I’ve wanted to write a blog post for a while about fat shaming, because it’s been so prevalent all over the place recently. Hell, it’s been prevalent for the last 40 years of my life (I am 40 years old, fyi), so I can see that it’s not just going to get better without a heck of a lot of work! It’s the last frontier, it seems like, for “acceptable” judgment of others.
People I know and love that have been blessed with a fabulous metabolism often make observations about overweight people that strike me as being offensive. Skinny comedians like Joel McHale make offhanded fat people comments that are meant to be funny, but just aren’t. People that I don’t know make comments about fat people basically not mattering in the grand scheme of things, and it makes me want to punch a wall and cry at the same time.
But then I go to watch a comedian like Patton Oswalt, who is known for being a bit overweight and not really doing much about it, and in fact making jokes at all of his shows, it seems like, about how some day he’ll be rolling out on stage in a scooter because he’ll just be too big to walk. And we laugh at that because the idea of it is funny to us.
But why is that ok with me? And then when someone like Joel McHale (who is in pretty great shape) makes fat jokes about other people, it’s super-offensive and not funny at all to me. Is it just because it’s the self-deprecating humor thing that makes it ok? That if we make fat jokes about ourselves, it’s alright, but if other people do (especially if they’re in what’s deemed to be “good” shape), then it’s not alright?
Why are we ok with that?
(Still, I don’t know how to stop liking Patton, and other comedians like Jim Gaffigan and Mindy Kaling, so I’m conflicted with that!)
What it comes down to for me is that the constant struggle that I’ve had with my weight all my life shouldn’t be fodder for other peoples’ discussions, or even their thoughts. It shouldn’t be a concern for anyone else. I don’t have to explain it to anyone, and it is my choice to discuss and explore the issue with my therapists (that’s right, there is more than 1 person I pay on a regular basis to try to help me with my body and mind balance) and my personal trainer.
The impetus for this post has been stuck in my brain since it occurred a couple of weeks ago. My gorgeous, wonderful, hardworking and awesome niece found herself face to face with an asshole, as will happen from time to time in this world. Apparently, he was rude, judgmental, and patronizing, and my niece was venting about the exchange she had with this jackass out on her Facebook wall. According to additional comments she made in the discussion that followed, the asshole in question was quite a bit overweight. I honestly wished (silently) that she hadn’t mentioned that fact, but just kept reading the comments to see if any other info about the exchange was shared. And then a friend of hers popped in to say that my niece shouldn’t worry about what the guy said, because the asshole lost his ability to have an opinion about anything about 170 pounds ago.
I try to stay out of discussions like that, especially with my niece involved, because I know that in the past, she’s felt bad about certain issues she’s brought up that I’ve commented on. But that just fired me up, and I jumped into the fray. I mentioned that what it came down to was that the asshole was an asshole regardless of his size. Had he been a ripped and fit asshole, would it have made the situation better?
And also, the idea that there are people out there that feel that overweight people simply don’t matter, and that their opinions are worthless because of their size? Even in the case of an asshole behaving badly, that just makes me so sad. The fat-shaming needs to stop.
Another friend of my niece agreed with me, but then the whole discussion ended pretty abruptly right there. Which kind of sucked. I felt badly about the possibility that I made my niece feel bad in any way, but I also honestly want her to consider the words that come out of her head a little more carefully. Not that it’s my position to “teach” her or anything...I guess I just hope to be a good influence, more than anything else.
I am considerably overweight right now. I struggle with it almost every minute of every goddammed day. I work out, I try to eat well, I drink more than I should, and I can’t stop thinking about what will “fix” me. Plastic surgery? Appetite suppressants? Yoga? Are my hormones off balance? Do I have a disease? Will hypnosis work to reset my brain? Should I lift more weight when I work out with my trainer? Should I walk for an hour and a half instead of just an hour 3 – 4 times a week? Should I eat more protein? More fiber? Will better and more sleep help? If I journal about my feelings, will that help me keep from eating and drinking them? If my mom and dad were still alive, would I be as big as I am? If I stop thinking about it so fucking often, will the weight start to slip off? How do I fucking STOP THINKING ABOUT IT?
This is what it’s like inside my brain on any given day. Those questions swirl around as I wake up, do the dishes, take a shower, buy tickets for baseball games, go to the movies, walk down the street in a city I’m visiting…always, always, always.
Those 600 pound people that allowed their journey with their weight loss to be filmed and put on TV for, I don’t know…entertainment purposes? Educational purposes? Why the fuck would they do it? WHY? People look at them and have even MORE reason to judge them and others like them. They see them making poor food choices, and trying to take an “easy” way out with some sort of surgery so they can get to a more acceptable 200 -300 pounds, at which point they will continue to be judged for being overweight. And the cycle will never end for them.
It never ends for ANY of us. I judge myself enough for everyone, dammit. We all do. And be careful about lying to yourself about that fact. The self-doubt…it is human. It is totally normal, and it’s what keeps most of us from being total assholes 100% of the time.
I’m not saying that we should all be overweight and be happy with it.
I’m not saying that it’s easy to quit judging, and so we should all just stop doing it.
I’m just saying that it takes effort. It all takes effort. I am fucking exhausted by the effort it takes for my attempts at being a better person to be successful. And I often fail. It’s on me to get back up after those failures and to recognize them for what they are, and to not let them get the better of me.
But, dammit, I’m not going to stop trying.