Saturday, October 30, 2010

A More Intelligent Response

Yikes! After rereading my last post, I can see how ANGRY I was about the Marie Claire debacle. That's me -- I generally don't blow up at things, but when I do, I get really, really pissed and let it all out. That's the great thing about having this blog; I can let it out here and not take it out on some poor, unsuspecting person.

Anyway, before I attempt to craft a more intelligent response about that article, let me give a brief update on myself. Things are going pretty well here. I'm finding it easier to walk and have been working on my eating. My big thing this past week has been to eat more vegetables, so I've been maing a point to have veggies and fruits each day. For lunch, I've been ordering in salads with spinach, carrots, eggs, onions, olives and cheese --and then having low-fat dressing on the side. Last night, I went to Jackson Hole in the city with Karen and ordered the veggie burrito, which was filled with broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, black beans, avocado and potatoes. It was seriously one of the best burritos I've ever had -- I was ready to marry this thing! But I figured that if I can stick with this one goal -- to eat more veggies -- than I can get back into doing other things I'm supposed to be doing: more exercise, drinking more water, doing a better job counting Points; losing more weight. Yes, there have been a lot of stops and starts on this journey, and I imagine that for my 10 or so followers of this blog that this is frustrating to read about, but I am trying and I'd rather keep TRYING than just giving up. I've been making an honest effort of losing serious weight for the past 10 years -- with some successes and A LOT of setbacks -- but that's better than doing nothing. I really do want to lose the weight. It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to do, so far.

Which brings me back to Maura Kelly's article and why it upset me so much. While I don't disagree with her about obesity being unhealthy, I feel like when people comment about the state of overweight people that many -- Kelly for certain -- consider fat people to be "less than." That our obesity isn't just a health issue for us, that the very idea of us being fat means that we're lazy, undisciplined, slovenly, undeserving of love, gross ... fill in the blank. That she's so disgusted by the idea of fat people being intimate -- or by them merely WALKING ACROSS A ROOM -- is hurtful and humiliating. I mean, was everyone disgusted when I, who was a fat bride, kissed my husband at our wedding? Should I not kiss my husband in a public place because it's too yucky for the skinny folks out there? Should I just hide until I become thin enough for her because the mere act of me walking, EXISTING, grosses her out? THIS is why what she wrote about angered me so much.

There's also the idea that she and many others have, that fat people aren't allowed to be happy. Because we have this health condition, our happiness means that we're PROMOTING obesity -- and if, God forbid, a smiling "fatty" is shown on TV in some kind of venue other than a weight-loss program, it's "bad" because people will think that being overweight is a pleasurable state of mind and follow suit. That's ridiculous. Yes, I am overweight, but I am not defined by it. And, in a well-written show, neither are the characters. One of my favorite sitcoms ever, ROSEANNE, involved two overweight characters, Roseanne and Dan, but the show wasn't about their size (though it did come up from time to time). It was about a typical blue-collar couple raising their kids. MIKE & MOLLY isn't as good a show, but it's about a couple embarking in a new relationship. And fat people do have relationships. We kiss. We have sex. We walk. We LIVE. Some overweight people are content with being large, which is fine; it's their prerogative. I'm not thrilled with being fat, but in the meantime, I don't want to hide -- and I don't want to have to explain away my happiness by adding the addendum each time, "But don't be happy like me because being fat is bad, folks!"

What also angered me about her article were the simplistic diet tips that she added in the middle of it (to eat less and exercise more; no SHIT, Sherlock) with the patronizing all-caps, YOU CAN DO IT! Uh, that's nice ... er, I guess ... but let me debunk a myth about most fat people. We've tried. Most of us have tried losing weight over and over and over again. Most of us can probably write books on the subject. We KNOW the basics and have sometimes even done extreme things to lose weight, but because obesity is such a pyschological thing in addition to being physiological, it sometimes doesn't work out.

Many, unfortunately, still equate obesity with laziness, and have this idea that we sit around eating all day. For me, that's definitely not true. In the past few years, I've completed several long-distance walks, included that 20 miler, I recorded an album, I've done a lot of traveling and am now making jewelry. I always like to have some kind of project going on and am rarely just sitting around. And guess what? Even when I did the 20-miler, I was obese. But I trained for it and did it. Kelly may be disgusted with the idea of me, a fat person, walking, but I managed to drag my jiggly ass 20 miles around the city!

Which brings me to my final point in this very long post. You never know WHAT an obese person is going through at any particular moment. To a person who saw me sweating and limping on the day I did my long walk, they may have just thought that I was some "fatty" struggling to make my way around Manhattan. The overweight woman on the corner could be recovering from an injury or a thyroid problem, or some kind of personal trauma that led her to eat her emotions away. The fat guy in the store perhaps has already lost 100 pounds, but still has 150 to go -- but is still obese as he continues his journey. Again, YOU JUST NEVER KNOW.

That said, what the heck is wrong with celebrating the accomplishments of obese people? Showing fat people who are successful at finding good jobs or love? People of all shapes and sizes deserve to be happy and we deserve to be represented.

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