How Fat-Shaming (doesn’t) Work

For those who don’t know how it works…

I got fat-shamed at the gym today. Yeah, you heard me. I go to the gym. I work out 3-5 hours a week on weight machines and in the pool, swimming laps. I was just congratulating myself on a job decently done (I’m not spectacular, but I do what I can which is all anyone can ask for), when I happened to run into a friend, and we began comparing notes. She is larger-than-she-wants-to-be, too. Hmmm… LTSWTB. I’ve just invented a new non-word. Yipiee. Of course I’ve changed her name because it’s none of your business who she is, but “Jessica” and I began having a conversation about techniques, attitudes, determination, and other things like that. Then this guy comes up and butts in to our conversation.

I was watching him work out on a piece of equipment I’d been using half an hour earlier. It’s the one where you sit, and there’s this long bar over your head that you pull down on to lift weights. I have no idea what it’s called, but you probably know which one I’m talking about. Anyway, I asked the guy if he had tried the machine sitting the opposite way, as I find it easier than trying to jam my legs under the padded bar they have in front of the seat. I also see a lot of guys using that machine and they’re leaning back and grunting and pulling on the thing, and it just doesn’t look very effective to me the way they’re doing it. This fellow was much the same as the others I’d seen.

He explained that he couldn’t do it backwards, because he had to have the thigh brace. He was, you see, lifting more than his own body weight, and so needed the bar to hold him down. He did about five reps on the thing, and then stopped. WTF?

I know that I know nothing about weight-lifting, but that doesn’t seem productive to me. What is he trying to accomplish? Would it not be more effective, in the quest to build muscle, to set the weight lower and lift it more often? I’m not talking about down to ten pounds, but certainly down from 170lbs to, say, maybe 100lbs? Mind you, I didn’t ask him that. I didn’t feel like listening to a lecture, and I’m glad I held my tongue, because what little conversation we did engage in was horrible.

See, he began telling me and Jessica all about his weight loss adventure: how he’d changed his diet radically to exclude all sugars and all carbs, reduced his portions, and went to the gym. For three months he’s done this, and he’s dropped roughly 30 lbs.

At this point in the story, I congratulated him on finding what works for him (though privately I doubt he’ll be able to maintain it in the long run), and reminded him that not everyone’s body works the same way, and that there are many solutions to the same problem depending on who you are. For example, I told him, I used to be a lifeguard and water aerobics instructor, and would be in the pool about ten hours a week. During that time, I did not alter my diet in any way whatsoever, and lost about fifty pounds (Which is all true, btw. I know exercise works).

He vehemently disagreed with me, repeating the incredibly ignorant and highly offensive “calories in/calories out” diatribe of so many thin people. It’s pure and simple, he says. Nothing you do will ever help you lose weight if you eat carbs, period. Because it’s not sugar that turns into fat when you eat it, it’s carbohydrates.

By this point in his ranting, I was ready to punch him. Seriously seeing red, pushing the anger down as hard as I could and carefully controlling my breathing. And let me tell you, that’s the REAL weight training right there! I don’t know how much of his irritating prattle “Jessica” and I tolerated, but it felt like forever. Finally he wandered off, and went to play with himself somewhere else. I followed Jessica over to her next machine and sat by her side while she continued her workout. I was done for the day. He never took in a word of what I said, except to acknowledge it just long enough to deny it all and tell me I was a worthless pile of crap who would never succeed. He also asserted, in great ignorance, that genes have nothing to do with one’s weight, and went on at some length about that. By this point, I was almost unable to speak, and so I didn’t even try to engage. He had already judged me, so why bother defending myself? He wouldn’t hear me, he’d just hear whining and excuse-making, not legitimate scientific facts.

So, having “pointlessly” (because, after all, I’d already eaten carbs that day, so what’s the point?) done a hundred reps of that machine at 40lbs, and a hundred reps of another machine at 40lbs, and tried the NuStep until my legs gave out, I really couldn’t take any more of that. I chatted with Jessica for a while as I waited for my calm to return, then headed out. Got in my car and drove away.

I’ve been out of milk for a day or so, and been very broke, but just that morning I’d gotten a deposit in my bank account, so I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things I’d run out of. I was still fuming and furious with Mr. Bullshit, and just wanted to hurt him. Really, like smash into him with my car and then back over him a few times to make sure he would never get up again. Extremely angry, violent thoughts running through my head. Yeah, I get those. All the time. I watch horror movies to calm down from anger fits, because if I can see someone else doing it, then I don’t need to.

So I get to the store, get in the electric shopping cart, and start wheeling my way around. I picked up some fresh strawberries, a cantaloupe, a gallon of 1% milk, a gallon of orange juice, two boxes of cookies, a box of brownies, four mini-pies, three tv dinners, and a thaw-n-serve chocolate silk pie.

On the way home, I stopped at the Dairy Queen and got a medium cherry-cheesecake blizzard.

That’ll teach him.

See, the thing is, I’m a rational, intelligent, adult person, but when I get fat-shamed, logic and reason go completely out the window. There is nothing but the pain, and the anger, and the need to strike back at the person who hurt me. Of course, I’m not allowed to run people over with my car, so I have to find some other destructive, hateful and awful thing to do. Something that will ease my pain and make me feel better while I hurt someone or something.

And food is the answer. It soothes my pain and anguish and rage. It comforts me deep down on a spiritual level and makes everything alright. Food will never hate me, it will never judge me, it will only ever nurture me and make me feel safe and loved. Food doesn’t care if it’s my genes or my behaviour or my attitude or the flame-retardant chemicals in my sofa cushions that makes me fat. Food doesn’t care if I’ve been to the gym or mass-murdered every health nut in the nation to get all tired and worn out. It just loves me.

It does not hurt the man who hurt me if I eat an entire chocolate silk pie in one sitting. He will never even know. So why do I do it? Because it’s comforting. Because when my mouth is full of that luscious, perfect heaven, he’s not there in my mind at all. He’s nowhere. He’s destroyed utterly in my world. He ceases to exist. And I’m still here, and food still loves me.

Can you begin to see why that would be a worthwhile thing to do? Why it is reasonable, in that mindset, to take that action? Not just reasonable, but actually necessary?

Fat shaming does not work. And there’s the insider’s explanation of why. You ask your fat friends to read this article, and they will tell you I’m not a lone weirdo. Fat people feel this way. It is the way our minds work, and it is why fat-shaming is just about the worst thing you can do to a fat person if you want to help them lose weight. I’m not off my rocker here. Well, maybe I am, but the point is I’m not making a false claim about this, nor am I an isolated or unusual case. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and it plays out the same way every time. I’m fat and worthless? Fine. Then I’ll BE fat and worthless. Take that, asshole! You happy now that I’ve eaten my weight in pasta? No? Want me to eat more? Fine, I will. Go away and leave me alone, I was doing well before you opened your big mouth and told me what a loser I am!

I’m a horrible person. I know that, I didn’t need you to tell me. Now go away and let me die in peace. I hate me, too. Everybody hates me, or should. Because I’m repulsive and disgusting and will never be anything else. I know, I know. You’re completely right, it’s true. I should just kill myself now and get it over with. Save everybody the bother of being polite to my face until I keel over from my own weight and they can’t find a coffin big enough for me and I have to buy two funeral plots coz I won’t fit in just one.

I think I’m gonna go eat some of those brownies, now. I’m tired from all this emotional writing.

(This is an older piece of writing, it didn’t happen to me this year. I’m just sharing it now.)

Boobs are Weird

I lay in bed thinking about this last night, thinking “I could write a whole blog post about this.”

Boobs are weird.

Hear me out, now…

I’m a fat woman. I’m not gonna get up and walk to my kitchen right now to weigh myself, but I weigh somewhere north of four hundred pounds. That’s a lot of fat. I have fat arms, fat legs, a fat ass, fat belly, fat fingers, fat chin, everything about me is fat. Hey, my boyfriend loves it. Thinks I’m one of the sexiest things on two feet. Don’t judge, it’s not your place to judge me. I’m just stating facts here.

Boobs are also fat. Well, kinda. They’re specialized fat, modified sweat glands that, when you’ve just had a baby produce a special, nutritious kind of sweat which larval humans eat until they’re big enough to eat solid foods. But they’re mostly fat. Big lumps of fat deposits on your chest.

The evolution of boobs is also something of a mystery. I studied this in college, actually. Scientists (I’m not making this shit up, this is science) think breasts in humans may have evolved to their current shape in order to encourage human males to mate with human females face-to-face. How? Because they look like a human female’s ass, and the male would look at it and say “Hmmm, nice ass, I’d hit that!” and proceed to mate with the female, only instead of doing it doggy-style, he’d be looking her in the eye, and perhaps make conversation while he was there face to face with her, and hey presto! civilization happened! Or at least inter-gender communictaion. And this is how humble baby-feeders (which boobs still are in other species) became objects of lust.

Do I look like someone capable of making this up? I swear, I learned this shit in school, because anthropology. Now mind you, I’m not saying it’s a fact, just a theory I learned among other theories while studying theories. But it all goes to my point – – boobs are weird.

Other fat deposits, like the one on my belly, well those are a different matter. My belly fat has a name. I don’t mean a name like “Susie” or “Spot” or “Josie’s belly fat,” what I mean is, in the fat society, if you have belly fat which hangs down and covers your genitals, it’s called an apron. Which makes sense, because it kinda looks like an apron. And it’s not full of anything else. No organs, muscles, intestines, nothing like that. Just fat, blood vessels to feed that fat, nerves, and the skin to cover it all.

So I have an apron. I have tremendously fat biceps (really, when I shop for shirts, the hardest part is finding anything with sleeves that fit). A shelf-butt. A second chin. Legs like tree trunks. And boobs. Every ounce of my body fat causes revulsion in most people, except my boobs. Which could be a little bigger.

HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?

I do not have children. And having had a hysterectomy, I never will. My breasts will never be used for the purpose they were designed. They will never feed a child. They will never produce milk. I have no use for breasts, as a woman. They are functionally nothing more than blobs of fat no different from my apron. But they cause no revulsion in anyone. Well, no one but a doctor. I’ve had a doctor tell me he could get medical clearance to get me a breast reduction to help ease my back pain, but I cannot get an apronectomy, because that would be nothing but vanity. Never mind that my apron outweighs both my breasts put together. People who are fat are bad, lazy, and gluttonous. Women with large breasts are a threat. Doctors are more than willing to cut them down to size.

HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?

So I wonder: if I had nipples on my apron, would that make it sexy, or extra-creepy? How about my arm-flab? If my arms produced milk, would that make THEM sexy? Would that turn men on?

Boobs are weird. Really. You can’t convince me otherwise. Boobs are weird. I should know. I have ’em.