Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life in the Fat Land

Obesity is the last characteristic that it is politically okay to make fun of. Writer and teacher Irene McPherson has stated in her blog In the Shadow of Fat that as she looks forward to her wedding this fall the nasty little childhood ditty of “Here comes the bride, big, fat, and wide” sticks in her head. She should be planning more romantic music for her wedding, but what bride doesn’t want to be ravishing on her wedding day? The good news is that the lovely man who proposed to her loves her just as she is, to borrow from the movie “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” And yet, our society is so obsessed with thinness that girls end up anorexic and models are airbrushed to impossible dimensions.

It’s okay to discriminate against fat people. I have a hard working, tender hearted, large girlfriend who was discriminated against when she applied for a secretarial job. She had the seniority and skills to do the job, but didn’t fit the image the boss had for his front office. I asked her to grieve the action with her union since the department had flagrantly ignored the fact that she was senior to the woman who got the job. “Why would I want to be somewhere where I’m not wanted?” she asked me. Ultimately it worked out for the best because eventually she landed in a department where her skills and character count for more than her size. She is treasured just the way she is. The man who didn’t hire her ended up with difficulties of his own from higher above and left the organization altogether.
Those of us who have yo-yo-ed over the years have wound up with crappy metabolisms that only exercise will get going again. I don't eat that much and while I admit to being addicted to carbs I do not consume copious amounts of them. My body, because of my near anorexic experience in the '90s doesn't want to turn loose of anything for fear of another famine. As the kdis would say, it sucks.

I am fortunate because my own husband, who has seen me yo-yo from overweight to borderline anorexic and back again, also loves me just as I am. I’m not looking to get a job as anyone’s office decoration, but I know that I would be discriminated against if I did. My reasons for wanting to lose weight is mostly about health and sticking around to see my grandchildren all get born and grow and take care of my own Special Needs child. As my mother would say, I don’t expect to be in the front row of the follies, but if I could buy a new dress for Irene’s wedding (which will be recycled for our niece’s wedding in December as well) it would be a nice fringe benefit.


Jo said...

The sad thing is, I find myself judging others based on weight. I caught myself the other night thinking "that actress sure has put on some pounds". How unkind and unwarranted! She is still a wonderful actress, still beautiful. I hate that I react in such a way, and that I would abhor in others. We have been programmed for so long, it comes naturally. What can I say? I'm trying to stop the thought before it happens!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Okay, here is the weird thing--when I was thin I thought of myself as fat and part of my problem now is I don't always recognize my size for what it is. I am destined to not be happy with me, I guess.

Irene said...

Steph - (may I call you Steph?) -
Your post resonates with me so much. I do am also a carb-addict, though I also don't eat that much of them. After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, my metabolism has slowed to a turtle's pace, even when I exercise hard. Yes, it sucks. Plus, there's another element of resistance that goes with this whole thing, which I'm dealing with in my blog today. Part of it is resentment, and the other is fear, at least in my case. It's not just metabolism that gets messed up after years of "life in the fat land." Hang in there, sis-to-be!

Kim Thompson said...


What a powerful post.

My son is obese. He's 11. A good part of the reason is that sports/exercise is difficult because of his autism and he's on meds (necessary, unfortunately) that packs on pounds.

My child has been called "fatty," "fat kid," "ugly," you name it by other kids. It makes me SICK. He works so hard to exercise (to the best of his ability) and eat good, wholesome, fresh foods. He weighs himself every day practically and asked me if there was a pill or surgery that would cure him. Heartbreaking. We are working with doctors very hard to help. We are making progress, but it's still hard.

Stephanie Frieze said...

They need a safe pill to increase metabolism. I know that people with Autism frequently find certain foods that they want to eat every day and they are not always healthy. I worked with a boy for whom it was mac & cheese. He stayed thin in elementary and middle school because he loved to run, but started to put on some weight in high school.