I was hesitant to post on this topic because I was afraid I might offend or be misunderstood. But, I decided in the end it was something I felt fairly strongly about -- I have been thinking about this topic for a few months now, and I will try to lay out (sort out?) my feelings here...
Self-hating fatties. Like other self-hating members of marginalized groups (read: women, african-americans, homosexuals), self-hating fatties are vocal in their judgments of themselves and, specifically, their affliction of being fat. Instead of embracing or at least accepting this aspect of themselves, they treat it as their dark mark -- something they will forever be ashamed of and will forever be fighting against. They judge themselves and they judge others, and many times, they are not aware they are doing it.
This subject is a little touchy because of the complexity of the issues surrounding fat -- how fat affects your health, to diet or not to diet, emotional eating and environment vs. genetics... And, while I am trying hard not to make overgeneralizations here and I certainly do not want to be insensitive to those who have genuine emotional and health issues, I find it obvious that self-hating fatties exist -- and, are everywhere.
A few nights ago, I was having dinner with some friends and brought up a recent article I forwarded them regarding obesity and health risks. The article brought up several interesting points that I wanted to share with my friends -- one of which had to do with how high blood pressure should be treated differently in overweight and obese patients because large bodies react differently than thin bodies and should not be lumped into the same category when it comes to treatment. One of my friends, who is a fellow fatty, became very offended that I brought up this subject, and spent a good deal of time trying to convince me that fat was indeed unhealthy, that fat acceptance was just another excuse for fatties to stay fat, and that we all, after all, make choices on what we put in our mouth. I was startled by his reaction, and tried to explain that obesity has complexities that have not been figured out yet, and that the research in the article I had shared with him showed that. He became angry and defensive, and told me he did not want to discuss it.
It is still startling to me just how much my friend wanted to convince me that fatties are to blame for their fatness. That fatties are indeed all unhealthy, that we are all weak-willed and deserve judgment from society.
It reminded me of another self-hating fatty that has recently "come out" about her affliction. This season, Oprah has announced to the world that she has a problem with her weight -- that she "fell of the wagon," and is going to get back on, meaning that she will again try to "get healthy," follow a life-style change program (read: diet), and speak out about the difficulties of losing weight while trying once again. She has had past guests who had shed large amounts of weight come back on her show, ashamed and embarrassed that their weight loss was short-lived, and that they, too, had fallen off the wagon.
I will not lie -- this angered me. Oprah is an amazing, accomplished, intelligent woman who has overcome obstacles many of us have never had to face and has done so with so much success that it is almost impossible to not be a little bit in awe of her. And for her to talk about struggles with her weight, how she has not been able to "conquer" her weight issues, how she is "addicted" to food, only fuels the already raging fire of fat-hatred in this country and teaches her viewers to see their fat bodies as an affliction -- something to change, to struggle against, not to love and accept.
Our culture teaches us to blame those who are fat, to blame ourselves if we are fat, to openly judge, persecute, punish ourselves for our unsightly bodies. And, many (most?) of us buy into this message. But until we fatties educate ourselves on what it really means to be fat in our culture, and until we stick up for ourselves and for each other instead of joining in the game of beating each other down, we will never, as a culture, accept us fatties as worthwhile and valuable human beings.