Feminism: Can't, Shouldn't, Won't

[Content Note: Surgery, Disabilities, Food Intolerances, Fat Shaming, Diet Industries, Rape]

I live in the USA. I've lived my entire life here; I've never crossed national lines, though I have planned to on several occasions for vacations and student exchange programs that all ultimately fell through. I like my country well enough, although I remain frustrated with a lot of aspects of our governing structure, of our approach to teaching history, and of the jingoism that frequently infects both. One thing I love about my country, however, is how strongly my culture supports freedom of choice.

Theoretically, at any rate.

I've become increasingly interested lately in how my surrounding culture -- a culture that ostensibly prides itself on Individualism and Freedom and Capitalism and Choice -- is actually exceedingly hostile to quite a lot of those things. And in the aftermath of my surgery, of my father's cancer, and of my boss' stroke, I've noticed that my culture parses Can't, Shouldn't, and Won't very differently from each other. And I'm made deeply uncomfortable by that parsing.

Can't is simple. If I can't go jogging for a mile in the evening, because the first step will immediately snap my spine in two like a twig, well then I can't do it. You'd have to be quite the jackwagon to insist that I still should make a try of it anyway.

This doesn't mean, of course, that people with disabilities are safe from jackwagonry, unfortunately; in practice it means that random jackwagons will argue with us, assuming that they have greater personal insight into our bodies than we do. But! If the disability can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of all jackwagons involved, there will be a sort of grudging acceptance that, well, if you can't do X, you can't do X. Tautological, really.

Shouldn't is a little more complex. "Shouldn't" implies authority. Someone with knowledge, power, and authority -- a doctor, a parent, a boss, a deity -- has made a Rule and the Rule must be followed. Ironically, I've found that "shouldn't" can be an even better defense than "can't", depending on how Lawful the jackwagon in question is. "I can't do X because Y" can frequently result in a long and complicated argument about how to do X while avoiding Y. (Have you tried jogging with special shoes? On treadmills instead of pavement? Whilst in low gravity conditions?)

"I shouldn't do X because Doctor Says So" can side-step a lot of that: if the Doctor said so, then zie must know, right? Why, they go to those fancy schools and already know about the low gravity jogging, so Doctor's Orders should be followed. Of course, as noted before, depending on how self-inflated the jackwagon is, or if they're more Chaotically-inclined, you may still be in for an uphill battle to be taken seriously about why you're not doing the thing they want you to do. Which leads us inexorably to Won't.

Won't is sticky. You would think that in a culture that values Individualism and Freedom and Capitalism and Choice that "won't" would be enough. "I won't do that," should be the end of discussion. Any "because" that could follow the "won't" might be nice and informative for the other side of the discussion, but it shouldn't be necessary or required in a culture that treasures individual choice. And yet, increasingly, I'm being made aware of how inadequate "won't" is treated in our culture.

I won't eat that doesn't prevent people from trying to slip secret foods into the bodies of people with food intolerances, in the belief that the gluten-intolerant person in the room is just "faking it" for attention or as a dieting choice.

I won't sleep with you doesn't prevent people from trying to loosen the speaker's inhibitions with alcohol, or from arguing incessantly that they're "owed" sex in exchange for all the bare minimum of decent behavior they've been displaying for the last few weeks.

I won't exercise that way doesn't prevent a lot of fat shaming and anger directed at Expensive! Lazy! Fat! people who refuse to explain in detail to every prying eye why, precisely, they don't conform to the latest diet or exercise regimen until their choice is adequately established as a Can't or Won't.

Strangely, though I live in a country and a culture that prides itself on Individualism and Freedom and Capitalism and Choice, sometimes I don't feel like I'm allowed any of those things. Reproductive choice is regularly threatened; I live in a world where politicians are trying to take away my birth control and my right to have a safe, legal abortion should I choose one. Sexual choice is besieged on all sides; there are significant social barriers to my revealing my Kinsey scale number in public, and as a woman I am acutely aware of living in a culture that is hostile to me and considers my consent-to-sex as a default to be revoked ("no means no") rather than an absent to be received ("yes means yes").

Having my recent surgery has given me all kinds of Can't and Shouldn't "privilege" that I've never had before. All my life it has hurt to do various things -- from anything to specific exercises to certain types of lifting -- but now that I suddenly have a doctor's note saying that I cannot-mustnot-shouldnot-maynot do these things, I'm taken seriously for the first time in... well, forever. I find myself struggling to hold on to this dubious privilege, to push back against the general impression that Surgery Fixes Everything Forever, to remind people that I'm going to be disabled in these ways for life, just so I can have social permission to not do things that hurt me. Why? Why is this necessary? Why is "I just won't do that" not good enough of an explanation, such that I have to repeatedly dig out my Certified Disability Card?


In all seriousness, I've known all my life that my culture is hostile to choice. I knew, even without those words, because I've been engaging with that culture all my life. When I was very young and shy of various things -- parties, sleepovers, large get-togethers -- my mother kindly assured me that I could always use her as an excuse for why I couldn't go. Now that I'm older, it's not at all unusual for Husband or I to use the other as a reason to get out of unwanted social engagements. (And Husband now has a Disabled Wife! Score! No, we can't drive to Vermont for your wedding, cousin-we've-only-met-once. Sorry! Disabled Wife! *sadface* Yes, you may all be jealous of Husband.)

The more I think on it, the more I feel like the American myth of Individualism and Freedom and Capitalism and Choice only really applies to heterosexual cowboys who choose to eat danger, shit bullets, and ride off into pretty sunsets on pretty horses with prettier women clutching prettily at them. But it's important to remember that if there's only one choice, if this "choice" is the only valid one for us to make, then we don't value Choice at all. We just value that one "choice" that everyone is supposed to choose. Or -- more bluntly -- you can have any color as long as it's black.

Choices should not have to be justified when those choices only affect the chooser or when the choice is made based on bodily autonomy. "Because" is not something that should be owed to the people around us.

I want to have sex with the people I want to have sex with. Excuses optional for sparing feelings.

I want to dress in ways that make me feel nice. That doesn't make me public property or food.

I want to eat the foods I want to eat. Food policing is bullshit.

I want to exercise in the manners (or not at all!) that please me. Health is not a moral imperative.

I want to converse with the people I want to converse with. I do not owe anyone an audience.

I want to set boundaries that make me comfortable. Even when society insists I should do otherwise.

I want to laugh only at jokes I find funny. I don't mind being a member of Nofunnington.

I shouldn't have to justify those choices with biological imperatives or doctor's notes in order to make those choices be heard and respected in the larger culture around me. If we are going to claim to appreciate choice and freedom, then we have to really appreciate it and strip away all this moralizing bullshit about health being a moral imperative or not-laughing-at-rape-jokes being (somehow) oppression of free speech or bodies-and-sexuality being public property for criticism and use. 

Preferences are valid and should be respected. Reasons are nice but are not owed. Is this so hard?


cjmr said...

I wish I could write like you...

Yamikuronue said...

Kind of ironic that this goes up while I'm trying to re-arrange my life into the way it "should" be.
I don't want to wear makeup or uncomfortable girly shoes or squeeze into dresses so people can pretend they're not judging me for being fat or really, see any of the people I have to socialize with next weekend because most of them are judgmental and none of them even know me. But that's not good enough. I'm The Bride, I'm supposed to want these things, so I will have them.

:/ I want to elope.

chris the cynic said...

I'm reminded of a Smother's Brother's thing:
(This is from memory, so probably not exact:)

Tommy: Because this is America.
Dicky: Right.
Tommy: We have freedom of speech here in America.
Dicky: That's right.
Tommy: And you better say what you're supposed to say.
Dicky: *uneasy* Well, at least you're free to say it.

And, yeah, won't should be enough, but it never seems to be. Can't seems to be impossible to convince people of when the problem's are mental.

cjmr said...

Eloping has much to recommend it. :)

(We had a really small wedding and reception--immediate family and a few friends, and when I see what my sister/sisters-in-law/step-sisters went through in wedding prep, I don't envy them one bit.)

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! May they go well.

Ana Mardoll said...

Can't seems to be impossible to convince people of when the problem's are mental.

God, yes. Or, really, internal in ways that are not socially acceptable. I'm still GOBSMACKED by the "puts gluten into peoples' foods on purpose" folks. People do this thing! I can't even, what, no.

Unbeliever536 said...

Great post, Ana(as always), but I'm a little confused by one thing. When you say "that doesn't make me public property or food", what do you mean by the "or food"? Is that just a metaphor for the "public property" bit or something else? For some reason this is really throwing me.

Ana Mardoll said...

Recently, female cosplayers have been analogously compared to donuts.


cjmr said...

"Can't seems to be impossible to convince people of when the problem's are mental."


And I refuse to trigger myself by explaining to people the reasoning behind some of my mental can'ts. I have to just walk away sometimes. My mother-in-law is the worst about wanting reasons.

JarredH said...

Well said.

unbeliever536 said...

Thanks for clearing that up.

Smilodon said...

I have a theory that I call "Stupid Excuses are the Best Excuses". The rationale is that a legitamate excuse can probably be countered, because it exists in the realm of the logical, and there are always logical counter-arguments to any argument. So you want to come up with an excuse that sounds logical, but isn't. That's how I read the appeal to authority excuse - you're appealing to an excuse that's not really rational, so how can it be countered?

It only fails when your oppenent is more irrational than you can be.

Silver Adept said...

This is a fantastic piece of writing.

As an additional possibility, I think many United States people understand can't, shouldn't, won't quite well, but they misattribute the source of power for those three items. Individuals don't get the power as a natural right, but receive it as a privilege from their betters. The Being represented by the Tetragrammaton its at the top of the power structure in that arrangement, followed by the priestly class, then the pious class (political division), the pious class (non political division) and then, maybe, experts so long as they aren't obviously not members of the pious class.

So if they look at you, many of them believe there's some higher power you should be listening to and obeying their can't, shouldn't, won't. That's your choice - to obey your betters or not. It's wrong, but it seems to be that way, here.

Ana Mardoll said...

It's funny, I actually thought this was one of my weaker pieces going in because DOESN'T EVERYONE KNOW THIS ALREADY AREN'T I BEATING A DEAD HORSE, but I'm inordinately pleased that you've liked it. *happy grin*

Deird said...

I remember when I was depressed last year, everyone kept telling me "You should exercise! Exercise is great for depression! You have to exercise!"

(Unlike my doctor, who put me on medication.)

Had I had the energy to explain, I could have told them "Actually, my depression is coming from the fact that my anxiety level are out of control. You know why? Because I have all this stuff I "should" be doing and I can't get it done. And giving me yet another thing that I "should" be doing REALLY ISN'T HELPING." As it was, I mostly just curled into a ball and hoped they'd all go away.

People should get their noses out of other people's lives.

Anonymus said...

I needed this tonight. Thanks, Ana.

Ice said...

"stupid excuses are the best excuses" is the reason why, if I have the spoons, I'll make up nonsensical excuses if someone is questioning something I don't feel like explaining.

Person: Why don't you eat onions?
Me: Because bears eat onions.
Person: Onions are good for you.
Me: Bears. < walks away >
Person: < confused, but stops asking me stuff >
me: < victorious >

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Nazis

One that we used in private (because triggers) in my family is the "Hitler liked X".

Person A: Can't you at least try the broccoli?
Person B: Hitler liked broccoli.

It frequently comes out of nowhere and is such a terrible reason to do-or-not-do something that it usually gets a laugh. But, you know, triggers.

storiteller said...

TW: Health/fat shaming, poor shaming, mother shaming

What particularly frustrates and baffles me is when people insist "You should do X!" when the person can't do X and doesn't have a choice at all to do X. And I mean this in a literal sense, although the strong psychological and sociological pressures Amarie describes are very true as well (wall of text, yes, but awesome wall of text). It's criticizing people for eating poorly when they don't have enough money, time, or psychological resources to buy and cook healthy food. It's criticizing people for not exercising enough when they have an hour long commute every day to work each way and have to work 9 hours a day and don't have time. Or because their neighborhood lacks sidewalks. Or because it's literally too unsafe to. It's criticizing women for choosing to have an abortion when they don't have the resources to take care of a child.

That frustrates me the most because it's just straight-out shaming. People who say that don't care and just want to control others. If they did truly care and weren't just concern trolling, they'd be working to make those choices available. They'd work with farmers' markets to get food stamps accepted (instead of shaming people for being on them in the first place). They'd be willing to pay more taxes to install sidewalks, playgrounds, and bike lanes in low-income neighborhoods so that people could safely walk and bike to work or school. They'd increase the money put into women's health, particularly birth control, so that women could make reproductive choices. They'd lobby to actually institute some required paid vacation and family time in America.

But no, as Amarie said, This is America. So of course we have choice. And if you don't have those choices, it's obviously your own damn fault.

Antigone10 said...

I get this with family-related stuff all the time. Example:

Mother-in-law: Would you like to come to brother-in-law's football game? (45 minute away drive, spoken with the assumption that the answer is "yes")
Me: No, thank you.
MIL: Why not?
Me: Because I don't want to.
MIL: *forever confused*
(exact conversation)

Christmas time:

Me: I am going to my friend's house on Christmas, because he is all alone.
MIL: Why aren't you coming to the family get together?
Me: Because there are like 50 of you, you will never even notice if I am there, and he is alone on Christmas (paraphrasing- did not go into his mental health problems).
MIL: *super mad, enlists Father-in-law, grandmother-in-law, and grandfather-in-law on massive guilt trip on why we are now family, and she's being so considerate by not pressing the "going to church" thing*
Me: No. Husband will not be here, friend needs me, end of story. (paraphrasing, yet again).

Took about 3 months for them not to be mad at me again, or, to put it another way, until Easter rolled around and I needed to show up to the family Easter gathering despite the fact that I do not actually celebrate Easter.

I don't like the assumption that I must spend time with my extended family on certain days. I don't enjoy being overwhelmed by people I barely know, I don't see the need to do so and I don't like the millions of ways they try to press the issue. I realize that many people long for a large, extended family to be adopted into; unfortunately, I am not one of them. I wish I could magically transfer my large family to the ones who want it, just like I wish we could have it so that those who wanted children but can't have them could switch with those who didn't want them but end up with them. But that's not how life works out.

Ana Mardoll said...

W: Health/fat shaming, poor shaming, mother shaming

What particularly frustrates and baffles me is when people insist "You should do X!" when the person can't do X and doesn't have a choice at all to do X. And I mean this in a literal sense,


And, well, it really pisses me off when it comes from people with "Authority". I had this whole post -- which I'm not going to post because it's basically just me screaming myself raw -- because my Spine Doctor flippantly told me to lose 50 pounds (1/4 of my body weight) in 6 months.

...while recovering from a surgery.

...after my Internal Doctor (a really conscientious guy) explained to us that losing ANY WEIGHT AT ALL is dangerous to the fusion process right now and I MUST NOT DO IT.

...while neglecting to treat me properly in other ways. (Meaning I was supposed to receive a specific treatment from Spine Doctor, I didn't, and he failed to follow up to find that out. I only found out because my insurance called to ask follow-up questions for something they approved and I hadn't received.)


But, yeah, "You should lose 50 pounds!" Totally! And I got that from my General Doctor last weekend. F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f. (I at least worked up the courage to tell her that wasn't happening Because Disability and leave me the fuck alone about it. But that took a LOT of courage because that's not how I was raised. And I'm still not sure she got the message.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Antigone, that's horrible. (I hate family gatherings, that would be my version of hell, all the pressure you describe.) You do NOT deserve that and I'm so proud of you for being firm like that. Wow. Just wow.

Antigone10 said...

Thank you for understanding- very few people do. I personally blame Hollywood- having this huge family is always shown as this unmitigated good. They never show the intra-family politics, the old racist grandpa that we each have to take turns baby-sitting, or the fact that strongly differing political views can be a major source of tension (I do not like hearing your Tea Party views over turkey, thank you). And in some ways I make it sound like my family is terrible- they aren't. I get along with my immediate in-laws quite well (now) and when I take just one or two of the husband's aunts and uncles at a time, it can be pleasant (or mine for that matter- I have a million relatives, but luckily most of them don't live nearby). But all of them at once? They are functionally strangers; at best, acquaintances, and I find that many strangers* overwhelming without at least my husband at my back.

*Yet I'm perfectly fine at conventions, go figure. I think it's because I know that I will have something to talk about, whereas with my family I'm constantly trying to find something apolitical, a-philosophical, safe to talk about with a stranger I have to see again, and using the same language and reference points.

storiteller said...

my Spine Doctor flippantly told me to lose 50 pounds (1/4 of my body weight) in 6 months.

Even if it wasn't physically impossible for you, that's still unhealthfully fast, in my opinion. I know people can and have done it, but to demand it would be dangerous in my opinion regardless of the surgery.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yes, I am becoming increasingly cynical that SOMEONE (insurance company? hospital administration?) is forcing my doctors to push dangerous-yet-profitable weight loss ideology at me.

But despite this being a FREE COUNTRY where hospitals have HUGE MARKETING BUDGETS, I like most of the the 99%, go where the specialist is.

Ana Mardoll said...

No, that doesn't sound terrible, that sounds normal. I love my family, but we all have VASTLY different politics and religion and remembering what I can and cannot say is very hard.

Heck, not screaming RAPE CULTURE! at the television when they have the news on is hard.

And many of my extended family is, as you say, strangers to me and I don't feel comfortable in large groups of strangers for long periods of time. Particularly strangers whom I can't instantly disown and never see again. Really, everything you said is spot-on.

Antigone10 said...

It's not just your doctor. My doctor went on this long, rambling script about making better food choices at my last check-up. At the end of it, he asked "Do you think you will eat better now that you have this information?" I replied "No." He asked why, and I said "Because my food choices are not based on things like "what's the healthiest" they are based on things like "convenience, money, time, access, and what I have energy enough to drag my depressed nalgas to make". He looked all confused, but wisely did not press the issue (or possibly did not have time to press the issue- I was waiting 2 hours to see him).

I think the doctors must have gotten some script from insurance companies/ government to get people to lose weight to hit some sort of quality measurement. I know that a few of my friends that work in hospitals have said they've been getting (let's say) encouragement from the federal government to get weights down (mostly in the form of explanatory pamphlets).

theKatriarch said...

My wedding is in three weeks and I am right there with you on a lot of this stuff... I do like makeup and pretty dresses and a lot of feminine-coded things, which probably makes it a little easier, but so much of this wedding stuff is just... not me. And not my fiance. And definitely not us together. This whole wedding is much more about my mom and her class-based expectations of what a wedding is Supposed to Be than it is about us and our relationship. I think more of her friends are coming than mine. So I feel you! But hey, as long as we're married at the end of it, right?

Friendly747 said...

Let me preface this comment with the following note - I am not stick thin. I have never been stick thin. I never will be stick thin. I do not actually want to be stick thin. The closest I ever got to stick thin made my face look like a skeleton with skin stretched over it (and I was still 3-4 sizes away from being stick thin).

Doctors are (kinda sorta?) trained to think thin is healthy. And in some respects this might be (kinda sorta?) true - e.g. the heavier you are the harder you will be on your knees and feet, etc. So I don't think it is about any script they are given but because they feel that some, if not the majority of, your health issues would magically vanish if you lost weight.

If someone wants to lose weight - for themselves, because it is a choice they are making - there are some ways out there which make it a bit easier. I have a good friend in the US who was over 200KG (400 pounds) and since the start of this year has lost just over 20kg. Now he is a guy, so for him cooking was not his strong point and portion size was his biggest problem. He is on one of those programs where the food comes to you mostly pre-prepared, and it works for him and he enjoys it and actually saves money on food which is handy too. The same could not be said for everyone, of course.

We have a similar program here in Australia and I have friends who have used it with great success, thus making me think maybe I should give it a go, but I love my food and cooking a bit too much to give up that level of control over it and at this stage I'm not ready. The day may come where I am ready and it is good to know I can jump on a food plan like that when I am.

But let us not even get into health care in the US - it frightens me, the system (or lack of it) that you have. :(

cjmr said...

"I think the doctors must have gotten some script from insurance companies/ government to get people to lose weight to hit some sort of quality measurement. I know that a few of my friends that work in hospitals have said they've been getting (let's say) encouragement from the federal government to get weights down (mostly in the form of explanatory pamphlets)."

It's in the Affordable Care Act. That's one of the quality measures. Reducing the number of patients that fall in the obese BMI range, especially those who have health problems that are correlated with high BMI. (Don't even get me started on BMI, though.)

Will Wildman said...

I can't construct a linkspam right now, but:

-The evidence that 'less weight' is directly correlated with improved health is sparse
-The evidence that people have vastly different biological predispositions to equilibrium weight and changes in weight is substantial
-The fanaticism about losing weight has objectively lead to people promoting deeply unhealthy practices on the presumption that getting rid of the DEATHFATS would make it all worth it

None of which is to say that someone losing weight is never making themselves healthier, or that the food plans that you're talking about are necessarily unhealthy, but - honestly, people just need to stop taking so much interest in other people's gravitational relationship with the planet. Advice, no matter how well-meaning, is not always welcome, especially when unsolicited.

Lonespark said...

Yeeeesh. I guess maybe I do recommend eloping. Not at 18, though. And I always wished we at least got a party, with a friend of family member or someone there to wish us well. I don't think there would have been any Wedding: Ur Doin It Rong pressure from immediate family, because low-key personalized affairs are standard in our families. We might have got asked why not get married at church, but you'd hope they could figure it out.

cjmr said...

" people just need to stop taking so much interest in other people's gravitational relationship with the planet."

*insert spit-take*

Silver Adept said...

@cjmr - Huh. Didn't know that was in there. Also some amount of ragelock at the use of BMI as the measurement standard.

*holds up a 10 card for Will* Science Joke Spittake. Well done.

@Ana- Aren't your doctors supposed to be coordinating and sharing information with each other, so that you don't get a doctor offhandedly dismissing your specialist's advice about weight? In a perfect world with a competent health system, that is. It comes back to the second priority for doctors: listening.

It's just amazing how little choice there actually is for people who aren't at the top of the Privilege scale. And how our institutions have been engineered to ensure that lack of choice stays, because of how much it benefits the people on top. (And how it allows them to turn can't, shouldn't, won't into can, should, will, and then lets them benefit and profit off that at the expense of others. But, as Amarie's beautiful wall of text points out, you have a choice - confirm and become the person that takes advantage of others, or suffer at their hands because you wanted to keep something like a conscience.

Nina said...

I got married 7 years ago and we went through something like this but with religion. My family isn't religious, my husband isn't religious, but his family is Catholic and really wanted him to have a Catholic wedding (that is, one recognized by the church). In the end, even though neither of us is at all religious and certainly not Catholic, we went through with it. It involved jumping through a lot of extra hoops and signing some paperwork that made us both a little uncomfortable. But it made his family happy and we aren't any less married in the end.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Ana- Aren't your doctors supposed to be coordinating and sharing information with each other, so that you don't get a doctor offhandedly dismissing your specialist's advice about weight? In a perfect world with a competent health system, that is. It comes back to the second priority for doctors: listening.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, you would think so, right? Especially with them all working in the SAME BUILDING. But no.

In fact, I've had one doctor tell me to call up another doctor and tell THEM stuff. And I'm like, um, can't you guys talk to each other like adults?

Apparently not.

(And I've signed reams of forms saying they can share information and HIPPA and etc. It's just a pain in the butt all around. And they refuse to coordinate my medication and this has caused problems multiple times. I finally went and got a new GP -- which I'd been meaning to do anyway -- and made her transfer all my scripts under her name because OFFS.)

Ana Mardoll said...

This, so much.

And I have to say that having (almost) EVERY doctor I visit bring up my weight AGAIN when I have a disability and a major food intolerance issues makes me not want to go to the doctor anymore. It's literally becoming triggering for me, it hurts my self-esteem and body image, and it's particularly damaging when it's conveyed in a flippant "fuck-you" manner, as with Spine Doctor telling me to lose a quarter of my body weight in half a year's time without ANY regard whatsoever for my health. (And telling me to "join Weight Watchers". Because if there's one place on earth that is going to take care of my health it's the FOR PROFIT DIET INDUSTRY.)


Julia said...

No one likes to be should-upon.

As for ablist doctors being nonsupportive of disabled patients who don't fit into the "ideal weight for height" box, I want to scream. (I don't have that particular problem, but I have friends who have fired doctors over it, and if the doctors would bother to respect the patients enough to listen and be realistic regarding what can and cannot be done within the bounds of those disabilities, they don't deserve to be doctors.)

Lonespark said...

I was trying out the government website that used to be My Pyramid, that has lots of trackers for diet and exercise, because I wanted to start keeping track of that and measure my progress. (I since got sick such that I couldn't eat for four days and lost track and said screw that...)

THE DIET TRACKER THING IS SO SHAMING OMG! If you put in "too many" calories or too much fat or whatever it has this graph bar thing that turns BRIGHT RED even before you're done entering the whole day worth of meals and AAAAARGH WHY DO THEY HATE ME. I am trying to do a little better, gradually, so I can sustain it, and before I even get done recording a baseline it is YELLING AT ME IN BRIGHT RED. Maybe there's a way to turn it off but I couldn't figure it out because I felt so bad just knowing it has been there I wouldn't click back on the page.

Also I am starting for follow Unfuck Your Habitat and finding out that cleaning is huge emotional clusterfuck related to abuse and issues for lots of other people is very comforting.

depizan said...

What the fuck? What if you're trying to gain weight? What if you have different dietary needs that the "average" person? I hate that shit so much! HULK SMASH PUNY PYRAMID!

Lonespark said...

Yes, exactly. Well, there are allgedly setting for trying lose vs. trying to maintain weight, but I tried switching back and forth and didn't see any difference. And if you are trying to gain, well, go away, freak, I guess. I wouldn't have a problem with a system that celebrated meeting your goals, but RED ALERT shaming is sooooo counterproductive.

Dragoness Eclectic said...

I am reminded of some classic short fiction, probably by Saki, about how to respond to busybodies who will not heed hints that they are being inquisitive far beyond politeness. Sadly, the exact story escapes my memory; it may have been "The Open Window" (summary: tell the busybody something totally horrifying as the reason, such that they never bother you again). Such behavior has never been well-mannered, and has annoyed people since the beginning of humanity, I think.

Well, if people just *insist* on knowing why, after being repeatedly told that you'd rather not go into the reasons, tell them "because I will break down into a screaming, crying fit and throw my dinner in the face of the person who triggered me."

Dragoness Eclectic said...

I am lucky in that. I work, so I have the magic words, "Sorry, I don't have enough vacation days left" or "Can't take time off right now, it's crunch time." Alternatively, there's "I have a raging sinus infection/cold/the flu, probably a bad idea for me to expose the old folks and the little kids to my germs".

I do not understand why people insist that people who don't want to be there should come over and visit. Unwilling, resentful visitors don't make good company.

Inquisitive Raven said...

You'd think they'd coordinate with each other but according to this article, that doesn't happen very often.

Inquisitive Raven said...

Maybe you should try somebody else's diet tracker. There's quite a few of them out there. I use Sparkpeople which let's you set your own macronutrient targets and doesn't have a graph bar that turns red. While they do put quite a bit of emphasis on weight loss, there seems to be some pushback from some of the staff (notably one of their fitness experts) about that, so it's at least potentially not as bad as e.g. the USDA website. BTW, if you decide to sign up with Sparkpeople, my username is Rhoadan. I get points for referrals.

Will Wildman said...

Also I am starting for follow Unfuck Your Habitat and finding out that cleaning is huge emotional clusterfuck related to abuse and issues for lots of other people is very comforting.

I noticed something like this just last weekend, when I spent some time cleaning areas of my apartment that had been covered with small junk piles for a long time - for days since, I have gotten a little jolt of happy every time I look at the now-clear floorspace. Nothing related to abuse in my case, but I do think there's a certain subconscious feeling on my part that ties the long-lived junk piles to their psychological equivalents, so that progress against one feels like progress against both.

depizan said...

I missed this until today.

Well, there are allgedly setting for trying lose vs. trying to maintain weight, but I tried switching back and forth and didn't see any difference.

Fucking what?

And if you are trying to gain, well, go away, freak, I guess.

I am so very fucking sick of this shit. My workplace tries to get everyone to take part in a wellness thingy every spring/summer, but I can't participate and have explained why, repeatedly, to blank stares and responses to my emails that strongly suggest our HR department is functionally illiterate. They are at least incapable of grasping that a) I DO NOT WANT TO FUCKING MANAGE MY WEIGHT because I weigh between 120 and 125 pounds thank you very fucking much and, while I would like to get back to weighing 127-130, it is gaining muscle that I need to do, not fucking managing my fucking weight (perhaps if the emails had been this version and not the polite one...) and b) I am ethically opposed to health = weight loss because I think it's not medically supported and is looking more and more like an attempt to give everyone disordered eating patterns if not straight up eating disorders so until they fucking drop the weight loss emphasis (you cannot complete the health survey without answering questions about how easy it will be for you to manage your weight even if you previously told the survey that you had no interest in doing so I cannot participate in their program. I've told HR. I've told Cigna (our health insurance company, which sponsors the damned thing and provides most of the material for it). Nobody fucking gets it.

Sorry, I have kind of a rage-on for that kind of shit.

Lonespark said...

Thanks, Inquisitive Raven/Rhoadan! I will probably try that out when I return to my home computer.

Lonespark said...

a certain subconscious feeling on my part that ties the long-lived junk piles to their psychological equivalents

Yeah, this. My dad definitely has this going on. Now in his old age he is a borderline hoarder, but even at his healthiest, it's like accessing a little bit of stress and chaos by tackling a pile of outdated mail turns into mainlining ALL THE STRESS IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Once he does clean something, he is able to zealously defend it, and it makes him feel better...

Brenda said...

I know I'm posting late - still catching up on the archives! I just wanted to say, the online version of Weight Watchers has worked really well for me. It's not counting calories, but "points" based on fiber, protein, carbs and fat - and almost all fresh/frozen produce is free. (Most foods are already in the system.)

It's one more way to keep track of portions, basically, although there are lots of resources if you're not already familiar with how to eat healthy.

I just wanted to say, it's not just meetings - although the meetings I did go to were very welcoming and didn't put anyone on the spot.

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