When I was contemplating writing this column, I decided to turn to my trusted Facebook site for some valuable feedback on how people might react to a column about a subject as taboo as ‘fat.’ I knew as I was planning this that I wanted to be real about fat. I wanted to talk about my experiences being fat and the life choices I make daily as a fat person. But what I didn’t truly understand until that first post was just how deep the ‘fat’ mindset is embedded in society.
It’s always bothered me when my size six friend stares at herself in the mirror and does that thing we all do when we contort our body and neck around twisting in unnatural ways to try and sneak a peek at how our butt looks in our new pair of jeans, and then she mutters the all too familiar words, “Uhg. I’m so FAT.”
After all, if she thinks that about herself, then what does she think when she looks at me, a person literally twice her size? But the truth is, when she looks at me she doesn’t see fat, she sees friend. She isn’t disgusted to look at me, she cares about me. We are our own worst critic, but we seldom place those same criticisms on the other people in our lives.
How many people have uttered those words to themselves at some point in their life? I know I have – countless times. And I believe them too. Are there people heavier than me who are annoyed when they hear me say it? You betchya.
So where is this line between “fat” and “thin.” Is it arbitrary? If one day you weigh 149 pounds and you are “thin,” and the next day you weigh 150 pounds, are you suddenly “fat”? By the way, I’d give up anything I own to weigh 150, but the last time I weighed that little, I was 12-years-old and in the eighth grade.
A local fitness instructor has offered to design a class for fat people, which I think is a fantastic idea. Gyms are embarrassing for fat people like me. First, let me just admit, there are plenty of “thin” people out there who are wonderfully supportive, and I really appreciate that. I am not engaging in a battle of fat versus thin. But the mere thought of anyone staring at me with that look of, “Gross, why is she here?” when I probably need to be there more than 99 percent of the people in the room, is enough to make me shun gyms forever. That mentality that I have is what I call “counterproductive.”
But here’s the problem with developing a class for fat people:
If everyone thinks they’re fat, then where do you draw the line? How fat is fat enough to join such a class? Do you have everyone step on a scale at the door and if they do not weigh enough then they are forbidden from entering the room? And if losing weight is one of the goals of the class, then isn’t the thought that losing too much weight might mean expulsion from the class counterproductive?
I was watching a talk show once where they were interviewing extreme thinkers who had some pretty bizarre ideas about fat people. One woman admitted that she refused to enter a public bathroom stall if she saw a fat woman exiting before her. Her reasoning was that fat people must be unclean, because, after all, how can they reach all of the parts of their body around so much fat?
I think an exercise class designed for fat people is a great idea, even if some people’s idea of “fat” is what they see when they look at their size six self in the mirror. They should join in too, and then we can all support and encourage each other.
Let’s just make sure that we accidentally on purpose forget to invite the ignorant talk show woman.