Thursday, September 2, 2010

Staying fat on the inside....an interesting article.

A friend sent me this article by Emily McComb.  It's good...thought you guys might like to read it too.



I come from a small-ish town in Oklahoma where we've never met a vegetable we couldn't fry and the only things more super-sized than our portions are the huge church complexes that alternate with fast-food restaurants along our roads.

So it maybe isn't such a big surprise that by the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 260 pounds. My prom dress was a size 24, and my mother had to help me zip it up, a five-minute ordeal during which we grunted and cursed at one another.

My aunt had to custom-make my graduation gown, a huge white tent in which I resembled the Stay-Puft marshmallow man.

Still, I left for college in New York City feeling relatively confident. After all, I wasn't just fat. I was also stylish, managing to alter and combine pieces in a way where they overcame their origins as shapeless sacks designed by people with the gall to decorate plus-size garments with ice-cream cones and slices of pizza.

And I was hilarious and sexually brash, defense mechanisms mastered by fat women and gay men everywhere.

I wasn't immune -- hurtful things would happen on occasion. Groups of rowdy teenagers sometimes yelled insults at me from car windows. I gave my phone number to a nice guy, only to find out when he called that he had a fetish for overweight women, shamelessly telling me that he likes "something to grab onto." Or someone would approach me out of nowhere on the street and tell me not to worry about how I look; someday -- when I'm ready -- I'll lose the weight.

And of course, I compared myself endlessly to the impossibly thin women in magazines, just like the average-weight women I knew, to whom I also, by the way, compared myself.

Despite these blows to your self-esteem, for the most part nobody close to you really tells you to your face what they think about your weight. As a result, a fat girl's worldview is missing vital pieces of information. When you don't get invited on your friends' man-catching all-girl outings, or when men who enjoy sleeping with you over and over again fail to want to date you, you can't quite comprehend that all this is really caused by the way you look.

But then, the summer before my junior year of college, something changed. I made a promise to myself to diet just for one summer, and for the first time I saw results. On a low-carb plan, I started melting away, shrinking inwards. I began to grow collarbones and hipbones, sprouting bony, sharp spots all over my body. By the end of the summer, I was 50 pounds lighter, and within a year I was down to 160 pounds on my 5'11" frame, a solid size 10.

It's been six years now that I've maintained that weight loss, and it is far and away the best thing I've ever done for myself. Not because I'm healthier and will probably live longer, but because I now reap the benefits of a society set up to punish fat people for the unforgivable crime of eating too much.

I hear the fat jokes right out loud now, instead of just a whispering breeze brushing past my ear. Men who used to let the door swing shut in my face now hold it open for me politely and look me up and down as I step past.

My own boyfriend, a man I began dating a few months after reaching my goal weight, sees the picture on my driver's license and admits he probably wouldn't have gone out with me when I looked like that. I appreciate his honesty. It's better than the good-intentioned people who gush upon seeing the new me, "You're so pretty now!" before stammeringly adding, "Not that you weren't, uh, pretty before."

Finding yourself suddenly thin after a lifetime of being fat is a bit like stepping into that "Saturday Night Live" sketch where Eddie Murphy goes undercover as a white guy and discovers that white people act completely differently when there are no black people around.

With no outward sign of my former body type, I became a renegade spy for Team F.A.T.

Of course, I didn't discover that thin people drink cocktails and dance when fat people get off the bus. But when I lost weight, I was rewarded with membership in a club I never knew existed, where the benefits included better treatment, greater professional success and, above all, a new status as qualified participant in the social world including romantic relationships.

Of course, I lost weight to reap these benefits. But it doesn't stop me from being angry that I had to lose weight to reap these benefits. Of those who are nice to me now, who would have been rude to me before? Which ones made the cruel jokes? Who can be trusted?

As the years pass, it is easy to forget. I have even, on a few occasions, found myself looking at an overweight person with faint disdain, forgetting those years I struggled with the very same issue. I hope never to gain back the weight I lost. But I have seen another side of people that I cannot forget. And with any luck, I never will.

I hope I always stay fat on the inside.

18 comments:

tessierose said...

Wow, that's powerful and unfortunately oh so true.

Brooke said...

I feel like a spy now, too. But I was surprised to find people were way more size positive than I gave them credit for. Maybe it's a side benefit of living in such a free wheeling, socialist kinda place where everyone really does strive to be compassionate and thoughtful, but I haven't heard ANYONE make a fat joke in my presence now that I have lost weight.

Granted, I am not thin, THIN (10 on the bottom, 12 on top) but definitely I fall into the average category. And, I'm not single. I bet that would be where you'd see that kind of behaviour and judgment more.

Stephanie said...

I could have written that same article word for word. It's like she was in my head. Every bit of it is true...:(

Pamela E. Williams said...

Wow!! That last sentence sums up the whole article. So much went through my mind while reading that article. I remember chaperoning for the band while at a game. Some of the boys were looking at one of other mom's and just talking among themselves how "hot" she was. They had no problem saying any of this within earshot of me, but why did I have a problem with the fact that no one would think that of me. That I was the hot mom. I know it sounds crazy because these were hormone raged teenagers, but still I wanted to be the hot mom.

Katie J said...

Wow, thanks for sharing!

TracyZ said...

I hope I stay fat on the inside too. I don't want to ever make anyone feel the way others have made me feel through the years. Even though very few ever said or did anything directly mean, it's the indirect stuff (the stuff this article was written about) that hurt the most.

MandaPanda said...

I saw this and thought it was interesting as well. It seems that sometimes formerly fat people are even harder on fat people than the always-been-skinny group. Just an observation...

Lucy said...

This is a fantastic post. Thank you.

I still have some weight to lose, but you have articulated so well how I feel about the way that I am now treated, since losing the bulk of my weight.

Thank you!

-Grace- said...

Thank you for sharing this Draz. This is such a great piece. I really hope I stay fat on the inside as well. I can't imagine me treating fat people the way people have treated me once I get to goal...

Band Groupie said...

I saw a thread on a WLS site about this same article...the gist was more about the comments that followed the original article...clueless people....must stop reading comments LOL. http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/09/02/tf.lost.100.pounds.fat/index.html?hpt=T2

Nikki said...

I saw it on CNN this morning...I was gonna post something on it and didn't get to it before you did!!!! LOL

:)

Diz said...

I love this article, and I love that I can now post on your wall. :) This little box wasn't here before- maybe it was a glich on my computer or something. Anyway, love you!

Stephanie F. said...

Awesome article, thanks for sharing. Something many of us can relate to.

Bonnie said...

Interesting.

Annie said...

Great article, to repeat what most before me said, very true. One consolation for me- 5'11 and 160 = size 10? Wow...the dream is alive!

DiZneDiVa said...

OMG... That is a powerful article and although I promise to never hate on the fatties, since I am a forever charter member of that club, I am glad to realize that I am not always going to be the chubbiest girl in the room. *Maria*

Kiki said...

Great article... thanks for sharing!

Angela Pea said...

Excellent Article.

I think I fall in the category of totally shunning my former fat club buddies. I look at them and think WHY don't you take care of yourself? I, who am easily distracted by shiny things, managed to buckle down, kick my own butt and shed 50+ pounds, so why don't they do it? It's like I want to force them to look at themselves, to MAKE them love themselves enough to get healthy.