Public Displays of Fatness

Mama kick line
The ladies of being FIP.

I am a fat woman and the thing about the government waging a war on obesity is that you can’t separate me from my fat  – a war against obesity is a war against me.  And so the body I live in 100% of the time has become political.  No longer do I simply venture out of my house.  Oh no,  I commit PDFs – Public Displays of Fatness.

EWF:  Eating While Fat

This one is always tricky.  Any time you eat in public when you’re fat you risk having people comment to you.  Things that have happened to me:

Eating a burger and fries:  A perfect stranger says “This is why you’re fat”.  I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about.  How dare you.  Move on.”.

Eating a salad:  A perfect stranger says “Good for you for you, just keep it up and you’ll lose the weight.” I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about.  How dare you?  Move on.”

Either way, because I’m fat and dare to not only exist outside of my house in a fat body, but to eat in public, people feel that they are justified in commenting if my food choice doesn’t pass their test for what a fatty should eat or, alternately, they feel that they are doing me a favor by encouraging what must be an attempt to manipulate the size and shape of my body through salad.

WWF:  Working out While Fat

Picture this.  I am at the gym doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  I’m maxing out the speed and resistance on the elliptical, tracking my heart rate and my interval time. The person who has been walking on the machine next to me steps down and, before she leaves, says “good for you for starting an exercise program, stick to it and you’ll lose the weight. ”  Now, I have no problem with someone walking on a treadmill – especially if they enjoy it, but I do have a problem with someone who has watched my intense cardio routine feeling comfortable making an assumption OUT LOUD, TO ME that I’m a beginning exerciser, not just without evidence but in direct contrast to the evidence.  Also, why does it always seem like the same people who are  telling me that I should lose weight and are subsequently offended by my body in the gym?  I’d prefer they just shut up but shouldn’t they at the very least have to choose one?  I don’t care what they think so they can feel free to keep aaaaaall of that to themselves.

DFA:  Displays of Fat Affection

Remember when that goofy Marie Claire blogger said “I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other,  because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”  That’s real, y’all.  That’s something that a blogger for a major womens magazine’s site felt comfortable publishing online, under her real name.  And her editors let it through.  So I am left to contemplate that there are people who are so broken that they feel the need to tell the world that they are grossed out at the thought of me receiving physical affection or, you know, doing anything, and that instead of dealing with their bigotry and prejudice, they feel that instead of working on their issues I should be home bound for their aesthetic pleasure. Um, no.

HFP:  Headless Fatty Pictures

With thanks to Dr. Charlotte Cooper for the term Headless Fatty – Anytime I’m out in public I run the risk of being photographed from my feet to my shoulders and tacked onto an article about obesity or health insurance or whatever.  Since they don’t use my face they don’t have to get my permission, or compensate me, or anything.

FIP:  Fat in Public

This covers all the rest of the time.  I’m always fat, but being fat in public can mean anything from a car full of high school boys making mooing sounds, or grown men throwing eggs at me,  or a well dressed gentlemen lecturing me about how I’m costing him insurance money.

So what is to be done?  We each get to choose how we deal with this. For me the first is realizing that the world is screwed up and I am fine.  The next step is choosing not to participate in that culture.  Here are some suggestions, your mileage may vary:

  • Stop negative body talk – negative talk about other people’s bodies, celebrities’ bodies, your body.  Focus on becoming aware of your own negative body thoughts, interrupting them, and replacing them with something positive.
  • Stop participating in conversations about negative model talk – interrupt or walk away.
  • In our society, waking up and not hating yourself is a revolutionary act.  Commit the absolutely revolutionary act of loving yourself and your body right this second.  Even if you perceive it as flawed, consider recognizing all of the amazing stuff that your body does for you and developing some gratitude for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go EWF, then head to the gym for a little WWF, hopefully avoid a HFP, and then see if I can get involved in a DFA.  After that I think I’ll just be FIP for a while.

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15 thoughts on “Public Displays of Fatness

  1. I doubt I’ll be able to find the words to adequately convey the gratitude I have to you for your posts the last couple of weeks in particular. You’ve somehow had the knack of addressing specific issues that are challenging me and assisted me through them as they’ve come up. Tomorrow I go for a physical. I don’t think I’ve ever had one before and if I could get out of this one I would. It will be with an unknown (to me) doctor and I won’t know if I’m an acceptable fatty or not til the end of the month. My whole future hinges on it (no pressure or anything). The last few months I have left the house. I have sat in doctors offices, eaten in public, walked around all fat and old and hot, held hands with my husband and have no idea if I’ve been headless fatty being photographed or not. In all that time, your voice, your strong, resolute, take no prisoners, refuse to accept the status quo voice has played in my head. You’ve helped me immensely, reminded me to be strong, to be brave, to fight and not give up. Thank you. Your words have been a blessing and a mantra. I’m not really into public displays of admiration but honestly, thank you! Happy Holidays Ragen.

  2. I thank you again and again for these blogs. Your words help me to be braver in my everyday life. You arm me with facts and arguments to combat the bigotry and hateful attitudes, of today’s society & my family (aka the food police)! Thank you! May youave a wonderful holiday!

  3. Regan, if we ever meet in person, we must totally have a DFA.

    One of my favorite things to do when EWF is to order a salad and a dessert. What? I like salad. I have a sweet tooth. Plus there’s the added delicious side effect of making narrow minds explode.

  4. Shopping while fat is another one that royally pisses me off.

    Clothes: well we all have had the snide comments and the “We don’t sell your size!” while shopping for someone else.

    My mom and I were doing our Christmas shop this passed Saturday and I had one cart with the food, and my mom had the other cart with like paper towel, etc because we are having a huge family dinner (with huge boundaries since a good 50+% of them are fataphobes.) and the teller actually had the nerve to ask me if I “really” needed all that food. This was the first time in a long time I have seen my normally mild mannered mom blow bat shit after I did.

  5. Imagine their surprise when it’s discovered that fatness conveys genuine benefits. For now, however, I’ll continue to assert that fatness is the embodiment of Abundance, and as such it merits only a worshipful response.

  6. Thought of your blog when the monthly craving bit into me today. This is the time in my cycle when I must, must, MUST have fat, and not any fat but animal fat, lots of it please now, or I cannot sleep. The timing is perfect because tomorrow will be the day of buttery Christmas cookies, brown sugar ham, and creamy mashed potatoes. And in a couple of days, fat will be just nasty to me and I will probably be craving dark green vegetables and tart fruits.

    I used to associate my monthly craving with shame at my “weakness,” but thanks in no small part to reading here, I simply plan to have one fat-rich meal per day for two or three days per month and lay in the canned pineapple and fresh Brussels sprouts for two or three days after that. And if my schedule is so busy that my fat-rich meal has to be a tuna-cheese sandwich eaten in public at a Subway and I get the stinkeye from some dude, then he can shove his entitled attitude right up his nose.

  7. Regarding eating while fat: it can be similar when you’re thin too. If I have a smaller meal or a salad or whatever while around acquaintances (not friends, my friends and I don’t make these kinds of comments about each other’s eating), someone is bound to say, “That’s why you’re so thin” or “oh, that looks healthy.” If I have a larger meal or a lot of junk food in the same situation, someone is bound to say, “I don’t know where you put it.” As if they are expecting the pizza and fries or whatever to magically morph into a bulge along my waistband or something.
    Of course, I know that these comments tend to be more numerous, more hurtful, and more condemning towards fat people than thin. And I’ve certainly been guilty myself of thinking (though never saying), “oh that person must eat burgers and that kind of thing a lot” or “oh, she’s eating a salad, I wonder if she’s trying to lose weight”. I always stop and put those assumptions in check, however, especially since I know from my own experience that food and diet doesn’t work that way. Very bizarre that we’re so wired to think about it like that, even when we know the difference!

  8. I have been on ellipticals in probably 15 different gyms at this point, and I have never seen one that allow you to manually change speed. You can increase or decrease your resistance… but you change the speed yourself by how fast or slow you pedal. What do you mean, “maxing out the speed” on an elliptical?

    1. Great question Shae, I should have been more clear – my gym requests that we not do more than 200 strides per minute. They started it when Tabata training became really popular here.

      Thanks for asking!


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