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The Journey of a Fat Person.

Or, “If it’s emotional vomit, it doesn’t count as bulimia, now, does it?”

February, 2008


As I’ve mentioned before, there are some extremely personal subjects I’ve avoided Blathering about, or even mentioning much, for a myriad of reasons. The biggest, no pun intended, has been my struggle with weight loss.

One’s weight is a highly personal issue played out on the most visible of public stages. For better or worse, everyone – no matter how well-intentioned – will make SOME kind of judgment on another based on their weight and physical appearance. Your weight, in our culture, is a glaringly visible sign of your worth as a human being, more so than a scarlet letter or self-inflicted scarring or brand of handbag or wildest of hair colors. Expectations for you as a person are crystallized from the second people lay eyes on you. You can offend, sicken or anger people just by existing. Everything about you, from your achievements to your tastes to your personality, is defined, limited, exposed or delineated by the fact that you are fat. If you criticize anyone or anything, no matter what the reason, you are “just jealous” because you “are an ugly, fat pig!” Your physical being is a shameful example of wrongness, a punchline, a third-tier character existing solely for laughs on a bad sitcom. You have to work extra-hard to get some people to make an effort to get to know you, to earn a grudging “You know, s/he might be fat, but s/he [positive trait].” Some people think they have the right to cross boundaries and say or announce things that would seem inexplicably rude to anyone with an ounce of common sense, but because you are fat, it’s permissible, even preferable to be treated to certain gems: “How can you EAT that?” “There’s nothing wrong with being overweight, dear!” “You’d be so pretty if you just lost a little weight, you know” “That’s not very healthy” “I think big ladies are so sexy!” “You know, you’re fat because you eat too much.” “I didn’t mean anything BAD by saying that!” “Well if you’re unhappy, then CHANGE it!” “You really shouldn’t be having that!” “Oh, honey, cover that up!” “You’re only eating ___ for lunch; are you on a diet? Well, good for you! Everyone, s/he’s on a diet, so let’s be supportive!” “You know, my mother died of complications of diabetes because she was obese.” “Have you considered having your stomach stapled?” “I’m telling you this because I care about you!” I’ve had people grab my breasts, smack my ass, waggle my love handles, poke my belly, smirk while looking me up and down, and physically recoil from me. I could have a gorgeous haircut and blow-out, dress up in a $300 beautifully cut designer jacket, be freshly showered and meticulously groomed, and I was still a “fat slob.” No matter what my physical characteristics, I was not the “dark-haired woman” or “the girl in the green shirt” or “the woman with the brown eyes/long hair/holding the stack of books”; no, I was “that heavy-set lady over there.” “You know, the ... chubby one.”

Being fat means you are never good enough, no matter how hard you try. No matter what it is you’re trying.

Fat people usually have issues with food, addictions to food. If you are an alcoholic, part of your treatment is to avoid places with alcohol. If you are a drug addict, you are encouraged to stop hanging around people who provide you with drugs and enable your addiction. But you can’t avoid food. Food isn’t bad. Food is good, actually. You need food to live! So how do you live with food if you are addicted to food? How do you deal with food if you have issues with food?

No one who hasn’t had this struggle personally can even begin to understand. Who says to an alcoholic or drug addict, “Well just STOP!”? Don’t you think that if being overweight was just as simple as “just STOP!”ing something, there are hundreds of thousands of people in every county of every state of this nation that would “just stop”?!

It’s a helluva lot harder to “just stop” having issues with food.

But, on the other hand, in some strange ways, it can be just as easy as “just stop”ing as well.

It just takes a fuck of a long time to figure all that out. And to figure out the right way for you, personally, individually, to tackle it.

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