As I mentioned earlier, I discovered Big Fat Blog last night. I was enthralled. I could not stop reading. I have long been aware of the Fat Acceptance Movement, but I had never dedicated a lot of thought to it... mostly because I never really took a good honest look at myself and said, "honey, you are fat."
I have been overweight all my life, but until recently, I never really minded it too much. You know, I felt like I would look better thin, sure. Clothes would look better on me, and I really hate my muffin top (which is odd... that's just the way my belly is shaped, not because I squeeze myself into clothes that are too tight), and I have severe issues with the way my body looks, sure. But I didn't hate myself enough, or feel like I was fat enough, to the point that I had to go on a diet and start counting calories. I always said that I would never consider myself FAT until I had to walk around my thighs. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but I have felt some restricted movement, and I don't like it. I honestly feel best at around a size 8 or 10. Now, I haven't been there since I was 19... but I sure remember it fondly... I canvassed every day for work in Seattle, so I walked all day, up and down steep hills. And I could do it. I partied pretty hard, and had a bunch of boys interested in me, and I was fine with myself. And I was ok with myself even as I packed on more pounds and sizes. Now... I'm not. I can't walk for far distances because I get winded easily. Hiking is out of the question. Backpacking, canoeing, kayaking... all of that stuff I used to do, I can't do anymore because it would make me feel like shit.
So there's my major motivation for losing weight. Societal pressure has probably had something to do with it - like I said, my mom always called me fat, and I was teased in elementary school - but it hasn't been until I've FELT uncomfortable in my own skin that I felt that something needed to be done about it. I was ok with being heavy... not ecstatic about it, but ok with it.
That said... being fat in a thin world effing sucks. I will be the first to acknowledge that being young loses its luster when you can't find anything but "fat clothes" to fit you (and we all know about the dreaded fat clothes...). Lane Bryant has gotten better. Old Navy has gotten better (although they took their Plus line out of stores and put it exclusively online, which kind of blows). Torrid is there. Things are getting better for fat people, slowly but surely. And I believe it when I hear that not as many fat people are as unhealthy as you think. The way fat people are treated by the fashion industry, the news industry, even the health sector of our society, is unfair. If you'll allow me to digress for a second, I actually have my own story on that one...
For years, I've had issues with amenorrhea, which for me is usually solved by an initial progesterine regimen followed by the pill. So, about two years ago, I went to the doctor to get a physical and renew my perscription to the pill. New doctor, whom I'd heard good things about. They took my height and weight (I was I think 208 back then), and then she came in, and before giving me my pap smear, proceeded to berate me about my weight and how unhealthy I was. She then told me what a high risk for cervical cancer I was, and listed out a couple of hormonal-related problems I might have that could be causing my obesity, my amenorrhea, and even my unibrow and the upper lip hair I have (which I wax... but she didn't even bother to check that I am POLISH, and my mother has a pretty mean moustache herself). I felt humiliated, abused, and walked out of the office without receiving my pelvic exam... and I had to pay $80.00 just for the visit. On the drive home, I cried hysterically. I knew the reason that she was cruel to me was because I am overweight. Instead of seeing me as a person, she saw me as fat, and didn't take into consideration that she was essentially giving a PERSON an unfounded cancer diagnosis. Who wouldn't be upset? A doctor takes one look at your height and weight, asks you if you've ever had sex, and immediately tells you that there is a distinct possibly that you have cervical cancer... unbelievable. And I'm sad to report that the experience so humiliated and shamed me that I haven't had a physical, or pelvic exam, since.
I'm sure that my experience isn't unique. I'm sure that there are many women out there who have been treated like sub-species because of their weight. It is HARD to be fat! I don't think anybody really chooses to be overweight or obese. For me, it's not comfortable. I don't like it. But it's not something like painting your nails black... it's not something that you can just stop doing.
But, I personally feel that obesity is NOT healthy, and that it just doesn't FEEL good to be fat. I want to be able to run and bike and go backpacking and kayaking again, like I did when I was in my teens. It was fun, and I miss it. I don't like being winded after walking up to the third floor of my apartment building. I really am scared that I'll have a heart attack, because according to my family history, I am at high risk. I don't want to develop diabetes. I want to be active and healthy. I think most overweight and obese people would like that, even if they are bell-ringers for the Fat Acceptance Movement.
I don't think guilt, shame, or discrimination is the way to make fat people thin. I don't think it's the public health crisis that it is cracked up to be. I don't think it's necessarily healthy, but mass hysteria is common in the U.S. (take, for example, the freakout so many parents had about Rainbow Parties... only to discover that they're extremely uncommon - more the stuff of urban legend than anything else), and so what is something that could be considered a blip on the public health radar gets blown up into an epidemic.
So the skinny on the Fat Acceptance Movement? I support it. I don't think it clashes with my desire to lose weight. I want to lose weight for me. I don't want to force anyone else to. And being a fat person in a thin world, I know how much psychological harm size-ism causes. No one should have to feel ashamed, humiliated, or discriminated against because of how they look.
2 years ago....
1 month ago