Now be prepared for a rant.

I mean, I guess I couldn’t be surprised that a state like Mississippi would be the state to suggest such absurdity: After all, they aren’t the most forward thinking state in the country. It’s not like they are known for their shining examples of race relations or education.

Like, what do we need, people: A Roe v. Wade for fatness? How can this even be possible? According to Junkfood Science, the bill will target only certain restaurants. OK. Likely, those restaurants will be fast food chains first, as “obese” people have sued them in the past. Many fast food chains have drive-throughs; how will people be weighed, then? Will they have to get out of their cars at the talking box thing, or will the entire car be weighed? What if there is more than one person in the car? Will the entire car’s BMI be averaged?

How will restaurants respond? Will they come to the aid of fatties everywhere? Will they claim that fat people are their best customers, and demand that this discriminatory practice will hurt their business, such as bars here in Madison did when the smoking ban went into effect a couple of years ago? Or will they be so disgusted by the fat patrons they will say nothing?

Will scales have to be synchronized and calibrated? Will they be simple bathroom scales, or will they be like, cow scales? Will they have BMI calculators on them? Or will restaurant managers be armed with the formula on how to figure out the BMI, and then entrusted to teach wait staff and host staff on how to determine the BMIs of hopeful patrons? Will flesh calipers be involved?

What is next, people? Fucking arm bands listing >30 on them, so that we can determine who we should accurately discriminate against? So we can be assured that we are not eating next to an “obese” person in a restaurant, since clearly visual appearance doesn’t really reflect some uniform standard of “obesity” very well — see Shapely Prose’s BMI Project for proof of that.

Anyone who questioned my previous blog equating fat hatred and discrimination as one step on a slippery slope toward the fascist hatred espoused by regimes like Hitler’s Nazi Germany, or Stalin’s Russia, well, folks: Here is where it starts.


Letting go

So, yesterday, N asked me a very poignant question about fatness, which was: When will I let go of the notion that I have to be nice to everybody (and not stand up for myself) because I am fat?

Because I tend to let people walk all over me because if I am just nice enough, maybe they won’t notice how fat I really am. They will forgive me for it.

I have been chewing on that for the last 18 hours now.

I think I compartmentalize my life in certain ways. There are places where fatness reigns and where it does not. Where it is to my advantage, and where it is to my hindrance. And where it is to my advantage, I stand up for myself, and where it is to my hindrance, I do not.

Take work, for example. I can think of no other venue where I Speak My Mind and Don’t Shut The Fuck Up the best than at work. That’s actually where N and I met. I am quick to state my opinions, fight for what’s mine, advocate for my own rights and others’, be the sounding board for colleagues’ ideas, and am usually quickly promoted. Quite literally, I throw my weight around, on the job. I take up some motherfuckin’ space, yo. Work gets me riled up, work soothes me; when I am satisfied at work, I am doing well in life; when I am dissatisfied at work, I am not doing well at life. I am creature bound by her work. I have always seen my weight as a boon to any career I have been in, because I feel as though I will be taken far more seriously, and I feel as though I don’t have to play the games that other women play at work, because I am not even in their league. I suppose I carry myself like a “man” at work, and am rather shocked when people are still perceiving me as a woman. And perhaps that isn’t gender politically correct of me, but it is truthful for me.

In any sort of educational setting I feel the same way. I am not shy or inhibited and have a lot to say, and I feel as though I am taken seriously and not simply seen as just a pretty face or body. It’s been a relief to be fat and not have to worry, a majority of the time, about things like: Will my work — on an educational or career-level — be taken seriously because I have tits and an ass? Which is probably why I despise being hit on so much, because it reminds me that yes, I do have tits and an ass, and apparently, men feel as though they have the right to make public commentary about them, and I’d much rather prefer to be visually invisible, and be noticed only for what I have to say or do.

I can stand up for myself righteously with cashiers, wait staff, customer service people, people on the phone, people who have treated me badly whose services I have purchased. I am able to fight for my rights vigorously with people I don’t know.

It is only when I get into a home space, or a space in which significant relationships are formed where I am less able to stand up for myself. I am not good at creating conflict with people whom I am expected to live. I am not good at speaking up for myself when someone I love may simply sum up everything that I have done with this single justification for why they are angry with me: Well, you are fat, so of course I am angry with you.

This has become a Very Big Issue recently because of the living situation I have been in at the present moment. It seems set to resolve in a short period of time, and when I found out that in a month or so, I would have a space to call my own, it was as if all of the air in an overblown balloon had been released. It’s not easy to let go of something you’ve been raised with when you have no safe place to rest your head at the end of the night. It’s not easy to fight battles when you are expected to sleep in the very battleground you’ve waged a war upon.

Letting go of a concept, a mannerism, an entire way of being sometimes requires letting go of people and relationships in your life, as well — at least for a time being. And that’s kind of where I am at now.

File this under life lessons.

This really doesn’t have to do with fat, except that I am a fat person, and this is my life, so I am living this experience fatly.

I got divorced in September. It was amicable, and I have a relatively pleasant relationship with my ex husband. I am now in a great, supportive queer relationship with N, who is amazing and nice and probably puts up with far too much.

I am 30.

A year ago, I was in some sort of quasi-emotional hell, trying to figure out  the coming out process and this thing called marriage and what I was really doing. Approaching 30, I had all sorts of things that people who are becoming 30 Should Have: real estate, a career, an education, friends, a good combined income, family relationships, lots of pets, an active social life. You know: The American Dream. I had literally sat on my couch at the age of 28 and thought: How is this possible? How did I get to this point? How can I actually Have It All at 28? I was amazed. A little scared, but amazed.

A year later, I am sitting on N’s bed, in a room that is just slightly bigger than it, no real estate, fewer friends, no family, fewer pets, single income. I have just spoken to my ex-husband about taking in my cats for a month as I sort out my living situation, because I currently nomadically roam from N’s house to where she house sits as I am not welcome in my own apartment, and am a burden everywhere else I stay. Each night is a manic frenzy of thoughts about “How the fuck did I get into this situation?” and “You are such an idiot for letting your life get so out of control that you actually live no where,” and “Just a year ago you actually had your name on a deed to a condominium and if you had been smarter you would have fought harder to maintain that so you would have some fucking peace in your life because roaming the proverbial streets with your shit scattered in different locations is no way for an educated, smart, financially stable woman to live.”

I know I could reframe this. I know that much of the reason I live like this is because truthfully, it is too important for me to rest and wake each night and morning next to N. I know that it is temporary and some day we or I will have a nice, clean, sunny apartment that smells good and has a nice-sized kitchen where I can play my music loud and burn incense and let my cats jump off the walls and talk and laugh as loud as I want. And there will be hair in the drain. It will be OK if sometimes I have to sleep with the TV on because my mind is too racy, and it will also be OK if I eat macaroni and cheese in bed, and if I play the same song on repeat over and over, The End.

There comes a time in life where you learn a lesson over and over and over, and you finally get it. I have lived in so many places where I have been uncomfortable, where I have been unwelcome, where I have not fit in, where there has been no peace. I moved around a lot as a small child. I have moved constantly as an adult. There has been no opportunity for root-making. I now get that it is too vitally important to my well being to actually have a place to live that is free of emotional clutter.

N sometimes teases me because I start off everything I say with “I feel like …” And it’s true … I do feel like … everything for me is a feeling; To feel is my primary understanding of the world. Living with others allows their feelings to get right within my skin, for me to feel what they feel, and carry that with me. It’s not something I ask for, or recognize that I am even doing. It simply is. If others are tense, I absorb it. If others are cheerful, I take that on. Living in places where the dynamics are shifting, or where people are downright hostile toward me is unbearable to a degree I cannot name, because it is unnamable: Most people aren’t outwardly aggressive to the people with whom they live — it is unspoken and subtle, and it is these unspoken nuances I feel deepest.  As someone who is learning not to take on fixing everything for everybody, as someone who is attempting to learn to stand up for herself, trying to navigate living spaces where I feel unspoken truths that state I am unwelcome is nearly unbearable.

Leases are up in the summer, and again, there will be moving. This time, I am making deliberate choices, not choices of convenience because of a divorce or financial reasons, or in the haze of love. I am far too old and a bit too fragile for all of that now.

After all, I am 30. I have shouldn’t have to compromise on how I want to live anymore.

Relegated to troll hell, you are.

And, Daniel, you took one for the team.

Sorry. I find the word “darling” offensive.

Consciousness Rising

So, thanks to Kim, who read my bitchfest about the lack of exercise clothing for fatties, I tried out a hip hop class last night instead of the belly dance class I was going to try last week.

The class was really good.

There were about 40 people in it, a variety of body shapes, ages and abilities, although I was the fattest one there. Yep, I still do that: Check to see if I’m the fattest. I usually am, especially in any venue where movement is required, because I think people who are big are told not to move. I’ve stopped checking to see if I’m the fattest everywhere else in life though, because I’m less body-conscious about my size in other arenas, and just assume that my body isn’t going to cause me any distress or hindrances in the way I am perceived. And maybe because I walk around with this notion firmly implanted in my head, it hasn’t.

I’m reading this book called: The Forbidden Body: Why Being Fat Isn’t a Sin. It’s by Shelly Bovey, and was published in 1989, and then reprinted in 1994. So it’s a bit old, but probably not too old in the way of how people think about bodies, especially fat bodies. It’s a bit hard for me to read, admittedly, because I have just wandered through life not really thinking about how my own body may be perceived by others. I really have no concept of that at all, actually. My own body image issues are so, well, internal. Yes, I know I am fat, but really, the hatred about that has felt so intrinsic and motivated from within that I haven’t stopped to think about what other people are saying about my body. Clearly I understand these internal issues come from an external source. Of course as a kid I was taunted; of course as an adult I’ve been harassed by the medical industrial complex. But I’ve become rather oblivious to it all. I guess it’s an ego defense mechanism, on my part. And it’s kept me rather happy. It’s true: I’ve never been denied a job, I’ve never been wanting for companionship, I’ve never had problems getting an education, I’ve never had a problem doing anything that any of the people with thin privilege apparently take for granted, because I just assume thin privilege, even though I am fat.

I don’t know what to make of that.

Am I to find problems in my life where there currently haven’t been any because of a body that I live in rather comfortably? A body that may be hated by the world, but I am comfortable ignoring the messages about that? Like the proverbial ostrich? I’m not sure I want to start feeling shitty about my life just to identify with fat anger. I am very satisfied with the fact that I walk around like I can do whatever the hell I want, despite weighing 263.8 pounds, and everyone else can go to hell, fuck you very much.

For me, fatness has definitely caused some significant issues with health care, and I simply do not see the doctor for things I probably should because I know I don’t get the care I should because they see me and assume I am unwilling to care for myself, so why should they care for me? Fat has caused me tremendous distrust of several health care providers, including my shrink, where I am at my most vulnerable: I am a woman of too much excess — in body and mood — and shrinks don’t care for that very much. At the ob/gyn I have had a male practitioner talk to me about my weight with his hand inside me, claiming that despite it, I was still attractive. I worry that someday I will have a burst appendix or a bleeding ulcer and I will not go to the hospital because my treatment has been so poor in the past I would rather just wait the pain out that be subjected to the spiteful malpractice of what passes for medical care in this country. So yes, the health care industry is an area where righteous anger about fat prejudice is alive and well within me.

I guess in a lot of ways, I have become so used to being fat, that I don’t know what else I could be. And so I can’t pretend to be anything else. I just got on with my life. While I struggle at times with my body image, I’ve taken myself out of the race for thinness. It’s not even an option for me. People who yammer on and on and on about diets and the unhealthiness of fat: They are just noise in the background, obsessive nobodies who are taking up oxygen. What I have to keep reminding myself of, however, is that those obsessive nobodies shape public policy and funnel national health care dollars into programs that detrimentally effect me. And that’s should be enough of a something to force this ostrich to pull her head out of its hole.

« Older entries