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Acorns to Oaktrees

September 13th, 2008 at 12:42 am

Exercise Resistance, Part 5

Part 4.

A theme ran through the comments of the women studied that echoes the information in chapter 4, “Sociocultural Influences on Eating, Weight, and Shape.” Most of the women expressed that they felt extremely degraded and vulnerable by their direct experiences of being encouraged to exercise as a means to achieve an acceptable body. Instead of being encouraged to exercise for fun, exercise for these women was connected to body image, or the pursuit of an acceptable body.

“an acceptable body” says it all. It’s an extremely negative to find out that despite all your other vitures, you are unacceptable because of your body, something that one really has very little control over. I suppose you could argue that one shouldn’t (tsk, tsk, no shoulding) take it so absolutely, but remember, this is about people with eating disorders.

Many of the women’s stories included experiences of deep humiliation, public or otherwise, at being overweight and unable to achieve this illusive standard. Other women actually acquired a lean, thinner body and experienced unwanted sexual objectification by peers and adults. In a significant number of the women, rapes and other sexual abuse occurred after weight loss, and, for many, sexual abuse was connected to the onset of exercise resistance and binge eating.

deep humiliation: check
unwanted sexual objectification: check

I talked about the humiliation earlier. It started when I was so young. Why is it that people think they can modivate others by humiliating or shaming them? My husband does this to our son, and when I’ve talked to him about it, DH says that he thinks it’s a good thing. Sure, it doesn’t have anything to do with exercise, eating, or body image, but I think motivating a child thru positive reinforcement is the way to go and that shame and humiliation don’t make things better.

What woman hasn’t suffered unwanted sexual objectification? It has happened to me large, small, and in between from both men and women.

Many women are confused as they experience the desire to be thinner while at the same time feeling anger and resentment at what they have been told they have to do to achieve it, for example, exercise. For some, exercise resistance and weight gain may be symbolic boundaries, expressing a rebellious refusal to patronize a system in which the playing field for women is not about sports, or even achievement, but about sexual attractiveness to men—”We’ll play, you pose.” This system is one in which women and men equally participate and perpetuate. Women objectify one another and themselves right along with men.

Sure, I do feel anger and resentment at being told that I have to exercise so I can be thin, but what really pisses me off is that I’m told so often, now and in the past, that I must be thin, like it’s a moral or ethical thing. I won’t disagree that my weight now might be affecting my health; I’m like 80 pounds overweight. That’s a lot. But when I was 5 pounds “overweight” or even 30 pounds overweight, it shouldn’t (oh, no, another should) have been an issue! 30 pounds may seem like a lot to you, but I could still play volleyball. And 30 pounds overweight would be a lean, mean Jennifer at this point. Am I babbling?

What do you healthy people do to fill up your time if you aren’t obsessing over things like this? Not the overall issue of shoulding people to exercise, but the issue of how it affects me. Well, not me, altho I do think you-all should be obsessed with; I’m the center of the universe, after all. But obsessing on yourself.

Back on topic.

When someone comments on how the culture of thin is oppressing women, this is what I think they are talking about. It has certainly worked to destroy my self-esteeme. And while I am an extreme example, I know only a handful of women who are truly comfortable with their bodies.

Part 6. coming soon
Reference: Eating Disorders: Exercise Resistance in Women

Category: Eating Disorder Tags: , , , ,

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