I hope you all will pardon me while I climb up on my soapbox for a while and rant. I don’t normally go all postal, but I’ve been slowly boiling for a while on this topic. I wanted to wait until I had some uninterrupted time to gather my thoughts. I do have the habit of going off half-cocked, and I wanted to scrape together the two or three brain cells I still possess and try to sound halfway intelligent.
Lots of women out there have a bad body self-image. They hold this bad self-image because society tells us that we are unworthy unless we are rail-thin. They are quick to criticize their own flaws, and often imagine that they look worse than they actually do. I’m sure that everyone is guilty of this at some point, myself included. We over-emphasize our flaws to where we see a wrinkle as a yawning chasm, a little pooch of flab as a huge expanse of cottage cheese cellulite, and a slightly rounded derriere signaling all the hallmarks of steatopygia.
I understand all of this. What I do *not* understand, however, is how a culture so obsessed with political correctness can still be not only biased against fat people, but completely unrepentant about being so. In a culture where even the slightest ethnic joke can earn you stares and mutterings as if you’d just heinously farted in a packed elevator, you can bash the fatsos with gleeful abandon. Most people feel no sympathy whatsoever for the fat, assuming that they ate themselves into that situation.
There is also the assumption that the fat are inherently lazy, and in some cases, less mentally agile as well. The thinking is – “If they’re stupid enough not to know to stop eating, they must just be stupid all around.” I know a lot of people self-medicate by overindulgence in food, but people do that with booze and illicit substances as well, and there’s not the pervasive feeling that they’ve somehow failed. If a normal man drinks too much, and ends up with a massive hangover, he’s just a party animal who had a little too much fun. If the same man eats to excess and gains too much weight, he’s a fat pig. And, usually, the censure is not really placed too harshly on men – men can be overweight and just be labeled as “husky” or “beefy.” Women, however, are always just plain “fat.” Humongous. Gargantuan. Fat pigs. Obese.
There have been celebrities who have donned a “fat suit” to experience what it’s like to be a fat woman in today’s culture – most recently, I saw Tyra Banks on a news show, talking about how horrible it was for her to put on a fat suit, and the discrimination that she experienced while wearing it. Tyra explained that she had people whisper about her, laugh openly at her, and refuse to go out with her due to her size. Poor, poor Tyra. Yet Tyra got to go home, shed the suit, and go back to being a fabulous thin person instantly. Fat people have to deal with it every day. I have had people tell me what to order in restaurants, as if I’m not capable of putting anything that’s not loaded with saturated fat and cream sauce into my mouth. I have had people make fun of me within my hearing. I’ve had people make fun of me to my face. I’ve had people tell me that I was too fat to be friends with. I’ve had to pay twice as much for clothes because things at the Gap (or Old Navy or Banana Republic or wherever) aren’t made in my size. I’ve had saleswomen tell me while I browse in their stores that I must be in the wrong place, because nothing they carry will fit me. (Never mind the fact that I might have been shopping for someone else.) I have had too many men tell me that I am unattractive because I’m so fat.
I don’t expect sympathy. I don’t expect people to pity me. I just want people to understand that we know we’re fat. We’re dealing with it. We’re having a hard enough time without you making it harder for us. Some of us try every diet that comes out and exercise rigorously, to no avail. Some of us are afflicted with medical conditions that make us retain weight. Some of us eat too much and exercise too little. Some of us hide behind fat to escape loss or pain. There’s no one thing that causes us to be fat. Your comments about how fat we are do not help. Just as you wouldn’t make fun of an obviously disfigured person, you should not deride and make fun of the fat. We do have feelings, and our ears work. We can hear you.
The next time you get ready to judge someone else based on looks alone, stop. Stop and think. Does this person’s weight really have anything to do with the kind of person they are? Does it make them less kind or less intelligent? Does it make them less of a person? Is it right to crack a fat joke? Just as you wouldn’t make a joke about “homos” or “wetbacks”, you shouldn’t insult us by making fun of us, either. I’d like people to get to know me, and decide what they feel about me based on my personality, not my weight. I’d like people *everywhere* to STOP (for God’s sake) saying “But you’d be so pretty if you’d just lose some weight!” That’s a slap in the face. It implies that not only are you NOT good enough how you are, that you never will be until you lose some weight. Don’t make fun of us, or talk about us as if we’re not there. We can hear you.