A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Fat Situation

Recently Tyra Banks did a thing on her show where she put on a fat suit and went around living as a fat person for a day to find out what it was like. Wow, people were rude to her. While I appreciate the gesture - I actually did see her in an interview about it and she seems like a pretty genuine person who was really surprised at how she was treated, I've been thinking a lot about what it's like to be fat as I try to journey out of that land.
It really really really sucks.
There are double standards in place that I don't understand as well. Men can be fat, to a point, and it's okay, it's just a joke - they're "Fat Bastards" but somehow that also implies success and money, obviously they can afford to eat that way so they're successful. And black women seem to be immune.......there is this stereotype that black men like a "big woman" and honestly that does seem to be true from my own experience. Equally, I sort of find that even though Playboy models are the official accepted female body type in America, real human women who are overweight are okay with guys on some level.....but God don't let ANYONE find out that they slept with you.......I know that anytime a man starts telling me that Marilyn Monroe wore a 16 he's mine.
I think about my own experiences in being overweight and the cruelty I've experienced and that I've had to watch my friends experience (we fat girls run in packs you know). Mostly I don't care when stuff happens to me but sometimes it really gets to me. I think that one of the most humiliating personal experiences that ever happened actually happened more than once and it wasn't a person being cruel - it was that I couldn't fit into rides that I loved. The last year I lived in KY I found that suddenly I couldn't get into rides I have always loved at King's Island. The last time I went to Disney before I moved here I couldn't get into the Virtual Space Mountain ride. But were those wake up calls? No, my feelings were hurt, but nothing a coney dog piled high with cheese couldn't cure.
I've had someone yell "Get some Jenny Craig" at me from a passing car, and various other statements on diet plans or what a fat bitch I am. Yelling at fatties from a car is apparently a HOT activity. Clearly this must be some attempt to help me and not just the unmitigated cruelty it seems like.
I've actually had friends experience these situations:
  • Friend A called me once at 3am because a guy she had picked up at a bar had (once they got to her place) said he was going to the bathroom and then bailed. My own personal thought was that she had passed out a bit and he had just left bcse of that. But it was so sad listening to someone I love so much WAIL into the phone "Do you think he left because I was fat?" and then to have to comfort her as she sobbed inconsolably, certain her own flaws had made her undesireable.
  • Friend B showed up at my house unannounced at 11pm. She had been at a pretty wild party and had been about to engage in some sort of sex thing with several guys (willingly) when as she got naked one of them said "Hey check out the fat pussy" at which time she fled in shame to my house, another friend sobbing to me about their fat and questioning their own state of hideousness (friend B, like friend A, - NOT HIDEOUS at all).
  • Friend C was and is a REALLY big girl. I love her dearly, but let me just say, she's really really big. She has some health problem that she says cause it, but in fact she also has some health problems because of it. I wouldn't emphasize how really really big she is, except it's important to the tale, as I am also a big girl I want to emphasize that this girl makes me feel petite. Back in the day when we used to go out to the clubs, it was a mystery to many of us HOW she could snag so many guys. She could ALWAYS hook up. Initially we thought that she was just getting lucky and hitting guys who were into the really large women (so called Chubby Chasers) and so that was nice for her. But then one night were hanging out with some guys we had seen around before and that she had hooked up with a few times but she wasn't with us. One of them asked us where she was. We said she wasn't out with us and expected it to drop but then they started talking about how they'd have to "find another one". And then when questioned, they explained how they (and some men apparently?) always hawk for the fattest girl in a bar, buy her drinks, treat her like a princess and then take her home and fuck the shit out of her because a fat girl will be SO grateful she'll do anything you want. ANYTHING. Very nice.
  • Friend D emailed me for a list of rides that I couldn't get in to at King's Island (I had told these stories at work as a joke so that it wasn't so sad to me apparently) because she didn't want to have to be embarrassed when she got there. I sent her the list.

These aren't really tales of amusement, these are sad things that happened to me and people I care about and love. I think about them a lot as I'm exersizing, as I'm eating my fat free yogurt, as I'm standing in line at Weight Watchers to weigh in praying that giant dinner at Outback didn't add a pound after I worked so hard all week.

But what I think about most is how did all of us get here? I didn't start out fat. I wasn't a fat kid. I was a really skinny kid. I'm learning a lot on my journey to the other side. I feel like I'm in the Swamp with Yoda. I'm learning that "normal" people get hungry between meals. In my first Weight Watchers meeting the leader asked "What does it feel like when you get hungry" and my friend joked "I don't know, I don't let it get that far." But that was true. Fat people don't let it get that far. I didn't realize it. I never let myself get hungry. Now I'm hungry all the time between meals. But it feels sort of good. I'm not sick with low blood sugar as though I didn't eat enough, I'm just sort of hungry as in "Hey I'm incredibly fat, go see if Shannon has some candy in her office." and I feel proud when I don't go.

There are things about our mindset that have to change, we fat girls. We have to stop eating. Seriously, that sounds so simple, but it's NOT. I have a coffee break every morning with a friend. I used to eat breakfast and get some coffee on my way in (load up the cream and sugar please) and THEN have a coffee break at 9:30 again with loaded coffee and eat some sort of sweet. Now I just eat a fat free yogurt with water, and then at break we share a biscotti and I drink BLACK coffee. Is that big deal? No. But it nearly freaking killed me the first two weeks. But now it's routine.

Also we have to stop thinking of how we can fit in treats. Stop eating the fucking treats, fat girls. In the Weight Watchers Complete Food Companion there are 11 pages of COOKIE point conversions. 11 pages! Everytime I can't find a damn food in there I get completely bitter. I think that they should change 10 of those pages to REAL food information, and on the 11th page just put a note with big black letters "HEY FAT GIRLS QUIT EATING THE COOKIES. THIS IS WHY YOU ARE SO FAT."

I'm not disparaging my people, but we all need a good smack to wake up. Instead of trying to figure out that we can fit in 11 cookies into our points, maybe we should just have two, enjoy them and then stop. We really have to work out. We have to change. Our bodies are crying out to us. They give us bad backs, acid reflux and issues with our blood sugar as warnings, but we don't listen.

I'm not completely idealistic about what I'm going to look like in one year. In April 2004 I went over 300 pounds while pregnant with my twins and now I'm about 50+ pounds lighter than that. Which is still much fatter than I'd like to be. But the truth is I'm built on a pretty big frame. I won't ever be a 2 unless you dress my skeleton up post mortem, and that's okay with me. I'd like to wear a 14 or a 16. I'd just like to be able to buy SOME things at Victoria's Secret. I don't mind if I still MOSTLY have to shop at Lane Bryant, but I'd like to be able to occasionally buy some things somewhere else, and not in the Matron's Department. I hope my health improves and my energy level goes up. And I hope I'm happy.

But mostly, I hope people quit screaming rude things at me from passing cars.


Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Good for you! It is such a hard mindset to get out of. There is a comfort in admitting that you are fat before someone else does it for you.

I always told people that I would have to cut off one of my limbs to ever be in a size eight. I think they think I am kidding, but I'm not.

So far this year I have dropped 25 pounds. I freaked out a little bit when a friend of mine called the girls on the Dove commercial his "fat girlfriends". I was much bigger than any of them. People DO treat me differently now that I've lost some weight.

Gidge Uriza said...

That just amazes me, because except for when we were both enormous and pregnant (and I was WAY more enormous than thou), I've always thought of you as a "tall skinny beautiful person."
Perception is everything.

Unknown said...

man sis you have alot to say its like your writin a book

April Brandon said...

I feel your pain. I told you about that website that said I was 60 pounds overweight....right??? According to that, i should weigh a measly 140....man, i haven't seen 140 since highschool....and i wasn't healthy. We have decided to start riding (both of us) we are joining the YMCA, and I'm gonna go buy a cookbook full of lowfat meals....GOOD LUCK to you.

Anonymous said...

I think I love you.

No, I'm not going to burst into song a la David Cassidy, but what a great post.

I was at Sweet Tomatoes today with my mom (Jim was amusing the girls with a trip to his mom's, ice cream, and hours of mind-numbing football on TV),and we fell into conversation with the woman next to us.

We were discussing the quality of the chicken pot pie stew, blah blah blah, and she said something about how she helped people lose weight in her line of work.

I said something inane, along the lines of "Well, then, you have to be careful because everyone is watching you" (by the way, she was in great shape, late 50's, very pulled together). She said 'Oh, my program allows me to eat whatever I want'.

This was all said while my mom was off getting a refill of some kind.

Now, I sat there and thought, 'Is she hinting that I need help, or is she trolling for clients, or was it just an innocent remark?'

In a fit of the "I'll show you's", I proceeded to eat the entire biscuit in my stew with great gusto. (She had mentioned that she only ate one bite, and it was delicious, but she stopped herself after that).

Then I went to get ice cream.

While I was getting it, I thought "I ought to ask her what program she's in...Maybe this is a sign from God and she was put there for a reason."

Well, she and her husband had left when I got back, and I was really disappointed.

I couldn't ask her in front of my mom (too embarrassing), and I still had a little bit of 'F you' in my head (How dare you suggest I need to lose weight!), so I missed my opportunity.

I want to start doing something.

I just found out recently that a woman I really dislike lost 30 pounds after going to a spa in West Palm for a week.

Okay, yeah, I can tell myself that I too could lose weight if someone sent me to a cushy spa, but that ain't it.

I wonder if a dietician would help, because I have really crappy eating habits, or if something like Weight Watchers would work...

Any input here?

I bought some new sneakers on Friday and tomorrow is the first day of 'power walk with stroller'.

We'll see how it pans out.

I feel like a rotten person to be motivated because someone I don't like lost a bunch of weight, but I guess if it can get me going then I'll take it.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Keep up the GREAT work, Bridgette, I'm rooting for you!

christa said...

so much of what bridgette says is true... one of the keys to losing weight is to simply eat less. instead of eating the entire biscuit, try eating half. are you still hungry? no? then don't eat any more.

when gidge says "Now I'm hungry all the time between meals. But it feels sort of good." i know exactly what she means. there is no point in eating until you're uncomfortable. eat a few bites then stop. when you feel your stomach start to rumble in a couple of hours have a few more bites.

when my tummy grumbles like that, i imagine it's my body consuming fat. feeling a little hungry equals progress.

thanks, bridgette, for an amazing post.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I forgot to say something about Tyra -

She is beautiful. She will never really understand. She could always take the fat suit off, and even fat, she wasn't ugly.

Did she have to go clothes shopping? Did the people at Victoria's Secret explain to her that they don't even carry anything in an XL? That isn't even mentioning XXL or XXXL or bigger?

Did she read the part of the pregnancy books that suggest wearing your husbands clothes during the first 20 weeks or so? Did she cry becuase she would have to diet for a year to fit into anything in her husbands closet?

Did she fly anywhere and get dirty looks on the airplane?

Unknown said...

Great post. I have so much to say on this issue that I don't even know where to start. So I'll just say, great post.

Anonymous said...

Okay, just got back from our walk. I have figured out that I have to keep the girls IN the stroller, or they dawdle around, look for flowers to pick, wave at the garbage truck, hop like frogs on the sidewalk, etc.

Other than that, it went pretty good. But my neighborhood is so BORING! I wish there was a good bookstore within any kind of walking distance, or even a library.

Must have goal to walk toward, and the 7-11 just isn't a good one.

In addition to the 'eat less, exercise more' (thanks Christa, I know you're right), I also have to get some real meals in the house instead of reaching for the junk food when I'm too starved to do anything but shove the quickest thing possible down my throat (i.e., potato chips, candy, ice cream) instead of a real meal.

I saw a blip of the interview with Tyra - I guess it was better than another shot of 'America's next super model' or whatever that crap show is.

I also saw the Oprah book that's out now, I think it's called 'Living Your Best Life'.

Now, a little Oprah goes a long way with me, I think her show has become almost a caricature, but I read the first few pages of this book in Lowe's (of all places!), and was VERY intrigued by the weight loss and taking care of your body section.

I don't want to spring for the darn thing, but I will look for it and read that part again.

It is a collection of all the really great articles from 'O' magazine (again, a rag that's a little too touchy-feely for me), but it may have possibilities.

Just had to share.

I am now going to go drink a galloon of water and try to ignore the siren song of the BROWNIES my husband made last night.


Running2Ks said...

Wow, and wow. I am just mortified and angered that people do this to overweight people--that they stop treating others as if they are human and act as if they are punching bags (or things to be used).

That is horrific. Unfair.

It is so hard to get back to a normal weight and a healthier weight and stay there. Mean people suck and they don't do anything to help anyone with their personal goals.

I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad everyone can't see you through my eyes...