Chest Binding And Body Image

This post contains discussion of gender dysphoria, body dysmorphic thoughts, and eating disorder thoughts. Read at your own discretion.

My 28th birthday is coming up and I’ve been trying to think of what I might like for it. But, unfortunately, everything I’ve thought of costs around $100 and we just can’t afford it. Then I remembered that I had a binder bookmarked and I’d heard really good things about it. It’s from GC2b, which is supposed to be more comfortable than other binders on the market ’cause they’re actually designed for AFAB* non-binary/tans folks. And their most expensive option at the largest size is only $40, made in the USA. So I’m thinking about that.

However, I’m concerned because I weigh a lot more than I thought I did (more than ten pounds more). I know this because my doctor’s office now gives you these visit summaries and I saw my weight on one of them ’cause I was looking at it. I’ve told them before that I have an eating disorder and I turn my back when they take my weight so I’m really upset about it. Should probably file a complaint about it but I have other, bigger things I need to complain about.

Anyway, because of that, my body dysmorphic thoughts have been worse. And my stomach isn’t anywhere near flat. The binders only bind the chest so I’m afraid I’d look really beer-bellied and I’m afraid it would be more damaging to my body image than helpful. However, my breasts really bother me on a gender dysphoric level and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ve wondered about top surgery but I had a really traumatic surgery in July and I’m just not sure if I’ll ever be able to put myself through it again, not to mention the financial cost (most insurers do not cover gender affirmation treatments like surgeries or hormones here).

So, I guess I’m stuck. I need to do more thinking but I feel really stuck about it. Real conflicted.

*Assigned Female At Birth

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Personal Update: Eating Disorder Feelings. Plus News Article

Content Warning: This post contains detailed discussion of eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, and dysmorphic body image.

 

Our living situation remains pretty much the same. B is frantically looking for work. We’re awaiting word on SNAP and his unemployment payments but it’s likely the shutdown will further delay these things. We’re trying to make it on ~$50/wk and it’s brutal. Some of my friends have helped out by sending/giving us money for food/gas but it’s been difficult to find a way to eat enough, especially since the food bank we usually go to often only has random things like bread and veggies; nothing to really make meals with. We’ve started to go to the Salvation Army food bank, which we haven’t gone to before due to their policies on LGBT+ and non-Christian people, but they give out food boxes to the needy that you can actually build meals with.

Dealing with my eating disorder during this time continues to be difficult at best. I’ve lost weight. I can tell because my clothes are looser on my body, not because I’ve weighed myself. Part of me is thrilled beyond words because I hate how my body looks at the weight I’m at but then I try to remind myself that I hated how I looked and thought I was “fat” when my ribs were visible. I’m unsure if I’m really as heavy as I see myself in the mirror or if my ED is lying to me. Probably the latter.

We’ve had more access to food the last week or so but we’ve not been eating more as a result. I don’t want to yo-yo between this starvation mode and gorging myself on food to the point I feel sick and B just hasn’t noticed when he’s hungry lately so neither of us realize it’s been more than seven hours (or longer) between meals. It doesn’t help that B recently confided in me that he has disordered eating thoughts and has for years. I’ve suspected for a long time but I haven’t pestered him about it. We’re quite the pair.

The stress we’re under is causing my other health issues, such as my fibromyalgia and eczema, to super flare, too. Something has to change soon.

 

Now that I’ve updated on personal things, onto the news video I found that infuriated me: An 11-year-old girl in Florida was sent home with a letter from her school recently. That letter stated that she was “on a trend” to be overweight according to the BMI and her health is at risk. This girl is incredibly physically active and doesn’t look overweight at all. Her mother’s fighting it and talking to the media. The media, in turn, is talking to doctors who buy into the BMI hogwash, despite all the evidence that it’s bunk and is not a good indicator of health.

Here‘s the link. Watch with caution due to discussion of weight, BMI, and doctors harping on how being skinny is the best way to be healthy.

AMA’s Decision To Classify Being Obese As A Disease + Article Critical Of The Decision

This post contains discussion of weight-shaming, weight, and body types. Use your discretion while reading.

So, I don’t know if you all saw, but last week the American Medical Association announced it’s going to classify being obese as an official disease, like diabetes or lupus. Many more eloquent people have written about why that’s a bunch of hooey (and I will be linking to an article about that in a moment) but I wanted to talk about this issue and why it’s bad for people who have eating disorders or disordered eating tendencies. According to anda.org, up to 24 MILLION people in the US have an eating disorder and eating disorders have the highest rates of mortality of any mental illness.

As it is, there’s A LOT of pressure to be skinny. It’s all around us from the media, fashion industry, family, friends, an entire industry dedicated to it… And those attitudes definitely contribute to our society’s eating disorder rates. Now add a major medical group telling a third of the population they suddenly have a disease and there’s even MORE pressure to be under that arbitrary pound limit.  As someone with an eating disorder (in recovery) and who’s at the heaviest weight of my life, I find the AMA’s decision terrifying, sickening, negligent, and dangerous.

Now onto the article that I read that reminded me to post about this. I’m just going to directly link to it. It talks about a lot of the stuff I just talked about but with related links and more research. I want to put an additional caution for the article because it discusses weight loss surgery and other weight loss hooey.  Fat People: #IAmNotADisease and here’s the non hyper-linked version:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/25/opinion/wann-obesity-disease/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

23 Animated Gifs of Celebrities Before and After Retouching

The article says 24 but the last one is a joke. The “after” images could be triggering so use your own discretion about if you can handle looking at “perfect” airbrushed bodies, also, this post discusses body image and its relation to the fashion industry so use caution.

My friend on Facebook shared this article and I knew I had to share. It shows pictures of celebrities before and after retouching. Some of these “after” images are so different from the “before” images that the people in them don’t look like the same persons and it would be comical if it wasn’t so frightening. It’s frightening because of the completely unrealistic standards of “beauty” it establishes — if these people society tells us are beautiful can’t obtain that standard then how can we?

Anyway, here is the article. Non-hyperlinked version:

http://fstoppers.com/24-animated-gifs-of-celebrities-before-and-after-retouching

(Also, this is apparently my 140th post.)

The Body’s Battle with Weight Loss

CW: talk of weight loss, food, body fat. I posted about this Cracked article but The Fat Chick Sings broke down the links in the article and talks about the mechanics of weight loss and why it’s so hard. Have a look!

slide33.033I recently ran across this little gem on Cracked.com entitled “Fat is Officially Incurable (According to Science)” which offers a surprisingly accurate portrayal about just how likely those “before” and “after” shots in advertisements are to reflect the long-term experience of real, live people.  While proceeding with tongue firmly inserted in cheek, the author offers a nice summary of some of the scientific evidence offered regarding long-term weight loss:

  • Probability of long-term maintenance of very modest weight loss (10-15 pounds)–Very low
  • Probability of a fat person becoming (and staying) a thin person–Practically Non-existant.

One of my favorite things about this article (besides David Wong’s deliciously snarky attitude) is the plethora of links to some other wonderful content that I’ve read, but probably forgotten about.

For example, a lot of the math about Weight Watchers “success stories” (including why you may be 20 times more likely to survive being shot…

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A Sensible Weight/Body Fat Article from Cracked.com

I know, I know. Cracked.com, the humour site that borders on offensive and funny, how can they possibly have a good article discussing weight and how it’s impossible to lose large amounts of weight long-term? I don’t know but they do. And it’s really worth a read. However, the link contains screen shots of misleading weight loss ads, discussion of weight, body fat, calories, and related topics, so I caution readers about that.

So the guy or girl you see in the “Before” and “After” photos in weight loss commercials, who completely changed body type with diet and exercise? You know, like Jared from Subway, who lost 230 pounds? Either they’re about to be fat again in a couple of years, or they’re a medical freak occurrence, like the sick guy who was told he had six months to live but miraculously survives 20 years. That guy exists, we all know famous examples. But it’s a rare, freak situation, living in defiance of all of the physical processes at work.

It’s a little funny and a little sad when Cracked gets something like this right and is more sensitive and sensible than mainstream sources.

With that in mind, go check out “Fat Is Officially Incurable (According to Science)”

Here’s the non-hyperlinked version: http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/fat-officially-incurable-according-to-science/

Gender Identity and How It Relates to My Eating Disorder

Strong caution for discussion of disordered eating patterns, body image, and gender dysphoria.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, trying to figure out how best to approach it. It’s been difficult because our weather has been very unstable and it messes with my fibromyalgia and leads to brain fog.

Anyway, it recently occurred to me that my recently embraced gender identity might have something to do with my eating disorder. I came out to my friends (the ones who didn’t know already!) and family as genderfluid (feminine pronouns — she, her, hers, etc — masculine honorifics — brother, son, etc — and refer to me as “person” rather than man/woman/lady/girl please!) a day before my birthday (April 10th) after doing a lot of soul searching and having finally picked out a name that suits who I am better. The initial reactions from my father and younger sister were great; very supportive and affirming. But as time’s gone on, they’ve become less supportive. My dad even told me that he’ll always use my old name and said some pretty insulting things when I told him that B (my fiance) knows and is supportive (“who’s on top?”). It triggered a mini relapse with my eating disorder. I hadn’t considered the connection seriously until I read “Please Don’t Call Me Ma’am” on Disrupting Dinner Parties (which is a great blog and you all should check it out!), which I had done before I came out but only just got around to fully analyzing.

This part really hit home and spoke to me:

I would’ve considered skipping breakfast, hoping to starve away the traitorous curves that evil motherfucker, estrogen, stuck me with.

It’s like a part of me I’d never fully listened to woke up when I read the words that Logan (who prefers feminine pronouns and masculine honorifics!) wrote. There were several times that I was literally pointing at my screen and shouting “this is me!”

Over the last couple months, I’ve had to take a hard look at myself and what it means to be me and it made me realize that a part of the reason I struggle with food is because of my gender-differentness. When I was really sick and super thin it was easier to be androgynous like I’ve likely subconsciously leaned toward for many years. It was easier to present however I felt like presenting at the time; I didn’t have much in the way of breasts or hips to contend with, my waist curve was barely existent. In fact, when I was thinner and had short hair several years ago, B’s coworkers thought I was a guy, which filled me with a thrill I didn’t understand at the time.  My cis-gender friends were insulted for me when I told them but being “mistaken” for the “wrong” gender made me giddy.

So, it’s an interesting realization. Hopefully my self-acceptance will help me on my road to eating disorder recovery!