#344: Losing Weight Didn’t Mean Winning
Happy Thursday, loyal readers. Thank you for being here.
This week’s issue focuses on the body. As someone who grew up chubby and lost and gained weight multiple times in adulthood, it’s a topic that has always fascinated me. I still get flummoxed in meetings and education workshops, for example, when the faciliator prompts us to “check in with our bodies” or asks us “where in our bodies” we’re feeling stress. No idea! my brain replies, acknowledging the outcome of many years of mind-body disassociation.
But this week’s articles have been helpful, and I hope that you appreciate them, too. I found the lead piece, “I’ve Always Struggled With My Weight. Losing It Didn’t Mean Winning,” extremely relatable all the way through to the last paragraph, where the author discusses his favorite breakfast. The second and third articles – about fatphobia and running shirtless – are also excellent. If reading about the body causes you anxiety, feel free to skip to the last article, a feel-good story about a shy boy who loves baseball.
+ If you’d like to read more about body positivity and fat shaming, here’s a collection of articles that I published a few years back.
🎉 🎈Come celebrate summer at Highlighter Happy Hour #17! We’ll meet on Thursday, June 2 beginning at 5:30 pm at Room 389 in Oakland. Space is limited to 20 people. Get your free ticket here. HHH is a great way to hang out with other kind, thoughtful people. Plus there’s always a prize. 🏆
🗞 📖 Over at Article Club, I’m happy to announce that we’ll be discussing three outstanding articles this summer. Hit reply if you’re interested.
“When the Myth of Voter Fraud Comes for You,” by Vann R. Newkirk II
“Revolt of the Delivery Workers,” by Josh Dzieza
As always, I hope that you find at least one article worthy of your time and attention, and I wish you a restful weekend coming up. Please enjoy!
I’ve Always Struggled With My Weight. Losing It Didn’t Mean Winning.
Like many of us, Sam Anderson gained weight during the pandemic. It wasn’t his first time. He’s struggled with his weight his whole life. But when a friend mocks him, and when he can’t fit into a pair of shorts on a vacation, Mr. Anderson decides to sign up for Noom, a weight loss app. The pounds fly off. He’s trim again. He can fit into old pants and his favorite T-shirts. He’s a success story. But when he reflects on how he feels, he notices: “I felt pretty much exactly as I had always felt my whole entire life. I was, after all that change, still only myself.”
Even if you’ve never subjected yourself to a diet, you’ll appreciate Mr. Anderson’s funny and incisive writing. My favorite part comes toward the beginning, when he considers the relationship he has with his body:
What is the human relationship to the body? Is it like a roommate? A pet? A twin? A teammate? A rival? A parasite? A host? Is the body our essential self, or is it just an outer shell — and if so, is it more like a clam shell (homegrown, enduring) or a hermit crab shell (adopted, temporary)? Is it closer to a tamale husk or a hot dog bun or a pita pocket or the fluorescent cake-tube that wraps a Twinkie’s sweet cream center?
The piece gets serious and contemplative, too, exploring his childhood and his alter ego and his father, but instead of giving too much of it away, I recommend that you read it! (20 min)
+ Mr. Anderson also wrote “A Mother and Daughter at the End,” about the last two northern white rhinos on Earth, which appeared in Issue #276. It’s one of loyal reader Xuan-Vu’s favorite articles.
Dismantling Medical Fatphobia: The Big Fat Loophole in the Hippocratic Oath
Marquisele Mercedes, on how science and the medical field have contributed to fatphobia: “Weight stigma means being paid less at work and being penalized in the classroom. ‘Weight stigma’ is relentless. It means overt and tacit bullying – being mooed at while walking, coworkers not meeting your gaze, little ‘hints’ and ‘tips’ that remind you your eating is being surveilled by friends and family. Constant exposure to special reports about how people like you are draining the nation’s coffers, ruining the world for future generations. ‘Weight stigma’ is constant: unending reminders that the people around you wish you weren’t you, pressure to starve yourself. Knowing that the more you undo your existence, the more you’ll be rewarded.” (27 min)
Do you like these quotes from the various books and articles I’ve read? (I have more. 😀)
On Running Shirtless While Trans
Vivian Lam loves running shirtless. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable in my own skin as a trans person,” they write. But they prefer to run at 4 am, when “the streets are at their most forgiving,” when “there’s a hushed kind of quiet.” After all, they acknowledge, safety is conditional. In this thoughtful essay, Lam explores the lessons they learned from their first-generation Chinese mother: that “girls stay covered” and “Asian people avoid conflict.” But in the end, they’re tired of hiding and being afraid. They finally can recognize themself in the mirror. And they feel exhilarated running shirtless. (11 min)
The 11-Year-Old Yankees Fan Who Lost His Autographed Baseball Cards
You can tell me baseball is boring, that nobody cares about it anymore (evidence: Oakland A’s), that’s it’s a dying sport. But if you read this article about 11-year-old Elyjah Blankenberg, a shy and softspoken boy who loves baseball and baseball cards and summoning the courage to ask his favorite baseball players for autographs, you’ll have a change of heart. Get ready for a coming-of-age story, filled with sap and nostalgia, of a boy who loses his memorabilia collection, then finds something more important. (20 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Last week’s lead article, “What is Vital To Your Survival,” sparked strong emotions and many thoughtful reponses. Thank you for sharing them. I was particularly appreciative of loyal reader Steph and her powerful contribution. She writes:
Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for my entire life; it’s never been something I consciously took for granted, but now I realize that I did, in fact, take for granted that it would never be overturned. That was a mistake. The fact that a legal medical procedure has never been uniformly and fairly available to anyone who needs it in this country is an embarrassment. But now things are even worse, with bounty laws popping up in different states and trigger laws set to enact as soon as the Supreme Court invalidates Roe v. Wade. Intellectually, I know there are many injustices in this country that need attention. But I can’t imagine physically going to battle for any of them except reproductive rights. (Actually, add voting rights and reform to my list too). The erosion of both of those has me ready to fight; I feel a visceral sadness when I read and witness accounts of politicians and other people in positions of power attempting to strip others of their ability to make choices for themselves, at the ballot box and for their own bodies.
I am very grateful that you shared what you would fight for, Steph. Loyal readers, if one of this week’s articles resonated with you, go ahead and tap the “r” key on your keyboard and tell me why it moved you. It would be an honor to hear from you.
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