I'm fat. Obese. This is not new information to me, or to anyone who has seen me, ever, especially in recent years. Yet it still is hard to write for the world to read as if it's some horribly kept secret that I don't want to acknowledge.
I'm not going to pretend for a minute that it wouldn't be awesome to weigh substantially less than I do now. At the same time I often contemplate that I would hate to be known as as the woman who had this great physical transformation. Not because of shame, but because I am SO MUCH more than my physical shell. I'm fat, sure, but I'm a lot of other things too. I often feel like my visual appearance distracts from what I have to say or offer, but if I lost 70 pounds tomorrow you bet your ass it would be the center of every conversation. My work towards normalizing breastfeeding, raising awareness about our wasteful society, running a business while raising three children - all that would take a serious backseat to "You look so good! How did you do lose the weight!?". It wouldn't matter if I lost weight starving myself and taking health supplements that were known to cause disastrous side effects. Weight loss is viewed as gold.
I recently had a *skinny* friend post a link to a video "Dear Fat People". The original video is several minutes of a woman quite literally telling fat people how disgusting they are, and how society SHOULD fat shame them into change. Like everyone else who voices concern with the overweight community, she goes on that people need to lose weight because it's a health hazard. She claims we need to start being honest with fat people so they get off their asses and stop being so fat. You gotta be honest to save people from their fatness!
I LOVE me some honesty. Be controversial. Tell it like it is and we will laugh our asses off and be fast friends. But when a skinny woman with fake boobs, five pounds of makeup, dyed primped hair and bright lights tells me she wants me to lose weight because she's concerned for my health? I'm calling bull. She doesn’t spend that time, money and energy primping because it’s good for her health. Admitting that your REAL beef is that you value looks, that fat people don't meet your visual standards and that makes you uncomfortable - that's an honesty I can accept- even if I am at the tail end of it. Talking smack and wrapping it with a public service bow doesn't take balls, and it sure as shit doesn't make you an "activist".
Now feels like an appropriate time to 'introduce' my husband. Clocking in at a weight I haven't been since freshman year of high school, he looks muscular and lean. I recently had a friend surprised to learn that, like me, my husband loves soda. She is far from the first friend to make similar comments. Spoiler alert: he feeds his veggies to the dogs when I cook them. He also eats taco bell, cheetos, french fries and hot dogs on a daily basis. If I could bottle up his metabolism and sell it, I'd put all diet plans out of business in a week. Anyway. . . my husband doesn't look like he does those things, so it's not a pressing issue. And since he doesn't look like he does those things, people don't even appear to believe me in terms of his "lifestyle choices". Until you discover he has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. But, even still, he's not obese, not even a little bit fat. Because of this people may encourage him to change, but the general public feels no need to make him feel like a piece of garbage or less human at every turn because of his 'life choices' in a phony attempt to inspire change. Only if his habits were to result in fatness would it be a cause of concern to the general public. He's not viewed as disgusting simply because he doesn't look disgusting - and if you have the guts to admit it or not, that's our real problem with fat people - it's not health - it's looks. My husband and I both eat fast food, weight aside it's a terrible habit (so much single use paper / plastic waste) and neither of us should be eating it. Yet when we are there I'm viewed with blazing eyes of disgust, yet no one appears to think twice about him being there. Double standard much?
In a "Dear Fat People" follow up the author of the original video gives away a bunch of money to viewers who were inspired to lose weight as a result of watching her video. She even gives a vacation to a man as a reward for slimming down. Such a grand human for inspiring change! Yet, surprise surprise, there was zero focus on healthy habits these people made. There was no focus on lowered blood pressure or cholesterol levels. The focus was on looks, pounds and pants sizes - proving my point yet again. Who knows, and frankly who cares, if that person took unhealthy measures to lose weight - they aren't FAT anymore- and that's what matters. Not health.
Here's another thing. The body positive campaigns aren't there to endorse obesity. They are there so people don't hide in their houses and miss out on life because they are ashamed of their fatness. I now know that it's stupid for me to waste away in shame for my eating habits because I wear what I eat while my husband, and countless other thin people with the same eating habits, feel no such pressure. There have been times in my life where I felt worthless because of my size. That place of shame and self loathing has caused far more binge eating sessions than trips to the gym, that much I know.
But it goes beyond one video - the author does voice the opinions of many, many people. I once sat on a plane next to a 'friend' who point blank asked me if I ever 'planned on getting healthy'. I wasn't eating a cheeseburger, in fact I am almost positive I was drinking herbal tea when she asked. This sentiment is everywhere. Another 'friend' posted just last week how beautiful her vacation was writing "I haven't seen any fast food restaurants, chem trails, police officers, fat people, power plants or car accidents. I have seen nothing but beautiful landscapes, windmills , beautiful villages , and happy people." Yea. It's everywhere.
As society we look at people who have lost weight as inspiring, while we look at fat people as shameful. But it's worth noting that all of those weight loss stories we love have one thing in common: it was a fat person who made the changes that resulted in said physical transformation. Something we should probably keep in mind when we're discussing how worthless fat people are.
And if fat people make you uncomfortable, grow some balls and admit why they really make you uncomfortable, stop hiding under your "concern for health". We're not buying it. And for those still hell bent on tearing into the choices the plus size crowd may make, keep in mind the old saying "don't judge me because I sin differently than you". I'm 1,000% confident we all fall short in some area of our lives.