Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Well Behaved Fatty

The hatred and derision I face as a fat person is painful. I admit to a knee-jerk reaction to some of the things thrown at me--a reaction of trying to show them that I'm not what they say I am, I'm not lazy, or gluttonous, or stupid. The social ape part of my brain wants me to do whatever it takes to be accepted, to stop being excluded from society. I know that this is a natural desire, and that it's not wrong to want to fit in. The problem, I eventually realized, was that, in trying to fit in, I was legitimizing the exclusion of others.

Maybe I don't eat a lot, and being able to prove that makes my fat more socially acceptable than someone who does. Maybe I have a thyroid condition (I do, and it sucks, and not because of the fat, but that's another entry another day), and that gives me a "free pass" for being fat. Fat Girl On A Bike exercises as much as an Olympic athlete, which proves that not all fat people are lazy, so she gets permission to eat food sometimes.

You know what though? That's all a bunch of CRAP.

I don't need an excuse for my body size. It doesn't matter if a person eats "too much", eats "the wrong stuff", doesn't exercise, is not very bright, doesn't have a glandular condition. You don't have to be a good little fatty who does all the right things and just can't lose weight. You're a human being, and that should be enough reason for someone to treat you as one. There shouldn't be a NEED for a "free pass". Thin people can be lazy, gluttonous, and stupid, and nobody attributes it to anything except individuality.

So screw it. If you see a fat person eating ice cream? That's their business. You see a fat person watching television? So what? Lots of people watch television. Fat people don't have to apologize for their bodies being fat. Everyone, fat or thin, should face the same consequences for being lazy or gluttonous (stupid isn't necessarily a malleable attribute). If you're lazy, you might have a dirty house, you might have a crappy job, or you might have a half-finished 7-foot-tall trebuchet* in your garage. If you're gluttonous, you might have a huge food bill. Big deal--those are the choices we make in our lives. They don't mean that a person doesn't deserve to be treated like a human being.

Similarly, a fat person who is not actively trying to become un-fat should not be regarded as a better person than one who has accepted his or her body and chooses to spend time and energy on other pursuits. Yet, I constantly hear, "At least I'm DOING something about my weight!" as if it is a virtue. Choosing to lose weight doesn't make you better; it just means that you have a personal preference to not be fat. Non-dieting fat people, though, are considered to be reckless fools who are responsible for the downfall of Western civilization. Meanwhile, the hate spewed in their direction for not being "well-behaved" seems a bit, well, uncivil to me.

* I am joking, honey, you are not lazy. For those who don't know, my dear husband enjoys building medieval siege weapons. We have a mini trebuchet that can be used to throw small objects, like cat toys. The 7-footer is designed to be taken apart and fit into his car so it can be tested at remote locations (we're good neighbors). The counterweight basket is not yet finished, though, because I moved in and took up all of his attention and time before he got to that part.


Bigger said...

So true.

Sometimes it sounds like people are criticising something other than the fact that the person is fat ('she sits about all day', 'she eats too much', etc.). It sounds as if they are criticising the persons exercise regime or diet. But it's telling that they don't make the same criticisms of thin people. it can be easier if they come straight out and say that they disapprove of fat people, and then their prejudices are more obvious.

I too feel that there's pressure to be on a diet, as if we're expected to use starvation to atone for the sin of being fat.

Bekbek said...

One: Trebuchet! Squeee!I took an ancient tech class and we got to build catapults and fling water balloons at the admin. building.
Two: This post made me scream yes and pump my fist in the air. My housemate is thoroughly confused since she just came home to that.

Anonymous said...

I really find it annoying when I talk to people on the net and they're like, "Well I don't watch TV!" Like, oooh yeah you're such a better person cause you don't watch TV like the rest of us sheeple.

I've done hardly anything this winter but watch TV. It's about below zero out and has been snowing all day. I don't see why it's so rediculous that I would rather not freeze my butt off, and would rather sit in my warm house with my Nintendo DS and TV?

I keep feeling like I'm not being active enough and making myself sick cause of it. I think if that were true I would be showing signs of it.

I was thin in high school, but that was from running up and down the halls, the stairs, from classroom to classroom. I felt miserable. Not just from the over-exertion, but the jerks in my school. Lots of jerks. I feel that I shouldn't have to beat myself up, because I'm not running on a treadmill everyday, like a hampster in a hampster wheel.

Maybe there should be more research into how much your heart rate is increased by playing fast games on the Nintendo Wii. Cause I feel really like I've had a long exhausting workout, after trying to play Rayman Raving Rabbids. Which involves alot of fast pumping the Wiimote and Nunchuck up and down alternately.

Another thing, is if I feel that I am getting a workout from playing a game on the Wii, then it's like "Well doesn't this just prove you're out of shape, getting winded playing a video game?" It's hard to remember though that the Wii isn't a standard console, where you hold a controller and move your thumbs around. You actually are moving around pretty vigerously. So perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself about it.

I wish people would stop blaming video games too for making everyone fat. I guess it'd be better they just zone out in front of the TV and don't think about anything at all.

RioIriri said...

Oh, but if they come out and say it, then they can't hide behind their "I'm doing it for your health!" lies.

I'll get a photo of the mini one sometime. It's super cute. He built it before we met, and when I was at his place and saw it, I realized what an extreme geek he was (as if I couldn't tell by the shelves of comic books, gaming books, and fantasy novels).

violet yoshi,
You have a point there. I also got really annoyed when people would complain about how "stupid" DDR is, but then whine about young people not getting exercise. Hello, combining video games with exercise is probably the very best way to get people to do it because exercise is fucking boring for a lot of people.

I also have wondered how many calories a person burns when doing some heavy duty thinking. Your brain uses up a large portion of the calories you eat, and I'd like to dig up the numbers on whether you burn even more when you're kicking your brain into overdrive. That takes time, though, and I will put it down in my notes to look up later.

RioIriri said...

OH, and violet yoshi:

I don't really watch tv. Mostly it's because I really really hate commercials; I feel like they are trying to program my brain, and it pisses me off. I also just have a hard time watching some of the stupid shit that's on, like reality shows. So we get Netflix (cheaper than cable), then have dvds sent to us of shows we do like so I don't have to put up with commercials. We went through a whole season of Dr. Who in a week that way. :)

Bekbek said...

I am a little embarrassed to say that the first time I played Raving Rabbids I strained the muscles in my right shoulder and all down my lats, from playing that cow-flinging game. Well, and also the Rabbid launching game where you fling them as far as possible. I'm a leetle bit competitive and not so good at the precision games. I gotta show my geek boyfriend up in something!! I was sore for a couple days, and I am one of those people who works out daily. (For mental health, mind, not to toe anyone's good fatty line.)

Fat Gal said...

Yes, yes, yes! Moralistic fat people are nearly as bad as moralistic thin people!

Mercurior said...

Amen. Now i dont give a toss about anyone else and how they see me.

If they dont want to be friends or constantly critising my then they arent my friend. so sod them..

i am more than my body, i am my mind and my soul, if they cant see beyond the ephemeral physical form, then they are the ones with the problem. NOT ME.

so what if i am fat, does that make me less intelligent, less caring, less anything. Definatly NOT.

Its a sort of moral failing in these stupid people, they see fat as being slothful, etc a sort of they must be sick/bad/evil/mad/whatever to allow themselves to be like they are. They use morality to punish.

mumboj said...

We make good targets because most of us tried to avoid, at some point, being fat or resisted it, so essentially it is unlikely to be a rebellious stance. I think people know this so they can get a lot of pleasure out of attacking us, more than the geniunely rebellious who have to a greater degree told society what to do. I don't wish to romaticise rebellion, but I know that when you have some will in your stance you are more powerful.

Being fat to me feels totally different, it is not exactly like race or gender, it has been for right or wrong, related to one's actions.

I feel like I'm being forced to defend myself, I don't have the power of saying I choose this so screw you!

The stance is defensive rather than positive, I think that's why people fall into the 'good fatty trap' they still think they can reason with people. If it was subject to reason we would not have to defend ourselves in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Netflix is awesome. They have so much selection in Japanese films and Anime. I've been renting Anime I would've never heard about if it weren't for Netflix.

Sarah said...

Just because I work out so much doesn't give me a free pass to eat 'sometimes.'

Try never, unless I'm around people who know how much I train. And even then it's an uncomfortable event. They eat less and somehow I think I'm supposed to eat the same amount, despite my needs being a helluva lot more right now. They still give me those looks of 'you shouldn't eat that much.' I'm so tired of eating period

The peanut gallery is still convinced I workout and then go stuff my face with baby donuts and big macs, etc.

It won't matter how much I workout or how many triathlons I do, as long as I'm not a stick, I will always be told to stop eating by pretty much anyone.

I know that so well that I have a hard time eating ice cream in public or buying a pizza or even going out to eat at peak meal times. The world doesn't read my blog and the world doesn't know how much I workout. All they will see is my fat belly and ass and immediately set to judgment.

Ashley said...

Thank you for this. Thank you so much. It's my life and my body, and I'll be the judge of what I want and need to do with it.! A trebuchet! One of my best friends built a table-top one with his son this summer.

JoGeek said...

or you might have a half-finished 7-foot-tall trebuchet* in your garage.!

I "sort of" agree with the rest. It is good to have fat "poster children" like the triathlete or the size 16 aerobics instructor because it challenges peoples' stereotypes. It's a foot in the door. The response to "well you're not a triathlete you fatty mcfatfat!" should be something like "No I'm not. But I can point to that person to challenge your first assumption. Now that it's out of the way, we can work on your assumption that you have any right to know or judge MY body or how I live MY life."

When it comes to stereotypes and prejudice, sometimes you have to divide and conquer.

The only real danger in that is if the FA community forgets about the second half and tries the good/bad fatty divide. I honestly don't see that happening, but I can also see the need to stay vigilant to keep it from creeping in.

M. said...


I hear you. After we got Rayman Raving Rabbids, every person in our house wound up with tendonitis of the elbow from playing that damn game obsessively for weeks.


Sometimes it makes me crazy. I have a friend I love who I met through and ED board, and every once in awhile the crazy comes out of her mouth. I came down with Whooping Cough a couple of weeks ago (in case you didn't know the vaccines wear off), and she asked if I was getting enough fluids, I said yes, I was drinking my weight in fruit juice (since I wasn't eating, it hurt too much) and she immediately chimes in with "Fruit juice still has so many calories, you should drink more water."

Hello, I haven't really eaten anything in a week, fruit juice is my only current source of calories, and I should quit drinking that because it's too many calories?

Fortunately, I'm on the right antibiotics, and have gotten my appetite back.

RioIriri said...

You might like this entry, where I bitched about people who whine about the calories in juice and carrots.

You make a good point, and I am going to think on that for a while :)

Shinobi said...

I hate hate hate it when people tell you how many calories are in that juice. My dad does this all the time. When I'm home my mom will get apricot juice for me because it reminds me of my long past grandma and it makes me happy. And every time I drink it my dad can't help but remark on the sugar content. Yeah, crystal light is SO much healthier.

And also, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if it weren't for lazy people no one would have invented the wheel.

Mary said...

Shinobi, you rock! We have all kinds of useful things because people were lazy. Zero. Tractors. Central heating. Printing presses.

Go lazy people. I have recently accepted that I am simply a slob and now hire someone to clean our house at sixty bucks a week. Best money I've ever spent.

For the record, I'm a bad fatty. I don't exercise as much as some people and I eat whatever I want. I still have a right not to be hated. And it doesn't prove that overeating makes people fat, because I seldom overeat.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. It was needed.

Unfortunately, fat people have to "prove" themselves to idiots on a daily basis. Being "extra good" is the only solution sometimes.

But sometimes I am good - sometimes, I am REALLY bad. That is my personality, and I shouldn't have to change it for anybody.