Saturday, May 17, 2008

When You're Fat, You're Not Just Fat

Five years old, my first diet. Seven years old, being declared officially "overweight" because I weigh ten pounds over what a "normal" seven-year-old should weigh. Ten years old, learning to starve myself and be happy being constantly dizzy. Thirteen years old, crossing the border from being bigger than my friends to actually being "fat." Fifteen years old, hearing the boys in the next room talk about how fat (and hence unattractive) I am. Whenever I perform, I remember the time when my dad said he didn't like the dance I choreographed because I looked fat while I was doing it. Every time I dye my hair I remember when my mom wouldn't let me dye my hair in seventh grade because seeing fat people with dyed hair made her think they were just trying to cover up the fact that they're fat, trying to look attractive despite it (when of course it's obvious what they should really do if they want to look attractive, right?) - Nomy Lamm, It's a Big, Fat Revolution
Fat hate is constant. Turn on your TV. Ride the subway. Open a magazine. Eavesdrop in a restaurant. Because when you're fat, you're no longer human. Your body is open to discussion and debate everywhere. Your health is analyzed by strangers, and you're constantly reminded that you are unattractive. You are sneered at. You are laughed at openly. You are pointed at.

But, at the same time you are invisible. Your existence is ignored in films. Clothes featured in magazines are not made in your size. Doors are slammed in your face, as they are held open for other people.

Because, in case you didn't know, fat people are not human, and they don't deserve respect. And they are also pretty stupid, which is why they constantly need to be reminded by strangers that their hearts are in danger, or they might have diabetes. Oh, and they are lazy. The only reason that they are fat is because they refuse to get off the couch and get to the gym.

Or not. Fat people know whether they are healthy or not. (Because fat can be healthy, btw.) They know the risks of a sedentary lifestyle because they watch the news and go to the doctor. They don't need to be told by you. Yeah, except they might not lead a sedentary lifestyle. They are active. They workout. They eat healthy. Because there is more than one way to become fat. Yes, they might be sedentary (but, the thin person next to you may also be). But, they also may have thyroid problems. Their bodies might be built differently than yours. They might be depressed and coping through food. But really, that's not you're problem. It's theirs.

And fat people do face a lot of problems. Fat discrimination is real. Fat employees make less a year than thin ones. Far less. Fat students are less likely to be accepted to prestigious universities than thin ones (but how do they know the students are fat? Most Ivy-leagues require interviews).

Well, maybe you would hire a fat person, but you would never sleep with one (that's the sentiment I've gotten from a lot of commentors here). You're just not attracted to them. Fat is gross. But why? Would you still think that fat was "gross" if you hadn't been bombarded with images and messages that thin in sexy? If you had been raised away from an image-filled media, would you think like that? A teacher once told me that in "the days of radio" women were attracted to deep voices and valued those deep voices in a potential mate more than their physical appearance. Just a thought.

Also, read this.

And, a few notes, I am not anti-thin. I realize that thin women face their own set of problems; however, there has been a lot of anti-fat hatred on this blog lately, which is why I chose to write about fat oppression. And this post is meant to be fairly gender neutral. Fat is a feminist issue. But, because this is sort-of a Fat Oppression 101 post, I wanted to encompass the problems that face both men and women. More gender-specific posts will probably follow. And, as the writer of this post, I expect commentors may say that I am just "bitter" or fat myself. Both are a little true. I am not a thin woman, and I feel bitterness when I see discrimination. But, I am also a beautiful woman who wants to change things a little bit.

Edit: I am closing comments on this thread. Comments have failed to be productive and only succeeded in insulting me, all feminists, and women in general.