Rethinking My Thanksgiving

standing-rock

My favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to make a big meal and eat with people I love. If I could feed 10 friends every night, I would be very, very happy. So, usually, Thanksgiving (or as my family calls it, Senguiben) is one of my favorite times of the year.

This year is different. Thanks to the water protectors at Standing Rock, I am more aware of Native American suffering and human rights violations than I ever have been. Instead of spending money on fancy ingredients and decorative gourds, I decided to donate that money to Standing Rock. Here is the link to donate.

And in case you haven’t heard about the people who have gathered in prayer to protect the water, sacred grounds, and indigenous sovereignty, here are a few links I used to learn about the water protectors and why they are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.  

ARTICLE
Read about Standing Rock and Native American history.

“[T]he tribes gathered at Standing Rock today are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline operator from bulldozing what they say are sacred sites to construct a 1,172-mile oil pipeline. The tribes also want to protect the Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation, from a potential pipeline leak.”

PODCAST
This week’s episode of Another Round is about Standing Rock and the conditions water protectors are currently facing.

Heben talks with Dr. Adrienne Keene about Standing Rock and the #NoDAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) movement in North Dakota. We hear stories from people on the ground about preparing for winter, police violence, and healing.”

VIDEO
The Standing Rock Sioux recently released an eight-minute documentary about the ongoing struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“ ‘This film tells the story of our prayerful and peaceful demonstrations by water protectors that have motivated thousands of tribal members and non-Native people around the world to take a stand,’ said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II in a release. ‘In it, you hear the voices of people fighting for their lives, because water is life.’ ”

BLOG POST
Dr. Adrienne Keene’s photos and first-person account of being at Standing Rock, reflections on seeing the violence inflicted by police, and how we can help.

“All day I had been—without hyperbole—nearly certain I was going to watch someone die, and the stress weighed heavy. The next morning I tried to work on another piece of writing, and broke down in tears when Word ate it. The tears were not for the lost words, but for the fear and frustration and sadness at what I had watched on the plains. This is hard. With each day I am reminded again and again of how little we as Native peoples matter to US settler society.”

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Rethinking My Thanksgiving

click, click, click: fighting fatphobia edition

In fourth grade I wrote my first petition, asking the principal for benches near the playground so kids could have a more comfortable place to read during recess. (I don’t know how I convinced other kids to sign it because there wasn’t exactly a recess book club, but the petition was successful, and I read on a blue bench for the rest of the year.)

As you can tell, I wasn’t what you would consider an athletic child. When I did exercise, it was in structured environments like gym class or cheerleading practice, and that’s the kind of exercise environment I still prefer. Put me in a class with a person telling me what to do and I’m happy. I don’t really care what the class is as long as I don’t have to figure out what to do by myself. It’s like, I like to move; I just don’t really know how.

Even though I enjoy them, I’m ambivalent about recommending exercise classes because there’s one part I hate and would never want other people to endure. It happens about halfway through class, and I think most instructors consider it a pep talk. I call it the Lalalala-I-can’t-hear-you portion because it is usually just fatphobia disguised as encouragement. Often it includes references to bikinis and summer and “working hard to look good!”

Once, during the most intense part of a class, the teacher broke with body-shaming tradition and asked, “Do you feel strong?”

Did I? No one had ever asked me before.

It made me think about all the ways I’ve been taught that as a woman, my most important job is to be pretty and how beauty is conflated with thinness in our society. What if I’d been taught to focus on how I felt rather than how I looked? What if I’d been praised for being strong instead of “cute”? How different would my life be?

The sad thing is, I can’t even imagine.

I’ve written before about deciding to love my body, resist negative messages, and challenge the underlying assumptions of fatphobia. It’s an ongoing process because I encounter countless messages designed to make me feel bad about my body or fear gaining weight, and I can’t just go through life yelling “Lalala, I can’t hear you!” Thankfully, there are lots of positive messages for people who want to question our fat=bad, diet=good culture. You just have to know where to look. Here are a few links to pieces I’ve found especially interesting.

nayyirah waheed quote  Graphic found via Pinterest


READ

Most of what I’ve read about fat positivity is written from the perspective of someone who has overcome insecurities, but Jo’s post about being fat and struggling to love your body is in the present tense, and her willingness to focus on process rather than triumph makes it not just inspiring but useful.

“it would be so great if naming this thing would make it go away, but it doesn’t. i’ve had it pinned down, i’ve had it named, for years now yet i still crumble under the weight of the gaze that is disgusted by me. as women, the gaze is rarely pleased with us for a million different reasons…but if you are woman who is fat, a woman like me, the gaze is actively DISGUSTED by you. you can’t imagine how much it fucks you up to know the gaze does not approve in such a fundamental way, unless you can imagine it. unless you are living it.”

 

LISTEN

This American Life did an episode about “rethink[ing] the way we see being fat.” The whole episode is excellent, but if you only have time for one act, I suggest Elna Baker’s story about her drastic weight loss, which demonstrates how harmful fatphobia can be––even when you “succeed” at becoming thin.

Here’s something I never tell people. I still take phentermine. I take it for a few months at a time a year, or sometimes it feels like half of the year. I can’t get it prescribed anymore, so I buy it in Mexico or online, though the online stuff is fake and doesn’t work as well.

I have a shirt that says, ‘I’m allergic to mornings.’ Everyone who knows me knows I have problems sleeping at night. I am usually up until 4:00 AM. I say I have insomnia. Really, I am awake because I am on speed. And I am on speed, because I need to stay thin. I need to stay thin so I can get what I want.

I know how this sounds. I know exactly how messed up it is. But I also feel like…we won’t really get anywhere unless I admit it.”

 

GIVE (TO YOUR DOCTOR)

Annika Burnett’s “Doctors Don’t Like Fat People” has a depressing title that makes me want to burn everything down, but it’s an open letter from a med school student challenging anti-fat bias in her own training and in medicine in general. Take comfort in knowing that someday she’ll be an M.D. with patients of her own and that she’s not waiting until then to change things.

All too frequently in medicine, the terms ‘fat’ and ‘unhealthy’ are mistakenly collapsed. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the relationship between body weight and overall health status is not so clear (to read more from folks beginning to challenge this paradigm, check out here and here). Yes, obesity is a risk factor for many diseases. So are age, race, gender and family history. It is unclear whether and to what extent we can choose our body size any more than we can choose those characteristics.

Still, even if being fat were entirely a matter of willpower and even if fat definitively meant unhealthy, would that give us an excuse to treat fat patients poorly? When has hostility ever been conducive to taking care of a patient? Creating a clinical environment so antagonistic that fat patients are afraid to access care is not helping anybody.”

 

AND MAYBE GET SOME NEW CLOTHES?

That’s what Arianna Rebolini did after she realized that she had a closet that was antithetical to the way she wanted to feel about–and in–her body.

“I was beginning every single day with a terrible task — facing a closet that told me my body wasn’t right, and choosing which way I’d like to be made physically uncomfortable that day. My clothes were undoing years of work toward accepting my body as-is, coaxing me into old beliefs. Like: Discomfort was what I deserved for having gained weight. Like: Anger and unhappiness would motivate me to lose weight. Like: Happiness and nice things and self-esteem were for people who haven’t gained weight. I’d decided years ago those beliefs were empty; it was time to ditch the last thing pulling me toward them.”

click, click, click: fighting fatphobia edition

click, click, click

I’m a big fan of other blogs’ link lists, and I’ve seen really cool stuff recently, so I decided to try making one myself. Here are a few things I think you might also like.

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Spring in Madison means the lakes are back to their liquid state. This is Lake Mendota, the lake Devin, our friend Makeba, and I traversed on foot for my birthday! 


ART


This short story by Stephanie Jimenez is vivid and familiar. One of my favorite parts:

Maria sat in the backseat with the plastic bag on her lap. Maria could recognize her mother’s voice anywhere, the narrator of all those bedtime books in childhood, the one that pronounced library liberry and share instead of chair. Maria had developed a habit of correcting the way her mother talked, but now, as she watched the landscape go by from the backseat, the voice was soothing, more soothing than rain, and Maria said nothing. She closed her eyes.

CULTURE

Just in time for summer vacation, New York Magazine enlisted psychologist and travel-guide author Michael Brein for tips on traveling with other people. Brein calls this his “three-point scale of compatibility,” but I think it can also be a good tool for tempering expectations and finding ways to compromise. After reading this, my mom and I talked about what kind of travelers we are and came up with some ideas for our next trip together. (Suddenly all our silly vacation arguments made sense!)

  1. ACTIVITY LEVEL. Are they high- or low-energy? If you plan to see a city by foot, for instance, you want people who can keep up.

  2. DIURNAL-NOCTURNAL DISPOSITION. Do they prefer daytime activities or rowdy nightlife?

  3. TIME-URGENCY. Some people want to schedule every moment, while others prefer to be totally spontaneous.

FOOD

The big farmers’ market in Madison is back on the Square, and I’m excited to eat more spring produce. This What’s in Season? post is a great resource if you like to make a shopping list before going out or if you need recipe ideas for food you haven’t had in a year…or if you want a list of food that might be cheaper than usual at the grocery store!

click, click, click