“Where the fat people clothes at?” I yelled one day to the utter horror of all of the other Wal-Mart shoppers. Especially those in the section I was looking for.
It’s true. And it’s a problem for some people.
Now I’m not as fat as some people. I’m not even as fat as some people think I am. But I am what they term overweight. Big. Chunky. Large. Actually 3X, if you wanna be specific about it. I’m a large mammal.
I wasn’t always this way. I used to be stick thin. A 90 pound weakling with over-sized glasses and a big mouth. A mouth with a deathwish. A mouth uninhibited by a direct connection with my brain. I stayed in shape back then because my mouth was always running. And because my mouth was always running, I was always running from the local schoolyard thugs. Bullies suck. They’re only interested in two things: using stick boys for punching bags and ruining people’s lunches. Even when I wasn’t running for my life [and burning off calories!], I was starving because the bullies stole my lunch money. Even after my family was deemed poor enough to qualify me for the school’s free lunch program, I found myself more likely to wear my lunch than to eat it. And if they weren’t dumping cafeteria glop over my head, they were stealing the more edible items off my tray.
Back then, my dream was to be big. At least, big enough to eat my lunch in peace.
Yet I remained painfully thin until the ripe old age of twenty-five. Several things conspired against me at this point. I got a car and stopped walking everywhere. I stopped smoking three packs a day. And I married someone who could cook really, really well! In other words, I stopped exercising and swapped my craving for cigarettes for a craving to stuff my face.
I like to say that I “blossomed.”
Ten years later, I’m fat. Not so fat that I need a crane to get out of bed. Not grotesquely obese. Just love-handled, spare-tied and generally out-of-shape. It takes a lot to maintain my figure.
The thing that always amuses me is that, for some folks, I’m apparently not fat enough to be acknowledged as “fat.” You’ve heard it before: “Oh, you’re not fat.” What they really mean is “You’re not THAT fat,” because if you ARE fat enough to be CALLED fat then chance are they are also fat enough to rate the description. So what they’re saying is “You’re not fat [enough].”
My doctors disagree, of course. My weight is my doctor’s primary concern and losing that weight is the answer to all of my problems. Be it high blood pressure, anxiety, back aches or what have you, their answer is always the same: “You need to lose weight.” I could come in carrying my own arm in a cooler and my doctors wouldn’t even bat an eye; they’d just tell me that I’d be healthier if I just lost weight. Some of my doctors have been absolute weight Nazis! One actually told me to get a bike. Another advised, “If you just sit there like a lump, you shouldn’t be so surprised to look like one.” Who are these guys??
Losing weight is an addictive neurosis here in USAmerica. [I like to say that somebody else lost weight and I found it.] Everybody’s doing it. Everybody’s being sucked into the latest dieting fads. The diet industry is big business and they make it their business to get in mine! I’m told that I need to go on a diet. But I’m on a diet. A diet, by definition, is just what one eats whether its a steady diet of beef and junk food or a diet of healthy twigs, berries and celeries. If you want to say I need to change my diet, fine.
But whenever I actually try to go on a diet, I find myself consumed by a singular overwhelming urge for a bagfull of chocolate, gravy fries and a Big Mac! Why? Because advertisers throw this stuff in my face and they make it look so GOOD. So I look down at my carrot sticks and celery and then back at that seductive advertising. Bunny food loses every time.
You see, I’m not big boned. I don’t come from a long line of fat people, so I’m not genetically predisposed toward obesity. I’m not diabetic. I went from washboard stomache to walk-in freezer a long time ago. My problem is that I like to eat, but I don’t like to exercise. Because exercise hurts, and it hurts more and more the older I get. I can’t go to the swimming pool without hurting myself! I can’t play volleyball without putting myself in traction! You’d think with all this padding that gut-wrenching pain would be less of an issue.
And do you know why I put myself through this hideous torture? Because people are mean to fat people. They don’t like fat people. They call them names. Fatzilla. The Incredible Bulk. Captain Fat Sparrow. The Fat-One of the Opera. They make fun of fat people. That’s right: They squat down, puff out their stomaches and cheeks as far as they’ll go and waddle around making fun of people who would love very dearly not to be fat. To make matters worse, there are constant reminders everywhere – on television, movie screens, magazine covers in the supermarket checkout, billboards – that fat people aren’t wanted in these parts. [And don’t even get me started on infomercials!] They’ve put out these impossible standards for the rest of us to live up to and, sheep we are, we kill ourselves to do our dead-level best to fit into their cookie-cutter molds. Nevermind that the movie stars we idolize were surgically altered and have the advantage of drill instructor-like personal trainers to look like they do. Nevermind that the slim bodies on the magazine cover is actually an anorexic teenager and that, even so, her image was further streamlined by the miracle of airbrushing. We buy the lie. Chubby Joe has gotta go, ’cause fat is out and thin is in!
At this point in the typical size-ist activist diatribe one is usually subjected to some glamorization of fat people. We’re usually reminded that man’s views of the desirability of one body mass ratio over another is faddish and largely determined by culture. We’re reminded that there are loads of paintings of sexy naked fat people in art museums. All true, and I wish I had time in this blog to deliver the obligatory demonization of Kate Moss and other skinny people. But I don’t want to overstate my point.
I want to be healthy, so I do exercise and I’m trying to be careful to make sure that I don’t overfill the tank. I’m a human, not a camel. I’ve got no use for storing that extra fat.
But I’m not just doing it because the media and the diet industry have tried to brainwash me into thinking that I should eternally have the body of a teenager. I’m doing it because they unaccountably charge about $3 more off the rack for extra large fat people clothes and it’s getting too expensive to be this much of me.
2 Comments Add yours
As a teenager, oh boy don’t I know what you are talking about! In fact, I have rarely heard words that ring so true to our culture as yours just did. What an intense fad and obsession it is to America, the desire to be thin and how sick an obsession could make a person. What happened to the idealistic Marilyn Monroe? After all, she seemed far more of a healthy obtainable beauty at about 5’5 with actual curves vs. our current obsession with 6′ tall sticks. All the best!