Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Skinny Bitches – do we really need more of them?

Debbie Logan of Organic Emporium sends out weekly emails to customers, containing newsletters filled with all sorts of info, from the usual recipe-laden food news to organic growing practices to her views on virtually any topic under the sun. I found yesterday's mail particularly interesting, focusing as it does on the Skinny Bitches phenomenon. I'm particularly disturbed by this trend, coming as it does in the midst of the battle being waged to sway girls' (and women's) minds towards either eating healthily or being conditioned into seeing any sort of larger figure as 'fat' - even if eating has nothing to do with the way they look. That's an issue for another time, though, and one that has been covered extensively by other bloggers.

Unfortunately, Debbie doesn't archive her newsletters, so the only way to show you her thoughts is to copy and paste.

UPDATE: Debbie has started a newsletter archive following requests from her customers

Skinny Bitches – do we really need more of them?

I find myself becoming as outspoken and as passionate about the notion that the quality of our thoughts has every bit as much an effect on who we are, as does our food. A toxic thought is as detrimental to our emotional health as a toxic pesticide on our apple. As this journey blazes on for me, I've learnt to distrust people who eat the 'purest' of foods yet toxify themselves and the air around them with an air of superiority over others, who are ever critical and judgemental of the rest of the world, who believe that most people are dumb and stupid and that really they own the marketplace on what one should be eating to be healthy. I've just been reminded about how obnoxious I find such characters after glancing over the chapter headings for 'Skinny Bitch' and reading some snippets of the book. I am not charmed.

I had my fill of encountering this type of attitude in the initial stages of this business – until I learnt to avoid sources of it – and it led me to critically question the nature of true health. It makes little sense to me to mess up your health by attempting to follow an extreme eating philosophy or diet that creates stress.

If you're physically becoming healthier but in the process becoming mentally dis-eased…I think you're perhaps missing the boat somewhat. Similarly, if your diet is an excuse to make yourself feel better than 'cheese-burger eating Jo' – I'm also going to question the health of your psyche. Seriously. If cheese-burger eating Jo doesn't think any less of you for eating what he terms 'bunny rabbit' food, then there's a fair argument to make that he might be a slightly nicer person than you.! Of course I'm not talking to – YOU – I'm talking to the symbolic figure-head, you know those self-righteous people that are obsessed with their diet and spend their lives turning their noses up at people who eat differently to them? Yes them – I'm focusing on the philosophy that creates that kind of attitude, such as the philosophy 'Skinny Bitch' seems to advocate. I use the word philosophy loosely here because I'm not too sure that there is much substance to this book or anything truly health promoting about it because you cannot build a mansion on a flawed foundation. It matters not how healthy or unhealthy the vegan diet they recommend you eat, actually is (and that is hugely debatable) - if it's built on a foundation of thinking that is based on myth and particularly – myths that keep you from leading a truly empowered life – it counts for nothing and it's going to cause you harm in the long run.

I'm adamant about this point and I find particularly passionate about it!

Believe it. If you are not sure that it absolutely isn't ok for anybody to tell you that if you aren't SKINNY, you're a 'fat', 'dumb', 'stupid dumb-ass' – skinny bitch words – then you are not in touch with your authentic power.

I'm getting to a point here – truly….!

So I've just received a delivery from Kalahari.net of the latest books I've ordered and they're all offer very contradictory views about life and food. Perfect.

I have 'Skinny Bitch' – 'a no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous', (vegan), 'The Vegetarian Myth' – Food Justice and Sustainability, and 'Stitched-up – Who Fashions Women's Lives' by Stephanie Vermeulen.

The startling contrast between the opinions of these three books best reflects the vastness of opinions that I encounter and reflect upon in my journey of understanding our relationship with food in all its intricacies and most importantly how it impacts our health. Read them all, open your mind to listening to and reading all opinions and then decide what feels right FOR YOU. There cannot then, be one truth or one right. I don't believe there ever was one perfect diet.

It has just occurred to me that if these 3 books were having an introductory conversation right now on my desk, it would probably sound like this:

Skinny Bitch – you should eat a vegan diet if you want to be skinny otherwise you're a 'fat slob' and a 'stupid dumbass'…
The Vegetarian Myth – It is a myth that veganism is a superior form of eating, to reject the notion that something must die in order that something must live is to reject nature rather than embrace it..
Stitched-Up – who says that skinny is ideal and who the hell are you to decide that you're an authority on what I should be eating?

So it's going to be interesting reading and I'm going to share it with you as I go along.

I can tell you first off that I have an idea that Skinny Bitch is not going to be my cup of tea. I am angry after just browsing through the contents and the title alone says much about the negativity of its message.

DO WE REALLY WANT TO TAKE 6000 STEPS BACKWARDS AND REABSORB THIS HOLLYWOOD MYTH THAT SKINNY IS IDEAL – IS HEALTHY – IS SUCCESS – AGAIN?

Do we want to reinstitute this most debilitating blow on the feminine psyche – all over again – that a woman's curves are wrong and that skinny is ideal and attractive?

It's a myth so easy to blow and it originates from the fashion industry primarily – skinny made clothes look better on catwalks – it's a form of psychological enslavement to buy this myth – under scrutiny it disappears like mist in a sun's glare…..it is not going to make you happier to be SKINNY….the authors of this book are both from the fashion industry – no surprises there – and seem to think that to look 'good' which in their interpretation is almost emaciated is to be successful. Some of those more superficial creatures that are invested in the idea that what they look like defines who they are – yet – for all their skinniness, I wouldn't feel compelled to spend much time in their company at all.

They sound pretty shallow and obnoxious to me and I'd be horrified to have their very narrow impression of what physical ideal is around my daughter or any impressionable girl for that matter.

As a society we have exhausted this boring, superficial and empty notion to tears, it's tired and it's a lie.

Skinny didn't buy anybody more love and more success. The pursuit of skinniness has messed with the psyche of women for so long, caused death, poor self-esteem, endless misery, eating disorders and death. Can we not rather start aiming for higher ideals, like self-love, like self-acceptance, like healthy eating, like more giving and forgiving and more self-love – do we really need more rules and more diets? Do we really need any more self-obsessed, withholding, shaming, arrogant, self-righteous bitches? I don't think the world needs anymore of those. Call me old-fashioned……J

Skinny Bitch has been outstandingly successful – sadly. Woman are still attracted to rules, diets, shame and guilt – and there is enough shaming language in what appears to be a horrific book as far as I can tell for now. I can barely believe some of the sentences I've read….like this one….."do you really think sugar or hydrogenated oils or eggs or milk wont' make you fat? Sober up, asshole."

I'm not kidding! Here's another "give up the notion that you can be sedentary and still lose weight. You need to exercise, you lazy shit".!

I'm clear that skinny bitches wrote this book, I'm not yet clear whether it's got any substance other than the cheap shock tactics of some really crass language. It's rather catty and childish.

I'm sure it'll have much to say about diet and only AFTER you've started reading it, do you get ambushed with a vegan agenda .

Again, this makes me question the integrity of these woman?

If you pick up 'The Kind Diet' by Alicia Silverstone for example, it's clear before you open the book that the book promotes a vegan lifestyle. 'Skinny Bitch' masquerades as a diet/lose weight book and then within a couple of chapters is conjuring up the most awful images of factory farming as they introduce their vegan agenda. I don't think that's cool, I think it's another cheap and nasty assault, bit like picking up a book about 'love' and suddenly realizing you're reading a religious book punting one particular religious belief.

I'm all for people becoming familiar with what factory farming is all about and I'm all for that kind of awareness so that people can boycott that type of food and this horrendous practice of animal manufacture. This isn't the way to do it though, I don't believe. It's manipulative in the extreme.

I'm not liking this guys. I fear a book like this is going to cause some damage. Not damage that we aren't familiar with and that's what scares the life out of me. We're used to this rubbish right? It will reinforce some utterly rubbish yet debilitating beliefs about women and their bodies.

I'll write some more on this topic, for some odd reason I've actually been inundated with mails asking me to comment on 'Skinny Bitch' recently, as if people can sense something isn't right about it but aren't sure.

I'm getting that impression myself at first glance, I dearly hope the content will be strong enough to overcome its initial promise of bitchy superficiality.

At least if it doesn't offer anything more intelligent, I have 'Stitched-Up' to make intellectual amends. I also want to talk much about the contents of this book and particularly about what the author has to say about how we have culturally been indoctrinated to feel shame and guilt about our bodies and how this in particular has enslaved our self-esteem to false promises.

Right, enough said, Skinny Bitch has raised the hackles on my neck somewhat!

I'll be back tomorrow…..Let's not be skinny bitches, let's by healthy and wholesome and diverse and let's divorce ourselves from the notion  - for once and for all – that we are what we look like. It's debilitating and it's a lie and it isn't going to deliver. Most of us have experience of this and many of us have harmful recollections of having this notion thrown down our throats by the media particularly.

I'm for empowerment and the relationship between food and empowerment.

Please be very discerning about what you read, particularly when it hits on a vulnerable area of your psyche which just might be that you're not happy with yourself, or your weight.

All these 'trap' books – hook you with a promise of 'losing weight', 'becoming pure, clean and light', 'becoming disease free', having 'endless energy and overcoming all your illnesses and weaknesses and issues. There is no diet Nirvannah or diet heaven – where a diet leads you to a perfect body and perfect life.

You need to protect your vulnerabilities and nurture them to strength and wholeness.

The perfection you seek is found in a quiet place, deep inside you.

Food must honour your most loving relationship to yourself. You cannot use food to fix a damaged self-esteem. I advocate a joyous, fantastic and intuitive relationship between yourself and food. Throw out the rule books, you don't need them! Read beautiful, expanding, intelligent opinions – and it's all only an opinion – and take back your power – decide what is best for YOU and be careful of cheap and nasty 'diet' books that shame.

Choose wholesome opinions as you do wholesome foods.

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