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.
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.