Bad Fatteh is Doing It Wrong

I'm way behind on this fatosphere discussion, but I wanted to comment on it.

I don't believe that there are "good fatties" - we are all, by simply existing, transgressive in a way that our society is extremely keen to punish. Fat is portrayed as sinful, out of control, non-conforming and willfully unhealthy. We are the "welfare queens" of the aughts, lazy and expensive and contributing nothing to our country.

We are a diverse community, of course, and not a monolith of bad traits as we are portrayed. Through chance and choices we have various levels of health, and that's true of any group of humans. There is value in challenging stereotypes, and very fit fat people do that because the stereotypes are false and reality is complex.

If anyone is a bad fatty, I am. I eat whatever I please whenever I please, until I'm full and sometimes till I'm stuffed and sleepy. I haven't even tried to diet in years, because for me as for 90% of people they made me gain weight. I seldom exercise anymore because of the muscle thing. My favorite activities are sedentary, and I have no plans to change that. I loathe athletic pursuits, and hate virtually all forms of exercise. My PTSD used to give me awesome pain tolerance because I would just dissociate, but now that I've recovered I'm a wuss. I hate pain, and exercise hurts. I'm a size 32 pushing 34. i'm a smidge under 300 pounds. I AM the headless fatty in news reports, except my head is attached to my body. And it has a double chin!

What's more - I don't give a shit. I love myself just the way I am. Do I wish I had a lot of choices in clothes like thinner people? Sure I do. Do I wish I were a good athlete (noting of course that not all thin people are athletes)? Sure I do, more ways to entertain myself would be cool. Does my weight exacerbate the muscle thing and the dance injury in my knee? Of course, that's physics. Would I enjoy blending in and not facing discrimination based on my weight? Yes, I would. And yet I like myself and feel like a lovable and competent person despite being fat. Because I am. And that's not going to change.


Colleen said...

Hi, I found your blog via FatDoctor, and I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you love and accept yourself. No one should have to feel lesser because of a physical attribute. That said, it is hard to read you criticizing media stereotypes of fat people as lazy and willfully unhealthy, and then admitting to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. For someone like me, who is in the process of losing weight in the hopes of not coming up "obese" on the charts anymore, this sort of attitude makes me sad. I am sad for the potential you are ignoring, the potential to have a healthier life. I've done the sedentary, eat whatever I want thing and it did not make me happy. It did not cure the anxiety I was trying to drown in food. All it did was get me to a point of misery and self loathing that I always thought I was above. After a year and almost 30 lbs. lost I can say that I definitely am healthier, more energetic, sleep better, and experience less mood issues now that I eat well and exercise. It is really hard but really worth it. All I'd ask is that you leave the door open to a potentially different path. You seem nice and intelligent and I can't help but feel that you deserve a better life than one limited by your size.

Mary said...

Colleen, reasonable people can disagree. :)

I didn't say I had poor eating habits, by the way. Eating whatever I want whenever I want generally means 2 or three meals a day, depending on the size of lunch and how late it is. 4:00 lunch is not unusual for a busy social worker. I love veggies and fruits. I love protein, especially chicken and hazelnuts. I eat a modest amount of food. I can leave a candy bar in the cupboard for a month without eating it. Diets (sane ones) typically require me to eat more food, not less.

Thin people are not branded as all being lazy and willfully unhealthy. Even underweight people, who have the same degree of health risk as the very fattest people even when sick people are controlled for, are not treated with the hatred and stereotyping that fat people deal with.

The best and latest research has shown that 83% of dieters gain weight on diets over time. Yes, even when they stay on them. You might be the unusual person that will lose weight dieting, and I wish you luck, sincerely. But based on science I have decided that diets are medical quackery.

My life is not limited in any meaningful way by my weight. The only thing that matters to me is that I can't ride some roller coasters. If that's the worst that life has to hand me, I'm grateful.

If a true method of healthy weight loss ever emerges, you can bet I'll be standing in line for it. But there's nothing that even approaches such a thing at this point in time.

Colleen said...

Dieting to me means eating the same way I would were I maintaining my weight, but in smaller portions. I think diets fail because they encourage some unsustainable approach - eating only certain foods, eating only pre-packaged diet foods, fasting, etc. Of course people regain when they don't learn proper nutrition and portion size. But if you learn healthy habits that can be modified either for weight loss or for maintaining weight, then you have tools for every step of the process.

I agree that weight loss is an imprecise science, but the equation that does work is calories expended > calories consumed = weight loss. Now of course determining those two variables is the hard part, and for me the only thing that consistently works is a very low calorie diet and very high intensity exercise. But, it is an extremely reliable formula for me, even if it took almost a year to figure out. It takes a considerable investment of time and resources to figure out your "formula" but if you skip out on the process entirely of course you'll never find something that works.

And I hate to be the harbringer of doom here, but just because your life is not materially affected by your weight now doesn't mean it will stay that way. I'm sure you're aware of the disease risks, not to mention the wear and tear on joints which can lead to costly replacement surgery. Not to be morbid, but I have never seen an 80 year old person who weighs 300 lbs. I know I probably seem intrusive at this point, but I only came to value my health recently, and it has made such a quality of life improvement for me that I just want other people to get to experience that.