I started to post a reply to the comments on the last post … but it turns out I have a lot more just general stuff to say. So, everything here is related (somehow, maybe) to my previous post and comments. Kind of just rambled out.

I went out to dinner with some friends last night and talked about this with one of them since she had read the entry. She confirmed what Tessie said in the comments about weight-related comments being common and she shared a pretty shocking example: A (young) intern/student once told her that the only people she dislikes are fat people.

Just like that. Just casually dislikes a whole group of people.

The intern/student went on to tell my friend how she was raised by a mom who exercises all the time and is very healthy, etc. So … she apparently “dislikes fat people” too.

My initial reaction: DAMN. Seriously? (And maybe I thought some knee-jerk negative things about the girl and the mom that were unfair.)
The next feeling: Offended.
The next reaction/opinion: They’re probably afraid of becoming fat.
My next feeling: Appalled. (This intern is entering a “helping” profession and I guess I naively – and potentially unfairly – assumed she would at least not say these things OUT LOUD.)
Final feeling: Sadness. For them, for me, for the “fat people” they judge and dislike, for the world, I guess.

The thing is – I very seriously can’t fathom saying or thinking anything of that nature. I can’t comprehend how someone can claim to dislike a group of people based solely on a physical characteristic. I just can’t wrap my brain around that. At all.

I have weighed close to 300 pounds. I have family members who ride in scooters. I was terrified to fly just a few years ago because I was afraid of the embarrassment that would accompany not being able to buckle the standard seat-belt. I worried about chairs with arms. I’ve been embarrassed when I couldn’t climb stairs without huffing and puffing.

Obesity is very real to me and always will be.

Honestly? It WAS a choice. A very real, potentially self-protecting and just fucking HARD choice that comes about for all kinds of reasons for different people – but yeah, it’s a choice. Do I believe it’s valid one? Yes. Do I believe it comes whimsically? Not hardly. It’s not like I (or anyone else, probably) woke up one day and thought, “I’d really like to be obese – let’s start working on that.” It’s MUCH deeper and way more complex than eating too much and not exercising.

I see an overweight person and I wonder what complex stream of events led them there and I feel a connection to the struggle they’re potentially facing and I smile and attempt to be accommodating if needed because I recognize that they’re a human being sharing this planet with me who is worthy of respect and courtesy. Choice or not.

What is “fat” … really? It’s just “different,” right?

Maybe it’s something to latch onto when there are no other valid differences to attack?

Maybe it’s easier to attack than embrace because embracing means accepting which means allowing into your life which means OHMYGOD I could be FAT which means I’ll be ugly/unworthy/unloved?

That’s on you (the general fat-fearing/loathing you) – not me. But I understand why it’s easier to externalize.

My self-esteem is pretty healthy – fat or not. Maybe potentially healthier when I was fatter (but that’s a completely different issue for another day).

As for genetic predisposition? Eh – I am fascinated by behavior and trends amongst families, but I recognize that I know next to nothing about genetics.

I’ll say this: Of the three children in my family, I’m the only fat one.

Both of my brothers have always been very thin and have had to do crazy things like GO TO THE DOCTOR because they can’t/don’t GAIN WEIGHT.

The one that’s closest in age to me = 6′ something and probably 140. Always. We’re alike with the red hair and the green eyes and the tallness, but that’s it.

He looked like this 10 years ago and he looks like this now.

The youngest one is just now – at 21 – starting to appear healthy (i.e. not skeletal).

So what the hell happened to me? Same parents. And let me tell you – they eat PURE SHIT 24/7.

BUT – the general frequency/volume (previously)? Much lower. Their activity levels? Higher. Could they turn down food? Yes. Could they eat one cookie at a time? Yes.

I don’t know. I only know my experience.

I’m inclined to believe environment + behavior + genetics all play a role.


I guess it boils down to this – for me: I believe prejudice is MUCH MORE about the disliker than the dislikee – and I think it’s mostly fear-based. ESPECIALLY size-based prejudice. I mean, we are TRAINED by the media, our parents, our peers, etc. to dislike/fear fat because fat = unloved/unworthy/ugly/unsuccessful/lazy.

Makes sense to me.

I’m actually really glad it all came up because it prompted a bunch of thinking and sparked conversation amongst some of my real life friends and family, too … so that’s been interesting. I sometimes forget that despite being so alike – as women, friends, family members, people on the same professional path, etc. – our varying life experiences promote diverse attitudes about random things. It’s fun to think and talk about this stuff.