File under “if I had a dime every time someone asked me that.” For serious. It’s one of those compliments that is as hard to take as it is to answer. Um, thanks and no? And why the second part of that compliment at all? Can’t we leave it at the hey you look great part? No, it seems that we, as a society, can not.
A bit of history. I am overweight. I have not always been overweight, but right now, today, according to the BMI (which, yeah I know is bogus, but it is still the scale by which the obesity epidemic is measured) I am overweight. In fact, I am one point away from being obese. Let me disclose further. I also wear straight sizes – anywhere from a 10 to a 14 currently – depending on the store. Would you look at me and say “dangerously close to obesity crisis”? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s not the point.
I have recently become aware of a fantastically smart website called Shapely Prose (link at right). The founder and the contributors to the site espouse Fat Acceptance. I can not possibly explain exactly what that is without getting it so very wrong, so I am going to send you to the site to read Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy? Because it is awesome. And just, you know – word.
Working where I do, I can’t tell you how many patients have come to me and told me how their cancer was diagnosed late – they were either afraid to go to the doctor (fat shaming – lose weight your symptoms will go away) or if they did go to the doctor with symptoms, they weren’t taken seriously (fat shaming – lose weight and your symptoms will go away). Like they’re not real people, with real symptoms. Like their weight is the only thing the doctors see, that it is the root of ALL their problems.
In the spring, I injured my right knee in a cardio kickboxing class -jumped up for a kick, and came down hard and off kilter. So I iced it and took ibuprofen religiously for a week or so, and rested, but still the pain persisted. Finally I went to see my doctor (who I love) and she prescribed anti-inflammatories and sent me for an x-ray – just being thorough. I followed up with her a couple of weeks later. She had the results of the x-ray, and I was prepared for the worst – torn miniscus, ACL, whatever. But in reality, the x-ray showed the start of osteoarthritis. I was a bit shocked, because you know, my 74-year old MOTHER has arthritis, not me! WTF? It made me feel old. But anyway, we chatted about what to do and she told me I could try glucosamine, take the anti-inflammatories as needed. Ok, that was fine – until this: It’s important to keep your weight down, that will really help. Really? Really? Because I’m not sure about that.
Of course, when I left, that is the only thing I focused on, because now I’m back to being the fat girl, aren’t I? Oh boy, better lose some weight. Never mind that I do kickboxing and/or karate at least 4 times a week, eat a basically vegetarian diet and have few other health concerns. Nope, just focus on losing some weight. As a side note, I totally, rationally realize that this is not really what she said. It’s just that when you are the fat girl, no matter what you do, you always feel like the fat girl. That was me at 130 pounds or 175 pounds. It just doesn’t matter.
There is so much shaming of people who don’t fit the “what society deems attractive and normal” mode, and FA has really struck a chord with me. I know so many people who are dieting to “lose that last 5 pounds” or doing the crazy-ass cleanses (which can totally mess up your gut, people, please don’t fall for the celebrity cleanse thing) to drop a dress size. And why? Often they say they’re doing it “for their health”, but what they usually mean is they’re doing it to lose weight. And I’ve been there, so I know.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am really trying to be happy with my body as it is presently. Presently. As in right now. I am tired of being a work in progress, saying “if I can just lose those 10 pounds I’ll buy new jeans!” I am really trying to say that this is who I am today, and if I lose or gain a few pounds, it is not the end of the world. It’s time to stop judging and being judged merely by what the scale says. I also know – because I am going on around 30 years fuckedinthehead caring about weight and appearance and societal acceptance – that I will have days where I feel like crap and hate myself. But that’s ok. Baby steps, right?
This is probably one of the most disjointed posts in the history of the interwebs, but it’s because there is so much stuff in my poor brain, and I’m still trying to filter it and parse and organize it so that I can continue to learn. Feel free to ask “wtf?” and I will do my best to better explain. But for now, I think I’m on the right track for the first time in forever, and I like it.
I also want to thank The Genealogist who has been telling me all this stuff – and more – for the better part of two decades. I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get it through my fat (heh!) head.