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Posts Tagged ‘vanity’

I’ve touched on this topic as it pertains to my weight loss before, but people have known me as a fat girl since probably 1996. I’m 26 now and that was 13 years ago, so I’ve been fat roughly half my life. I am completely qualified to talk about all things related to fat people, as I’m a highly credible source of fat facts of life. Yet some of my (always the thin who are thin without *trying* mind-you) friends feel the need to tell me that I shouldn’t worry about my weight *at all.* Sure, they’re willing to tell me how good I look by comparison to my biggest size, because I’m actually at the weight I was in my freshman year of high school. I’ve been much fatter, and so by comparison I look “thin” in their eyes. BUT, I’m still fat. And the fat I have, by the very nature of how it’s distributed on my body, is very annoying for me to deal with.

By “deal with” I’m talking about the unpleasantness associated with having fat in certain areas of your body, and how it effects your ability to live a normal life. I only have some 30-ish pounds of fat left to lose before I’m comfortable with the amount of space my posterior takes up in relation to other objects. Believe me, it’s a huge relief to have 50 lbs. of that excess gone. But 30 lbs. excess is still physically uncomfortable to lug around, especially on someone as short as I am. I’m only 5 feet tall, so I’m still rather round, especially since almost all my extra fat is on my abdomen, back, and arms now. Top-heavy hurts, especially if you have scoliosis as I do. It’s very slight scoliosis, I don’t have to wear any crazy back braces at all times (although I do use a lumbar support band when I need to lift heavy things and I have inserts for my shoes to keep me in alignment), but even 10 lbs. too much fat in the wrong place on your body, pulling down at your back, really HURTS.

I think people assume I want to lose those last 30 lbs. for vanity alone. But this is not the case. There are some grosser reasons I want the fat gone. People who’ve never had a weight problem don’t really understand how difficult it can be to live a normal, low-maintainence life as a fat person. I usually wear clothes that are flattering enough to hide the fat rolls and just kind of flow over them. I will wear a waist sincher or bodysuit if I’m really dressed up so my clothes look as good as possible, so people don’t always see the fat ROLLS and creases. They are much smaller now, some of them have dissapeared, but at 30 lbs. overweight I still have enough of them to cause me discomfort. The sweat in the summertime is gross. I feel like I have to bathe more frequently and I use baby powder to ease the discomfort of the sweating. The area between the thighs is another bone of contention for fat people. The way my fat distributes it causes a pouch of belly fat right over my “area,” which can cause uncomfortable chafing. I use baby powder to ease this, but really that’s pretty inconvenient, and I’d rather just skip that. That’s why being a normal size for my height would be such a huge relief in the way I live my life. It’s NOT just about VANITY.

But so what if some of it IS about vanity? The aesthetic I prefer is that of a lean physique when I’m talking pure, physical attraction. I am put off a little physically by overweight and obese men – and as a fat girl I would be almost expected to date a fat man. Therefore I feel I’d be a total hypocrite if I expected to have a man match that physique if I couldn’t also maintain such a physique. But the looks aspect isn’t all it is to me and my primary motivation is my health. Looking better is a part of it, but it’s not the whole thing. But dammit, if I feel good about looking better, I feel like I’ve earned that right. I feel like celebrating with a new, sexy or flirty outfit that fits my smaller body and being proud is not something I should feel shallow about doing.

But I digress…my entire point I think is that I have a few friends who have always been thin without actually working out or eating right/watching portions. Some of them eat like shit, actually, but they have that freakish metabolism that I’ve never had. Sometimes I think those friends of mine take their uber-metabolisms for granted, not really realizing that a person in my position really *is not* able to eat like that and have the physique I want (lean and muscular). I had to choose being healthy, happy, and leaner over the decadent foods in big portions. Also I don’t think those people really get how pathological and disordered my overeating was. I was good at projecting the “funny fat girl” image when really I was very depressed and fucked up inside. Essentially I was sick. But I guess some people did see me as “fat and happy.” Maybe that’s why it’s weird to them when I turn down certain foods offered to me these days, or just take a tiny bite of something decadent instead of eating the whole thing, or turn down going out drinking because I want to get up early and work out the next day. The only reason I get kind of miffled is that I get comments like, “you look fine NOW, don’t lose any more weight!” or “what you look like shouldn’t matter,” when it’s NOT ALL ABOUT MY LOOKS. IT’S ALSO ABOUT HOW I FEEL. I also have people tell me I’m not fat. I wonder if these people must think I’m stupid or blind. I’m not AS fat, but I’m still FAT. And I hate being fat. Why wouldn’t people be more happy for me? Ugh. I’ve also had a couple of people tell me that I was “being too hard on myself” for wanting to lose more weight than I already have. WTF? So does that mean I should never try too hard for anything and live an existence I feel is mediocre, just because a goal isn’t easy to obtain? Those same people would never say, “you shouldn’t try to get the best grades you can in school,” or “you shouldn’t try to get that promotion at work,” but they will say, “you shouldn’t get all the way down to a healthy weight that you’d feel really comfortable at – the bare minimum is fine!” BLAH. OK, rant over.

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I take issue with fat acceptance for many reasons. It’s one thing to say, “hey, I’m fat, please don’t discriminate against me or make fun of me.” That I have no problem with. I’m certainly not all about humiliating or demoralizing people for any reason. But I take issue with the “facts” that are presented about fatness and human biology, and the made-up issues that “people of size” face. See, most issues that these people face are brought upon by themselves through their choices, not by other people. I’m sure there are fat people who’ve been teased in a mean way, and I don’t condone that. But all this “discrimination” and “humiliation” stuff smacks of paranoia to me. I feel like a lot of these people almost look for things to get upset and offended by. If you go looking for trouble, you’ll most likely find it. I’m just sayin’…

A lot of bloggers in the “movement” cherry-pick facts to “prove” that obesity is not unhealthy. Most of the really active fat acceptance bloggers do not appear to be more than maybe 50 or so pounds overweight, thus they may still be able to do a lot of physical activities and be more able-bodied than people who are 100 or more pounds overweight. What bothers me is that a lot of people who are in the 100+ category often feel helpless and hopeless, and when fat acceptance comes along and says that it’s just fine and dandy to be fat, it gives them false hope that they can be as big as they are and remain healthy through quackish principles like, “Health at Every Size” and “Intuitive Eating.” To me, this is very dangerous. Another thing I take issue with is the myth that it’s predetermined by genetics and that we all have a “natural set-point” that no matter what, we’re all meant to be. By this logic, your “set point” could be morbidly obese and bedridden, unable to wipe your own butt and having to use a special “device” for wiping yourself after doing #2…I affectionately refer to it as a “buttwand,” but all joking aside I would be really sad if I let myself get so huge that I couldn’t reach my own ass. That’s not “natural” at all.

Many in the movement have limited scientific knowledge, yet talk as if they are experts on topics regarding weight management. They stick their fingers in their ears and say, “la la la, I’m not listening!” to the sound science that says extra fat is unhealthy. Many of them react emotionally rather than rationally to dissenting points of view, calling anyone who disagrees with them a troll, or other derogatory name (like “douchehound” – what the hell does that even mean???). A lot of them use gratuitous swearing. Now, I’ve been called a sailor by people in my family because I can throw the F-bombs around if I’m in the right mood, but I feel like if you’re trying to make a point you should limit your swearing and focus on the topic at hand. Too much swearing can make you look like you have a stunted vocabulary. There’s a place for swearwords, sure. They can shock enough to drive home a big point, or they can just be funny. But if every other word you type is “fuck” you’re going to lose a lot of your audience and credibility.

There is a mentality in fat acceptance that it’s okay to care about your appearance to the point of wearing make-up, maintaining good hygiene, and having nice clothes. But if you ever want to lose weight to enhance your appearance, that is a big “no-no!” It is often said that it’s immoral and shallow to enjoy a vanity aspect of weight loss, it should be for health and health only. Of course in the long run, health is always tantamount. Your body should be your temple, yada yada. But if you also happen to like being able to fit into smaller clothes, if you like having a certain figure and wish to maintain it, suddenly it’s a crime to care about your looks. I take huge issue with that. It suggests that if you want to maintain your appearance by way of losing weight, that means you have an eating disorder and you hate yourself. Also, I have always admired natural beauty more than artificial beauty. What I mean by this is that someone who maintains a fit and healthy body and has good hygiene but doesn’t wear makeup or designer clothes is more appealing to me than someone who is very fat but spends a lot of money on make-up and clothes.

I don’t like the whole, “if you aren’t fat, you aren’t a real woman” mentality that some display on their blogs. It disturbs me because it fails to mention men. Are fat men more real than thin men? What exactly is a real woman? Is a woman who is thin not real? I know that some of my buddies on other blogs have covered this topic, but it continues to make me *facepalm* repeatedly. It touches me because one of my favorite people in the world is a woman who’s just built very tall and lanky, and she has trouble keeping weight on. She eats quite heartily and yet she’s got a very gaunt physique. She gets a lot of snarky comments from a lot of people about it. It’s not just fat people who get teased about their bodies. In fact, I will say as a fattie that no one has ever *teased* me about my weight. Most people would actually comment, if I brought it up, that I’m not fat (which I knew they were just saying to be nice, because you’d have to be blind to think I’m not fat). But people would never be so tactful with my thin friend. She had people constantly accusing her of having an eating disorder her whole life, and not even trying to be tactful about it! They would usually be so blatant and mean about it that she got really self conscious and depressed about it at one point. If anyone is a candidate for needing body acceptance, it would be her! She even used to say that she sometimes wished she were fat so people would leave her alone about her body. Her character is strong, she’s smart, funny, and in my opinion adorable. She has her own kind of beauty, and honestly I think the fatter women who’ve bashed her are jealous. If fat acceptance really believed in all kinds of beauty, they would not bash thin women. I’m glad my friend recently has found more acceptance. She made the move with her husband to the West coast, and she says there are less fat people out there than here in the midwest, and she doesn’t get nearly as many snarky comments about her body anymore. Go figure!

There seems to be a double standard that’s emerging about fat vs. thin. It’s okay for fat people to be mean and catty to thin people, because somehow thin people don’t have feelings? I don’t get it. Also, it seems that chubby is the new normal, and thin is the new anorexic, and that morbid obesity doesn’t really exist (booga booga!) and people who are 400+ pounds are “strawmen.” Look, anorexia is usually pretty obvious. A person’s skin is typically lacks color, their hair thinning and falling out with a scraggly appearance, hollow features, and a skeletal frame. A thin person that has muscle tone, color in their skin, shiny hair, and bright eyes is not starving or emaciated, they are healthy! If you look around you, healthily thin people are a vast minority compared to the overweight these days.

Our food culture is sickening to me. It’s disproportionate – we have more food than we’ll ever need, yet billions of people the world over still have trouble getting enough of it to live optimally. There’s a crazy juxtaposition between the U.S. and countries like Zimbabwe and the Sudan. Seeing the pictures of obese children and comparing them to the malnourished, starving children breaks my heart. Is it fair that our kids get too much to eat and others have to go without? Also, most of our people, children included, are overfed but undernourished. They lack essential nutrients in their daily diet, but they get to have overly full bellies. Our bodies haven’t evolved past the point of being able to store fat for times of famine. The thing is, most of us never experience true famine in the U.S. We have constant food abundance, and most of us live relatively sedentary lifestyles. Most of us work desk jobs, then come home and sit on the computer or in front of the TV for several hours. If that’s your lifestyle, a walk around the block or an aquatic fitness class once a week isn’t going to burn enough calories to keep your body at a healthy weight. Especially if you’re like most people and get fast food or use convenience foods regularly. People want to eat the farmer’s portions without doing the farmer’s work! No wonder so many of us are overweight and obese!

Another problem I have is when people start associating being fat with their identity as a person. I’m not saying it doesn’t help shape who you are to be fat and deal with it, but your fat isn’t you. When people get told by their doctor that their health problems are associated with their weight, they take it as being “shamed.” They take it as a personal assault on their character and personal worth. A doctor’s job is to guard your health, but since so many people complain that their doctors tell them they’re fat, doctors get fed up and now default to their prescription pad instead. So instead of preventative wellness to stave off things like type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, muscle and joint problems, etc. by keeping a healthy weight, people are now put on drugs for these things instead, and it’s considered “normal” to be on a bunch of meds in your early 30’s now. With all due respect, what the hell?!! Look, a doctor is not a “fat hater” if they tell you that your health could be improved by losing weight, OK? They are a professional trying to do their job. Quite frankly, I think it’s refreshing when a doctor decides not to just default to giving out pills like candy and try to help a person with overall wellness instead. They are not saying, “look, you cow, you’re a fatass and you suck!” They are simply pointing out that your weight reflects some poor health habits and that you should cut it out and get healthy. Why is it so hard for people to make that distinction and why do they take it as an attack on their personality?

One thing I want to know about is when FA people claim they’ve been humiliated at the doctor’s office when they check your weight on the scales. Any doctor’s office I’ve been to has the scale in the back where only the nurse and you can see it, and I’ve never had a nurse yell my weight out so loud that others besides him/her and myself can hear it. I’m not embarrassed for a medical professional to know my weight. I kind of always figure that there’s someone fatter than me that they’ve seen, so they’re not going to be shocked. The thing about doctors and nurses is that they’ve “seen it all” so my problems are not going to stand out to them that much, they are simply doing their jobs. I want to know, seriously, where these FA people are going to be seen by a doctor where the scale is in public view and the nurses and doctors are announcing their patients’ weights to the whole office and waiting room. I think these stories are exaggerated, and these people are way too insecure if they get mad that their weight is checked. It seems like a standard procedure at the doctor’s office, really. Nothing personal or humiliating in any way. What doctor’s office are these people going to where the nurse runs into the waiting room yelling, “hey everyone, there’s one hell of a heifer back here, he/she weighs x amount of weight, can you believe what a fatty-fatty boom-boom they are? hahahaha!” Because if these doctor’s offices do exist, that kind of behavior is highly unprofessional and those places should be shut down, or restaffed with more professional people. But I’m skeptical that such places actually exist. Also, if these fat acceptance types were so proud of their weight, why would they have a problem with others knowing it?

I think fat acceptance is mostly an upper-middle class issue. People of privilege have more time to bitch and whine about how no one “accepts” them and that this is an issue of civil rights. Most of the people who complain the most vocally seem to be people who are highly educated and have had advantages that a lot of other people go without. Again, just sayin’…

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