I saw a cooking show recently at a hotel and I made a note to blog about it. It seems familiar so I looked back and, indeed, it turns out that it was a re-run and I had blogged about it before, so I’m re-posting it. There was a chef whose passion was “healthy cooking.” She started out by talking about how many people in her family “struggle with their weight”, she teared up as she talked about how sad it was for her to watch.
Then, when she went in front of the judges with a soup that was, to me, a horrific looking combination of black eyed peas and cabbage – pureed – she suddenly got angry and went on a rant about how she was “fed up” how there is “no excuse for it.” Happily the judges were not into the attitude which neatly summed up two reactions that people have to fat people that I find utterly inappropriate and unwelcome.
First – Pity. Don’t want it, don’t need it, won’t listen to it. There is nothing pitiable about my body. As I’ve mentioned before I do not “suffer” from obesity, I do suffer from people’s attitudes about my body. That’s a suffering that will end as soon as people acknowledge that bodies come in different sizes for different reasons, that there is no wrong way to have a body, and that it’s nobody else’s business at all. When someone says that they pity me because of my body it indicates that they think there is something superior about their bodies. My body is amazing and I won’t allow it to be treated that way without sticking up for it. People can keep their pity, and their opinions and assumptions of my body, to themselves.
Preaching is the second issue. It seems like every time I turn around someone’s trying to score points by giving “tough talk” to us fatties. Telling us that they are just fed up with us and our big, fleshy bodies like we should care how they feel. Saying that the world needs to stop “coddling” us, asserting that the world would be better if we didn’t exist, waging war on us for power, politics and profit. Suggesting that the problem with fat people is that we’re just not bullied and oppressed enough. Somehow certain that the reason we’re not thin is that 386,170 negative messages a year about our body are just not enough. That somebody needs to tell us we’re fat. If shaming fat people made us thin, we’d all be thin.
I reflect sometimes on how the achievements of fat people are made more impressive because we accomplish things under the crushing weight of near constant stigma and bullying. Despite the pitying, the preaching, and the constant drumbeat of “your body is wrong”, we keep rising above, keep fighting back. Just getting out of bed when you know the work water cooler conversation is going to be about weight loss resolutions, or going to the gym when you know the junior high level fatphobia you might face, are gold medal sports some days and we just keep doing it.
So go fatties go! Everyone else can keep their pitying and preaching to themselves, we’re fine.
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6 thoughts on “Fat Bodies Don’t Need Pity or Preaching”
Go Girl! You said it better than me!!! Love your blog.
Day after day after day. I read a book where a woman said she was amazed at all we fat people put up with and still manage to have lives. Truly. unless you are a discriminated against minority, with an open, societally, politically and medically endorsed hostility, you have no fing clue how miserable other people can be about something that bodily dimensions, bank accounts, personal goals and any other private issue are none of there damn business.
If you are treated like shit on a daily basis and still manage not to hate people, life, yourself, or decide to go shot up a nightclub over your own issues, you are doing pretty good. If you feel it is your bounden duty to inform others that they are not meeting YOUR personal criteria for O.K.ness, you need to shut the hell up and get a life! If that IS your life…diet gurus, bariatric surgeon, fitness nazi, well intentioned family member… I pity YOU!
We went shopping today closer to 11 and I had not eaten since 9 PM the night before and I started feeling sick, I drank all my water and moved on the a banana just paid for, I didn’t even look for the LOOKS I got as a fat woman eating in public. That it was a banana and not a candy bar must have made them choke on their gorge. The candy bar was in the bag. 🙂
I did catch the checkers look. but didn’t care long enough to analyse…
I love this! I’d, personally, add a third reaction that I often get – it’s the “well-meaning support” …that is neither asked for nor supportive.
From the weird “It’s ok, there’s a fat kid in all of us” comment spoken to me by a stranger out of the blue at a restaurant while we were both standing in line, to the airline agent who decided my thanking her for treating me with dignity (as it was not something I was used to experiencing during air travel) was an open invitation to insult me by saying proudly with a “supportive smile”: “It’s ok, we all struggle with our personal demons – fat people’s are just more obvious than others”, to the several waiters and waitresses who think complimenting me on my food choice is supportive and not at all condescending, etc etc – it boils down to a lot of “well-meaning support” that is just ignorant and insulting.
*Nothing* trips my berserk button harder than anyone, but especially a thin adult, describing their moments of lazy, overindulgent contentedness as their “inner fat kid.” All that tells me is that they have *no bloody idea* what it’s like to grow up, with all the same emotional, physical, and legal vulnerabilities and dependencies as any other child, in a society that sees “your kind” as a problem to be solved and/or prey to be picked clean.
Every time a fat hater does this, they put the lie to their own claim they do what they do because they care about the fat people they victimize. It is so transparently all about them, how other people being fat makes *them* feel, how burdened and tried and unfairly put-upon *they* are when someone else is fat around them, how *they’re* being cheated and unappreciated when they act on those feelings and meet resistance instead of gratitude. What the fat person on whom they would impose their “help” *actually needs* is never a question they ask, and they wouldn’t listen to the answers if you told them – they’re too busy being “sad” and “fed up” and frustrated with how our being fat and not-thin where they can see us is grossing them out and how if we really loved and appreciated them, we’d stop being fat for them.
(Although I said last time the recipe actually does sound kinda good, if someone made it for me and then ranted for a half-hour about how gross and sad I am and there’s “no excuse” for my existence, I’d be hella afraid to eat it).
We have passed the bend where minding your own business was even a thing. It is now an antiquated custom for a less enlightened age. We now live in “Help me to help YOU.” world.