Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fattitude


F-A-T. Since when have these three little letters become the other f-word? Chubby. Heavy Set. The Big One. Shamu. Call it what you like, fat is feared. And I am a fat girl. I confess. I can admit this not because denying it would be a lie nobody believes, but because it is a part of my life experience. I know it is not who I am. It does not define me. It does not stop me. It does not cause me to loathe my body or refuse myself ice cream. It is a fact. But I'm also a sister and I snort sometimes when I laugh. I'm a teacher and my hair is naturally curly. And I'm an alto and a friend and a hiking enthusiast and a writer. Not to mention that I'm religious and a size 8 shoe.

And I keep wondering why being fat is always the first focus. And why is it such a big damn deal? Are health issues a concern? Absolutely. But is every fat person in poor health?

This is what I've noticed as a fat person: assumption is instinctual. I've been told "You really don't eat that much" and that "Your energy level surprises me!" I've heard it mentioned that I hide my weight well. I've been 'comforted' with "at least your face is pretty." I've been the target of not-so-subtle hints. I've been teased. I've been rejected. And why? Because I shop in the fat girl section at all major department stores (hate to tell you, folks, but that whole "Plus Size" euphemism ain't foolin' nobody). Because it is instinctual in humans to poo-poo the uncommon or unique. Because we write children's books that say people come in all shapes, colors and sizes; but we spend the rest of the time pointing out the differences between those shapes, colors and sizes and creating a hierarchy of which color is best, which shape is most desired, and which size is acceptable. And if you don't fit that mold, people make assumptions.

And fat is cream-filled with negative assumptions. Especially for women. The check-out aisle is lined with Snickers and M&M's on one side, and 12 glossy magazines guaranteeing the secret to kicking those last 15 pounds and the other 6 promise five simple steps to flat abs. And chocolate never made anybody feel worthless. Women are under pressure to be thin. Period. The message is not embracing and we all know it.

If your body/hair/nails/skin/makeup/clothes/shoes/accessories/teeth do not look like X, you are a failure and a disgrace to womanhood, you should attach yourself to a treadmill and eat nothing but 25 points a day for the rest of your life, or end your life hiding in your parent's basement ordering takeout and eventually Dr. Phil-Oprah-Tyra might rescue you. If you are fat, somewhere it is stressed that these are your only two options. There aren't any others. You shouldn't view yourself as sexy. You shouldn't teach aerobics. You shouldn't participate in swimming because your body, stretchmarks, and cellulite are best kept hidden. You shouldn't ever, ever, ever even think about thinking about eating chocolate. You shouldn't be an athlete. You shouldn't fall in love. You shouldn't try water skiing. You shouldn't have children. You shouldn't go into Public Relations. You shouldn't wear pumps. You shouldn't bake cookies. You shouldn't wear horizontal stripes. You shouldn't join a yoga class. You shouldn't get a massage. You shouldn't be an actress. You shouldn't be fat.

Being fat means that, if you listen to everybody else, you have boundaries and limitations and until you are no longer fat, you can't do anything fun. Because you're fat.

Nobody ever really looks at the up-side of being fat. Santa is fat. Babies are fat. Grandmas are fat. And all three of these love milk and/or cookies. So what is so scary about a 26-year-old fat woman? What is her crime against society? Why do some of you squirm in her presence? And why do you live in fear of getting soft around the edges?

6 comments:

LovingTheChaos said...

Amen Sista!!! I do not see what the big damn deal is about! Let people just BE! If you are thin, be happy. If you are fat, be happy! I'm with ya! I love ya! You are such a great and good person...all adjectives aside! :)

Blackeyedsue said...

I know you can't see me, but I am standing up and giving you a standing ovation!!!!

Stine said...

As a fellow Amazon "big girl" I hear ya. I find it fascinating that society classifies a size 12 as "plus size". I'd like to stuff those size 0 fanaticists into my size blah blah jeans and force feed them biscuits and gravy.

MMmmmmm...biscuits and gravy...

mnnnn...graaaavy....

Kimmy said...

AMEN. Why haven't you and I started a dance aerobics class yet? Maybe we could advertise it with ice cream and chocolate refreshments after. You're amazing!

Melissa Bastow said...

This is excellent!! My brain totally agrees, but my poor little psyche is still trying to deal with being a fat chick. Usually a bag of M&M's helps me deal with it though (but sometimes it takes a brownie or two.)

monika said...

I have just stumbled onto your blog... and I love you! You are spot on in many areas... I was surprised to see a teenager agonizing (on facebook) about being compared to Marilyn Monroe in a sexy woman quiz/test/thing. I had to remind her that a size 14 is NOT fat. Some of us do all of the dieting things you mentioned in a constant struggle to reach that lovely, non-plus-sized number.
The best advice is what you gave, and add to it, just be healthy. Exercise to keep your heart healthy. Eat what you need to feel satisfied. BE HAPPY. Have dessert. Have that chocolate. Hmmm... what to give up for Lent... hint... those glossy mags! That's my *new* diet! Glossy-free is the way to be!