Sunday, January 11, 2009

Formerly Fat People Should Shut Up

It's popular to believe that when you get thinner, your life gets easier. So many companies insist that it's true in order to get you to buy their chocolate-coated ephedra tablets or use their acai enema kit. There is always the short-skirted lady gushing about how her husband just can't keep his hands off of her. "Thin is happy," she says as she runs down the beach in her bikini, free from the 300 pounds of flab she used to carry.

I'm not buying it. And no one else should either.

First of all, there is no way that you ever go from 300 pounds to 120 without ending up with a ton of stretch mark scars. Bitch, please. You aren't ever gonna wear that bikini without a lot of cosmetic surgery up and down your midsection, all over your upper arms, and down the backs of those legs. Just because you lose several hundred pounds of fat doesn't mean that your body goes along with the idea, and suddenly you look like Kelly Kapowski. Don't believe me? Deflate a balloon sometime and try to refill it. Also, quit running because we all know those knees are still aching from carrying around so much weight for so long.

Secondly, if your husband was uninterested when you were heavier, he's a dick anyway. When menopause hits, don't be surprised if you find him frequenting local pep rallies with a video camera.

All formerly fat people have a story. A stolen box of cupcakes frantically eaten in a closet. Other children throwing sticks. Being picked last at dodgeball. Sobbing to Richard Simmons on national television. The story is really always the same. "I was fat. I'm thin now. Therefore, I'm better." But is that really true?

I can tell you that it's not. Why? Because I've been on more miracle diets than the cyborg who replaced Oprah Winfrey in 1999.

My first big diet was at the age of 11, when I discovered that I had broken the 100-pound mark. I decided to get out my mother's 1980s aerobic tapes. Now, everyone knows that aerobics tapes from the 80s were really just softcore porn. So, rather than losing any weight, I learned how to lick my lips seductively while repeatedly shrugging my shoulders.

I spent the next 18 years trying to be thinner, fighting the battle of acceptance, being self-righteous when I succeeded, and kicking myself when I failed.

Being fat is hard. And I'm not talking about, "I was so thin in high school. Then, I had a baby and gained 20 pounds! Oh, my god, I'm so fat!" I'm talking about solid mass that starts during the awkward stage of puberty and stays with you until you are well into adulthood.

I remember this girl in college who was gorgeous, and perfect, and thin, and how she told me one time that the meanest thing a guy had ever said to her was how one of her scars was ugly. And I thought, "Bitch, you don't know from mean comments." When you're fat, everyone feels the need to point it out to you. Guys you're interested in, friends, teenage boys on a school trip. And you try to pretend you don't care, but it gets in there anyway and cuts at you until the day you die. (Or so I suspect.)

You find yourself trying to be one of those, "I like myself!" kinds of people, who knows exactly what size Marilyn Monroe was at her biggest and throws out that nugget of information when a supermodel is on TV.

And when you lose weight, it's equally hard because total strangers think you want to talk about it. It's like going up to a pregnant lady and asking her how the sex was. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, ASSHOLE! But you find yourself feeling slightly flattered anyway because it's nicer to hear that than some assfaced jerkwad call you "Wide Load" or something equally unoriginal. It makes me feel ashamed. Because I was fat. Because it has taken me so long to accept myself as just a person and not a fat person. And because I allowed people like Dr. Atkins, Oprah, and Valerie Bertenelli to make money on my insecurities for 18 years, when I could have been eating chocolate cake.

In short, no, I have no answers, or dieting tips, or any pairs of extra large pants to stand in while I hold the waistband out in front of me. I'm just a person who swims a few times a week and eats things. And right now, I want some candy. Oprah will just have to deal with that.


Anonymous said...

To me, there are few things crueler than the way overweight people are treated. And it's heartbreaking how that affects a person. My mom was very overweight, and so embarrassed about it that she hardly ever went out on the beach when we'd go on vacation. And she'd never go along when my dad took us swimming at the local pool. He was kind about it, in his own awkward way, joking with us that she was just "an ol' stick in the mud." It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized the real reason.

As many overweight people as there are in the world, why can't people just accept it and move on?

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@bgc: That breaks my heart.

lalaland13 said...

Losing weight is weird: You're glad for the compliments, but also thinking of how pathetic you must have been before. It's a no-win game in your head. And if you gain some of it back, you think that you're suddenly a bad person again. Like the goodwill of the world depends on you keeping that weight off.

I don't have the answers either, and I've been lucky enough to keep most of mine off. Just do what you can and don't beat yourself up. And don't go to Curves, unless you have a high tolerance for Disney techo and gospel techno. And ignore the stupid-ass Subway commercials.

@bubblegum: I'm sorry, dear. People can be jerks. My brother once told me I would "feel better about myself" if I would just "lose weight and get in shape."

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago my BFF was telling me a crappy story about how some rude asshole said something shitty to her about being fat in public, and I was, of course, ENRAGED. I told her I wished I had been there to, you know, give him a good cockpunch.

By the end of the conversation we were both cracking up because that reminded her of the time I almost ran over a couple of UC Berkeley wankers for saying some rude shit to her a few years ago. She told me (I didn't remember any of this, honest) how I followed them for blocks and blocks, screaming at them out of my window and throwing shit at them, and how they were scared completely shitless.

In short, superior friendships will always trump anti-fat jerks with no manners!

angiesyounglover said...

this is an amazing post and i'm so glad you wrote it. i found my self going "RIGHT?!" after almost every sentence.

first of all, even if you're thin or getting thin or losing tons of weight, you are not happy. case in point: i, too, was a young girl when i hit the 100 pound mark, weighing almost 20 pounds more than my older sister. i tried working out - pilates, beach body fitness, denise austin, billy blanks. i bought the kicking back, i asked for a nautilus gym for christmas (got it), asked my mom to help me count "points" on weight watchers. you name it, i tried it - under the age of 15. SUPER FUCKING SAD for anyone to be uncomfortable in their own skin, let alone a pre-pubescent young girl. ANYWAY, years later came ATKINS, as you mentioned. and it actually fucking worked. i shedded 20 pounds in the first 2 weeks and boy did i hear about it. "oh you look so good" "you know, you could have stood to lose a few pounds", etc, etc. was i happy? no!! i was weak and cranky and shaky and i found myself counting OTHER PEOPLE'S carbs thinking, "do they know how much fat they could avoid eating by using water instead of milk in their cereal. it was psychotic, really. i hated myself more because my thoughts were consumed with being thin and staying thin and judging others for eating what i wished i could but didn't allow myself to.

eventually i just stopped. and then gained back the 20 i had lost, but an very unwelcome extra 10. it took me forever to finally even out - not by the world's standards, by my own. and i don't care. for the first time in years i am comfortable in my own skin...even though my older sister weighs 50 pounds less than me.

@bgc: i feel you on the mom front. my mother has been battling her weight ever since i can remember. but my stepfather is a complete ass about it, making snide comments here and there - one most memorable was when she sat down on a stool (backstory: the stool was like 15 years old, not very stable at all) and it broke out from under her and he muttered, "that's what happens when you're overweight." broke my heart.

angiesyounglover said...

kicking back = kicking bag, or, as most people call it, a punching bag.

angiesyounglover said...

also, and this is the last thing i will say since i am hijacking the comments, i was very disappointed in jon stewart who made a fat joke about martin luther king III on his show last night. it was very low and not funny.

Anonymous said...

@ayl: Oh girl, I feel you, especially with the sister stuff. Growing up, I was the fat one. I remember my father once remarking, in front of a bunch of people, that my sister was the only one in our family who didn't need to go on a diet. I was probably 10 or 11. He didn't mean to be hurtful, he just doesn't think about things before he says them sometimes. But obviously, I never forgot that.

In high school, I lost weight by exercising all the time, but my sis gained. We did this back-and-forth of one being skinny, the other one heavy for years. Right now, we're almost the same size, and both trying to shed a few extra pounds.

I sometimes wish I could just be happy with my size and get over it. And I am, I guess, in a way, but I'm always worried about it. And I think I always will be.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

You guys, let's hug it out. You're all amazing.

angiesyounglover said...


Anonymous said...

Nice! You're dreamy. I know after losing 60 pounds I was all ready to be happy and then...I wasn't. What a drag, yes? Great post, Mayor.