Before I start, let me make it very clear that I do not think it’s a good thing to be seriously overweight. No one in her right mind would purposefully gain weight she didn’t need. (Except for actors for roles and people like Donna Simpson, the 600-lb. woman who wants to get to 1,000—and you could certainly argue that she’s not in her right mind.)
But I’m sick of people (who are usually not overweight) characterizing fat people as weak, disgusting, even immoral. Prejudice against fat people is stronger than ever, what with all the emphasis on being fit and healthy (it is commonly assumed that fat people can’t possibly be healthy) and, of course, thin.
Then there all the statistics that inform us that 60% of America’s population is overweight (not obese, just overweight, which could mean that they’re packing an extra five or ten pounds) and that over 30% is morbidly obese (which makes it sound as if they’re the size of elephants). When people read those statistics, they shake their heads in disapproval and condemnation.
No one ever feels sorry for fat people. Their weight is always their fault, never mind that they gain weight easily, have a slow metabolism, a different body type, are on medication that causes weight gain or are restricted in their activity by a disability. They’ve “let themselves go” and that simply will not be forgiven.
I admire people like Kirstie Alley (above) and Kathleen Turner, who refuse to let their weight gain send them scurrying into the shadows in shame or embarrassment. (I’ve read that Turner’s weight gain was originally the result of the prednisone she took for her rheumatoid arthritis. Alley states that hers is the result of eating too much.) They are both beautiful, talented people and they shouldn’t have to apologize for being fat.
And then there’s the word “fat.” When I was a fat little kid, my mom used to say that I was “pleasingly plump.” There are lot of euphemisms designed to spare fat people’s feelings: chubby (for children), plus-size, large, big-boned, curvy, being a person of size, weight-challenged, full-figured, voluptuous, built for comfort—I’ve heard them all. I especially like it when people say, “But you have such a pretty face!”
I don’t like being fat. I try to control my eating, but one bad day can set me back for two weeks. I put on five pounds each year for the past two years when I broke my foot (yes, twice in a row) and was rendered immobile. I haven’t been able to get those ten pounds off and I hate myself for it, because I was once lighter and I don’t understand why I can’t get back there again. I admit that I don’t get as much exercise as I should, but I don’t see why I should have to put myself through the tortures of hell in order to lose enough weight to call myself slim again. (Yes, I used to be slim, although I never ever thought so. Now I’d love to be as “fat” as I was even thirty pounds ago.)
So what is the alternative? Could it be that I could actually accept myself the way I am? Or could I take it a step further and learn to embrace my fat?