There’s something that has been bothering me for a while that I want to address. It is the foundation of my step-father’s argument that being Fat is a simple matter of overeating. The crux of his personal-experience based argument centers around willpower. His (and many others who seek to flame here or elsewhere on the fat-o-sphere of blogs) reasoning is that if he has a moment of “weakness” and eats an entire tub of a favorite ice cream (or experiences any sort of non-exercise week/month) he gains weight. Therefore, anyone FAT must do that same sort of will-power lacking giving-into-weakness ritual ALL THE TIME in order to be so much fatter than him.
Sorry folks but human bodies do not work in this sort of linear extrapolate-from-one-person’s experience sort of way. I am NOT fatter than you because I don’t have some sort of super willpower gene so that all I do is force obscene amounts of “naughty” foods down my gullet all day and/or not move at all.
Let’s take a reminder from a previous post of mine about myth-busting:
Fat people are lazy gluttons lacking willpower. Recent research, building upon years of already established research, points to evidence that “healthy obese people eat and behave no differently than anyone else to explain why their bodies are bigger”; that in general people are not sloths; and that no amount of willpower will make a diet work permanently.
So whenever I hear someone I know or someone else online ranting that “if ONLY these awful fatties would just put down that can of soda they saw that one fat person drinking once or stop eating at McDonalds since they totally saw a fat family there once, and just get the WILLPOWER and take CONTROL of what they put into their bodies then *poof* the magical fairy of One and Only Correct Body Size and Shape will come and allow these former fatties into the Thin Persons Club FOREVAH!” I can’t help but wonder what experience has given them such conviction?
Is it like my step-father? Did they once eat so much they felt awful and then gained a few pounds and assumed forever on from that moment that if they continued in the SAME way ALL the time they would just Devour the World and NEVER stop gaining weight so that must be the problem with all the people bigger than them? Is it fear like I had during all of my dieting days? That knowledge that eating more than diets (*cough* sorry Lifestyle Changes *cough*) prescribe for losing or heck even MAINTAINING a low weight, is less than I desired led me to always feel like I must have some sort of Abnormally Large Appetite and a fear that if I ever gave into it I would quickly become Fatter than Life. So is the fear that giving in to hungers will make us fat what spurs such extrapolations that run counter to all evidence to the contrary?
For the record, and while noting that I understand that personal anecdata does not a proof in concept make, I would like to point out that I personally have some AMAZING willpower. And you know something? Not a damn shred of it anymore is dedicated to feeling valorous for avoiding that mini-bar of candy or for eating a salad that I desire instead of pizza.
THIS willpower is devoted to maintaining a level of civility in the face of blatantly fearful hatred spewing from people who do not want their perfect world of Imaginary Thin Bodies to be burst in upon by some reality or differing thoughts. THIS willpower is about reaching beyond the surface and rejecting the main-line arguments pushed by folks with a visible interest in keeping the population miserable about their bodies without exploring them for myself first.
So before you try to act all trumpeting-swan like because you “whipped your body into shape” by denying yourself or because you are finally adept at forcing yourself to love a “virtuous” food you hate, think for a moment about how much MORE willpower it takes to stay away from the main-stream push to diet while condemning your body as unworthy and to instead remain positive and self-loving. Then come back to me and let me know how freaking proud of yourself you feel for not wrapping your lips around a tiny piece of chocolate.