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slimdownforthegown

One of my best friends is getting married and she recently pointed out to me that she and her fiance noticed how rail thin some of the girls who model wedding dresses are these days. She was particularly taken back with this designer and encouraged me to write about the intense pressure bride’s feel to stay super thin and to fit into their dress on the big day.

Many of you who are/were engaged mentioned during our Facebook threads that you receive a lot of weight-loss ads on your Facebook that are specifically geared toward brides. In fact, the pressure to be thin, lose weight and/or fit into your wedding dress is a real pressure many brides feel.

bridewars1I recently saw the new movie that’s in theaters right now, Bride Wars, and as you can probably imagine, there were many lines in the movie having to do with weight, weight loss and body image. In one scene, when the brides-to-be go wedding dress shopping, Kate Hudson’s character tries on a Vera Wang gown to which the sales woman warns her (I’m paraphrasing here) “You should watch any pre-wedding weight gain. You don’t alter Vera to fit you, you alter yourself to fit Vera.” Kate Hudson’s character assures her that she had nothing to worry about because she is focused, determined and in control.

Later, when the brides-to-be begin fighting and playing mean tricks on each other, Anne Hathaway’s character begins sending Kate Hudson treats in the form of cookies, candy, etc. which Kate Hudson assumes are from her fiance. She begins snacking on the treats and despite her crazy work out schedule (she even puts a treadmill in her office), she gains five pounds and totally freaks out about it. Because after all, you don’t alter Vera to fit you!

Sa mre ou moiI found this whole story line interesting as I recently watched the movie Monster-in-Law starring Jennifer Lopez whose character had a very different idea of how wedding dresses should be altered. In a scene when she meets her mother-in-law for lunch, she orders a cheeseburger (yay!) and fries for lunch to which her mother-in-law comments on how brave she must be, seeing that most brides are super concerned about fitting in to their wedding dress. And JLo’s response is perfect: “I’m going to alter the dress to fit my body, not the other way around!” A much better attitude!

I know I certainly felt a lot of pressure to be thin and fit into my dress when I was married two and a half years ago. When I went to get the dress altered, the man was very reluctant to bring it in anymore because he was afraid I was going to gain weight (much like the sales woman in Bride Wars). And much like Kate Hudson’s character, I assured him that I wasn’t planning on gaining any weight before my wedding and insisted he take the dress in like I had asked him to! (In retrospect, I probably would be reluctant to take the dress in too…it was a Size 4 for crying out loud…how much smaller was I going to get)?! I unfortunately, had not discovered cheeseburgers in those days and was a tad crazy (ok– a lot crazy)! I was incredibly concerned about my weight and making sure I didn’t look like a “fat” bride. With hundreds of eyes watching me walk down that aisle, I wanted to be noticeably thin and was willing to do almost anything to get there.

To top it all off, after writing this post, I was in a bookstore flipping through a bridal magazine in search of wedding shoes for my friend when I saw this article: “Slim Down For The Gown!”. The article detailed the top ten ways to lose weight in preparation for the big day.

So between the Facebooks ads, the super skinny bride models, exhaustive amounts of ads and magazine articles and personal pressures we feel in not wanting to be a “fat bride” and fit into our wedding dress, it’s pretty hard out there for a bride. So all of you brides…try and remember that’s it’s your day and you don’t have to fit into a Size 2 to be beautiful on your day! (Oh and you probably want to stay away from Vera dresses if your serious about body acceptance. 🙂

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Holiday Survival Tips

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The Holidays are upon us and you know what that means. A million articles like this one about how to avoid Holiday weight gain. The Holidays are a time when we see people that we probably haven’t seen all year, which means comments about our bodies and weight gain/loss are inevitable. I have personally gotten at least one comment about my weight from a family member every Christmas since my Freshman year of college!

Whether you have lost weight or gained weight, chances are, your body doesn’t look like it did this time last year, which probably means your great aunt Murial will say something to you about your body! Maybe you have a really nice family that keeps rude size/weight comments to themselves, but if your family is anything like mine, you might need the following Holiday Survival Tips:

1. In the event that someone makes a comment about how you have gained weight this year, respond with, “Why thank you! It’s really nice of you to notice!” The confused look on their face will be a nice holiday treat!

2. In the event that someone makes a comment about how much better you look since you have lost weight, respond with, “Is that supposed to make me feel good? Because it doesn’t!” They will be baffled that you bothered to challenge their rude comment and will probably look at you with shock and confusion.

3. In the event that someone makes a comment about a particular food you are eating or the amount of food you consume, since they seem to think they know so much about what types of food you should or shouldn’t be eating, respond with “I didn’t know you were studying nutrition! Congrats! When do you graduate? I would love to attend the ceremony!”

4. When your mother warns you that the apple pie you are currently enjoying will go straight to your hips, respond with, “Which hip do you think it will look better on Mom? My left or my right?” or “I was actually hoping it would go straight to my thighs!’

These tips are just a few generic examples so feel free to tweak them according to your specific situation. It will take courage and boldness to challenge your relatives/friends who say these type of things to you about your body but it will feel good to stand up for yourself.

Happy Holidays to you all!!!!

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This is a phrase we use a lot around here so we thought we would finally go ahead and make it an official rule. This rule was inspired by an unfortunate incident I had with an acquaintance of mine. Last night, I was with a group of women who I haven’t really seen in a while. One of the women grabbed my arm and said “Have you been eating ham hocks or something?” I was seriously confused by her comment and really didn’t know what she meant. (Afterall, I thought she knew that I don’t even eat ham.) She perceived my confusion and clarified, “You’ve put on some weight.” I was stunned. It’s been so long since someone has made a comment about my body that I really didn’t know what to say.

I stumbled over my words, shrugged my shoulders and finally said “Oh, I don’t really care.” With a look of embarrassment on her face, she then attempted to relate to me on the issue, “I know I have. I’ve gained about five pounds or so.” I then thought, “Wait! Is she still talking to me about this? I thought my cold response would have effectively ended the conversation.” As we were all leaving our friends house she continued with telling a story about how a co-worker of hers had recently lost about 40 or 50 pounds by simply “working out more.” She sounded almost envious of her co-workers weight loss which was super confusing to me because she herself recently lost 40 or 50 pounds this past year. I guess she wanted to lose more.

In retrospect, I really wish I would have been more on my toes and quick-witted. I would have said a few things that would have made her head spin. But I was so shocked by her comment that I didn’t know what to say. Many of my comments in the Crazy Things People Say Thread were made to me a long time ago. I just hadn’t experienced it in so long, it rendered me completely speechless.

In reality, I have gained probably about five lbs since I last saw this person. So the fact that she even noticed that I had gained weight is peculiar. Is she really looking that hard? Is it really that important to her?

I share this story to illustrate the point that we have been trying to make all along on this blog: WEIGHT IS NOT A PUBLIC ISSUE!!!!! And besides the fact that comments like these are incredibly rude and offensive, they are also potentially dangerous. Despite the many times that I have shared with this person that I have suffered with body image issues my entire life (and a pseudo eating disorder at one point), she still felt comfortable enough to just say what she saw: I’ve been eating more, I’ve gained weight.

I think the reason people feel so comfortable making comments about other peoples bodies is that at every turn we are bombarded with weight loss commercials, diet pills, weight loss foods, gym advertisements, reality shows highlighting weight loss, etc. So it gets embedded in our minds that weight is something we should all be openly talking about and encouraging each other to lose more of.

It never even occurred to this person that maybe I didn’t think gaining five pounds was such a big deal, or maybe that I might have even been trying to gain it. In our society’s worldview, the idea that weight gain is not a big deal, a life crisis or something that one might be trying to achieve is completely ludicrous. And that’s because we don’t know anything different and many of us don’t want to know anything different. Thinner is better is all we know and all we want to know. And within this mentality, any weight gain is bad and means that you are effectively on your way to being “fat.”

I have a message to all of you crazies out there: PLEASE stop making comments about peoples bodies! It’s none of your business! My weight, my body and my pants size is none of your business. It’s not ok to just say whatever comes to your mind when it comes to someone else’s body. Stop projecting your neurotic need to be a size 4 on me!

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I was reading the Huffington Post this morning and stumbled upon Nora Ephron’s thoughts about the VP debates and I couldn’t help but share something she wrote that just thrilled me. All of you know that I posted awhile back about the recent attempts of Los Angeles officials to put calorie content on restaurant menus (and you also know how much I love the idea, note the sarcasm:-)). Here are Ephron’s well-written thoughts on the matter.

It reminded me of this thing that’s happened in New York City, which is that all restaurants with more than fourteen locations have to put on the menu the calorie count of each food item. This is an appalling development. It’s hard enough to figure out what you want to order without someone explicitly telling you that you’re going to drop dead if you eat it. But more important, I don’t believe those calorie counts. Who knows how many calories there are in a grilled cheese sandwich? No one, that’s who. But there it is, on the menu, in a grim black and white parenthetical, and it affects you, you can’t help it, and as a result you end up not ordering the thing you wanted and instead ordering some stupid bowl of soup that barely gets you through till three in the afternoon.

Well put Nora! A cheeseburger shout out to you!

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Now that’s a serious burger. You can find it at Five Guys, a restaurant chain that began in Northern Virginia in 1986 and now includes chains all over Maryland (see details in this article).

The burgers start at $4.19 and come with up to 15 free toppings! This place was voted No. 1 by Washington Magazine. So if you like cheeseburgers and happen to live in the area, head over to Five Guys for a great burger and fries!

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Many people assume that because I have a body acceptance blog that somehow means I’m anti-exercise. I’m not quite sure why that is but I want to set the record straight that although I’m not much of an exercise buff (I have a gym membership which I maybe use a couple times a month), I’m certainly not against exercise, in fact, I’m all for it.

My concern about exercise is mostly about over-exercise. I’m sure you’ve seen them too; those people at the gym that look like they are about to keel over (like they haven’t eaten in a while) and are running like their lives depended on it. My friends and I call this the “Gotta lose ten pounds” syndrome. Back in my pre-cheeseburger days, I used to have this pretty bad. Even though I was already thin, as soon as the scale started getting just a little bigger I would go on a gym binge and try to work off the extra weight. I was running and running, trying my hardest to get the weight off. I was overdoing it.

I recently was talking to one of our readers who told me that her Mom did an extra two hour exercise class last week just because she ate a little cookie batter when making cookies for her family. I don’t think using exercise in such a way is the healthiest mentally speaking.

So please understand that I’m not anti-exercise. I think running is a really cool thing, and I know plenty of people who work out on a regular basis, which I think, is great for them. But straining your body to meet a goal that could potentially end up getting you hurt? Freaking out and running to the gym after you have an extra cookie? That’s not something I’m down with. I think exercise is a good thing recreationally and a lot of studies have shown that there are health benefits too. So now, when I do work out, I don’t work out because I ate a cupcake after dinner, I work out because I like it and it’s good to keep my muscles strong and flexible.

So the next time you are at the gym, instead of obsessing over how your current workout is affecting the scale, think about how you might be benefiting mentally and physically (in a non-obsessive about your weight kind of way).

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This week, a blogger published a post that spoke of the dangers of Fat Acceptance in which they mentioned EAC. There are a few things about this thread that I think are important to address:

1) “Having become an ardent reader of these blogs, opinions bounce around my head waiting to be released. Many of these blogs seem to be intolerable of outside opinions so my thoughts/comments remain unpublished, this will serve as my outlet.”

This is a body acceptance blog, which means that it’s not the place to go on rants about dieting tips, obesity statistics, fat hate, etc. (aka “outside opinions”) which is why these types of comments don’t get past moderation. There are tons of other forums/blogs out there to talk about this stuff, but this is not one of them. I think one of the comments in this thread makes a great point about the need for tough moderation among those of us in the Fatosphere. She states:

“Furthermore, the reason that fat acceptance bloggers are so harsh to dissenters is because it’s THEIR blog. It’s their (and their members’ 😉 space to feel safe and secure; when obnoxious trolls spew vomit about how they’re all fat, ugly c*nts and concerned trolls cry, “we’re only worried about your health,” they invade that space. And that means moderation has to be stiff. Unfortunately, if a comment even sniffs of a troll (regardless of whether it actually is one), moderators delete it to protect their blog’s sanctity.”

I think she makes the point perfectly. This is our blog, it is a diet-free zone, and it is a fat phobic-free zone. We make it very clear on our How to Eat A Cheeseburger guidelines what we will allow through moderation and what we won’t. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with new diets, weight loss tricks and endless articles about health and weight, this is a place to fight against all of that in our own way. So, yeah, we don’t allow a lot of comments through moderation and it’s our prerogative to do so.

2) “From reading some of the comments in those fat acceptance websites… the message of living well is not being promoted. Simply being satisfied is. Satisfaction may be fine for adults not willing to change but in children it can lead to complacency which can be extremely dangerous later in life.” (This was not from the original post but a comment about the post by the poster).

I am not a professional blogger and I don’t get paid to do this. This is volunteer time that I put in to talk about what I’ve learned in order to help people to live better lives free of dieting and the pressure to be thin(ner) if that is what they desire for themselves. I am not interested in giving people diet, nutritional or exercise tips…there are a plethora of other blogs, websites, television shows, radio programs, (and the list goes on) out there to do that. So, I think I AM promoting a message of living well in my own way, and those who like the message of this blog tell me that on a daily basis (privately and publicly) and these include people of all sizes.

Also, ever hear of something called HAES?

3) But to me, here is the real danger of a post like this one: I noticed that EAC was getting quite a few hits from a random site so I went to check it out. What I found was a forum and in it a person who was making the other forum members aware of the FA movement. The person linked the “Dangers of Fat Acceptance” article and then linked one of EAC’s articles. Following the post in this forum were pages and pages of fat hate comments (which is why I have chosen not to link the forum here).

So what is the danger of posting about the dangers of FA? It leads to more fat hate. I realize that the author meant only to post about a few things that she/he did not agree with in her/his own personal space, which is totally understandable. It’s totally his/her prerogative to do so. But the dangers in publishing a post like this one are that instead of starting a healthy debate, it leads to fat hate and random, unproductive rants by people who probably haven’t the slightest idea of what they are talking about. Furthermore, its a personal pain because I have to spend more of my time spamming fat hate comments and the like which are mostly comprised of people calling me “fatty.”

So I’m sorry if your comments don’t get past our moderation queue but there is a reason for that. Its so we can protect the “sanctity” of this body acceptance space and that is not something we are willing to budge on. There are too many people (of all sizes) in this world who are silently suffering in their own skin and we hope that when they stumble upon our blog, they can find hope and begin a journey of turning their noses to the media and learn to love who they are. So if you don’t like the message of body acceptance and find it dangerous, I suggest new reading material.

(NOTE: I am getting on a plane in less than 24hrs and I am currently the only active mod for EAC, so if you don’t see your comment get through right away its probably because I can’t get to it, but I will by Thursday, August 14th @ 11pm EST. Thanks for your patience:-)

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Los Angeles is known and often referred to as the fitness capital of the U.S., but a couple of LA country supervisors disagree insisting that the “obesity epidemic” in Los Angeles is getting out of control. Their solution? Forcing restaurants to display calorie content on their menus.

“The menu should be as informative of what its effect is on one’s waistline as it is on their pocketbooks,” Yaroslavsky said. “Not ingesting 800 calories in a meal makes a huge difference to one’s health and quality of life.”

I find several things wrong with this:

1) This implies that all obese people are just sitting around eating tons of calories and getting fatter and fatter as they ingest each additional bite. Well, I think you probably know how incredibly ridiculous I think that is and how claims like that further promote stereotyping against fat people that lead to “Wall E” incidents, so let’s just move on.

2) We DO have a serious health problem in this city: it’s called eating disorders! Calorie display on a menu is like an anorexic’s dream! It will only promote unhealthy calorie counting for people who are already obsessed with their weight and every bite they eat. Calorie counting on menus will only perpetuate this problem, and based on what I observe in this city (since I am a resident of Los Angeles), most people are already over-concerned about what they eat (which is a form of disordered eating in my opinion), so I don’t know why they need further encouragement.

3) And lastly, what if I don’t want to count my calories? What if I don’t want to associate guilt with food? What if I want to go into a restaurant, order my meal and enjoy what I eat without thinking about how many calories are in it? I personally find this a complete and total invasion of my privacy and civil rights! If LA county thinks I need to lose weight or be “healthy” fine, that’s their opinion, but please don’t force it upon me by making me look at the calorie count of every thing I eat which could potentially spiral me into a whirlwind of disordered eating.

We need more cheeseburger consumption in this world, not less (I don’t necessarily mean this just literally but more so the mentality that Eat a Cheeseburger offers), and calorie counting will only steer people clear of cheeseburgers. What a sad world that will be! Let me remind you to Eat and Enjoy food!

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As of late, my friends and I have had a thing for red velvet cupcakes from one of our favorite local spots. Last night we were hanging out and got one of our red velvet cravings so we drove on over there and treated ourselves! No feelings of guilt or shame, just pure enjoyment of the yummy treats that life has to offer.

I don’t know about you, but shame and guilt are two things I have associated with food for many years. Whether it be a cupcake, chocolate or any other of my favorite treats, the fear of getting “fat” was usually quite gripping. If I did eat the treat, I usually felt pretty bad either because I “blew” my calorie count for that day or because what I ate was “unhealthy”. So the fact that I ate each scrumptious bite of cupcake last night and felt absolutely no shame or guilt was a huge step for me. (I haven’t felt shame or guilt with food for a while, but last night was when I realized that those feelings were completely gone).

Imagine living a life where food is not the enemy but instead is meant to be enjoyed. What would that look like for you? No more counting calories, no more feeling bad for having a bite of chocolate, no more constant restriction with every single thing you ate.

So here it is, Rule #17: Eat and enjoy food! I realize that this concept might be basic for you veterans, but for those of you who are still associating food with guilt, you really don’t have to do that anymore. Stop associating food with guilt and instead learn to enjoy what life has to offer. Your eyes will be opened to a whole new world if you just let yourself live.

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Eat A Cheeseburger (EAC) is heading into its fifth month now. EAC has come to represent a lot in the short time it’s been alive and we were just wondering what the phrase has come to mean to you personally. So here is the question we are posing to you: “What does Eat A Cheeseburger mean to you?”

Here are a few things it means to us:

1) It means challenging the status quo and not accepting the mainstream’s narrow definition of beauty as true and right.

2) It means that beauty really does come in all shapes and sizes.

3) It means allowing ourselves to enjoy food (we do eat other things besides cheeseburgers:-) )and not constantly counting calories and being worried about gaining weight.

4) It means not over-exercising, under-eating or forcing our bodies to fit into an ideal that is impossible to maintain, but rather accepting ourselves for what we look like.

5) It means spreading the joy of eating and body acceptance to others who are still living a life of restriction and body criticism.

Those are a few of our things, what about you?

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