Saturday, January 9, 2010

Fat Pride

So, none of you have any seen me, so you are unaware of my size, and anyone who has seen me would find it a little odd for me to be shouting about Fat Pride. It's not just that I watched my mother struggle with her weight my entire life, something I found confusing and upsetting as a child, btw. One of my earliest memories is of my mother bemoaning her weight, denigrating her own body. And there I was, looking at the goddess of my world, the bringer of hugs and comfort, the source of all good things . . . sorry, I'm crying. That's how deeply it affected me, and probably how deeply it affects every little girl. "It" being our culture of thin, our culture of fat shaming, our culture of self hatred.

This is why we need Fat Pride. I know, I know, we're all going to be HUGE and DIE OF HEART ATTACKS if we stop fat shaming people into apologizing for every ounce over emaciated they happen to be. Because skinny people never get sick. Not ever. And we never die of heart attacks. Nope.

Anyway, my mother lost her weight. And those warm, soft hugs are all bony now. And her heart isn't in any better shape than it was 30 years ago. And maybe we should just learn to be a little nicer to the pudgey among us. And ourselves while we're at it. (and maybe i should stop starting sentences with "and.")


  1. Since the kiddo was born I have lost 50 pounds. I was curious and checked my BMI. According to my BMI I am overweight and almost obese. I am currently a size 8. If I were to lose much more weight I would not only get sick because if my thyroid acts up I won't have any buffer weight to lose, but I will also go into skeleton territory. But apparently that is where I'm supposed to be. All bones. How gross. We need to embrace our bodies not try to starve ourselves.

  2. Ah yes, fat people. I am one of them. I wasn't born this way. I am 6 ft. 163 at 18. 183 at 21. 225 at 28 but then I stopped playing sports. I always had bad eating habits. Then I got sick. I now I have MS. Everything together over the last 25 years I have gained over 100#. I can lose 50# without alot of effort AND I can gain it back. :)

    I came to the place where I quit lamenting my weight. Instead, I decided to try and eat better. And I do eat better, lots better. Not perfect. Still like sugar way too much.

    Will my weight contribute to my death? Sure. I can't magically go back to age 25. I physically can't do I do what I can.

    Fat people are an easy target. Especially women. Our culture says skinny is the perfect body. I remind them that fat people live longer when they get cancer. :)

    One book that really helped me was the book titled "Obesity Myth" by Paul Campos.

    One advantage to being fat? I have a fireplug, bar bouncer build. I look "mean" so people don't mess with me. :) However inside resides a pacifist who likes chick flicks. :)


  3. I don’t think “fat pride” is the proper term to use here (though note that this may just be debating semantics and definitions). More like “fat acceptance”, IMO. It’s not about being proud of being fat, but merely getting others to accept overweight people without trying to make them feel like shit all the time.

    Personally, I’m about 20–40 lbs overweight (I give such a gap because I’m not sure what my ideal weight should be for my size and stature), and that’s after I’ve lost 35 lbs since last summer, just by eating less (I used to eat whenever I was bored just to have something to do, which is, I reckon, one of the prime reasons for which so many people are overweight, if not even the majority of overweight people). I don’t like being overweight; it does not make me look cute, charming, handsome, or whatever. It just makes me look … well, fat. I’m not ashamed of it or anything; I’m just not pleased with it, either.

    Being overweight is not “normal” (as in “how it’s supposed to be, ideally”), and in most cases, is not healthy. The reasons we hear so much about fatness (that a word?) and obesity leading to medical problems is because they actually do. (Not including exceptions, of course, such as perhaps Leigh’s case, above, if I read that right. Some are actually better off with a bit more flesh than others.) I believe there is nothing to be “proud” of in being overweight – no more than there is something to be proud of in being skinny, or Black, or for having curly hair. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just appearances, in this context.

    But, just as with the examples mentioned above, it sure as hell isn’t anything worth being derided, mocked and shamed over, either. I say, let people deal with their own personal issues and just look at the person inside, which is what I do. Works for me, anyway.

    (NOTE – I’m not sure how my tone comes across in this comment, this being the Interwebz and all, but: I’m not shaming, lecturing or chastising fat people in any way. I’m saying it’s just true that it’s not usually a healthy way to be, but if anyone has a problem with fat people, then they have the bigger problem, here, and not the fat person him-/herself.)

  4. The focus needs to be on eating better rather than weight loss. If we eat right then the rest will taker care of itself. As a culture we promote bad eating and eating too much. We market foods that we KNOW are not good or are in quantities that are way too many calories.

    Of course over time I suspect this will change our genes and it will be normal to be "fat' :) (evolution) Then all the skinny folks will the be frowned upon. By then we'll all be dead from heart attacks and strokes but hey maybe fat will be "in" some day.


  5. @Bruce:
    Oh, I doubt that being fat will ever really be “in” at some point. It’s always possible, sure – heck, I’ve heard of isolated African tribes that actually worship fat (as in, enormous) girls and women as symbols of beauty – but at a genetic level, we are programmed through evolution and Natural Selection to seek out certain traits in people, traits we are hardwired to think of as aesthetically pleasing. Being slim and shapely is one such trait; if anything, being fat and overly large is something we’re programmed to find as aesthetically undesirable.

    At least, that’s my understanding of it. I could be wrong. It would make sense, though, on a purely evolutionary, survival-oriented basis.

  6. Actually those "hardwired" desires, preferences can and do change over time.

    Which is to be preferred. A sickly thin person or a fit overweight person? It is far better to be fit and fat than to be unfit and thin.

    I am not convinced on the programming issue. Unless you are talking about it on a cultural level. As a culture we are programmed to think thin is good and fat is bad. (regardless of the reality of such beliefs)

    On the issue of survivability? I can think of many instances where fat would be preferable to thin. Like standing outside in -5 weather :)

    Now I am not a geneticist nor a scientist. The only degree I have is in BS. :) So.....I am just talking.......


  7. @Bruce:
    Yes, preferences and cultural differences can and do change over time, and it is indeed a good thing. But I’m talking about actual evolutionary characteristics and traits we have. Different people have different tastes and opinions on what makes someone pretty or not, of course, but there is a reason the majority are aligned when it comes to the basic: slim figures (as in “average”, neither thin nor overweight), large eyes, longer hair, pronounced curves and pouty lips in women; broader shoulders, increased musculature, tight rears in males. And so on. Humans have evolved to see such traits as desirable, as on a genetic level, they are indicative of increased fertility, and therefore, mating with them over others increases the likelihood of reproduction, and therefore, the species’ survival.


    I’m certainly not a geneticist or a biologist either – or any type of scientist – but I do like to read and watch TV (think Discovery Channel) and so on, and you do pick up on stuff like this. Most aspects of you, your personality and your desires/tastes are modified and molded by society, upbringing and the likes, but there are some hardwired traits that are part of our evolutionary baggage, traits that no amount of sculpting can change. It’s part of who we are, as a species.

  8. Joe [i'm sorry, i have no clue how to get an accent mark];

    you are partially right. people are sort of genetically programed. but not towards a "typical slender body"

    towards certain sets of PROPORTIONS.
    there are tons of studies on this; the problem is that when non-science-geared media gets ahold of them, they selectively quote. they make a BIG deal about things like "men want women with small waists" when what the PAPER [the scientific paper] talkes about "men want a waist that is in X proportion to hips and shoulders".

    the current "fashion model" drive towards what my mother oh-so-nicely dubbs "boy-hips" is NOT sex driven. or, at least, not directly. the super-model-lack-of-body-fat is a hell of a lot more about the way the CLOTHING looks.

    a funny anecdote. my father's sister and my mother could pass as twins, and for a very long time my aunt and i could pass as sisters [because i used to look older than i am while she looked younger. sigh...]

    when i got married, i was 5'8" and i weighed 130 pounds. my measurments were 32FF-21-32.
    that SAME DAY that i got married. my aunt was 5'6", she weigh 112 pounds. her measerments were 32B-24-33. she weighed almost 20 pounds less than i did. she was a size smaller than me, in clothing.

    my-not-yet-husband saw her, took me aside to ask me [seriously] "are you going to get fat like that?"
    i was floored - because i saw the scale that morning, she had been so *proud* that she gained two pounds! she had been struggled with eating disorder for YEARS.

    and my-almost-husband thought my skeletal-looking aunt who was *skinnier* than me was FAT?!?!?

    when i asked him WFT, he pointed to her "lack" of a waist. or rather, he pointed to the fact that her hip to waist ration was lower than mine, in a way that he thought made her look "fat".

    this isn't always negative, mind. i have been overweight for several years, because it just isn't physically possible for me to exercise anymore [the only reason i was ever that skinny - and trust, at 17 my ribs were VISIBLE where my breasts weren't in the way. i was 20 pounds *under*weight, given the way i'm build - is because i was the next thing to anorexic and i danced at least 2 hours a day]. and i'm a fair bit overweight - not a phantom 3 pounds; i weigh about 195, depending on the time of the month.
    but, if i wear clothing that fits, NO ONE believes i am "that fat". and that's how they put it, too - some woman i know will start misting up about how she hit 155 and now her boyfriend will think she's gross, i say "probably not, i weigh damned near 200 and *my* boyfriend doesn't care at all" and INVARIABLY the reply is something along the lines "that's total bullshit there is NO WAY you are *that fat*. look at you!"
    i have female friends ROUTINELY offer me clothing too small for them, convinced it will fit me - dear gods, someone just last week bought me the cutest damned red skirt... SIZE 6.
    i wear a 16 or an 18, depending.
    but my hip-to-waist ratio is still about the same. sure, instead of 32 hips and 21 waist, it's a 42/30, but it's still a slightly larger-than-normal ratio. and that's what people *see* - the proportions. they don't really see the rest until after they had made judgements on proportions.

    sorry, i'm babbling. i've been doing a done of body-image work, because i recently got told that there is nothing more that can be done for my hip; my sciatic nerve is damaged, a lot of the nerves in my right leg are just dead, and nerves don't regenerate. i have been *hating* my body, because i can't even walk anymore. so... i have a thousand billion trillion things to say :) sorry for babbling here, though

  9. Well, here I am, writing this for the second time. I swear, if I wrongly click “Refresh page” one more time, especially when I had a nice long comment all typed out, I’m gonna seriously hurt something.
    Anyway …

    « Joe [i'm sorry, i have no clue how to get an accent mark]; »

    Then, allow me to introduce you to the wonders of Alt Codes. =) (Quick tip: “é” = Alt+130)

    « you are partially right. people are sort of genetically programed. but not towards a "typical slender body"

    towards certain sets of PROPORTIONS.
    there are tons of studies on this; the problem is that when non-science-geared media gets ahold of them, they selectively quote. they make a BIG deal about things like "men want women with small waists" when what the PAPER [the scientific paper] talkes about "men want a waist that is in X proportion to hips and shoulders".

    Yeah, that’s what I meant. What I wrote was intentionally simplistic, what with not having the time (or, really, the patience) to go into detail like you did. But nonetheless, the fact remains that men are geared to go towards women who are more svelte, have more pronounced curves and the likes, and women like guys who are buffer and more athletic. General rules, of course – for example, I seem to defy them completely. There is nothing about the modern-day beautified image of women that attracts me in the slightest; quite the opposite, it repulses me. It looks so … plastic, fake, icky. Natural beauty FTW. (And inner beauty too, big-time.) I must be an alien or something.

    Hmm. Not to offend you or your husband, or to sound judgmental towards someone I know nothing of, but … that was a rather dumbass comment. On no planet or orbiting moons can a woman weighing 112 lbs at 5’6” possibly be considered as “fat”. A BMI of 18.1 is quite underweight; frankly, even with eye-tricking body proportions, I fail to see how anyone can honestly say such a person is overweight, much less “fat”. (Also: weighing ~195 lbs at 5’8” is not “that fat”, or even “fat” at all. Hell, it’s a lower BMI than me! From my totally unknowing standpoint, I’d say you look fine.

    Babbling is always encouraged. =) You can’t imagine how the most seemingly random topics can spawn the most interesting of conversations or debates.

  10. I'm on the other side of the coin, too thin. I tried gaining weight over the holiday, but then I got the stomach flu and there went my hard-gained lbs. I don't like it when larger people say I'm not "real size".

  11. My oldest son had to be waivered to get into the navy. He stood 6'1" and weighed 112 pounds.
    My father was very much the same way. During WWII he joined the army, but only after he ate bananas for the better part of a week so he could make the weight. I don't ever remember seeing a banana in the hous when I was a kid...

    He was a seabee, and put in for duty in Antarctica, made it as far as Wellington New Zealand, and they sent him back. He'd gained some weight since he had joined, but still weighed less that 120. His body fat was at less than 5%. A doctor told him, "You can't LIVE like that"! My son relpied, "I'm in the navy, you call that living"?
    They conceded the point but still wouldn't let him go.

    In the US I think the problem isn't so much being against being overweight as what it represents to us culturally.

    If a person is overweight this is construed to be a sign of "self indulgence", "weakness", and must be met with scorn and censure. No matter what the cause. In one of the most self indulgent countries in the world, it is improper to APPEAR to be "self indulgent".
    If you can indulge yourself without getting a DUI, showing needle tracks, getting caught doing the nasty, more power to you, but one too many twinkes, and you are a hopeless, gutless loser. Or so seems to go the public opinion.

    Also, being America, where the cash register chimes where most people have a heart, we also hear: "(that person) is costing 'me' money by not eating properly, and is behaving irresponsibly".

    That's Americas weight philosophy, as I hear it articulated.

    I weighed 125 when I went in the army, and when I came back from Viet Nam in 1968 I weighed 97 pounds. When I got marrried two weeks later I weighed 103. Stayed around 125-135 until I did the other healthy thing, I quit smoking. Then came the weight.

    Mw jaws were wired shut until just before christmas, close to three months. I didn't lose more than 20 pounds.

    During the course of Interferon treatment (melanoma) I only took off about the same. I was told I "wasn't trying".

    Personally, I think it's mostly a crock of crap.

  12. Thanks for the interesting discussion. It's illuminating to read these comments.

  13. There's SO MUCH underlying psychology with anti-fat bigots. I once saw a couple on a daytime talk show -- she was pathetically thin, and yet, she was constantly subjected to his verbal and psychological abuse, mostly on the subject of how "fat" she was. The Guest Therapist ventured that something about a woman who looked like anything but an elementary-school age girl threatened this guy, probably because they reminded him of a mother, a grandmother, a teacher, or some other female authority figure. He couldn't cope with that. He only felt safe with someone who clearly appeared younger than he. I think some of the sexist anti-fat mentality out there stems from something along these lines.

    My mom was anorexic and bulimic, as well as having an addictive (alcohol, tobacco, meds) type of personality. HER mother was quite the stereotype of the rural, turn-of-the-century mother of six. In other words, "matronly." My mom had SERIOUS mother issues, so poor Grandma's very configurations were an offense to my mother. There was an expression within the family: "Little" So-and-so. If you liked someone, you slapped that label on them. If you didn't like them, they were referred to as "a big hulk."

    So much unconscious crap in there. What amazes me, with the world the way it is, the economy, etc., people can't find more pressing issues to bandy about than how much somebody weighs.

  14. Look what happened at that college where those kids were informed that unless they took some kind of "life style" class they would not be permitted to graduate due to their weight.

    I heard a spokesman for the school on NPR defending it, because it was their job to weed out the undesireables...and besides, they were doing them a favor and offering them this course! Lose weight, take the course (not free, I'd guess) and we let you actually be an adult with a future. It's our JOB!

    A power trip coupled with extortion, seemed to me.

  15. Joé [hey, look - it worked!]

    sorry that i gave a monologue, there - most of that wasn't even directed at you, but rather at *me*. going crazy, that's what i'm doing.

    my ex-husband was... frankly, he was fat-phobic. i hit 135 and he was DEMANDING i hit the gym, and wouldn't have sex with me unless i weighed less than 130. there are so many reasons we are divorced, that seems like the smallest one. sigh.

    i find most "modern" beautiful MEN artificial, myself, so i know how you feel.

    sorry, i'm all scattered today. i didn't even realize that my email-notifications were going to my *school* email until ten minutes ago!

  16. @denelian:
    Ah, okay, I get why he’s “ex”, now. -_-

    And, one should only use one eMail, lest you wanna lose all kinds of info. =P Don’t apologize, it made for an interesting read and discussion.

  17. Joé;

    true that. it's really damned funny, actually, how fat-phobic he is. and he still is, over a decade AFTER we got divorced. i think it's turned into a control thing; he was used to want me to be happy, but since his second marriage fell apart... he'll call and say things like "if you would just work at it, and get down to where you were when we got married, we could give it another go" to which i *invariably reply* "Pete, bring me some more chocolate please!" Pete being the boyfriend that i have had for the past 5-almost-6-years who loves ME, not my clothing size. a much better arrangement, i think.

    people judge; i'd rather be around people who judge my character than my BMI. ya know?

    i try to use only one email. but i am *required* to have these other ones [one for school, one for my pain management doc, etc] and i have them set up to forward everything, and then they stop forwarding and i don't hear about it for a week or more... le sigh. i should just make it part of my maitenence, log on, check email, check that forwards are working, then read the RSS feed... meh.

    i was mostly appologizing for babbling on and on. i do that. not sure WHY i do that, but i do :)


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