Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Thin Fat Line

You might be wondering what I mean by saying "the thin fat line."  I'll get to that in a minute.

First, this may end up being a short post (although who knows, I've said that before and have ended up with long posts). I'm insanely tired and have a headache (so hopefully this makes some sense).  I could probably go to bed right now and sleep all night long. Ahhh....The joys of the beast. My stomach isn't feeling the greatest either. The thought of mixed veggies made me feel a little queasy earlier. I ate popcorn for dinner (laziness plus, well, nothing else sounded good), and I'm sure that's only making me feel even more yucky. Oh well...I'll live.

So. The thin fat line. I was thinking tonight about the notion of fat acceptance.  The fat acceptance movement is quite simple; activists are trying to change the way society views "fat" people. I find this interesting because...What is "fat"? I don't think it's a term that has just one definition. I may look at someone and think they're "chubby" but maybe not "fat." I may look at someone and think that they're "fat" and they may not think that they are. My point is that fat is not an absolute term. Everyone views "fat" differently.  I guess for the sake of the movement, it's defined as anyone who is even a little overweight to morbidly obese.

I agree that we should accept people for who they are. In my opinion discrimination is discrimination. Me being nasty to a fat person would be just as bad as me being nasty to a minority. Or someone of another religion. Or someone who is homosexual.  All of these things are still issues, but I don't think the whole fat issue has become as big as others, or as big as it can be.  I think one key difference in being fat and other things is that you can help (I'd say the majority of the time) being fat. Unless you have some crazy disease that prevents it, you can control it. I can control my size. I can't control the fact that I'm white. Or straight.

I think that treating fat people badly is something that's much more acceptable than treating someone badly for another reason, such as the color of their skin.  Fat jokes are acceptable, unless of course you're with a fat person. People talk about one another being too fat (and also too thin, because this is a problem too) without hesitation.

I spent a good chunk of time as the fat girl. I have been the butt of jokes. I have cried many tears of hurt over the years. I spent a long time hating myself for what I looked like, so much so that I was too depressed to do anything about it. I felt hopeless; like I was always going to be fat. I tried, and failed, to control it many times.  I understand how difficult it is to be fat. I understand how hateful people can be. I know how even little comments ("wow, do you really need to eat at Fast Food Place A?") can hurt. No one would question a skinny person walking into a fast food joint. But a fat person...Prepare to be judged.

Here's my issue with that... Fast food is unhealthy. Period. I don't care if you're 100 lbs or 500 lbs...You shouldn't be eating it on a regular basis. I realize every now and then people eat fast food (including not-as-bad places). It's convenient. It's fast. Heck, it's a treat sometimes. The thing is, if we judge a fat person for walking into a fast food place, we should judge everyone who enters one. Size doesn't matter; if you're eating that, it's bad for you.

It's easy to tell people that they can change. I find this super funny when someone who has never battled with weight says it. I often think "really? How do you know that?" and sometimes the words escape my lips. I've been there... I know how hard it is to change. I also know how easy it is (once you set your mind to it).

Obviously, I think that treating people badly because of their size (too big or too small) is a horrible thing to do. I agree that we need to accept people for who they are and not judge them for what we think they should be.

I'll admit there are times when I think things that aren't so nice. Heck, I have a girl's face on a cow's body on one of my motivation posters! I use real people as motivation to never be fat again...This isn't to say I'm thinking negative things about them. I'm just remember how I once was and how I don't want to be again.

 The people who's heads get stuck on cow's bodies and the people I use for motivation? Are not my friends. They are not my family.  In fact, when I look at all of my friends and family, their size (small or big) is not what I look at. I look at who they are. I look at some and think "you're a mother, how beautiful." Or I look at others and think "damn, I'm jealous- you're a wife!" I look at others and think "you're beautiful." The people I use for motivation are strangers to me.

I think that sometimes our own judgements of others come from our own insecurities and experiences.  For example, say a really fat person once sat on you, stole your wallet, and left you fighting for your breath...You might be a little afraid of fat people because of that experience. Yes, that is meant to be a far-fetched example...BUT...People will say those things to justify other forms of discrimination, which is really just as silly. In my opinion. Anyway, an experience or two really should not allow you to judge everyone who looks similar. That? Is ridiculous. In my opinion. Again.

I was once fat. Maybe I now use fat people as motivation because I am TERRIFIED to ever be fat again. That is assuming you don't think I'm fat right now. Someone might, and after the work I've done I'd have to say (and this is so not lady-like) "eff you." I'd say it just like that too. It's rare that I drop the f-bomb. It honestly makes me cringe. If it escapes my lips (unless I'm super angry and don't realize it, or care) I kinda want to slap my own mouth.

Maybe I'd stick an ex-friend's head on a cow. Ha! There's a reason any ex (friend or boy/girlfriend) is an ex. Maybe your head is going on a cow's body because I'm still angry with you for something.  I'm also highly competitive. Maybe someone's head should be on a cow's body because of that competition... If they were (in my perception, no matter how skewed) were "better" in some way that might make me insecure. BAM! Your head? Meet cow's body.  Maybe it's a fear that someone is going to take something away, like attention (that's a big one for a lot of us)...Don't you dare try to steal my thunder (especially if you haven't worked as hard). You just might make a cow become a two-headed monster.

These are all just examples...Not all are true.  I have, admittedly, put a face or two on a cow. And? Quite honestly it was pretty dang funny. Yes, I'm aware that might make me a jerk. It was for motivation and it has worked.

"Only a cow should look like a cow."

That's a reminder that I use often to keep myself motivated. Why? Because no way am I going to allow myself to be a cow again. I can't help but think of one cream colored dress, with a black larger flower pattern, that I wore a few years ago....Uh, I probably resembled a cow in that thing. Horror!

Okay, sooo... I've made my point on size acceptance. Don't judge because someone will judge you back (probably me, if I find out you're judging worries, I'll undoubtedly find something to judge you about; possibly your ugly personality).

What I DO NOT agree with is condoning unhealthy living. Being fat pretty much means that you're not living healthy. I refuse to accept that it is okay to be fat, but from a healthy living perspective. This might be confusing... I just got done saying we shouldn't judge based on appearance. Now I'm saying I don't think that it's okay to be fat.  Yes. That's exactly what I said. And that is exactly what I mean.

This is where the thin fat line comes into play.  There's a VERY fine line between what is okay and what is not.  It is okay to love someone for who they are. It's okay to accept someone for who they are. It's not okay to be an asshat to someone because of what they look like.

I'm saying...discrimination is bad.

When I talk about how being fat is unhealthy and from that perspective, it is not okay, that's exactly what I mean. FROM A HEALTH PERSPECTIVE...NOT based on someone's appearance.  I also feel this way about people who are too thin. Honestly, looking like a skeleton covered with a very light layer of skin is not appealing to me. Am I going to judge you because of it? No. Am I going to have a genuine concern for your health? YES. Just like if you're fat. I'm not going to poke at you and say "teehee" like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but I am going to worry that you're cutting your life short.

It's not my place to walk up to strangers on the street and say "hey, you need to lose a few pounds or you'll put yourself at risk for...x,y,and z...Maybe a and b, too."  Inside though, I'll feel a little pain for you. Maybe you're okay with how you look, but... How do you feel? I'll have empathy, especially because I've been there. I'll think you're amazing for having confidence to be 350 pounds and rocking a fabulous mini-skirt, with no apparent care that your legs might look like sausages (because that's how I would've felt).  I'll think you're a great example of showing others that they can love who they are, at any size.

When we think of acceptance, we often think of appearance. I hope that people realize that health is a much larger issue. Of course, society doesn't really seem to care what your liver looks like, how hard your poor little heart has to work, or the fact that your knees are wearing away. No. Society cares about how you look in those jeans, a pair of shorts, that mini-skirt, or that muscle shirt.

When I talk about it not being okay to be fat, I mean it from a health perspective. I have a passion for health and fitness now. I knew it was there all along (as evidenced by my love of sports but fear to participate). I wouldn't write this blog if I didn't think I could inspire one person. I wouldn't be open to answering questions if I didn't think it'd help. I write this because I want to share where I've been and what I"ve learned. I want to work in this area so that the people I work with know that at least one person, who has been there, is on their side.

As strongly as I feel about health, I can't force it on anyway. That's like trying to force religion on someone. Pretty soon I'll be viewed as an annoying person that people will cause people to not answer the door and hide, pretending they're not home (and inside screaming "GO AWAY")....Not that I've ever done that. HA! I'm not about to force health and fitness down anyone's throat. But if they come to me, I'll help. I'll be a shoulder to cry on. I'll be a cheerleader. I'll be a motivational speaker. I'll be the crazy person yelling to keep pushing when they want to stop. I'll sweat with them.

Also? I'll probably charge them because, hey, a girl's gotta eat! :)

Here's what's up with the thin fat line... Bascially? It's just a thin line between saying fat is okay and saying it's not okay.  It's hard. In one way you're going to look like a complete jerk who makes fun of people. In another way, you can be someone who helps someone to change their lifestyle. I think that the fat acceptance movement makes it seem like it's okay to be fat. Period. At least, that's what I've found in my googling experience. I think it's better to say that you are beautiful and unique, and that's amazing. Because when it comes down to it, being fat is not okay. It's not okay because of what you're doing to your body, not becuase of how you look.

BUT...It is your body and you have the right to choose how to treat it. I'm not going to get in your face and say "change because you're killing yourself."  Maybe you'd rather live it up now and only live to be 50, rather than having a longer life. I can respect that it is your choice. For me? That's not a decision I'm going to make. I can't agree with that philosophy, but if it's yours...It's YOURS.

I will never tell someone "hey, fattie, you need to lose weight." I'm pretty sure I've heard that a time or ten thousand (possible slight exaggeration). But if I know someone, no matter what their weight, is trying to get healthy... I'll be there to cheer them on. Even if it's as simple as a couple encouraging words to my spark friends, or replying to a stranger's e-mail saying "YOU CAN do this!"

Fat.  One tiny little word that can mean so much, cause issues, hurt feelings...and so many other things. Whatever it means to you, do what makes you happy. If getting healthy is on your agenda, congratulations. I think that's simply amazing. You don't have to want to be a size six in order to live healthy.  Really, your appearance and health are two totally different things. One is just how you look... The other is how you feel and how you live.

Huh... What do you know...That end up being longer than I planned. I guess I ran with it once I got started! Hopefully it wasn't too scattered!


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