The Weighted Issue of Weight

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, after a long pause I write again about a subject I try very hard to ignore but occasionally I just can’t run from. I went on a much needed shopping spree this weekend with my father and step mom and I got a lot of great clothes. It was definitely not the worst shopping experience I’ve ever had but as usual, I was faced with some cruel facts of reality. I am fat. I knew this was coming for me as I try very hard to not get lost in daydreams of skinny jeans and tank tops but nothing can prepare me for the tri-mirror horror of seeing every inch of me – front, back and side under harsh lights and surrounded by jeans that don’t button and shirts that I can’t put my arms through. I will repeat – nothing can prepare me for that. And what really irks me is the size discrepancy between brands. In the same store a large would fit perfectly and an extra-large would be two-sizes too small. I felt like the Grinch who shopped at Target rather than stole Christmas. So, this brought to the forefront of my mind several issues of the dreaded weight topic. I’ve been musing about this for some time and while this isn’t necessarily the cohesive, completed concept of this issue, it is something I want to put out there to think about and hopefully someday refer back to.

First of all (and this has no connection with the shopping trip, just thoughts that came afterwards), I’m noticing the trend in the initial reaction to me claiming I’m fat is a retaliation with “Noooo, you’re not fat.” But, what if I want to be fat? What if fat isn’t such a bad thing? Could it be that I’m proud to be fat, and owning the term “I am fat” is a step to accepting my body? The person trying to console a person by claiming, “Noooo, you’re not fat” is in many ways taking the power of the individual to claim ones body and saying instead “Even if you are, you shouldn’t admit that to yourself… That’s bad!” But instead, imagine a scenario where I claim “I am fat” and the response is “Good for you!” Not to say we should welcome obesity with open arms, but I think that a general change in conversation from ignoring the elephant in the room to wrapping our arms around it and understanding that this is part of someone’s identity is necessary. I know that I will not wear a single-digit size of jeans any time soon. If I do, I’ve done something drastic and unhealthy. And given that being in the single-digit size is an ideal size, I know that I am fatter than the ideal image portrayed to Americans. Therefore, I feel that I can claim the idea that “I am fat” or at least fatter than the American ideal.

I do need to put a disclaimer here in that I do not condone the American ideal as being realistic for many Americans. While I do agree it is probably a healthier body size and leads to less health risks (assuming it is naturally maintained through eating healthy, exercise and a genetic predisposition for that size), I have to say that we have not set up our society to support that image. The American ideal gives us thin, fit bodies to look at yet it yells at us to eat fattening foods, watch TV and shun most physical activity. I strongly believe the American idea of bodies and leisurely activities is horrifically misrepresented. How often does a sitcom, TV show or movie featuring skinny, fit people also represent them eating healthy meals, exercising daily and turning down sweet, lovely foods? Occasionally it’s implied, but rarely do they show the characters literally doing these things. It’s a shame because I would sure like to see how it’s done. Meanwhile, in between looking at these skinny bodies and perky personalities, we are fed commercials featuring fast food, chain restaurants and savory morsels. So let me get this straight, you want me to look like THAT while eating THAT…?

Another thing is the inability to properly understand how my body works. I’ve never been taught how fat is stored (except by an ex-boyfriend who was into fitness, but who knows how accurate he was) or what foods do what. I know that vegetables are good and sugar is bad. I know protein is good and carbohydrates will go straight to my hips. Great… So the logical conclusion is that I eat meat and veggies, which is probably a great plan. But I would also like to know how to properly do that for each meal and how to plan accordingly for times when I don’t have easy access to a kitchen. Most of my bad eating decisions happen when I’m not at home. I need a quick bite or something to eat after my 4th drink at a bar. So next comes the microwavable, drive-thruable, carb-loadable choices that I was brainwashed with on TV last night. Next thing I know, I can’t remember the last time I ate a piece of lean meat or beneficial vegetables. It would be nice to know how to avoid these situations without risking a blood sugar crisis. I also might have a better chance at being the skinny girl on TV.

This is all excuses of course because if I had paid attention I probably would know the answers to all of my concerns and questions. Plenty of people seem to know the answers so maybe fat people just weren’t paying attention during those life lessons. I’ve most definitely said, “Fuck it… This won’t hurt me” and eaten two helpings of ice cream instead of avoiding it all together. I can’t deny I am the one to blame for my current predicament. Part of me thinks it’s not that big of a deal. I’m happy with my body and I know that this is who I am, as I am. I look in the mirror and say “I am fat. That’s just who I am.” The other part of me looks in the mirror and says “I’m fat!” and follows up with “Nooo… I’m not fat… I just need to lose a few pounds here, here… and here. And suck it in here. If I wear an oversized, dark shirt and some baggy jeans until I lose these curves here, here… and here then I won’t be seen as fat. If I don’t move this way or let people touch me here, here… or here, then at least I can just pass for a while.” I also think by saying “I’m not fat,” I’m lying to myself. I am denying that who I see in the mirror is who I am. The person I see in the mirror is fat, but I am not fat. What’s that putting in my mind? Do I want to be skinny? Is my mind trying to disassociate from my body?

I can’t help being reminded of all the people who try to, want to or succeed in passing as white, heterosexual, able bodied/minded, of a particular religion, faith or class all because their natural self isn’t socially acceptable. The thing is that I’m not as fat as a lot of people and I sit right on the line between thick and thin. I can pass if I try hard enough but will that be suppressing part of who I am? I am fat. That’s just who I am… But on the other hand, I’m not fat. I just need to lose a few pounds…

I highly suggest checking out the blog of Corpulent, a fascinating blogger that has created a lot of second-guessing in my mind (in a good way) of the idea of weight, body image and the idea of skinny is healthy. The link takes you to the health posts Corpulent has written but she has many fascinating topics and thoughts on all sorts of topics, so I encourage you to browse further.


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