Monday, May 05, 2014

It's a Fat Thing

Years ago a friend of Mom's drove her to pick me up at the airport. I had not previously met this particular friend. We had a nice enough chat on the ride home. A few days later Mom told me that her friend had said that when she first saw me and saw how fat I was she wasn't expecting much. But then as we talked she decided I was really very smart and interesting. Mom thought this was great because, despite my bad first impression (the impression determined by her friend's hatred for fat people) my personality won the day.
I'm told I also have such a pretty face.
I have more than a few of these kind of stories. Stories about people telling my friend's and family things about me/my weight that reflect their own hatred. Or things like the guy who shouted from a car that I should eat a salad once in a while. Or the guy that said he wouldn't have sex with me because he wasn't into saving the whales.
So on.
More recently, a friend sent me a link to a PBS special about women who had undergone some form of lap band or gastric by pass surgery. The women were friends who knew each other as a result of their participation in size acceptance communities. Now some of them were losing weight and it was causing problems in the friendships. I'd heard about it. I knew it also contained some size positive people but I wasn't interested. And yet, I tried to watch a bit because ... I dunno. I wanted to be able to say I had if he asked. I guess. I may have watched about ten minutes or so. I don't really feel like writing about it.
It did bring up a feeling I've been having lately. It's a feeling that I have really not made any difference in terms of how fat people are seen in the world. Not in terms of the culture or society but more painfully not in terms of my friends. Not in terms of the people who ... know me.
All the things I've written. All the things I say. The way I live. It doesn't connect.
I know people love me. I'm not feeling unloved. My mother loves me. But even she thought her friend had a right to judge me because of my weight and that I had to prove that I wasn't like "that".
I know people have heard something that I've said and made a connection with an idea that they didn't even know they had. I've seen it. But it doesn't stick. It falls into the drone of bad ideas that are out there and disappears.
I read a blog post, which begins the way I've begun so many of my own posts with an explanation of who the writer is including what she eats and how much she exercises. It made me feel tired and sad. I understand why she begins that way. Pretty close to every time I write about being fat there's something about how I eat or how much exercise. I started a whole blog to write about how I eat with some intention to prove that I'm not like the stereotypical fat person. And I talk more and think more and about my own food issues because it is such a feature of ageing for me.
Today I read a post by the mighty Ezra Klein talking about fat jokes and discrimination. It was a relief to read someone who isn't fat write well about the issues. And cite research. He might have made a link between the "obesity epidemic" and the bullying but of course even he notes that lap band surgery might be a good choice for someone's health.
Maybe I'm feeling this way because I'm living in a new city. I've met some cool people but I feel myself trying very hard to connect. Too hard. Like I need to be funny and smart and insightful and interesting. I feel the tension that I know I've lived with all of my life. I need to prove that I'm not like "that."
I am.
I am like that.
I am a fat person and that means that my sense of myself in the world has been shaped as much by the experience of being fat as any thing else. It hasn't been all bad but it has actually ... shaped me.
Please. Please. No virtual hugs. No consoling remarks. Again. I am not feeling unloved. I am extremely loved by more than a few people and I am grateful for it every second of my life.
I always assume that I have work to do in terms of unseating racism, sexism, all the isms, in my own heart. It's a process and a commitment. And I have work to do in terms of unseating my own internalized fat oppression.  
It's a fat thing.