Fat Friday

No fiction today, sorry.  Going through a mini bout of insomnia so my sleep is poor and my undiagnosed energy/brain fog problem (getting the first of diagnosis-finding tests done the 21st) just gets worse during this time.  My creativity ends up sacrificed to the gods of sleep deprivation.

Instead, I want to talk about something weighing heavily on my mind ever since I entered the fatty culture.  Thankfully, I avoided many of the pitfalls the fit and skinny make regarding the overweight (and some who are overweight often buy into these so much that they pass the attitude on to themselves and others).

For the purposes of this post, you is in general form and not specifically to whomever may read this.  The intended audience “you” speaks to are health nuts who think it’s helpful to weight-bash and avoid showing fatties in a good light, or god forbid, a physically attractive one.  This post is also intended for fatties everywhere.  We shouldn’t take this lying down even if we are the ones that got here through bad habits and poor choices.  If your mind just went for the obvious fatty joke reservoir on lying down (connected to lazy and fat), please read on and think hard about how susceptible you’ve been to the cumulative effect of fatty-hate from our culture and how much you might be spreading it.

1.  Why, nearly every time I see the rare overweight person on tv, are they eating all the time sometimes with HUGE pieces of food?

Common sense answer, well, they’re overweight because they eat a lot and apparently we all know the type in the McDonald’s line that orders and eats enough meals to feed an entire family (or an army).  Do we really?  We talk like we do.  Thinking about it now, I don’t recall ever being in a real fast-food line or a real restaurant to witness this in person.  I frequently hear “super-size” me or some equivalent, but I hear it from skinny and overweight alike.

For the record, by frequently I mean when I actually go to such places.  It’s been over a year since I last visited a McDonald’s for anything other than the occasional iced-tea from the drive thru window.  And no, by occasional I don’t mean every other day, or even every week, or even every month.  I think maybe I consumed 3 iced teas from McDonald’s last year and even then I ended up throwing some of it out or letting Michael finish it up.  We eat out otherwise maybe once a month.

A lot of keeping weight down is learning to portion control, but many times the food normal, healthy people eat on tv come in too-huge portions, portions that, if they actually ate that way all the time, would make them fat too.  We often end up thinking these portion sizes are normal, as a result.  Real portion sizes are much smaller than the “healthy-sized,” everyday meals from television and ads.  Plus, this doesn’t at all cover the millions of overweight people who are not overweight by choice.  The next issue that bothers me.

2.  Apparently insensitivity to overweight people and making them the fat ass of everyone’s jokes and socially acceptable prejudices and discrimination is perfectly okay, even “comedy gold.”  All those minority groups it’s no longer “funny” to make fun of and publicly mock?  Yeah, it’s all on fat people now.  And that’s okay, ’cause it’s their own fault, it was their own choices that led them there.

My answer?  You’re full of bullshit in your attempt to justify being a mean person.  So you can’t be openly mean to homosexuals, minorities, women, whatever, probably you don’t even want to be mean to them.  But these same people don’t bat an eyelash when we’re mean to fat people.  They think it’s right and just to avoid showing an overweight person as beautiful or admirable.  They objected to the overweight model airbrushed like the rest  until she looked like some divine fertility/harvest goddess in the finished product.

“We have an obesity epidemic!”  They protest, if we show fat as beautiful we’ll teach children that it’s okay to be fat and that unhealthy is beautiful.  They’ll proclaim that, if fat people come to see themselves as beautiful anyway they’ll stop trying to live healthier and revel in their Hollywood Flintstone portions or never-ending flow of food to mouth.

I suppose if you don’t look too hard it makes sense.  Look hard enough and it’s utter nonsense.  When you actually are fat by bad habits and choices (millions of overweight people have no more choice or control than anyone else has about gender) it is HARD work VERY hard work to keep motivated and exercising your willpower over your weaknesses.  Even then it doesn’t mean you are a lazier person.

Regardless, visualizing yourself skinny rarely works.  Tying your self-worth into your weight and size is the biggest mistake you can make when trying to lose weight and keep it off.  Mostly because criticizing, “well-meaning” jerks will sap your motivation on days you’re already feeling down.

The truth is incredibly simple.  When we feel beautiful, when we feel valued by others, we tend to engage in healthier behaviors.  At the very least, those healthier behaviors come more easily and with less “why do I bother I still look gross and will look gross for several years” mentality others push on us.  When we feel beautiful and worthwhile, we take care of ourselves more easily.  We are predisposed to take better care of things we value.  We are also predisposed to place value on and devalue things the rest of the herd values and devalues, whether we want to or not.  Call it the price of our existence as social animals.

Counter-intuitive though it may be, losing weight is so much easier, because sticking with it despite the constant  hard work is so much easier, when people acknowledge that beauty.  The most important person to acknowledge that beauty lies in the person who needs to lose weight.  When you are beautiful anyway it switches the focus of diet and exercise more successfully to health.  That switch is difficult to make when the entire world treats you like gross trash, reviles you, makes it clear they think your fat self is horribly ugly and worse than genetic ugly because you CHOSE it.

Simple:  If you believe this and pass it on and approve it, you are insuring that these unhealthy people are more likely to fail.  You are helping them put their value and self-worth, their reason to live healthier, entirely in something fleeting.  You are also supporting one of the last ugly and completely socially acceptable stereotypes, prejudices, and discriminations in the entertainment and marketing industries.  Please recognize the carefully chosen words here.  Other negative prejudices and discriminations are still alive, but they are not socially acceptable any more.  I also admit that, when discrimination, prejudice, etc happen to minorities, gltb individuals, women, and others the result is usually far more violent.  The idea that a point is moot because something similar is worse is a logical fallacy.

However, my main point is that we should find it no more socially acceptable to forward mean stereotypes and fun at the expense of fatties than we do for any other group we used for comedy in the past (minorities, women, handicapped).  Many of us have no choice in our weight. I am also aware that entertainment and marketing still find it perfectly acceptable to rely on and forward stereotypes about more than fatties, that drives me nuts too, but I find it far more merciless and cutting toward fat people with far more people accepting and even laughing at it.

For every fat person you see in an ad or on tv that’s constantly eating or eats giant pieces of food like a neanderthal there is at least one real overweight person in the world who starves daily, eating like an anorexic, or exercises more than is healthy, but still not able to lose the weight.  For every one that built unhealthy habits and made poor choices that made them overweight, there is an overweight person that had no more choice over their weight and lack of energy than you did over your gender.

When you help make fun of the poor-choice crowd you also help make fun of the rest of us.  I just don’t get why it is acceptable to stereotype and make fun of any one group.  I really don’t get why we’re so blatant with it in entertainment when it comes to the overweight.

If you really want those of us who can lose weight to lose it, let us be the beautiful people we are in the public eye, don’t just give us the gross friend/acquaintance roles, or the sobbing and unhappy/imbalanced friend of the pretty girl roles.  Don’t even give us a pretty Gweneth Paltrow to display our inner beauty.  Let us be beautiful.  I know for some it’s hard to imagine, but there are overweight people out there that are still beautiful inside and out.

I know from personal experience, I take better care of myself and am more happily mindful of what I put into my body and what I do with my time here on earth when someone makes me feel beautiful.  Every time someone points at my weight in the negative or infers that I’m a lazy housewife who just sits at the computer all day…they don’t make me want to get up and do anything.  They make me angry and can even be the death knell to my motivation to work out that day.  On an otherwise bad day they may make me want to have a good cry and quit trying.

I know using revenge and hate as fuel to “show them” is a working strategy for many.  I find it a sad strategy.  For one thing it only “shows them” that they were right to give you the “tough love” you “needed” to make the necessary changes.  Yes, they often take credit for being one of the heartless bastards to motivate you into being a better person.  More importantly, I don’t want jerks like that to be fuel for the things I want in life.

I like to build my successes on more positive, solid things.  When I am successful that way it just feels far better than a feeling that I sure showed them.  Immediate example, if I am successfully diagnosed and get the medicine I need to fix it and begin losing weight, I find far more happiness in finally feeling great after so long in this brain-fogged energy-sapped suit (which I got before I started gaining weight, and keep even when I’m eating/drinking healthier and exercising daily; so don’t tell me losing weight will fix it, correlation does not equal causation and all that).  If I used “showing them” as my motivation (and I have before) the result is far less satisfying.

To recap:  When you put the focus back on physical appearance and value as a person you are helping to take the focus back off healthier living in the most discouraging way possible.  Stop it.  Really, just stop it.  Cut it out.  Find the beauty in your overweight friends and loved ones, let yourself see it, for some of us lucky ones it isn’t difficult to find.

If you have a hand in creating entertainment or appearance products, make us look nice just as often as skinny people.  You do not empower people to improve or live healthy by sapping them of all their good qualities.  You do not encourage those of us that struggle with weight by making Santa Claus skinny or Cookie Monster accept cookies as only a sometimes food (and you’re fooling yourself if you think it fights childhood obesity).  You just tie the effort of healthier living back into our appearance and kick us for it while we’re already down.

Make Santa Claus skinny and you’re not sending the message that kids should live healthy lifestyles and be “good” like Santa, you will forever in that change send the message that fat people cannot be good, admirable people, nor good role models, nor anything at all positive that might empower them to actually stick with a healthier lifestyle.

You are also helping to kick the millions of people who have no choice in their weight gain while they are already down.  Essentially, in this case, yes, you are participating in kicking the crutch out from under a one-legged man and then laughing when he falls over, because we all know it’s just so hilarious when handicapped people fall after we’re mean to them.

Also, loving or not, please stop telling us we need to watch our weight, exercise more, eat less, or presume to know in any other way why we are fat.  We are not stupid.  I know my weight is unhealthy, I also know something bigger is going on that my weight is a symptom of.  You say it to me and you just might get a sarcastic and biting response.

“Oh, am I?”  Saronai looks down at herself in surprise.  “Look at that, I guess I am a fat disgusting slob, thanks for noticing!”  The expression on her face clearly shows that you’re being insensitive rather than “caring” by pointing out an obvious “flaw” and assuming she doesn’t know it and isn’t trying to do something about it.

In fact, looking at her, you get the feeling her usually friendly disposition poofed out of existence, replaced by a distant and calculating woman.  A woman analyzing, for the first time, nearly everything about you.  Your ego better hope she decides not to stoop to your level by pointing out faults you need to work on too (or cannot help).  After all, visible or not, we all have faults.  Let he who has no faults throw the first stone.  And for the record, he who decides to throw the stone anyway probably has the biggest, most entrenched faults to work on.

At the end of the day, overweight may be unhealthy (evidence continues to grow that you can be overweight and still healthy), but it can still be beautiful.  You hear that, my fellow fatties?  YOU are beautiful.  I say so.  I can think of several overweight people I find beautiful, strangers or otherwise.  Many times they put a little effort into their appearance too and possess a personality that makes them shine, just like skinny people.  The fat doesn’t make you ugly, being ugly makes people ugly.

I value myself and I value you.  Whether or not we can help it, let’s try to take care of ourselves the best we can, believe you’re worth it.  I do.

I leave with this bit of information:  Studies are finding that the healthiest state is actually on the cusp of overweight.  It makes little sense since we call the other side of that cusp “medically ideal” but that’s not based on individuals; something that can vary widely.  They are finding, despite the “medically ideal” title, many people who are comfortably on the light end of overweight live longer lives than the rest of their peers, from the fit and skinny gym bunnies to the morbidly obese (anorexics were not included in these studies).  They also reported happier, more fulfilling lives.

They controlled for extraneous variables that might skew the results (such as income level at various points in their lives, gender, traumas, etc).  In our rush to demonize a full figure or larger, even doctors sometimes forget that certain people are born with the genetic make-up that makes their medical ideal look overweight to the medical ideal of the person next to them.  You CAN actually be healthy, eat healthy, live healthy, and exercise healthy amounts and still look overweight compared to the medical ideal and Hollywood.

Queen Latifah: Proof that “overweight” can be simply gorgeous.  Image thanks to http://www.wireimage.com

I don’t know about you, but Queen Latifah looks extra sweet, sassy, smart, and sexy in the above photograph.  Hollywood can do for us what they do for skinny and fit, we can look and be gorgeous, with or without make up, just like the fit and skinny.  It’s the misguided need to demonize obesity in attempting to discourage poor lifestyle choices (and only discourage the attempt to change them instead) that keeps us from seeing the overweight in casual roles that don’t call for them to be a stereotyped butt of jokes and clichés.

For those that need not worry about weight, I say to you, if you would hesitate to mock a bald little girl in a wheel chair and tell her radiation therapy makes her unhealthy or she shoulda stayed out of the sun, really ask yourself why it’s okay for us to do something similar to people we (or Hollywood) consider over weight?  Why is it okay for you to assume they’re overweight because they live unhealthy lifestyles?  Why is it okay for you to mock them for it?  Again, I’m not saying fat people have it as bad as cancer patients.  Just because there are worse things does not make the not-so-worse thing a good one.

If you’re the type of person that doesn’t even question your right and awesome sense of humor when it decides to mock the bald little girl in the wheelchair because she got what she deserved staying out in the sun too long (as ill-informed on her specific cancer as most people are about the causes of extra weight)…I find I don’t care to know you.  Please leave my site.

Empower your overweight loved ones; your needles, however well-meaning, at our “problem” are the opposite of helpful, no matter how much you worry, nor how good your intentions are.  If you cannot find ways to empower them and make them feel valued and ignore what I’m sure they don’t need you to point out, then you are most likely one of the motivational sinks in their lives that keep them down.

Also, don’t assume your overweight friends don’t want to go be active with you.  Ask, please ask.  Specifically, if you live nearby me and find yourself wishing for an occasional tennis, badminton, pickle ball, or other pair-related type of exercise partner, even just some silly yoga or wii dancing games together…I am totally willing even if you might need to be the one driving when we get together (as my husband might have the car at work).  I absolutely love stuff like that and am definitely willing to expend several spoons for a day of it.

So how about you?  Tell me about someone overweight that you find beautiful, inside and out in the comments.

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About Saronai

I'm an eclectic amalgam of confusingly combined oddities. PS If I liked your post it means I really liked your post. You don't have to visit back, but it would be nice. Either way, I read it because I wanted to and liked it because I did. I don't do the fake like for returns thing :)
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13 Responses to Fat Friday

  1. Skin Care TipsX says:

    I spent a good majority of my professional life managing all varieties of people. I will tell you that anyone who belittles someone for their looks or handicaps is only compensating for their own lack of inner strength and substance. These insulters may seem like cruel elitests, but the truth is that they pay for their transgressions by the lives they lead–which are empty, dull, and without purpose. you might think they never “get theirs”, but they already have.

    Good post. We all need to vent sometimes.

    http://www.skincaretipsx.com

    • Saronai says:

      I agree, though I’d note that I find I never really want someone to “get theirs” for being jerks of this caliber. I’d rather they learn better and improve themselves. Truthfully, I don’t want them to lead miserable lives, I want them to recognize they’re doing something miserable and fix it, even if they must learn it through the school of hard knox. I feel badly for the ones that likely only make fun because they’re a bit hollow inside. I enjoy seeing the best of people first rather than being picky over the smallest appearance details. I know from experience though, when someone goes around pointing out my flaws, or the flaws of others it immediately redirects my normally kind focus to question just why they have the high ground to get away with it.

      The example I used about a critical look to someone commenting on my weight “as a friend” or “because I love you and care” is actually directed at someone specific in my life that won’t lay off and thinks he has the right (not my husband or son) because people die and he cares and for some reason he thinks telling me something obvious is going to encourage me to get it done, as though I was just waiting for his captain obvious on the matter and that’s all I needed to be healthier. He reasons that he’s doing it because he cares and watched his overweight mother and grandmother die of heart problems, so I should have warm fuzzies or something that he cares enough to say it outright, first and foremost. Garbage, in my opinion. I’m not an idiot, I know I’m fat, I AM working on it, reminding me is not helpful and is no more a show of kindness and consideration than me finding some of your obvious faults and spotlighting them. I know too many overweight people with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc that adopt the same strategy for the same reasons. Not a single one is encouraged by this, it’s nearly always a blow to the motivation to keep trying, or at least an irritating peck at it.

      To make it worse, that my brain-fog, sapped energy, and weight gain are likely symptoms of thyroid problems, his doing this is akin to me seeing him again after several years and going, “Wow, you’re so old now, you’re going to die soon if you keep it up. I know, I’ve seen it happen before to my great-grandmother! I only say ’cause I care.”

      Anywho, thanks for the comment, and again, I agree. I figure you weren’t just responding to me specific but the same general you of my post 🙂

  2. “So how about you? Tell me about someone overweight that you find beautiful, inside and out in the comments.”

    You and me, baby!

    • Saronai says:

      *dipkiss* Don’t we know it!

      Though, for the record…I don’t consider you overweight >.> Gorgeous, yes, overweight, I would summarily dismiss anyone who looked at you and lodged that complaint.

  3. Eir says:

    I can understand the feeling with the thyroid issue. I’ve been there, done that. I hope you get your bloodwork checked-in soon.

    We (general ‘we’) should be focused less on hateful ads or trolls and more on promoting/teaching tolerance and appreciation for all body types. I would say the same for your post, perhaps add links to sites that promote the acceptance you want to see in this world.

    As a personal note, I LOVE the look of curvy people – I really wish I was above my average weight again. Sucks feeling like a twig all the time. Wind gusts can knock me over. I’m no good for cuddles either, and when I tickle others my tiny bony fingers are apparently like little daggers. 😦

    • Eir says:

      “Yes, they often take credit for being one of the heartless bastards to motivate you into being a better person.”

      I wanted to comment on this. People take credit all the time even when they do squat. (We see this everywhere, from copyright infringements to workplace slackers)

      If you encounter people like in the above quote, be motivated to IGNORE THEM. They’re pointing themselves out to you – you can let them have due credit for being a jerk. 🙂

      Trolls will be trolls. Some live on the Internet. Some at the workplace, and elsewhere. Keep on ignoring them as they sit under their mental bridge, hiding from their own problems.

      • Saronai says:

        Hah, ain’t it the truth?

        Still, when it’s first said, particularly by someone you care for, however well-meaning they were about it, still hurts and is discouraging. My post wasn’t really directed at trolls so much as it was people I think are well-meaning but misguided.

        I carry no illusions about changing the minds of people like a facebook friend I removed several months ago because she status updated with “I really hate fat people. They’re so gross.”

        Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me is an outright lie. I tend to ignore them when they come after me personally, but I get riled up on the behalf of people I’ve seen them hurt in the past. Plus, I also believe that, while the best thing you can do is call attention to a positive substitute, staying quiet rather than trying to raise awareness about the effects this has on people is not a good idea either. This was basically me raising awareness. I only called it a rant because it’s such a long post and the thoughts on this have been building little brick by little brick over the last few years until I just felt the need to say everything that’s been on my mind about it, especially when the tv once again shows an overweight person stuffing their face, or a “funniest/stupidest/dumbest” video clip show has commenters that start laughing about how funny it is to watch fat people fall, always a classic. I don’t actually like watching anyone fall, even if they were being really dumb about it.

    • Saronai says:

      Aww, I’m sure you’re cute anyway <

      I know of several weight loss sites that try to promote healthier living and networking support for it, but not yet one that personally impresses me or goes out of its way to counter the ugliness we let popular entertainment and "jokes" get away with.

      For the record, it's stereotypes like this that are why I rarely watch tv, but my husband loves having the tv on. Sometimes I just get sick to death of the way the world is portrayed and stereotypes are forwarded to march on in the name of what makes a bigger buck and quicker point in ads and entertainment rather than what's more helpful to us in the long run.

      Anyway, do you have some sites of that description to share, sure would be a breath of fresh air, preferably something less focused on what we need to do to be healthier, lose weight and more about appreciating the beauty and value we already have.

      You do remind me though that there are several sites I've been meaning to add to the link list now. It's on my to-do list for the weekend 😛

      • Eir says:

        “…staying quiet rather than trying to raise awareness about the effects this has on people is not a good idea either.”

        Oh of course! To clarify my earlier thought: While it’s usually pointless to argue with a troll, there is a time and place for keeping our peace (infants and very elderly, perhaps) and other times where we should definitely speak up and say “Hey, what you said is not very nice!”

        I know what you mean about being hurt by loved ones. Sometimes people can’t understand our situation, other times they’re so lost in their own world that deliberately belittling others seems a great way to hide their hurts. Patience or distance, makes tolerating the latter easier most times.

        There is a T.V. in our house. It was a gift from my father-in-law. No cable. Just used for favorite DVDs maybe 5 times a year. We don’t even get ‘peasant vision’ as they call it, which is basically just 24/7 commercials anyways.

        I don’t have a site I could share. My thoughts however, drift to the ancient statues and paintings where there were a lot of very beautiful people in curvy shapes. Imagining a website that had such a vision, would be lovely to view!

  4. kasturika says:

    I am with you whole heartedly!! Every single word! I also am apparently suffering from this ‘disease’. Complete strangers just walk up to me giving me advice on how to lose weight… People just kind mind their business.
    And I know for a fact I am way healthier than the average skinny girl out there (I’ve noticed only girls aren’t allowed to be fat). Being skinny is NOT healthy, and quite frankly, I feel they’re ugly scarecrows. (I could go on about beauty creams too)

    • Saronai says:

      Yeah, that’s horrible.

      I find some skinny girls beautiful too though. Then again, I’ve found some people of any size to be completely ugly and usually it has to do with the way their personality strikes me.

      I tend to observe far before interacting with people, so by the time most people interact with me, I already know some things about their personality and how best to interact with them (or if I want to avoid it).

      Being too skinny is definitely not healthy at all, but I don’t make the same mistake with them that most make with us overweight people. For starters, just like being fat, the next person’s skinny may actually be healthy for the other. Likewise, health conditions can take it out of their control as well.

      I simply steer away from placing the beauty I see in people dependent on their size.

      As to guys, I feel the same way as I do about women, I talk about “beauty” and “gorgeous” fatties, but I can apply the same to guys. Whereas my eye-candy type tends toward men like Orlando Bloom and Adrian Paul, I’ve always been more attracted to what I call “teddy bear guys” for relationships.

      I’m hesitant to agree that only women can’t be fat though. I do think people presume to talk down to fat women more often though, possibly because in their stereotype-and-presume-superiority fest they find it less likely the fat woman will sock ’em in the eye for it. May be a little more likely though, offhand I can think of more overweight male actors in entertainment and ads, but they rarely get flattering roles either.

    • Eir says:

      “And I know for a fact I am way healthier than the average skinny girl out there ”

      I got to agree with this partially. I’m under the recommended ‘ideal’ weight. When I was younger I was probably 30lbs over the ‘ideal’ (which isn’t much, really) but at the time I was very in shape, had incredible stamina/strength, could leg press over 700lbs, etc. I was BUILT like an Olympic swimmer. No lie. Now I’m too weak to carry a backpack for long, worse if it’s actually filled with books…

      That said, I’m not bulimic or seeking to be anorexic for ‘beauty issues’. I’ve a health issue with my body that makes it very difficult to hold weight or even stay hungry. I can out-eat people 100lbs more than me and it just doesn’t stick, either. I wish it did though. 😦

      “I feel they’re ugly scarecrows.”

      While I agree having our bones show through our skin isn’t very attractive, I wouldn’t write-off a person’s overall worth by their body. After all, that’s what Saronai’s lovely rant is about; upset with people insulting others based off a little extra chub. The inside of the being is what counts, imo.

      The sooner we get off the sea-saw of insult-slinging, the faster we can get to sharing tolerance and appreciation for all body/people types.

      Cheers^^

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