Friday, October 5, 2007

Moral Panic and You: Trying to Cope With Being a Fatty in an Obesity Epidemic

Once on a livejournal community I read an entry wherein the poster detailed a moral conflict sie experienced during hir workday at a fast food restaurant.

Said conflict involved the poster’s heartbreak over the fat people who came into the restaurant and ordered whatever they god damned pleased. Should the poster inform those poor fatties that they were, in fact, overweight, and that eating fatty foods would just make them fatter?

As if it was hir business. As if those fat people did not know they were fat in a culture where they are being constantly reminded, in everything from advertisements to television shows and movies and music, that they are huge and that they are disgusting, and that their size is intrinsically tied to their value in society.

(Incidentally, I hope the person posting that livejournal entry did remind a fat person they were fat in that same nauseatingly sanctimonious tone, and I hope that fat person promptly put them in their fucking place, hopefully by having a chat with the manager.)

I hate my body. Which just extends naturally into hating myself.

I hate eating in public, because I get nervous that the people across the cafeteria or restaurant are laughing at me: an anxiety I developed in elementary and middle school and have never been able to shake—I am twenty years old and I still worry people are laughing at me for being fat.

I hate the unsolicited medical advice from my family. Everything from eating less bread/cheese/milk/tacos/etc. to buying ‘healthy’ groceries for me (low sodium/fat free/low carb blah blah blah, most of which doesn’t reduce the sodium/fat/calories/carbs by much at all) without any input from me. The first time my mother suggested I consider weight loss surgery was when I was seventeen years old, and it’s rare for me to go a day without actually considering it.

And of course I know I'm not the only fat person who hates her body and who thinks about weight loss surgery and crash dieting and Alli and all the shit we're supposed to think about, as fat people (women). And it's not just fat women who feel like shit about their bodies, judging by the types of bodies I see in ads for everything from Weight Watchers to Slimfast to cereal that helps you lose weight (as long as you replace two meals a day with a bowl of Special K/Total/whatever), for god's sake.

And there's sometimes when I say screw it, when I look at studies like this, which tells me what I knew all through middle and high school: fat teenagers exhibit the same disordered eating habits that thin teenagers do; they just aren't stick figures. (Lending more credence to the hypothesis, by the way, that that diet pills/starving yourself/puking after every meal/etc. doesn't work anyway, so thanks very much to the people who tell me that all I have to is eat less to lose weight.)

And then I find projects like Shapely Prose, Kate Harding's blog which is all about fatness and the lies that the media feeds us. And then I stick around long enough for her BMI Illustrated project.

And I really wonder why I still think about inviting a surgeon to slice me up and make me thin and pretty.

On that note, you should really check out adipositivity. It takes a lot of courage for a fat woman to take off her clothes. Particularly in front of a camera. It almost makes me not mind being fat.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

rock on
the adipositivity project and everything else you menion is awesome.