I have this problem, right? I don’t understand what people think they are describing when they talk about Fat People. Now all you little happy trolls who just can’t wait to post and snark “Knew it. Fatty don’t even know she fat. Stupid Fatty” I know full well that there are others who feel I am beyond-help FAT with a capital FAT. Yet I wanted to reflect upon the feeling I have that Fat always seems to be some sort of “othering” experience for people; haters or not.
What do I mean? Well, it boils down to a belief people seem to have that No One they KNOW (or love, like, respect) is ever fat…or “Hugely Fat” or “OBESE GOING TO DIE GAAAH THE MEDIA TELLS ME TO FEAR THEM” fat… Oh you might think someone is overweight but rarely do folks who know and love someone feel that they know anyone that is Headless Fatty Size and henceforth Doomed For Eternity. So tell me, What does it mean to be “FAT”?
If someone you know and loved called themselves fat you’d shake your head and deny it vehemently, right? At the very least you’d say “Oh no, you’re not THAT bad, maybe just a few more salads and walks”* But why? Because fatties are some sort of “other”, right? Someone ELSE who is destroying the world one blobby, headless, SUV driving, McDonald’s snarfing, seat-overflowing, thigh-jiggling step at a time. It is SOMEONE ELSE that is “teh fatty mc fatterson” that the news media and anyone who is anyone at all talks about all the time. FAT isn’t your friend, or your neighbor, or that woman at the gym you look at enviously every time you go who seems to think she’s ‘Too Fat” and yet can run elliptical circles around some of the thinner ladies. Fat is…no one you know. Because everyone you know is nice and…fat is just not nice right? Fat is evil, sinful, lazy, no-good, will-less…it is just WRONG!
So what is it that makes someone cross that line from “Oh no, you’re not FAT!” into “Headless Fatty Dooming the World”? Is it just Adipose Tissue? “Too MUCH” of said tissue? What is TOO much? Who decides? Is it just BMI? That can’t be the case because those numbers seem to keep dropping so that more and more people can be considered fat so it would be as though someone making decisions wants one day for the whole WORLD to think it is fat and that just couldn’t be, right?
Something else then…waist to hip ratios? No? That still doesn’t fit the bill, eh? Is it just going over a certain weight? No? You don’t find out your friend who you love is 201 lbs and freak out, telling them they will die of Obesity, do you? Is there some arbitrary weight line drawn in the poundage sand?
No. No. NO. My point in all of this is that some people might find some of the above suggestions to fit their definition of what is FAT in a person who is a stranger; some mystically unknown “other”; a headless fatty. BMI or Waist-Hip ratios or Simple Weight numbers exist…but you know what people actually end up judging as fat? Looks. Pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if your pants label reads “0” or “12” or “36” or “5 Blue”. When someone looks at a stranger, regardless of how that stranger may fit into the size spectrum of their friends and loved ones: they can be fat. Oh yes. That little bit of muffin top showing through that size 2 tank top? Some stranger somewhere thinks it looks fat. So many of the people you might dismiss, perhaps even wistfully, as “normal” are thought by someone else to be Fat. Perceptions are not unified…and that hate you might be joining in on could just as easily be turned your way.
So many people are living their own Fat Life; even if no one else realizes it. Self-hatred seems to know no size limits. I think that there is a whole size spectrum of Fat Experience: We are all living our own individual versions of the Fat Life. And you don’t know what that life or experience has been merely by looking at the bodily package in which one person’s existence takes place.
The take-home message here is that judging by looks is really silly. No one can tell how well I can breathe by judging the size of my nose; why should it make anymore sense to think you can tell how well I eat or exercise by the size or shape of my body? Even if you want to call me a liar, I bet dollars to Baby Flavored Donuts that you really have NO CLUE how I eat, sleep, exercise, LIVE in my Fat Life.
Fat exists. On people even; on their (our) bodies. On the bodies of people you know and love. Looks are deceptive. And no-where is it written that you get the right to judge others as somehow less of a person because they have more of a particular type of tissue on their body. So the next time you find yourself starting to snark at someone entering a Fast Food restaurant or struggling to find work-out clothes in their size on the rack in a mall (good luck on that one btw); consider that you really DON’T know this person and think if you would feel the same if maybe you DID know them. Would you still judge? Still shame? Still feel justified in exposing disgust? How long do you think it might be before YOU are thought of as fat? Who around you might ALREADY be judging YOU as fat and undeserving of basic human respect? The judgement knife cuts both ways my dears.
Are you fat or do you just look fat? It all comes down to: either way it is no one else’s business. So mind your own and live your own life, whatever size or shape it takes. Okay?
*Well unless you’re one of THOSE sorts of friends or family members… the kind who politely disagrees when anyone says something so self-disparaging and then blithely suggests you BOTH join WW for the “moral support”…yeah THAT kind of friend.