Monday, January 11, 2010

Second Class Citizens

First, the good news: I lost 5 lbs. this week! Woo hoo, go me! I realize that it's water weight and I won't keep seeing losses like this, but if I lose two per week from now on, I'll have more than met my first little goal of a 12-pound loss in time for the cruise. I've been feeling rather depressed in general, lately, so this was just what I needed to lift my spirits a bit. Once I'm done blogging, I am off to do my workout!

Unfortunately, my day got off to a not-so-great start when my boss and her second-in-command started making jokes about fat people right in front of me. We were at what was supposed to be a professional meeting, only the conversation turned to them gossiping about a freakin' kid whom they called a "fatty." I hate that word. It's bad enough that overweight people get made fun of in the first place, but that word just smacks of negativity. Calling someone "fatty" is like taking a shortcut to calling them ugly and disgusting.

I was also annoyed about the making a joke right in front of me. I mean, I know that people make fat jokes. I know that people make racist jokes and jokes about people's religion, upbringing, etc. I don't like it so much, but I'd be naive to think that it never happens and will ever stop happening. And while I try to be accepting of everyone, I'd be lying if I said I never made any such jokes -- including jokes about fat people. Yes, it was when I was thin, and yes, I am a guilty hypocrite. Go ahead, say it. But I was a teen and I like to think that I've grown up since then (more or less).

However, this wasn't a social situation. This was at work in a meeting that was supposed to be professional. That said, I hold everyone's behavior to a higher standard in such a setting; I expect to be treated as such in that environment and not made to feel uncomfortable. I can guarantee that my bosses would NEVER make racial jokes in the office at all. Nor would they make a Jewish joke, especially in front of me. Meanwhile, they make everyone take seminars on sensitivity in the workplace and how to avoid sexual harassment. These people purport to like and respect me (which is highly debatable, anyway), but making fat jokes isn't the way to make me feel this. What do they expect me to do, laugh along with them?

This is an attitude that many people seem to have about the obese -- that because it's "our fault" that we're the way we are, we're fair game. I'm fortunate in that I haven't experienced too many mean comments about being fat, but I know some other overweight people -- who are really good, kind beings -- who have.

The thing is, you never know why a person is overweight or what he or she has been through. Perhaps someone is dealing with a death and gained a lot while battling depression. Or perhaps someone was 500 lbs. and is now down to 250 and can finally walk. Or perhaps someone was sexually assaulted and has gained weight while dealing with that. Or perhaps someone's tried to lose weight millions of time and just hasn't yet succeeded. Or perhaps someone has a lifelong eating disorder like me. Or hell, perhaps someone just likes eating and is fine with being overweight -- which some people are and hey, good for them! The point is, whether it's "our fault" or not shouldn't matter. We're still people and deserve to be able to walk down the street (or go to work) without cracks being made about how the obese are less worthy.

By the way, I know the teen in question and she is NOT FAT.

Of course, I didn't say anything. I'm kind of a wimp in these situations, especially when it comes to confronting people at work. I'm hoping that as my weight goes down and I feel better physically, my confidence will go up. I know that some people in my life think I need to work on this now, sooner than later, but I'm proud of myself for simply writing in this blog and making my thoughts public.

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