I was in a coffee shop between meetings today and had the strangest conversation. There are actually three voices involved in this conversation:
RS: Random Stranger
IMH: In My Head
MOL: Me Out Loud
So here goes:
RS: Aren’t You DancesWithFat?
IMH: Holy crap! A random stranger recognized me! How freaking awesome! This never happens… Wait, stay calm, act cool, smile like this happens all the time, don’t be an idiot.
MOL: (very calm) Yes, I am.
RS: I saw your dance pictures, and someone has to tell you, you’re too fat to dance like that, it’s not good for you.
IMN: Stay calm, say thank you. Wait…play that back…what did she say?!?!?! Maybe I heard that wrong.
MOL: (still very calm) Beg your pardon?
RS: Your body is just too big to do that. Dancers have to be skinny.
IMH: Are you freaking kidding me right now?
MOL: So you think I should lose weight?
RS: Everyone knows you should lose weight.
IMH: Deactivate your eye roll reflex! I repeat, do NOT roll your eyes.
MOL: But you don’t want me to exercise…
RS: At your weight you need to be in the pool, your legs can’t take the weight of you.
IMH: Does she think I live in a pineapple under the sea? How the hell does she think I get around?
MOL: (ever optimistic, still going for the teachable moment) Well, I weigh 284 pounds. When I do the leg press I warm-up at 360 and go up from there. I work out a lot and do sport specific training so while it’s true that my body is larger than most dancers, I have the strength and flexibility to dance at my weight without having problems outside those that a normal dancer would have.
RS: Well, I’m sorry if this is rude but somebody has to tell you that you’re just too fat.
IMH: It’s rude, it’s presumptuous, and it’s paternalistic. But mostly it’s ludicrous for you to think that in a culture that is this thin-centric, no one has yet told me that I’m too fat.
MOL: It’s rude, it’s presumptuous, and it’s paternalistic. But mostly it’s ludicrous for you to think that in a culture that is this thin-centric, no one has yet told me that I’m too fat.
RS: Well then why aren’t you trying harder to lose weight? You’re clearly unhealthy and the dancing is making it worse!
IMH: I’m not famous enough to be Punk’d, right?
MOL: (losing steam on the whole teachable moment thing) Ok, I’m just going to take a wild guess at this: If I asked for your qualifications as a healthcare specialist you wouldn’t have any, and if I ask you upon what research you are basing these conclusions, you wouldn’t be able to cite a single piece of research. Is that correct?
RS: You don’t have to know health care or research to look at you and know that you are unhealthy.
IMH: Why, are you some kind of human MRI machine?
MOL: See, that’s where you and I seem to have highly divergent opinions. And since it’s my body we’re talking about, I think I’ll choose whose opinions I hear and at this point I’m done hearing yours. Thank you for your time.
RS: It’s your funeral.
MOL: We’re done here.
I see and hear this idea a lot: “someone has to tell her that she’s fat”, “If we don’t shame them, they’ll never change their unhealthy ways”, “I’m abusing him for his own good! (Also known on this blog as Pulling a Jillian)”
Newsflash. Nobody who is fat is unaware that there are people who think that our weight makes us unhealthy/unattractive/the cause of all the world’s problems. We hear it 386,170 times a year. We know. More specifically I’ve heard it. I know that despite the fact that I am fat and healthy, people will tell me that it is impossible to be fat and healthy.
I don’t believe them. You see, I know that the majority of [doctors, scientists, people etc.] have been known to get things wrong. It turns out, for example, that the Earth is round and it revolves around the sun, thalidomide causes birth defects, Asbestos isn’t for breathing, Heroin is not a “non-addictive morphine substitute”, Cocaine isn’t a helpful medicinal additive that goes great in Coca-Cola. Name any scientific discovery and you’ll likely find that a majority of people disagreed with it at the time.
I choose to live my life believing that the best way to be healthy is to pursue health, not thinness. I’m willing to accept the consequences if I’m wrong. I didn’t make this decision lightly. I looked at all of the research that I could find, I looked at my own personal history and I made a choice to opt out of the thin-obsessed diet culture and focus on my health and it’s working great for me. I’m not telling other people how to live, just presenting an option.
If you have questions about my point of view and/or want to have a respectful discussion – I am all ears. I understand that, at this moment, I hold the minority opinion and I’m happy explain where I’m coming from and hear other opinions and discuss them. I actually love when people open a dialog and ask me why I don’t buy into the popular ideas about weight, health and dieting. I’m totally okay with people who disagree with me respectfully.
If you think you’re doing me a favor by stating your opinion as fact and telling me what you “know” about my person health,them I’m telling you right now that you are not doing me a favor, I’m not interested, and I’m respectfully asking you to please keep it to yourself.
If you are fully aware that I’m not interested and find it disrespectful, but you are telling me what you “know” about my health because you want to be the “magic person” who gets through to me, then it sounds like this is a whole lot about you and not really about me or my health, and I’m still not interested, and I’m still respectfully asking you to please keep it to yourself.
I don’t think that obesity is a choice for me, I choose healthy habits and I let my body be at whatever size my body is. I know that opting out of the diet culture was and is a choice for me. It’s a choice I’m making consciously, it’s a choice I stick by and while you don’t have to agree with it, if you want the privilege of discussing my health with me then I require you to respect that choice. Simple as that.