I know I have been kind of beating the same drum for a while now. And, really, it’s the drum I have. To use another cliche, it’s the hand I’ve been dealt. It’s the bed I have so I’m going to lie in it. It’s my cake so I’m going to eat it. I can mix a million metaphors and it all comes down to the fact that I am a fat woman living. Yes, living and living well. As I have said, time and time again, I live an amazing life with a loving and wonderful husband. I have great friends and a beautiful family. It’s a pretty sweet deal. It isn’t everyday that I deal with some kind of personal attack because of my size. It isn’t everyday that someone posts on my blog that I am a pig or that someone drives by and hollers some obscenity followed by a fat descriptor at me. It isn’t everyday that a hostess leads me towards a booth in a restaurant where I know I won’t be able to fit. It isn’t everyday that I drive with someone else and find the seat belt in their car won’t fit me. It isn’t everyday that I walk by some women in a store and they laugh as I walk by and then whisper to each other. Or, like today, it isn’t everyday that I walk by someone in the grocery store who makes a “tsk” sound as I pass. No, these things don’t happen everyday.
One of my better qualities, or maybe it’s one of my faults, is I try and see the good in people. If not the good, at least I try and look at them and see what it is that has them be the way they are or do the things they do. Like the person who posted that nasty comment on my blog the other day or the people who were so nasty about Kevin Smith on his ill-fated Southwest Airlines flight. It always seems people’s bad behavior comes from some kind of fear. It makes sense that if someone is afraid they may indeed act in a way that, under normal circumstances, would be considered inappropriate but in a situation where they are, say, protecting themselves it would be considered self-defense. Hear me out on this. We live in a climate of fear these days. We are afraid of the financial crisis in the US, the unemployment crisis, the housing crisis, the oil crisis, the health care crisis, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the powder keg that is Iran, the fear of North Korea, the war on drugs, high sales tax, the IRS, taxes in general, etc., etc….I think I have made my point. The list goes on and on and on with terrifying things impacting and affecting all of us in one way or another. Given those issues, issues over which we feel that we have little or no control but to live in fear and try and function in our daily lives under the constant duress and fear weighing us down, I can see how when the picture of obesity is painted as a global issue that needs to be dealt with it would seem like the easy solution would be to say, “step away from the refrigerator fatty!” It certainly seems like it will be a lot easier to fix that problem, to wage that war the way it’s drawn rather than, let’s say, finding a solution for Middle East peace.
If the recipe for being thin really was as simple as just eating less and exercising wouldn’t everyone be thin? It’s like those “get rich quick” infomercials with the guy saying, “I made my first million just sitting in my house and doing essentially nothing and you can too!” I am sure a lot of you (I know some of my audience will definitely know this) have heard the “fact” that 95% of all diets fail. It’s has been said and has been used to further many agendas of different diet programs as well as by fat people who are just tired of being berated. What I have found in my limited research is that most dieters gain back ALL of their weight. UCLA did a series of studies showing this in the late 90’s. Some statistics are skewed based on how long it takes for someone to gain back the weight they lost. So, if someone loses 50 pounds and keeps it off for 5 years and then gains it back plus an additional 10 pounds or so in the 6th year then the diet was a success. Can you imagine if that was your business model? Can you imagine if you were to sell someone a product with no guarantee that statistically is proven to fail at least 95% of the time? In a nutshell that is the diet industry…a multi-billion dollar industry scam.
There are people who are waging the war against obesity by calling it an “epidemic” or a “pandemic.” I have heard newscasters say, “the obesity epidemic is spreading and has now become a world-wide pandemic.” Well, for goodness sakes, keep your children indoors and away from fat people!! Okay, that’s ridiculous, right? Is it? How many of you have heard that more and more people are getting fat? How many of you have heard that people are fatter today than they were years ago? Well, according to the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention here in the US) who produced two studies in regards to obesity both in the United States and in the England this isn’t the truth. This so called epidemic just isn’t. These studies were published in January 2010 in The Journal of American Medical Association. One study was about obesity in children and adolescents and the other was about adult obesity. These studies show that these claims of a worldwide obesity pandemic are false and that statistically there have been no significant changes in obesity in women over the last decade and for men no significant changes over the past five years of the decade.
All of this reminds of me of the movie “Wag the Dog.” We can’t deal with all of the woes we have. And, believe me, we have a lot of woes. So, rather than deal with the real issues we throw out this overblown hyped issue and scare people into thinking they have to make a difference because lives are at stake. By doing this we stop paying attention to the real issues all the while forgetting and overlooking there is a human aspect in this “war.” Fat people are people with feelings just like other people. We bleed when we are cut. We cry when we are in pain. We put our shoes on one foot at a time.
When I was young I had a friend I loved being with. We would hang out and talk about boys and life and our futures. Then one day she told me we couldn’t hang out as much anymore. When I pressed her to tell me why, she told me. It turned out her mother was afraid that by spending time with me she would get fat. Like it was contagious. As if she would catch my fat cooties and then balloon out out control. It didn’t happen. She didn’t gain weight. Maybe her mother had her vaccinated before her daughter succumbed. This was long before we had a “War on Obesity. ” This was long before the so-called epidemic. And, it hurt then and it stings now in the retelling. As I will say again and again, I am really fortunate. I have a great life. Like I have a protective coating or a shell protecting me, just a bit, from this ignorance. What about those people and children who don’t have that? What about the people whose self-esteem isn’t whole? What about those people who are already unhappy and are lonely and sad because the world has told them there is something wrong with them that needs to be cured? Is telling them to eat a piece of celery and join a gym really the cure?