Check out this fantastic article on Crystal Renn, a very successful “plus-size” model (I still find the term hilarious since it applies to a size 12). She once fought the starvation battle, but gave it up in favor of a healthy, rewarding life. Thanks to Alexandra for supplying the link!
For the past month, I had to take some time off from blogging to take care of something very important in my life. As I rearranged some priorities over the past month, I continued to be very cognizant of self-esteem-defeating magazines, body-obsessed blogs, and value-laden comments about food spoken by some supports very dear to me. (It was Christmas. Of course people would obsess about what they were putting in their mouths.)
During this period of quiet contemplation, one thing stood out above all the rest:
our society’s intense fear and hatred of fat.
Whitney Houston was once quoted as saying, “I’d rather be addicted to crack than be fat.”
Which supports my opinion that people are more terrified of being categorized as “fat” than a whole host of other afflictions.
Can I be completely honest here? I’ve never seen people more cruel than when they’re making fun of an obese person.
I’ve heard and seen countless things. I’ve heard people comment, “Jesus Christ, they need to get off the fucking sofa and stop eating cheetos.” I’ve seen peers call friends over to a window to guffaw at a fat person walking by. I’ve observed an individual chortle, “Don’t jump on the scale!” as their friends laughed at a kid on her way to get weighed in gym class.
I want to ask everyone, what the fuck is so scary about your relationship with fat that you feel the need to cover it up with an intense projection of hatred onto the person struggling with their weight?
Because when I see someone make fun of an overweight person, I don’t see someone who embodies health in all senses of the word. I see someone who is scared shitless. Scared of what fat means in their own life. So what does it mean in our present society? Let’s pick it apart.
Someone who lets themselves get fat represents sloth, someone who is disgusting and lazy and someone who doesn’t care about themselves. I liken people’s discomfort with obese people akin to burn victims; you don’t want to look but you’re just so amazed at how different they look than us. So why is it socially acceptable for individuals to label and hurt overweight people more than another stigmatized group of individuals? Why is OA scoffed at so much? Why are there no EDA programs as widely recognized as AA programs currently are? As Jenni Schaefer put it so eloquently when I met her last fall, she said, “I think there is still so much shame attached to food in general.” I agree.
Let’s look at dictionary.com’s definition of the word fat (as a noun). It reads:
“any of several white or yellowish greasy substances, forming the chief part of adipose tissue of animals and also occurring in plants, that when pure are colorless, odorless, and tasteless and are either solid or liquid esters of glycerol with fatty acids; fats are insoluble in water or cold alcohol but soluble in ether, chloroform, or benzene: used in the manufacture of soap, paints, and other protective coatings and in cooking”.
That’s all it goddamn is. Unused units of energy. And yet you attach moral value to it, make it into a reason to hate yourself when you look in the mirror. There is nothing inherently good, evil, lazy, jolly or bad about fat. It’s just goddamn fat.
I am willing to wager that the person who picks on fat people is someone who is terrified of their own propensity to fall through the cracks of their own self-care. So terrified, in fact, that they project it outward onto others in the form of cruelty.
Am I one of those pro-fat people? No. I am one of those pro-balance people. I am so grateful to have been overweight and to have had an eating disorder for this very reason: I now know there is no need to worry or obsess. We all have fat that sticks to us and no matter how much American society tells us to run away from it and numb out of our bodies, we don’t have to. We don’t have to live in this constant obsession of beating ourselves and each other up.
My therapist recently told me a story in which a client’s OA sponsor told her, “Your weight is not your business. Just do what your body tells you to.” In my eating disordered mind, this makes perfect sense. In my Amanda-willed-land-of-control, I would be 110 lbs if I could. But that’s not my business; when I am eating and exercising healthily, my body has an ideal body weight it resides at which is much higher than that. I can’t control that: it’s where my body wants to be, it’s what I was given, it’s what I was born with.
And that kid who was told not to jump on the scale? That was kid was me, circa 7th grade. I don’t say this as a means to hold a resentment against others; I use it to caution individuals in regards how they treat others. In the words of a very funny movie, “Be excellent to each other.”