Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Diary of a mad fat woman.

I am fat, and I am angry.

Unlike most of the women I know, I am not angry at myself for being fat. I am angry at my culture that says that because I am fat, I am not an acceptable human being, that somehow I should feel compelled to apologize for my body. I am angry that a beautiful woman like Kate Winslet is more famous for being unapologetically "fat" (she's not) than for her amazing talent, or that any woman over size 4 has a better chance of getting struck by lightning than getting an acting job. I am angry that there are eight year olds who say they would rather lose a parent than be fat.

According to a poll by Prevention magazine, Fifty-eight percent of women and 54% of men say they'd rather be unemployed than gain 75 pounds. And 63% of women and 55% of men say they'd rather be poor with no extra pounds to lose than rich and substantially overweight. Twelve year olds are getting liposuction, and no one bats an eyelash. I have sat and listened to size 2 17 year olds talk about how fat they are, and watched some of those same girls pass out in my classroom because they have not eaten in three days. Americans' obsession with weight has gone from sad to ludicrous, and there seems to be no end in sight.

If it were just a matter of appearance and social pressure, it wouldn't be such a big deal. I have no problem telling someone who thinks I am ugly to kiss my fat ass. But the problem is bigger than that (no pun intended). According to the Chinese government, my weight makes me an unfit parent, and the British government is on its way to agreeing. Not too long ago, a teacher in New York was fired for being obese. 40% of doctors surveyed in the UK said fat people should be denied treatment, and 93% of HR professionals say they would hire a candidate of "normal" weight over a obese person with equal skills and experience. Clearly the problem goes much deeper than just appearance.

The bottom line is that as a culture, Americans think fat is disgusting, and fat people are disgusting by extention, but most people aren't willing to admit it, so they hide behind words like "healthy" and "fit" when the word they want to use is thin. The message is crystal clear: be thin, or else no one will ever love you, you will never be pretty, and you will never, ever be accepted as a worthwhile human being. I am not the only one; sit in a room full of talented, intelligent women, and sooner or later the conversation will venture into the realm of dieting or weight loss. It makes me sad to have seen so many of my friends throughout my life wasting their energy obsessing over their weight. If women spent the same amount of time and energy trying to change the world as we do worrying about our weight, we could end poverty, create world peace, and eliminate starvation.

Our culture is being ruled by the iron fist of the diet industry, and we, the fat people, are being squeezed to death. Don't believe me? Do the research. This is a good place to start. Almost all obesity research is funded by those somehow connected to the weight loss industry. Marketing 101: to sell a product, you have to create a need for your product. What's the easiest way to create a need? Fear. Clearly the weight loss industry people have taken Marketing 101, and now they are taking our whole culture on a ride designed to make us hate our bodies and buy their lies, and then their products.

I can't change culture, and I cannot make anyone else comfortable in her body. I know that there will be some people who read this and get offended. I realize that by taking this stand, and refusing to conform to my culture's artificial beauty standard, I may face rejection, or ridicule, or I may spent the rest of my life alone. That is a risk I have to take. I agree with Abi Stone of Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off when she says of fat people like me "these are the bodies we have and we are sick of a lifetime of feeling shame and trying to alter them through unhealthy practices".

Hi, my name is Erin, I am fat, and I am not ashamed. Above all, I am not sorry.

21 comments:

heather said...

Erin - you go girl! I"m proud of you for speaking your mind and being proud of who you are - what a great example you are to your students (and those of us who read your blog and interact with you).

And I am also very sorry that you have felt such oppression from our culture. I'm proud of you for speaking out against it, though. I wish I could sit down with you and pick your brain about this more... but thanks for writing it out on your blog. Very well said.

Like Oprah said, 'being overweight in america is last form of discrimination that we don't talk about.'

Melody said...

Erin...what can I say other than .."WOW!" I admire your honesty and your willingness to be proud of who you are and what you think. As a fat person myself I truly understand ALL that you said. Thank you again.

dara said...

Oh Erin, I wish I could be you. I wish I could cast aside what the world says and not see myself like I do. I wish I didn't feel like my size is killing me, a belief based on how I'm feeling physically and not on some article. Anyway, I just want you to know I admire you so much.

Holli said...

Erin! Erin! Erin! You've done so much interesting research, I'm going to come back and look at this post again when I have more time, but for now I will say that I am proud of you for broaching such a taboo topic. People like talking about being thin and are scared to death to talk about being fat. We have almost taken that word out of our everyday usage. Where can our priorities as a people be when we obsess over weight? Not health, weight. Bravo...this is such a well written post!

Mast Family said...

Dear Erin, I would like to encourage you to filter out what the world is giving you. Whether it means not reading certain magazines, watching certain tv shows, the music you listen to, and even the web sites you read. Protect your heart and soul dear. I love you!- Lisa

Anonymous said...

FABULOUS POST!!!!!!!

You've got it. This is so wonderful and made my day! You have exactly the right attitude that is desperately needed in today's weight hysteria. You go!

Sandy

Macskat said...

WooHoo!!!
I wish that ALL fat people would get good and angry -- and change the world! I'd like to take your attitude and sprinkle it over everyone. Great post!

:)) Macskat

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a mad fat woman, too, and you've hit the nail on the head. How much time, effort, talent, and money we waste glorifying thinness that we could use to create literature, art, inventions... I think any HR person who chooses a "normal" weight person over me deserves what they get, and doesn't deserve what they reject - my intelligent, fabulous self.

White Horses Tell No Tales said...

Rierson, I love your style...But I think you already know that.

Frannie said...

Erin, you are wonderful. I hope that one day thousands of us will stand in a stadium and say together the words that you have uttered here, and which describe exactly how we feel about ourselves and our bodies:

I am fat and I am not ashamed.

Brava!!

sulz said...

i'm from malaysia, and westernisation has invaded in a lot of our culture and thinking. predictably, malaysians are also thinking the same bigoted way as other nations about the political correctness of fat. hell, even my parents are sizists, what more my country...

i have only realised until recently how my parents shaped the way i think about fat, and i have been reading blogs and news about fat to reshape my way of thinking about fat as being bad.

thanks for a wonderful read.

Meira (comments AT voirdire DOT org) said...

Hear, hear, sister!

Very well put!

JeanC said...

Well said!!!!!!! As Naomi Wolf put it:

"Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women's history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one."

Aislinn J Lujan said...

I have a friend who put it quite well. "May God (whichever ones you believe in) either enlighten the ignorant or just eat them.

Anonymous said...

rock on, sister, rock on!! Love this post. As someone who has been both thin and fat, I know that particular type of predjudice against larger people, and it sucks. We need a "no more guilt!" revolution.

Jelly-Filled said...

I found my way here from Big Fat Blog. What a fabulous post! It's maddening that common sense like this is perceived as radical by the general public.

Carwyn said...

Great post - I too found my way here from Big Fat Blog. I'm ashamed to say that just a few weeks ago, I let myself get fazed by a pupil of mine who said "Here comes the fat cow" (I weigh 216 lbs). I still can't believe I let myself get riled by a 6 year old...

Anonymous said...

Well, here goes.

I do NOT hate fat people. Yes, fat people. Because that's what they are. FAT.

However.
I am angry about their condition. I am angry about most of their predispositions. I am angry about the fact that 98% of the fat people of America blame it on "medical conditions", heredity, "my thyroid gland", or one of a myriad of other excuses.

It's sickening, and it's wrong. Take off the damn feed-bag, get out, walk around. Take some fucking PRIDE in yourself. Allow yourself to be what was intended for the human body - a fairly efficient, lean, toned machine. Not some big, hulking, heavy-breathing, sweaty olfactory menace that can't wipe his/her own ass, but can reach into the refrigerator to grab another Krispy Kreme. I don't care who you are - you have NO excuse to be fat unless you have PROVEN MEDICAL DOCUMENTS that actually outline your family medical history with some sort of disorder that causes such things - like Diabetes, or an actual Thyroid problem. NOT just saying "Yup, I have Diabetes ~Stuffs food into mouth~, I just can't help being so fat" or "I can't help my weight, it's my Thyroid gland ~dives into cake~"...

I guess to summarize this...fat people are one of the things that's going wrong with America. This IS an epidemic, people. You ARE unhealthier for it. No one in their right mind thinks you're pretty, because let's face it, you're diseased. (And I'm not talking about Heart Disease, though that's probably there too.) You're either diseased with a compulsion to eat, or a compulsion to be lazy...and keep eating. Point is, it takes activity, lifestyle, and (a lack of) 300 extra pounds to be healthy or attractive. I don't give a fuck WHO you are, you can not say honestly that you can look at some 450-lb fat chick (or guy, to be fair) and be like "Oh, baby." And part of this might be due to stereotyping over the years, models and such, yes. But Jesus Christ. Don't blame it on the healthier, thinner people just because you can't walk through fucking Dahl's without jumping on a motorized cart that's SCREAMING because of your weight. Don't blame it on the models, don't blame it on anyone but your own damn self - thin people are thin for a reason, fat people are fat for a reason. I'm 5'6", 170. 17% body fat. And I eat healthily, do my share of work, etc. Who else do you know who actually maintains a healthy diet, works every day, actual physical activity (not opening a candy wrapper, mind you) - and is fat? In contrast, look at all the slobby, nasty, just plain fucking disgusting heifers of the U.S.A.. It's what we're getting known for. Lazy, good-for-nothing-except-weight-in-the-back-of-your-pickup fucking fat people. Bitching about it, on top of it.

I implore you to go to Europe and take a look at the population en masse, and then compare it to America - no wonder people live longer, healthier lives over there...most all of them don't walk around with an extra 5 pounds of fat hanging from their face.

The only reason I say all of these things is because yes, I used to be fat too. Not excessively fat - because I realized what was going on, and quite frankly, was disgusted with myself - but I got up to 220lbs, on a 5'6" frame. Hardly ANY muscle, just "blegh." Then, I decided to Hell with that. I sweated, I worked, I ran, I wrestled, I lifted weights...and now, I'm happy with my body. I know I can go up a flight of stairs without risking a big fat embolism, or bend down and pick up something without getting so winded that my lungs want to just hara-kiri. So yes. Some of you just may have some sort of disability. Some of you may have a thyroid problem, Diabetes, or whatever else may cause Obesity in certain people - but seriously. Grow the fuck up already, those of you who don't. (Or, actually, shrink down.) Unstrap that feed bag, take off that Mu-Mu, get on a goddamn treadmill or lift weights or something, make yourself an acceptable example/specimen of your species - not as if you're from the planet Shoulder Rolls. Be better than you are. Lose some damn weight, quit bitching about no one liking you for being your fat, greasy, over-eating, health-problem ridden, medical disaster-area asses.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with the post above! Seriously, I don't have a problem with overweight people. I DO have a problem with BITCHY overweight people. Do you know that in the time that you wrote this entire article you could have gone outside and walk/ run/ do some type of calorie burning activity other than typing in your computer??? Hope I am not being too harsh but really guys and girls, some of you all need a wake up call !!!!

fed up said...

Ok, this is for the last two assholes...
What about those people who DO eat right, who DO exercise (yea, not kill-me exercises, but daily exercise-dealing with past injuries), have NO thyroid problems, have NO diabetes, tried all the weight-loss gimics, and still don't lose weight? Doctors don't care, they are part of the problem. Your misconception that all overweight people strap on feed bags and sit on their ass all day is part of the problem! That's why we are angry! You are accepted for being an asshole, but I can't be accepted for being intelligent, creative, kind, etc??
Yea, you overcame your weight issues, not everyone is that lucky, and I BET you are male??!!

Cabro said...

Don't you love that the two negative responses both chose to be 'anonymous'... very interesting.

In response to them, losing weight when you are being overweight or obese is not so simple... there are many psychological & physiological challenges to overcome and it is not easy.

Not all of us blame our problem on a medical or genetic problem. Most of us realise that it is our own doing that got us here, however that doesn't make it any easier to lose weight and it is a shame that you (negative anonymous bloggers) have no compassion for people that are doing it tough in life... there are many reasons that people get to be obese and it rarely is just because of food... it is not laziness as is often blamed... it is much more complicated. People do all sorts of things to cope with difficulties in life eg. turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, being nasty etc. but when you use food as your crutch it is very visible so thus we are discriminated against.

It is a problem that most of us want to overcome and are trying to overcome but is far from easy or simple... so please don't patronise us by telling us to get off our arses and take off the feed-bag. I've been moving more and eating less and trying to deal with the emotional/psychological aspects and it is a difficult and often frustrating process and it takes time.

Thanks for your blog Erin. Sorry that some people who have never had our problem are so quick to judge and have no empathy. They are the sad ones really.