark after that because it is so much of a statement.)

Didn't this exact thing just happen to me this last week?

It most certainly did.

In an old post resurrected, I spoke about Fat Vaginas, and what I said was twisted and turned to make it sound like I hated fat people, that I thought fat women had vile vaginas that couldn't keep a full-term baby inside it because it was so lax and that I was one of those despicable health care providers all fat women should do everything in their power to avoid as well as warn everyone in their lives to stay away from.

Assumptions were made that because I had had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS), I was now svelte and society-sexy. Assumptions were made that I had something called a "perfect life" because I had a gastric bypass.

The assumptions and beliefs lingered until I reminded (revealed?) that I weighed 220 pounds. While still weighing 130 pounds less than my 350 pound pre-operative weight, I am still considered obese in our society. Sarah calls me "Garden-Variety Fat." Just normal fat in this culture.

It seems the moment I said how fat I was, the daggers of anger fell to the ground with deafening thuds. I've gotten a couple of random comments since, but other than that. Nothing.

Why is it that my weight makes any difference whatsoever if what I have to say is true or not? Who gives a fuck if I weigh 220 or 120 if my tampon popped out at 350 pounds and I said it did and I know that my fat cunt made it do that? Why is what I say more valid now that I weigh 220 and you can see I have flapping arm wings?

*breathing breathing*

Yeah, I am angry about this.

There are some packages that matter when it comes to advice or information.

I know I am certainly more apt to listen to a midwife who has 20 years' experience with hemorrhage than a brand new midwife who's had one, BUT, I will absolutely listen to the new midwife because she might have discovered a new and amazing technique. Just I will give far more weight to the older midwife.

I find it hard to listen to a new mom giving me parenting advice about my toddler unless she's already had one.

If the Lactation Consultant hasn't nursed her own children successfully, it's very difficult to imagine she can offer the most impressive information possible.

I say these statements with certainty because I have heard, dozens of times, women who previously believed they were wonderful at what they did, realize they were quite inept until they actually became what they were counseling women to do.

Midwives (plural) who'd had no children, rather good midwives at that, who were transformed once they had children themselves, understanding labor, birth, postpartum and breasfeeding in a way they never understood or imagined when they explained it to women previously. I've known them to apologize to women for saying insensitive remarks, encouraging them to do impossible tasks and to find themselves incredibly humbled by their mothering experiences.

Midwifery isn't the only time this happens.

But, this is an example when the package does matter.

What of those times when words or experiences move you, sweep you up and change your thinking? Why then does learning of the package make a difference in how the message is interpreted?

I'm not talking of a love letter from prison or an IM from a troll.

I'm talking about a profound, thought-provoking word, sentence, paragraph from someone that is dismissed because it comes from a co-worker you can't stand or that neighbor kid down the street or your daughter's boyfriend with the tusks coming out his nose.

Or me.

I'm just baffled why it made any difference that I weigh what I weigh and my words carry more weight now (pun surely important).

I encourage any of the Fat Activists still reading my blog (if any are even left now) to look inside and think about this. No one needs even answer; it doesn't make any difference to me. It's something I am looking at myself. Why I do this, too... I am sure it's something our culture fosters.

I want to be heard for me, though. Not just for my package. For my experience. My knowledge. My wit. My love for women. My joy for humans.

Packaging. I'm in a brown paper bag with gobs of tape macked around it.

Reader Comments (10)

I went to re-read the "Fat Vaginas" entry through your earlier link about this situation. What really struck me was that most of those commenting recently hadn't found out for themselves exactly who you are. They appeared to take one person's word and proceeded to slam you as a Former-Fatty, now a Fatty-Hater.

I don't know about others, but when I read a blog and wish to comment, you can be danged sure I'll read the whole bloody thing before I open my big mouth. Even though I just found your blog a couple of weeks ago, I worked my way through the archives. I knew you had WLS. I knew you'd regained a portion of the weight. Anyone who bothered to look into the matter for themselves rather than making an assumption could find out that fact.

As to why packaging matters in this instance? I think that we as women are often extremely critical of ourselves, and if we hear someone we believe hasn't had our own experience, or whom we believe has negated that experience, comment in a way we perceive as negative (or insultingly wrong), we take it personally. In order to "fix" this problem, rather than take a closer look or even look at our own reactions and motivations, we want to adjust the outside input. Fix it. Silence it. Subdue it. Shame it.

When I'm offended in cases like this, I've found that it's helpful to understand where the perspective of the "offender" is located. If you're viewed as someone who's now a thin person whose life has been miraculously fixed by WLS, you can be viewed as an outsider, an interloper who can no longer comprehend what a fat person goes through in day-to-day life. Your perspective is different. You're talking from the top of an ivory tower, where you're no longer part of the masses of whom you speak. If, however, you're viewed as a fat person who is currently experiencing the problem you're expounding upon, you're part of the community. Part of the "in crowd." You "get it."

It doesn't make it right. And I'm as guilty of this practice as anyone else. I try to keep perspective in mind. I try to find where others get their viewpoints. Sometimes I succeed, others I fail miserably. All I can do is keep trying.

Best wishes.

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Hi. I found your blog thanks to Susie Bright and bookmarked you for future reading after absorbing* Fat Vaginas. I found the post about birth phobias to be fascinating, too, and helped me understand some of my young friends who exhibit this phobia out the wazoo.

(*"devouring?" All the colorful verbs are wrongwrongwrong, but "reading" is just too boring)

I find lots of value in what I'm reading here, and want to thank you for that.

I really appreciate that you're working with the Law of Attraction these days, as well as A New Earth, two topics which have had my attention for some time. Might I also recommend Abraham-Hicks.com, for lots of woo-woo source material regarding LoA. (Esther Hicks was in the original DVD of The Secret, then was edited out because she was too damned woo-woo for the masses.)

Anyway, I don't want to be thought of as a spammer here, so I'll shut up about that, and just give you lots of hugs and appreciations from afar. I expect, at some point when I get enough time, to catch up with everything you've written on this blog and probably write you more comments as I go. I find lots and lots of wisdom in your expressions. I'm tempted to be a wee bit cranky about it because, dammit, I *thought* that five years after my 2nd son's almost-homebirth and the height of my birth-and-midwives obsession, I was "over" babies, but now you've brought me back into the fold. For my sake, though, don't wish me any more pregnancies, okay? ;)

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLuci

Oh, now I haven't yet written about _The Law of Attraction_ with Abraham-Hicks yet, but I have "read" (listened) to that like mad, too. I felt like _The Secret_ was the outline and _The Law of Attraction_ was the story. I've listened to cd 5 over and over several times (discussing deliberate intention) and use the knowledge hundreds of times every day.

I should write about deliberate intent, shouldn't I.

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Amanda,

You wrote wonderful things... your words explained things very well about why I was discounted when I was thought of as a thinner woman, but given grace as a fat woman. Thanks for taking the time to say it because I was just getting more and more frustrated as the days went by.

I really, really appreciate your generosity and kindness.

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

And Luci... I'm not done with you... I gotta write more later...

Susie Bright's reading here?

Shit, I better write some more controversial stuff! *laughing*

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

NGM, you're more than welcome. Thank you for your kind words as well!

To go further, what kind of gets me beyond the "packaging" aspect of this issue is the simple fact that women gain weight differently. It's not like there some "female weight-gain norm". Some of us get bellies, some of us dance to the tune of "Baby Got Back" way before our weight is deemed to be of an unhealthy level. Why should it then be, when our weight is at a level that is considered detrimental to our health, that we'd all gain the same way?

It's simple; we don't. Some obese women may get fat vaginas at a lower weight than others might; and indeed, some obese women never experience this effect of their weight gain.

However, just because some women don't accrue fat along their vaginal walls, resulting in the effects you noted, doesn't make this experience any less real. Nor does it negate the need for caring, compassionate HCP for all women of all body styles who are willing to do whatever it takes to be sure we receive the care we need, regardless of what the scale may say and what impact that has on each of our own unique physiologies.

(Ahem) Okay, I might have gone off on a teensy little rant there. Shutting up now :)

May 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I worry about my 'packaging' all the time.

I have to be a midwife - I am going to be a midwife. But I am not a mother. I will not become a mother during my 3 year midwifery degree. It's not who I am yet.

I wonder if women will listen to me if they know I am not a parent.

I know students who lie to families because it's easier to pretend you've 'been there' than to be honest.

But i'm not in the business of lying. So i'll keep thinking about my 'package'

May 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAgatha

Beautiful, beautiful post.

Just wanted to tell you that your words carry weight with me at 220 lbs, and would at 120 and 800 lbs as well. Beauty of your caliber is rare and it would be impossible for weight to hide that indisputable fact.

Also wanted to say that tampons shot out of my vagina at 135 lbs due to prolapse - if a baby tearing out of me at high speed can relax my vagina, I'm sure some fat would do it as well.

I am so proud of your strong voice these days. Wow, have you been transformed in recent months. (Another statement rather than a question.)

May 14, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterkristina

you know, i can't even watch 'what the bleep' because it was produced by that ramtha cult. and it has nothing to do with quantum physics.

but i do find the 'secret' phenom interesting. it's been talked about in every major religion for centuries, right? why does it cost money now? bwahahaha! ;)

ok, just stirrin' some shit.

xoxo

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSage Femme

Hey...new to your blog here and am enjoying it immensely, both in the birthing realms and your spirtuality. I was a midwife from 1980-1986. Much of my present day SpiritPath was triggered by the birthing energy I felt when I would walk into the house and feel all that was there. And the realization that I was truly a vehicle there in some pretty strong energy.

Anyway..will be back! Thanks for writing.

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPamm

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