What Fat People Know Best

You Cannot Be SeriousAs fat people, we are constantly being told that everyone is a better witness to our experience than we are.  We are told that we’re not competent witnesses to what and how much we do or should eat, or how much we do or should exercise.  Our bodies are held up as proof that we must be lying or deluded and that we can’t possibly know, or be doing, what’s “best for us”.   We are told that everyone from Dr. Phil to Dr. Oz to random people on the internet know more about how we think and act than we do. Some people even act like they’re doing us a favor by pretending to be us and putting words in our mouths.

When we tell people that constant social stigma is damaging to our health, we are told that if we don’t want to be mistreated we should become thin.  Doctors tell us to eat less and exercise more without asking us what we eat or how much we exercise, and people call us liars if who we are doesn’t meet their stereotypes of us, and call us delusional if we refuse to hate ourselves. We are told that if we don’t accept someone else’s account of how we think, eat, and exercise, then we’re “in denial”. It’s a system designed to make us powerless.  They tell the world who we are and what we do and how we think (often in ways that profit them), and if we disagree they call us liars.

So if you start to question yourself, to wonder if Dr. Oz really is a better witness to your experience than you are, then I implore you to stop and think.  You are not wrong, it is not you. It’s a system set up to make you feel that you are not the most credible witness to your own experience.  It’s wrong, it’s oppressive, and we don’t have to buy into it.  The next time somebody feels like they need to tell you “something you don’t know” about being you – your body, lifestyle, behaviors, or health – feel free to tell them (outloud or in your mind) that it’s not you, it’s them; that you know everything you need to know about being you, and when you want their opinion they will be among the very first to know.  You are the best most credible witness to your experience.  When it comes to you, you can allow for the possibility that you know you best.

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16 thoughts on “What Fat People Know Best

  1. What is it with some people and their belief that they know better than the person or people they are talking about?

    It’s weird and creepy.

  2. “Doctors tell us to eat less and exercise more without asking us what we eat or how much we exercise, and people call us liars if who we are doesn’t meet their stereotypes of us, and call us delusional if we refuse to hate ourselves. We are told that if we don’t accept someone else’s account of how we think, eat, and exercise, then we’re “in denial”. It’s a system designed to make us powerless. They tell the world who we are and what we do and how we think (often in ways that profit them), and if we disagree they call us liars.”

    I keep wanting to give this the kind of eloquent response it deserves because it’s so true… but because it’s so true, all I can do is sputter in angrish. How dare they write shitty gratefully-inferior comic relief roles for us and call us liars when we won’t play them. How dare they treat us like a bunch of fat Tinkerbells whose daily reality can be revoked with a well-placed hand-clap from a thin person. And how dare they, after all that, say WE’RE the delusional ones in this equation (there’s that fatphobic projection again). Grr. *Yosimite Sam noises here*

    1. *Yosemite. And that’s what I get for typing angry and hitting reply without proofreading.

      1. Please don’t tell me that “angrish” was a typo, because I love the port-manteau of angry and anguish. It fits so well. May I adopt that word, please?

        Also, seconding everything you just said.

        1. Heh, it’s not a typo, but I can’t take credit for it, either; it’s from TV Tropes.

          It just gets so frustrating sometimes, living in a world that seems to be under the genuine impression I’m not real, just a temporary placeholder for a thin person, and that they can injure me all they want because it’s not like it’s hurting her.

  3. I am a “look on the bright side” person. If I can’t find a bright side, I’ll switch to “it could be worse, but at least it isn’t,” mode, to help me accept the vicissitudes of life.

    Before, when I needed some accessibility, like a scooter at the grocery store (having already been in two car accidents – however neither required a trip to the hospital), and dealing with chronic pain for MY ENTIRE LIFE, I’d get people doing the whole “Well, if you jut put down the fork and go for a walk, you wouldn’t need that scooter!” or “I hate lazy-ass fat freaks who use things that were meant for people who are really disabled, not too lazy to get off their asses and walk!”

    Then, I was hit by a truck. Well, technically, I was hit by three trucks and a payload, but thanks to good car design, my car was completely totaled, by I survived without any broken bones. I had severe soft-tissue injury, and was off work for a solid month, and then had to go back, because insurance, and being desperate for an income, but whenever I used the scooters, or any other such helpful device, if anyone gave me flack, I could say, “Hey, I was hit by a truck. I could lose all the weight in the world, but weight-loss is not a time-machine, that will go back and stop that truck from plowing into me.

    It stops them cold, and I take some small measure of joy in that.

    This last week, after years of rest and therapy (which is NOT covered by my insurance, so all out of pocket), I asked my doctor why I’m not improving, and still in pain (and unable to work much because of it). Well, at my last visit, he ordered a full-spinal X-ray. At this visit, he gave me my results: I have early stages of degenerative disc disease AND the beginnings of bone spurs developing on my spine.

    “OH! So that’s why those sharp stabby pains continue, and all the months of expensive massage therapy only gave temporary relief of the symptoms. He can’t fix bone!” Now, my hip and shoulder are improved, but the back is simply not going to get better. Ever. It’s only going to get worse.

    So, I left the office, and told my sister. “YAAAY! I can tell people that I was hit by a truck AND I have degenerative disc disease AND I have bone spurs, and I don’t give a hoot what they think of me! I’m taking my pain pill!”

    It’s kind of nice to have something undeniably NOT fat-related that I can throw in the faces of people who would judge me just by looking at me.

    Also, the other day at the store, I saw two young men driving those scooters around, and instead of putting on my old-fogey hat, and sniffing at them about how the young’uns should leave those scooters for us old folk who need them, I just figured that they had good reason to use the scooters, and didn’t need any judgement from me. I smiled at them, and let them alone.

    I am absolutely not shy about sharing my debilitating problems with the world, because it helps some people think about others in a new light. Or not. But at least it shuts them the heck up.

    Judge not, lest ye be slammed by something that really makes you wish other people would stop judging you.

    1. First off, that’s rough getting hit by a truck & everything else! Second, I’ve had to use the scooter at the grocery store & have had that same “comment” made! I whirled my cart around, jerked up the leg of my capris & let them get a good look at my swollen green, blue & yellow still stapled knee! I nicely asked if they had something to ask me or say? I got a polite no mam & they shuffled away!

    2. Wow I am sorry for your diagnosis. Hope the meds do right by you.

      I just gotta ask folks who make the diet/exercise comments where they earned their medical degrees. “Gee, will that repair degenerative discs? Clearly with your medical education you can tell me it does-right?”

      Just goes to show ya, one never knows what burdens others carry. A little less judgment goes a long way.

      I think I would bring up the disparaging remarks issue with the store manager. While they can’t police idiot customers, managers should be made aware of any situations that adversely affect their customers. Perhaps if the employees are made aware of the situation they might be present -and step in- when an unkind comment is made towards a customer.

      Last night my family attended a baseball game. My sis walks with a cane. She is also fat. It was very tough going making our way to our seats. And a full stadium as well. I kept ears open to any disparaging comments – ready to take on any ignorant folks. Didn’t encounter a single ugly statement. Yay!

      What we did encounter: Several stadium workers went out of their way to assist (without us asking). One usher walked up to us and asked if we needed directions to our seats. We didn’t but she was helpful in pointing out a shorter route to the seats. After the event, another usher procured a jitney to bring us to the parking lot.

      1. Yay! I have times like that, too, and it gives me hope for the future. I think more and more people are learning either to accept us, or to keep their mouths shut about it.

  4. The thing that gets me is the “well-meaning” people closest to you who think it’s helpful to remind you that if you don’t lose weight you’ll die. I like to remind them that if I do lose weight, I’ll die. Probably quicker because I’ll have more stress about trying to stay thin!

    I really, really hate people who assume that I sit on my butt all day long, stuffing my face with take-away food from the time I wake up until the time I haul ass back to bed. Geez, if I was that way inclined, I’d be having the damn stuff delivered to my bedroom!

    I have fibromyalgia which accounts for my problems walking. Although I have not had any scans done on my back, I have had physiotherapy which discovered that the bottom part (between waist and butt) actually doesn’t have any movement in it at all. Therefore, walking is an acute problem a lot of the time. I shuffle along, not wanting to use a walking stick or any kind of mobility aid simply because the stigma is bad enough without fat and lazy being thrown into it all.

    And I heard, a long time ago now, that the only reason doctors keep banging on about losing weight and exercising is simply personal preference of the doctor. It has nothing to do with your own health and wellbeing. Heck, if I tried to exercise, even for a short while, I’d be laid up for months due to the damage it would do to my back.

    I am fat but I am not lazy. I eat but I do not over-eat. I love this blog and I’m so glad to see that there are people in the world who share their experience about the prejudice of others. We are all individuals and should be treated as such. If I see someone being a ass to other people, I don’t go and tell them what they should be doing instead. I can’t write here what I think, however, as it’s probably more obscene that anything people think about me 😀

  5. I’ve had someone walk up to me on a streetcorner, hand me the startling news that I’m fat, lay out a plan for me to become a “normal” eater and “get off my lazy ass”…and then slap me. Hard, squarely on a fibro trigger point. I was too sick that day to fight, or wait around for the cops to come, so I called her a few kinds of bitch and walked away. Today I’d have her arrested, or just knock her into the next county. Electric wheelchairs are good for that. 🙂

  6. I feel so happy and so sad all at the same time.

    When I found this blog a few months ago it changed my LIFE. Literally. I went from thinking about my weight and food and appearance every SECOND of my life to….BEING FREE. It was amazing.
    But then reality slowly put the chains back on. To try and make a long story short- I am 31 years old and gave birth to 6 kids in 6 years. Amazing life- been married over 11 years to the greatest man alive. However, 3 years ago life hanged drastically- I was diagnosed with a crippling nervous system disorder. My husband had to quit his job to care for me and the kids, while I went through many rigorous treatments. 2 years ago I almost lost my life to this. But we fought and prayed and somehow I am alive- disabled, mostly bedridden, but alive. My husband for a job that he can work from home when I need him to, and we found a beautiful private school for the kids (I used to homeschool).

    Anyway, at the low point of my illness while we were still figuring things out, I lost a lot of weight. Vomiting, side effects from treatment, stress- I dropped a good 25 pounds. I was very thin- not this thin since I was 19. The reality was, I was very very ill and unhealthy- but I looked amazing. I loved it. I wore cute clothes and I was the “omg I can’t belive you have 6 kids!” woman. Thin priveledge is real- and it felt amazing to have it. At that point, I was maintaining my “cute” body at about 400 calories a day. (Not on purpose, I just always was so nauseous).

    But one night I was getting dressed and my husband actually started to cry. See, my man always loved my body and its curves. He said he could see my ribs and it was breaking his heart. I was 127 lbs and am 5’5″…which isn’t too thin but on my frame I looked very thin almost gaunt. He wanted my body back- but more so he wanted me healthy. I determined right then and there that I would eat whether I felt like it or not. Whether I was nauseous or not. I was going to do everything on my end to be healthy. So I ate. I ate fruit, bread, cheese- I ate like I used to eat before. Still not a ton, but much more.

    On came the pounds. 25 in nearly three months. I think my body just wants to be this weight…150 was alway where my body was after each baby.. This was the weight I settled into after having each baby. But I am so SAD at not having my thin body. I wish so much I didn’t get a taste of “thin priveledge” because now it’s so much harder to know what I’m missing. I got complements ALL THE TIME. Today I talked to my mom and she said she has a picture of me from a year ago and her friend went on and on about how beautiful I was- and my mom said “I tried to tell her that picture was old and you don’t look like that anymore”. I was CRUSHED! It’s like your inner fears and voices coming true- so everyone who sees me is thinking how I used to be thin and pretty but now I’m not.
    I get dressed and cry every time bc I can stand the way I look. The sad part is, I don’t want to feel this way! I want to be free! I actually starved myself for 2 days last week and I got sick again- the nausea, headaches all came back. I actually put thin above health!! I hate it!!

    I am disabled- nothing I can do about that. But I don’t want to have this added burden of “being thin” in my life.

    I’m sorry for spilling out here…but I need you ladies. I need more voices telling me I’m not ugly. Telling me I haven’t failed. Telling me it’s ok not to spend my life trying to get back to being thin. I’m so so miserable- and I just want to be happy. I read this blog all the time- I don’t know how to combat the voices (inner and outer) that I face evert single day. Thank you girls for this space and this blog and just for being YOU. It gives me hope that maybe I can be free too one day.

    1. *HUGS* You are not ugly and not a failure.

      You are wise for finding out what works for your health. You are loving because you noticed your husband’s emotions and respected them.

      You have six beautiful children. You can raise them right and you will have added six wonderful adults to the world.

      You are more than your looks. You are your feelings, your thoughts, your skills and all that other hard-to-define stuff.

      I don’t know what your health lets you do, but try to do things you enjoy and are proud of. Maybe keep a gratitude journal. Try to notice when your husband admires you. Try to appreciate things about your body that work each day: “Hey arms, way to hug the kids!”

      If you can, try to minimize time with folks who are obsessed with looks, or try to find ways to change the subject. This part is hard because our society is so image obsessed. Sometimes I avoid watching TV unless I know there are a variety of body types and ages. I like Melissa McCarthy and Dawn French.

      Read and reread the stuff on this blog, and find other body-positive blogs. It does help to retrain your mind.


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