Things You Don’t Owe Anyone

Nothing to proveWhen it comes to a lot of areas of our lives we get to choose what we do and why, and who – if anyone – we do it for.  Sometimes people get confused and think that we owe them behaviors, states of being, or explanations.  Let’s just clear some of this up:

Pretty – Nobody owes anybody else attractive by any standard.  People who get upset that there are others walking around who are not aesthetically pleasing to them have an over-exaggerated sense of self importance.  Don’t like what you see?  Too lazy to expand your skills for perceiving beauty?  Two words my friend:  Look Away.

Health – Nobody owes anybody else health or healthy habits by any definition. Each person gets to decide how to prioritize their health, and the path they choose to meet their goals.  That’s why people are allowed to be professional bullriders and X games athletes. The suggestion that fat people have some obligation over and above what everyone else has (which is none) is thinly veiled bigotry and nothing more.

Sexiness – One of the more ridiculous types of hate mail that I receive are e-mails letting me know that the sender would never have sex with me.  These are always phrased in a way that suggests they are under the impression that I care.  I don’t understand why they would think that – that’s the kind of thing that they can really keep to themselves.  Regardless it’s not our job to comport ourselves in such a way that other people will want to have sex with us (unless you want to, then comport away!)

Food Rationale –  Food talk is a cultural phenomenon that I could very much live without.  I would be perfectly happy if I went the rest of my life without hearing “I want a muffin but I can’t because I’m being good” or “I’m going to have to do 3 hours on the treadmill to make up for eating these grapes” or whatever.  Sometimes I try to imagine if we made all of our personal decisions out loud “Hmmm, I kind of have to pee, but not that badly so maybe I’ll finish this blog, or maybe I should go now and finish it with full concentration….” Who cares? Regardless, we don’t owe anybody an explanation of what we eat or don’t eat ever.

I’m sure there are plenty more but that’s a start, remember that not only do you not owe these things to anyone in any specific situation, you have every right to reject the entire premise and suggest that people drink a big steaming mug of None of Your Damn Business.

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Published in: on July 1, 2013 at 8:52 am  Comments (35)  

35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Heheheh, you just made me picture Benedict Cumberbatch comporting up to my girlfriend and me, and falling on his knees to beg us for dinner, dancing, and, uh, dessert. ;) Oh, yeah, I could get used to stupid teenage crushes like this. (My girlfriend, fortunately, thinks it’s adorable, even if she doesn’t get the attraction to Honeybadger Grumpycat.)

    I don’t get food rationale, period. Food history is so much more interesting.

    • Food history FTW! Right now I’m reading a fascinating book on the history of ketchup, which includes a large selection of recipes dating from the late 18th to early 20th century. There are a couple recipes for cucumber ketchup that I’m just going to have to tinker with until one of them creates something Mr. Twistie and I want to eat.

      But I digress. Food Rationale is one of my least favorite things, too. Eat the donut, don’t eat the donut… I honestly don’t give a fetid lump of mouse droppings whether you do or don’t. Your body, your taste buds, your decision. Me? I’ll decide the question without the verbal agonizing. If I want it, I’ll eat it. If I don’t want it, I won’t. Simple.

      • Ooh, what is this book of which you speak? I’d like to try these recipes! I’m familiar with banana ketchup–we’ve got some in the fridge, nom–but not cucumber.

        I run into a special form of Food Rationale. I can’t eat gluten, peanuts, or (as I discovered this weekend) yogurt. This means I run into a lot of people who ask if I’ve lost a lot of weight on my “diet.” I pretty much look at them and tell them all those things make me sick. The yogurt is going to be interesting. “But yogurt’s good for you! It’s got healthy cultures!” Yeah, that give me migraines. (At least they weren’t peanut bad. Those bastards put me in the ER.)

        • The book is called: Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment, by Andrew F. Smith. I found it used, and I don’t know whether it’s still in print. It was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press, for what it’s worth. If it’s still being printed, maybe you can get one through them.

          If you can’t find a copy, feel free to contact me off list and I’ll copy out a couple recipes for you, since they’re all well out of copyright. Any chance of my learning more about that banana one?

          I hear you on the gluten thing. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with Celiac’s last year and had to give up all gluten. About a month after the diagnosis, she and I met up and were talking about how much better she’s feeling. Two friends of hers were also there and started hinting broadly about whether the ‘other benefits’ were happening yet. Yep, they meant ‘how much weight have you lost?’!

          I wanted to bean them both with something large and heavy with knobs on.

          For my part, I considered the fact my friend was – for the first time in the more than thirty years I’ve known her – not suffering from horrible gas, and endless other digestive system miseries more than enough ‘benefit.’

          Bummer about the yogurt, man. Still, from what I’ve heard, migraines are no fun. I certainly understand your eagerness to avoid them.

          • Banana ketchup is interesting. It’s very much a Caribbean thing. I had some when I was there. It’s too sweet for me, overall, though.

          • Awesome, thank you. :D I found an inexpensive copy on Amazon. Money willing, I’ll see if I can swing for it. (July’s going to be expensive. Got heavy bills coming up, and I’m going to Cleveland to visit my ladylove.)

            AFAIK, banana ketchup originated in the Philippines during or just after WWII. They had a tomato shortage, but plenty of bananas, so they made their ketchup that way. I don’t know if Caribbean banana ketchup was invented for the same reason or not–it may have been brought over by Filipino immigrants and adopted, and gradually turned into a native condiment.

            I totally get wanting to bean your friend’s friends. Oh, and I haven’t lost a pound from going gluten free. However, I no longer excrete industrial building material for use at multiple G’s, nor am I pneumatically propelled.

            Ugh, migraines are hell. I’m just glad I’m not having them daily anymore. Yeah, that was a fun year. NOT.

    • Honestly, I think the food rationale thing is people begging for some approval in an area where they very seldom, if ever, get any. Or, in a similar vein, asking for permission. It’s not healthy, but it’s understandable. It’s an affirmation – “Look, mommy, I’m being good for not eating that yummy looking muffin. Tell me what a good girl I am.” Drat. Now I want a muffin, but I’d have to bake some. Too lazy.

  2. Oh, the endless food rationale&having to comment out loud about their food “choices”&”being good”, I want to scream when I hear women talking like this. It is mostly women, though men here seem to like to mention toilet habits as a “body” thing rather than food choices! I was looking round my wonderful library recently and they had done a new layout of new in books, with lots of copies and that were in their “charts”. Only snag was what faced me was loads of awful diet books, with titles like, “The 2 day diet”, The Fast Diet”, “The Hairy Dieters”(they are 2 men who love to cook and travel and have had TV shows here in the UK)They were known for being fairly large men, who loved and enjoyed their food, but now they’ve “lost weight for health reason, while eating well”&of course have to share it with everyone&have now done a new TV programme with companion book, God help us!!

    I gave in and watched some clips of clothing programmes on QVC again&they were still doing the “that top/dress/whatever would slim you down, hold in/hide bits you want to hide”&so on&on. If you look at their tedious schedule, it’s mostly filled with diet stuff, exercise products, Spanx shows, beauty products, etc., etc. I only want the jewellery&clothes, but don’t want the lectures that follow the clothes, it’s so patronising&unwelcome.

    My other bugbear at present is that I’m in a private Facebook group for people with Fibromyalgia and lo and behold, many of the mostly women on there are talking of how awful it is&what it’s stopped them doing(no argument with that) But then it took on a darker tone, as some ssid they felt it had aged them physically&posted photos to ask people what age they thought they were&then there were lots of comments about how it had made them “fat” and looking horrible. Many blamed the medication, but the whole tone was that the fat/putting on weight was the worst thing that could have happened! I don’t get into those discussions now as it’s a waste of time&energy, but also find it very sad?

    Take care,

    Marion, UK

    • Being fat the worst thing about Fibromyalgia? BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAAAAHAHAAAA!!!! Man, my money would have been on the constant crippling pain. Or the brainfog that slashes functional intelligence by a third. Or the insanely expensive (US) medications that insurance companies dole out like blood from a stone. Or the inevitable autoimmune failure. Or the medication side effects–take your pick: hypersomnia, liver failure, kidney failure, more brainfog, dizziness, shaking, headaches, nausea, psychosis….


      As for whether it’s aged me or not, not really. I was born with my fibro fully blown due to a traumatic pregnancy, at least as far as Mom and I can figure out. I’ve got so many health problems it’s hard to separate them. Hasn’t stopped me from looking 10+ years younger than I really am, varying a little by day. Certainly hasn’t stopped me from acting like I’m five, and wearing things like tie-dyed tights with miniskirts. :D I can’t physically do one hell of a lot of things–I’m legally disabled–but I get royally pissed when someone else tells me I can’t physically do something. That’s my decision to make. Mine alone.

      • Wow, fibro from birth!!!!! I cannot begin to express my sympathy. I was finally diagnosed five years ago, have refused fibro medications, improved a lot by last year, had a big setback from partner’s sawing up his foot with a chainsaw. Stress undoes me, I just cannot tolerate stress. It would do me a world of good to see you in tie-dyed tights with a miniskirt!

        • Honestly, I feel worse for people who developed fibro as adults. They’ve got all these things they can look back at and say, “I used to be able to do this, and now I can’t.” I’ve just always been on the slow boat. Mind, it was a huge weight lifted when I was finally diagnosed, though there were other serious issues that didn’t get dx’d until much later (Asperger’s, autoimmune dysfunction/failure, migraines, probable dyspraxia that I need to talk to my neuro about), and my lifelong asthma wasn’t dx’d until adulthood–about the time my fibro was dx’d, actually. I’m on a pretty good balance of meds now, and they’ve got me in a better position. Bizarrely enough, the last piece to click into place was Adderall. It helps my pain, which lends credence to the low dopamine hypothesis.

          OH, GEEZ. Chainsaws. How’s your partner doing now? Were his surgeons able to reconstruct his foot?

          After laundry day, I’ll see if I can get a pic with the tights. :) And maybe even some heels. ;) Can we post pics in the comments section?

          Please note, I’m only 5’3 1/2″, so the actual mini-ness of skirts may be up for debate.

    • I have fibro too, and my meds gave me an extra 40-odd pounds on top of my already hefty Polish peasant frame. But I look freaking fantastic! Because I look like me, and I feel so much better than I did pre-meds. If other people think I look ‘ugly’, they’re welcome to their opinion; but I’m not going to stay stuck in bed with horrible pain for most of my life so that I might look a bit more ‘acceptable’ to people whose business my body most definitely isn’t. Oy vey.

      • Oh, my heavens, I love you people. *hugs* Your outlook on looking like yourself is wonderful. Seriously. It makes me wanna dance.

    • I had to laugh at the “Hairy Dieters.” I’m reminded of an old British cooking show that still shows up occasionally, called “Two Fat Ladies.” I used to love to watch that show. I don’t know how good their dishes were, but I just had to admire these two gals. They were both older, both had more than a bit of meat on their bones, and one of them smoked like a chimney. They were also as funny as heck, and rode all over the countryside in a motorcycle and sidecar. I wish more people could enjoy life so much, regardless of their shapes.

      • The Two Fat Ladies were awesome! I own one of their cookbooks. What? How could I pass up a cookbook with a recipe for Bull Penis Stew? Okay, I haven’t made that one, but I have tried out a couple of the recipes in the book, and they’re quite good.

        I love a story I read about them a while back. When Jennifer (the much older of the two and the heavy smoker) was in the hospital dying of lung cancer, she asked Clarissa to bring her one last jar of caviar to enjoy. Unfortunately, when Clarissa arrive caviar in hand, it was too late and Jennifer had already passed on.

        So what did Clarissa do? Sat down and ate the whole jar herself in her friend’s honor.

        Now that’s how to honor someone who loved to eat good food and never let anything stop her living life to its fullest!

  3. What I don’t get is why people feel they can comment about these things at all. Back when I was a kid (OK, that was a while ago…) both parents and teachers would come down hard when anybody made personal comments/observations about other people… it was considered rude.

  4. The sexy one has always fascinated me. Why on earth would I care if some random person on the street wants to have sex with me? In fact, is s/he does *not* I think it’s just as well… as the person I, personally, want to have sex with is right here in my house, thank you, and quite interested.

    But that’s a feminist thing, in many ways – there was that odd incident a while ago where the PM of Italy said he didn’t want to have sex with the PM of Germany. Well, given that she’s a married woman, it is courteous to publicly assume that she isn’t interested, either… (and I suspect she has better taste in men…) and what has this to do with the price of fish (or Deutschmarks) anyway? But it was a way to put her down, and establish his presumed innate superiority as a man. Well – no.

    And the food thing – yeah. There are foods I do not eat, for a variety of health reasons, so I just don’t eat them. I do sometimes find myself explaining, usually if I’m refusing something offered by someone I know, occasionally if I’m searching a menu for something I can eat… Usually, I”m only talking about it either with close friends (who know, now, so I don’t have to) or with people who *ask* why I’m not eating something – which is equally unnecessary. (I usually just shrug and say “I feel better if I don’t eat it.”)

    I sometimes do have to stop my partner. He is trying to help me, finding things on the menu that work for me – but it sometimes sounds as if he’s keeping me on the straight and narrow, which isn’t it at all. I’ve had to ask him specifically not to “help” me when we’re with other people. After all, I do manage to eat without him.

  5. Food rationale is one of those things I think people do to garner other people’s approval or commiseration (misery loves company). Once I pulled myself off the diet merry-go-round and stopped doing it myself, I realized how often other people do it, especially those who are on diets. I shrug or just ignore a comment when someone says something about being good or bad regarding food. It just now seems like a waste of my time to engage in those types of conversations.

  6. If people spent as much energy being and doing ACTUAL GOOD instead of treating food and weight as a moral issue, think what the world could be like tomorrow.

    • I was just reading a NY Times story where one of the fat-bashing commenters said it was OK to discriminate against fat people in jobs because being fat meant you don’t have discipline or judgement. I flagged the comment for moderation.

      • I have discipline and judgement. I have enough discipline not to put shrimp and glitter in every vent in my ex’s house (computer and power supply included), and good enough judgement not to get arrested getting revenge on the jerk because he’s just plain not worth it.

      • I jumped all over one commenter there the other day for a very judgmental post in response to an article that very clearly stated evidence denying the value of “willpower” in fixing eating problems. I was gratified to go back the next day to find that so many people had jumped on her that she had actually apologize for her initial post – and a second post – and come to the realization that her experience was not the same as very one else’s. I’d never seen that happen. It was a good day.

        • Gee, I’ve got tons of willpower. Most of it goes towards slogging through heavy texts and dense case law, then writing papers about it. When I’m not pressing weighty tomes, I’ll run a couple of miles and lift some weighty barbells. Plus, I usually throw together a tasty, healthy meal when I’m finally home from class and studying. And you know what? I have a few Godiva truffles or some mint chocolate chip ice cream or a cup of hot chocolate almost every night. I guess I’m just a huge flobbering lack of willpower.

          • Ya know, I’ve never smoked, tobacco or anything else, in spite of some pretty vigorous attempts by others to get me to do so. I’ve never indulged in recreational drugs. I may have an occasional glass of wine with dinner, but I haven’t been drunk since college. I resisted attempts by many a man, when I was younger, to jump into the sack with them. (And darned if some of them weren’t downright sexy!) I’ve never given in to the temptation to do bodily harm to someone I was particularly angry with.

            But, gee, because I weigh what I do, I don’t have any willpower. Or so some people try to tell me.

  7. “Hmmm, I kind of have to pee, but not that badly so maybe I’ll finish this blog, or maybe I should go now and finish it with full concentration….”

    PRICELESS. And absolutely perfect. Love your work, Ragen!

    • Is it sad that I actually sometimes really do the pee thing?

      • No, it’s hilarious as hell. I have few verbal filters, myself. In writing I am MUCH more controlled.

        • I do it, too. :-). I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I don’t wan to stop. You’re all not alone.

  8. Yes yes yes. Thank you for this. I was at the pool this morning, swimming with my son, and the only other people there were a woman and her (12ish?) daughter. The mom made a comment about how she had to swim a few more laps to “burn off that bacon.” It made me sad, but also profoundly grateful that HAES (including the wonderful words you share here) have made it possible for me to first, enjoy my breakfast, and second, to enjoy swimming with my son, and I have no concerns beyond creating a fun, happy morning for myself and my youngest child, and that is a plenty noble pursuit.

    I never would have dreamed that I could learn to ENJOY my body the way I do now, but I really do. More and more, I live in my body after a lifetime of existing only above my chin. It can be a huge challenge, but also an enormous relief!

  9. Fabulous. It’s taken me an awfully long time to learn these things, and I thank you for the reminder. I also wonder why the people who feel compelled to tell you they wouldn’t have sex with you are so sure you’d have sex with them. I know I wouldn’t. :-)

  10. I hope. Haven’t gone overboard posting here tonight, but I’m just so darn excited to have found this blog. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  11. Another great post. You’re awesome.

  12. On the food thing, what I find is even worse is when you say you’re eating something (like those foodie FB posts) and some jackwagon has to pipe in with “Oooh! That’s so baaaad!” or tell you how much fat, sugar, whatever is in it (like you don’t know, or like you care). Or they have to pipe in with “You’re gonna have to work extra hard at the gym…

    No. No I’m not.

    Or when you’re having a meal with someone, and the food is awesome, and they can. not. shut. up. about how much they are going to have to “pay” for the indulgence.

    Look, either enjoy it or don’t, but STFU because *I’M* trying to enjoy it, and you’re ruining my food buzz.

    Or the people who honestly believe that you absolutely MUST label all foods as good or bad, otherwise people might go crazy and start eating the “bad” foods willy-nilly, with no regard for their obligation to be healthy.

    Grrr. Freaking food police.

    • Some days eating the bad food willy nilly in front of the cafeteria food police is the best part of the work day!! It’s my Coke and I’m going to buy it!

  13. Couple of things – one of my friends has been trying to lose weight for over a year, but still hasn’t done it, and I’m sort of wondering if I should point her to some of the articles about how impossible it is to lose weight. She is not fat, she just wants to lose a few pounds.

    The other is I saw a thing on my FaceBook page – it was two elderly women laughing, and said something to the effect of ‘they didn’t lose their beauty, it just migrated to their hearts’ and I thought, why do we have such a damn narrow perception of beauty that elderly women can’t be considered beautiful?

    Not that anyone owes anybody beauty, I know that. But I hate the idea that if you want to be considered beautiful, there is only a narrow range for it.

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