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.