Sunday, February 03, 2013
I'm fat, and I don't use that word to insult myself. If I were thin, I would say it just as matter-of-factly: "I'm thin." I use the word 'fat' like the adjective that it is. I'm fat, female, near-sighted, a bibliophile, human... it's just a word.
So why do people try to fit so much meaning into those three letters?
As many fat people have, I've received lots and lots of "great" advice about how to reduce my level of fat. I've gotten tons of tips on how to "drop a few pounds," "lose some weight," "get down to a healthy size," or "start a weight-loss program." Fortunately for me, although most of the advice was unsolicited, it was at least kindly stated. Rarely have I ever heard intentionally rude or derogatory comments about my weight. No one means to hurt my feelings, but occasionally they have. Mostly, though, they've just baffled me. Why was everyone so focused on the how? What about the why?
Do people truly think that I am fat because I simply did not have the access to a good health plan? The right diet book? I just didn't understand how to navigate the complex aisles of the grocery store? Could they really think it was that simple?
I wondered if people imagined me standing next to my refrigerator, chugging soda and cramming doughnuts into my mouth at a frenetic pace. Perhaps they envisioned me making a trip down fast-food lane for every meal, and then topping off every cheeseburger with a gallon of ice cream. Maybe I skipped brushing my teeth in the mornings in favor of waking up to chomp a few candy bars before my 25 pancake breakfast. Surely they didn't think that... right?
Even if that was how I gained weight, rather than being a sign of ignorance, such destructive eating would obviously be a symptom of a more drastic problem. I am not a stupid woman. My food choices had nothing to do with a lack of common sense. My decision to remain fat for many years was not a natural consequence of having no other options available. It went much deeper than a love of sweets. And that is why I nodded at the great weight loss advice, thanked those who truly wanted to help me de-fat myself, and went on my merry way. Because they didn't get it and taking the time to explain it just wasn't worth the effort at the time.
To be fair, the why of my unhealthy living is a deeply personal issue. If someone had taken the time to ask, I'm not sure what my answer would've been in the past. I have a pat answer prepared now though: "I'm rethinking my relationship with food," is what I'll say.
If anyone ever bothers to ask.