Clean Eating is Just Code for Diet & Me No Likey

For the last few years I’ve been seeing the phrase “clean eating” become the latest craze in Dietlandia . And what in the holy hell is that? I mean, really, isn’t clean eating just a regular ‘ole diet dressed up in a jazzy new outfit? It’s like calling water “that wet stuff.”

The clean eating craze has given voice to lots of instagramers who take photos of their clean food, which include mostly fruits, veggies, and protein. There is little to no fat in sight. Except for avocados. They love avocados.

body  positive affirmations (3)

Unfortunately, I think clean eating is a dangerous business, especially for those with eating disorders. It suggests that food and eating are a moral issue — that there is good food and bad food. If you eat the former, you are good. And if logic follows, if you eat the latter, you are bad. What an awful assault on our individual choices and worth!

I fucking HATE diet culture. It is responsible for so much self-hate and it breeds competition in the worst possible sense. I am officially calling it out as a not-so-undercover attempt to rebrand weight loss propaganda. And this bish ain’t havin’ it.

xo

 

May 6th is International No Diet Day. Amen.

international no diet day

 

I took this straight from Wikipedia because I’m feeling lazy:

International No Diet Day (INDD) is an annual celebration of body acceptance, including fat acceptance and body shape diversity. This day is also dedicated to promoting a healthy life style with a focus on health at any size and in raising awareness of the potential dangers of dieting and the unlikelihood of success. The first International No Diet Day was celebrated in the UK in 1992. Feminist groups in other countries around the globe have started to celebrate International No Diet Day, especially in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Israel, Denmark and Brazil.

Since 1998 both the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) and the National Organisation for Women (NOW) have sponsored similar days. ISAA’s day is the International Size Acceptance Day which is celebrated on 24 April. NOW organises a Love Your Body campaign, with its own annual Love Your Body Day in the fall, which critiques what it defines as “fake Images” of the fashion, beauty and diet industries demanding that images of women with diverse body sizes and shapes are used instead.

International No Diet Day is observed on May 6, and its symbol is a light blue ribbon.

no-diet-day

Let everyday of your life be a no diet day. You deserve to be free!

pia schiavo-campo

Plus Size Pageantry & The Feminist Who Had It All Wrong

I was a judge for the California Plus America Pageant over the weekend. Pageant Director, Danielle Zavala, asked me come on board and I’m still trying to figure out why she chose me. I’m a body positive lipstick feminist with a penchant for colorful mumus and comfy flats I can wear all day. And I had serious doubts about how my politics would align with judging women based on their beauty. I loved watching Miss America when I was a little girl, but as I got older, I began to see the whole thing as a patriarchal construct meant to keep women focused on seeing beauty as their only source of worth. 

But I also wanted to challenge my preconceived notions about the pageant business because I know a couple of women who have competed and I respect them very much. So I emailed Danielle and told her I would be honored to be a judge, and it was the truth. I was committed to keeping an open mind.

On Saturday morning I showed up at the Embassy Suites hotel and met my five fellow judges, including 15-year old Smile Juneja, the reigning Miss America Outstanding Teen. Smile is a bright and well-spoken young woman who impressed me with her poise and self-confidence.

Judges from left to right: Michael Anthony Hermogeno, Maryam

 Ahmadinia, Smile Suneja, Sherry Lee Meredith, Me, Gio  Messale



I also had the privilege of meeting one of the winners from last year’s pageant, Charlet InthavongxayShe and my friend, Melissa Rose (who was also a winner last year), are two of the kindest, and most service oriented people I’ve ever met. They were so open and positive about their experiences, using their titles to do good in the community. Reconnecting with Melissa and meeting Charlet was yet another step in challenging my views over the weekend. 
 

Charlet on the left & Melissa on the right.

Danielle explained all the rules to the judges, most importantly that we were not allowed to fraternize with the delegates. The delegates are the pageant contestants.  I didn’t know that’s what they were called. I like it. It sounds very official!The individual interviews took place soon after. As I read the delegates’ bios, my thinking shifted even more. The contestants included PhD candidates, single mothers who took in foster kids, a school teacher and a poised teenager with great ambitions! This is NOT what I was expecting. I honestly thought the delegates were going to be ditzy girls who spent hours at the tanning salon and used the word “like” five times in a sentence. But I was dead wrong.  

Perhaps my narrow thinking needed to be checked. I mean, how different was plus size pageantry from plus size modeling?  I know plenty of plus models, including myself, who also have other careers in industries like engineering, social justice and medicine. So, discovering that the delegates were bright and ambitious shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did — in the best possible way.

As the delegates sat before us, answering all sorts of interesting questions, I found myself having a lot of fun.  One of my favorite questions from judge Maryam Ahmadinia, was “How would you describe the color red to a blind person?”  It was such a good question, I wish I’d thought of it myself! I think I asked something corny like, “If you were banished to a deserted island for life, which person would you take with you?”  I’m new at this. Be nice.

During those interviews, the women were nervous but witty, shy but eloquent. They were funny and snarky and intelligent. And their platforms were impressive too. From autism awareness to domestic violence prevention, the causes were noble and their champions passionate. Many of them had been active in their causes long before they’d considered being in pageants. I know. Pretty cool, huh?

Later that night, we witnessed the delegates having fun at the red carpet event and fundraiser.  As I watched them do the “Wobble” and laugh with one another, it helped me see yet another side to them.  They were women of all ages, ethnicities and plus size body types, bonding with one another and letting the stress of the interviews wash away. I so wanted to dance with them and tell them how awesome I thought they all were, but we weren’t allowed to fraternize until the pageant was over. 

The next night was the evening wear competition and the crowning ceremony at the LA Convention Center. This was an opportunity for the delegates to impress us with their style and personality as they sashayed down the runway, their fleshy arms undulating in perfect rhythm. Their smiles were big, their fashion choices bold, and their personalities very evident. It was such fun and I found myself cheering them all on, wishing they could all win!  I was proud of them for loving their bodies and wearing dresses that said “Fuck you world.  I’ll wear whatever the fuck I want!” I saw many of them empowered and confident. I witnessed such beauty and grace.  I wish plus size pageants had existed when I was struggling with my body image as a teenager and young woman. These women proved me wrong and I’ve never felt better about not being right.  


As plus size women, we are all breaking barriers when we participate in activities that let the world know we are not ashamed of our bodies and that we are capable of so much more than the media gives us credit for. Contrary to popular belief, we are not lazy and unmotivated. We are smart, savvy role models who can recite the Greek alphabet while feeding the homeless and kicking ass.  So there.  

I think the biggest lesson I learned through this journey is that feminism has many faces. The way we choose to lift up women is not singular in nature. There are as many ways to express it as there are women in the world. The plus size delegates were a brand of feminism that I had yet to encounter. But now I can store it in my cadre of experiences, and recall it when I find myself judging something which I know nothing about.

And I would be remiss if I did not congratulate this year’s deserving winners:

                  Queanna Moore – Mrs California Plus America 2014
Chera Lenise – Ms California Plus America 2014

Lia Freeman – Miss California Plus America 2014

Emily Grace Fluke -Teen California Plus America 2014


Left to right: Emily, Lia, host Marcy Guevara, Queanna, Chera



And finally, thank you Danielle, for asking me to be a part of this wonderfully eye-opening occasion. Your hard work paid off in so many ways. I am forever changed. XOXO

In solidarity,
Pia

So, Obesity Is a Disease Now, huh? WTF?

The American Medical Association has now deemed obesity a disease.  How profoundly ignorant, well timed and devious of them!  I call bullshit.  And so do a lot of other people.  And they’re not even fat.  Hell, even the New York Times is confused:  To some extent, the question of whether obesity is a disease or not is a semantic one, since there is not even a universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes a disease. And the A.M.A.’s decision has no legal authority.” (Anthony Pollack)


It seems me that  the medical community has now empowered itself to shame fat people even further.  They claim it will reduce the stigma attached to obesity.  But will it really?  It sounds good on the outside, but it also completely ignores the fact that people who are not obese have plenty of health related problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and lead sedentary lives.  There is much focus on the BMI (Body Mass Index) which measures and individual’s body fat based on their weight and height.  I find the BMI a poor measure of one’s overall health.  I am considered obese based on the index, yet I have normal blood pressure, low cholesterol and am in good health, save for a vitamin D deficiency.  The public health council that advises the AMA agrees with me:


“The council said that obesity should not be considered a disease mainly because the measure usually used to define obesity, the body mass index, is simplistic and flawed.
Some people with a B.M.I. above the level that usually defines obesity are perfectly healthy while others below it can have dangerous levels of body fat and metabolic problems associated with obesity.”

Well, halle-fuckin-lujah!  


Oh, look. Fat people DO exercise!

Opponents of the declaration say that this is just one more way the drug companies can profit from patients who are desperate to be thin–not because of health reasons–but the overwhelming desire to quench their thirst for vanity in a beauty centered society.  It sounds pretty manipulative to me.  So, I’m not buying it.  

According to Merriam & Webster, a disease is defined as “something that impairs normal functioning of the body.”  Let’s see…So, I went out dancing until 4 am on Saturday and I was fully functional, I assure you.  Ask the the 15 plus size women I was dancing with for four hours.  They were functioning at a very high level.  In fact, I think we out-danced everyone that night, even people who seemed to fall within the healthy limits of the BMI.



In summary, the AMA’s declaration that obesity is a disease is really crap.  I’m just sayin’.  Do I deny that some obese people are unwell? Certainly not.  But if we’re going to be fair, then let’s make sure we also dissect the health of all people, rather than targeting a specific group based on a measure that is inaccurate and outdated. 

In the meantime, I choose to chuck my scale and swear off BMI charts forever. And so should you.  

Ciao for Niao,
Pia