Not a Headless Fatty

 Life in Los Angeles  Comments Off on Not a Headless Fatty
Jul 012015
 

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Why is it still okay to make fun of fat people?  And, why am I shocked that it is still so prevalent?

A father of a friend of mine, who happens to be a Facebook friend, posted a scathing article about flying next to a fat person.  He then commented about the horror of sitting in your seat watching a fat person approach and that feeling of pleading that they don’t sit next to him.  It was a terrible article and an even nastier comment.  Rather than call him out publicly, I sent him a private message.  In that message, I explained that I am that person.  I am the fat woman squeezing down the aisle of the plane.  I am the person who is nervous that I am not going to have enough room and more importantly, I am the person who is concerned about disturbing someone else.  I wanted to let him know that the person walking towards him has feelings and underneath their size has a heart that’s breaking.  I wanted to give the headless fat person a face.

The other day, I was figuratively punched in the gut when, I was poking around Facebook.  Someone had posted a video of a fat woman wriggling into a pair of jeans.  She was, of course, headless and faceless (as most fat people are when they are being “exposed” like they are on the news or in the “don’t” section of fashion magazines.)  As I watched the video a couple of things came to mind.  First, I thought it was amazing how she was able to maneuver herself into pants that were clearly too small.  Second, I thought, “that could almost be me…but I think I may be larger…”  Then, mistakenly, I read the comments.  Why was I shocked at how heartless and cruel the comments were? me_pool

The comments section, on most posts, is for people who don’t have the courage to say things in life.  The comment section tends to bring out the absolute worst in people.

So, here I am sitting in my house reading that my “friend” finds this woman disgusting and is laughing about it and saying, “Ewwww.”   I am left with two questions, “Is she disgusted by me? “ and “Why am I friends with this person?!”

I personally have been oinked at while walking in a mall.  I have had people yell pejoratives to me out of car windows.  Often times, in stores and in restaurants I will find people staring at me and giving me the up and down look as if I can’t see them.

Statistics show that of overweight teens (and I loathe the term overweight as it implies a correct weight and someone is over that weight…) 24% of boys and 30% of girls are subject to some sort of bullying because of their size.  I have seen some statistics that show upwards of 60% of elementary school kids are more likely to be teased because of their size.  There have also been an alarming number of childhood suicides because of this horrible practice.  How many fat kids have to kill themselves before we stop?

Why do we continue to tell fat people that they need to change when we don’t tell the bullies to?

Maybe instead of the War on Obesity we should have a War on Hate.  Maybe we should just stop waging war altogether.

Unlike what the news portrays, people of size do have heads and faces and hearts.  So, stop making fun of us.  Stop judging us.  Just stop it!!

Jul 252011
 

I have tried to write a blog about this a couple of times over the past couple of months.  What I ended up with was a bunch of half finished ramblings that I just couldn’t complete.  (Honestly, this one has been sitting in my drafts for weeks…)

I have been having a bit of an identity crisis.  It started at the end of last summer.  My husband and I both came to the same conclusion at the same time that we needed to overhaul how we were eating.  For me, it wasn’t about weight loss.  As you know, or most of you know, or those who have read my blog or have seen me on TV etc. etc. know, I am perfectly happy being a big woman.  However, how we were eating wasn’t nurturing or providing good fuel for our bodies.  It was, “yummy, this tastes great…why do I feel so crappy food…”  We had done low-carb in the past and had felt great.  Like my doctor has said to me about low-carb eating,  and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s a great way to eat but it’s hard to sustain as a lifestyle.”  And, he’s right!

I have written about the litany of diets I had been on in my life…all stemming from the disdain I had for my body.  The difficulty I had growing up feeling like I didn’t fit in.  The pain and anguish I felt from being different and teased etc.  And, believe me, I am so fortunate!  I didn’t have it nearly as bad as so many people have and do.  There was always this feeling that there was something wrong with me that I needed to fix. I was reminded all the time by family and society that I needed to lose weight in order  to: buy clothes, have a man, have friends, be happy, get a job, etc. etc.

When I was on Oprah years ago discussing being fat the producers had asked me to gather some pictures of me from my childhood and to also go through my journals for pertinent entries (read, high rating nuggets) from growing up.  Here’s what I discovered.  First, I wasn’t that fat.  I really wasn’t.  Certainly, I was plump but I wasn’t FAT.  Secondly, from my journals, I was ALWAYS on a diet – I would talk about the diet being hard and that it was going to “work” this time or I would be beating myself up for “cheating.”  So, so sad!!  I was miserable and lonely and sad.  Oh, and I was totally in love with Scott Baio!

Not to tell the same stories over and over again.  But you know about the epiphany I had before moving to LA.  When I realized it was time to stop hating my body and punishing my body for not being how I thought it should be or rather, how society thought it should be, and start loving it.  I have talked about it in my one-woman show. I have talked about it in magazines.  It’s a story I tell.  Suffice it to say, it was like, ENOUGH!!  No more yo-yo dieting for the sake of dieting.  No more making myself wrong for being who and what I am.

Since that time there have been ups and downs in my weight.  Certainly, I lied on Oprah.  Funny, I think we all did.  There were 4 women on the show and I don’t believe any of us told the truth about our weight.  Which is funny.  At least for me it is, I can’t speak for them.  But I will happily tell you how much I weigh but please don’t ask me my age.  I hate lying 🙂

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August 2010

Jump to last summer.  I had been in the dumps all summer.  It started around my birthday, June 1, 2010 and it rapidly spread throughout the summer.  So, by August I was miserable.  My husband had some family visiting from the UK and we snapped some pics the day they were leaving.  We had gone to breakfast where I had eaten every buttermilk biscuit the restaurant had slathered with butter and homemade jam and then gone outside to snap some photos before they headed to the airport.  As soon as I downloaded the pictures I was shocked.  I looked ill.  I looked like someone had inflated me and then rubbed my face until it was all shiny.  It wasn’t my size that made me look bad…it was that I clearly hadn’t been taking care of myself.  Honestly, at that point I weighed 30 pounds less than I had on Oprah years earlier and I looked awful.  Clearly it wasn’t the weight…

With that, my husband and I decided to start taking care of ourselves.  We decided to eat what was nurturing and what provided fuel.  Now, I am not going to lie.  It has been very rough for me eating low-carb.  I am not a fan of meat.  I always joke that I am one bad piece of bacon away from being a vegetarian again (I was one for 17 years…).  The joke being there is no such thing as a bad piece of bacon.  I believed that until I got really sick from a bad piece of bacon a couple of weeks ago.  I still eat meat…not thrilled about it…but I haven’t eaten bacon since.

It has been 10 months of eating low-carb.  Lots of chicken.  Lots of vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, salads.  Eggs – boiled, scrambled, poached, crustless quiche etc.  We have gone off a couple of times for a planned amount of time.  We were in San Francisco for a week where there was no limit to what we could eat.  I savored a sour dough asiago twist from Acme Bread Company like it was turkish delight.  My husband was in Florida and ate whatever he pleased.  We were in Vegas and the same was true.  But overall we have chosen to eat low-carb like a lifestyle and eating the other way, “the regular way,” as an occasion.

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July 2011

The results have been astounding.  My cholesterol is SUPER good.  My blood sugar is awesome!  My blood pressure was 100/56 at the doctor a month ago.  All crazy good results.  Really!!  I have also lost, as of this morning, 70 pounds on my scale.  I keep reminding myself it isn’t about weight loss.  That is a slippery slope that can only lead to no good.  I know what it’s like to get on and off the scale looking for some kind of affirmation that I am good and have done the right thing.  But if the scale doesn’t move – which it won’t everyday.  And, if the scale moves up that’s okay because it isn’t about that.  It’s about living a healthy life.

Funny though, I have been reminded of the book Thinner by Richard Bachman aka. Stephen King.  As my clothes are getting bigger and bigger and my body is changing I keep wondering when will the weight loss end.  At some point, I would think I would stop losing.  I have no designs on being a thin person.  I know genetically I will never be thin-thin.  I will always have what my mother called “the Brounstein Curse” – Big-Ass Small-Breasts.

I know there will be people who will read this and who will congratulate me on my weight loss.  And, while that will make me crazy (yes, crazier than I already am…) I know they don’t really mean that there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. Right?  Gah. We’re programmed funny.

In some places in Africa I would be revered as a Goddess and people would bring me slaughtered goats and milk as offerings to sustain my amazingly beautiful and large body.  I am not heading to Africa any time soon.  So, I will stick with eating well and ignoring all the “you shoulds” and “you shouldn’ts” and the “you look so good…” with the inference being it was a shame about how I used to look but now I look better…  And, when my driver’s license comes due next year I will have to change my weight since for the first time since I got my license I actually weigh less than it says.

Aug 302010
 

How’s that for a dramatic title? Okay, that is definitely over speak.   But WOW, it’s been an interesting couple of months.   And, yes, by interesting I mean sucky. I think it started around my birthday in June.   Sure the age thing is always a kick in the ass.   “How am I this old?!”   The television season ended without me booking anything.   Summer was on us and I had no firm plans to produce my one-woman show.   And, I was still unemployed.   So, what did I do?   Well, like all smart people I slowly stopped exercising.   I had been very regimented about walking miles daily.   But with the despair came the “fuck its.”   So, why would I continue to do the one thing that was making me feel better? It was probably the worst thing I could have done.   I think the exercise over the past months had really been keeping the doldrums at bay.   I had started walking before I lost my accounting “day job” at the end of last September.   Now it was the middle of June and I couldn’t get out bed in the morning.   I had been popping out of bed around 7ish and walking but from June until, well last week,   if I got out of bed by 8:30 it was a good day.   I forced myself to not sleep past 9a during the week and I kept my promise, mostly, about watching television during the day.

Unfortunately, what crept in with the lack of exercise was bad food choices.   I am not a dieter by nature.   I gave that up with self-loathing in the early 90’s.   (That doesn’t mean I won’t go on my version of Atkins from time to time.   Lots of good veggies and protein.   More on that another time.) I would eat well in the morning and usually well in the afternoon.   Sometimes I would skip breakfast and have a big lunch.   Then I would eat a late dinner.   I was eating fast food (not McDonald’s), which I don’t even like. But it would be an easy dinner.   Eggplant pizza.   Cookies from Trader Joe’s.   In retrospect, it wasn’t a lot of bad food.   (Except for this one Mexican place…) There is nothing like falling into a vat of Mexican food because you feel bad.   It’s the perfect vicious circle of feeling bad.   You fall in because you feel bad and then you feel bad because you fell into the crispy, cheesy, guacamole covered vat of tasty goodness. It was occasional bad food and too much good food and way, way too many carbs.   I was carb stoned most of the time.   I felt tired even after many hours of sleep.   And, I found I was hating myself a bit.   It wasn’t like it was in my past.   I am much more informed.   More than anything I was sad.

As I have said in many of blog posts, I keep looking at what’s next in my life. For the past few months, it all kind of felt like my life was at a stand still.   I feel like I need to say, that even in the depths of despair, I was feeling, I was and am incredibly grateful for my life.   I have good friends, an amazing husband, and a great family.   My health is really good.   Which for many is surprising.   I find their shock annoying.   That should be an entry in itself.

I was down visiting my folks last month.   Yes, visiting my mom in the middle of this could have been a recipe for disaster.   It wasn’t.   Mostly it was really nice being with them.   There was, of course, an incident.   We were going to go to dinner.   My mother insisted we take her car.   Yes, it’s a lovely car.   I just don’t fit comfortably in it.   Which makes no freakin’ sense!   How am I bigger than some Germans?!   Anyway, we ended up taking her car.   Why?   Because even at my age, with my Mom, it’s the Golden Rule.   She wanted to take her car, so, we took her car. On the way to dinner I sat in the front and Pop sat in the back.   I told him we would switch on the way back.   I packed myself into the front seat.   Then snapped the seat belt around my body and sat motionless…kind of stuck.   After dinner, I went to get into the back seat and, well, there wasn’t a chance I was going to get into the back seat of that car! I put the seat back forward and tried to climb into the back.   I put one foot in the back and then nothing.   No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t squeeze into the back of this car.   WTF!!!   I tried moving the seat forward but it wouldn’t move.   This was it.   I stood in the parking lot imagining all the people walking to their cars watching my giant rear end hanging out of the side of this car as I tried desperately to force myself into the back seat.   All the while my mother is in the driver’s seat and Pop, well, he had the best view.   He graciously got in the back seat and I got back into the sardine can front seat and off we went.   To say that I was unhappy in that moment would be a great understatement.   It’s possible I was doing something wrong with the seat and I might actually be able to get back there.   Of course, I wonder how it will be to get out of the back seat of that car.   I suppose my mother wouldn’t be too pleased if we had to use the jaws of life to get me out.   Then again, it would be a lesson learned.

I have been thinking a lot about fitting in.   Where do I fit in?   Both literally and figuratively and here I was with my ass sticking out of the side of this Mercedes in a public parking lot.   It wasn’t my happiest moment.   Where do I fit?   Where don’t I fit?   Neither of these questions are necessarily bad things.   It’s okay if I don’t fit in the back of my mother’s car.   Now, I know.   But I would have liked to have known without having to learn the hard way.   I know I barely fit in airplane bathrooms.   Lesson learned.   I know I fit on all the rides at Disneyland but the ET ride at Universal; forget it!   Those are literal questions.   Where do I fit in life?   Do I fit in with my friends?   Do I fit in in public places?   How do people feel about me?   I had that person write derogatory comments to me after one of my entries here.   I have had mean things said to me in public.   People are fascinating.   Why do people think it’s okay to say something mean to a person of size or to anyone?   I have had strangers approach me and tell me about diets or exercise programs that could “help” me as if I need to be helped.   I have gone to the doctor for birth control only to have her “diagnose” me with obesity.   As if she were the first person to notice I was fat.   She actually wrote it on my insurance form.

The best was a couple of weeks ago.   I was in the middle of this state I have been in.   Kind of a funk.   Kind of a pity party. You know, I don’t have a job.   I don’t have money to buy things I want…a new computer, an iPad, etc. It isn’t like I need anything.   Anyway, I did a good deed and zipped to the valley for a friend.   On the way back I   stopped at Pavilion’s aka. Von’s to get some bread and sliced turkey and some of the amazing nectarines they had on sale.

IMAG0184It was 12:45 so people were trying to get sandwiches made for lunch.   The woman who helped me didn’t know what she was doing.   It was simple…one pound of Primo Taglio mesquite turkey and a half pound of havarti.   Another customer who had been there earlier in the day to buy meatloaf got the attention of the woman who was ostensibly helping me, after I had waited in line, and began helping her with her meatloaf.   The employee then told me it was going to be a while that I should go shop.   Essentially, she stopped helping me to help someone else.   Meanwhile, all the people who were in line after me were helped by other Von’s employees.

So, I decided to walk around the store even though I didn’t need much.   I grabbed a couple of small artisan flutes and a cluster of tomatoes on the vine.   Then I passed an employee who was giving samples of some kind of “brownie bites.”   She was talking to a male customer who had a backpack and a small suitcase in his basket.   (I saw him wandering the aisles later.) I hesitated to take a brownie bite at first.   Did I want a gooey bite of sweet before lunch.   Why not?!   The employee coaxed me to take one as well.   So, I did.   I jokingly said, “Well, that was enough.   Now, I don’t need to buy them.”   Then the other “customer” (and I use the term loosely) says, “People just don’t know how to lose weight properly.   They go about it all wrong…you should read this book…” I interrupted him and told him I wasn’t interested.   As I turned back to my basket, the employee was poking my artisan bread and she said to me, “That’s no good.   That’s what makes you fat.   That’s no good!”   I shook my head and walked away completely dumbfounded.

Am I so big that I am invisible?   Are people embarrassed by me?   What do you think when you see fat people?   What do you think when you see me?   I wonder.   Where do I fit?   I would love to travel the country and travel the world and find out exactly where do I fit in?

Jun 302010
 

This is not at all what I had planned on writing today.   I was all ready to start writing about my upcoming trip to Vegas and how excited I am to get away with my husband for a couple of days.   Then BAM.   I was poking around Facebook when I saw a video a friend had posted.   Now, the video in itself is appalling.   It’s about the awful wild horse round-ups being done in the name of needing the grazing land for cattle.   It’s essentially like eminent domain.   You know, the law that was passed that in essence says, if your property is worth more to someone else and will be “better” for the neighborhood as a hotel or something other than your home, someone can force you to sell it with the government as their strong arm.   It’s insane.   So, what’s happening with these wild horses is our tax payer dollars are being used to round up the horses in an inhumane and disgusting way so that cattle ranchers have more land, that doesn’t belong to them. It’s “government” land…so, it belongs to us, right?   Aren’t we the boss of the government?   Aren’t we?!   The video is really hard to watch.

Okay, so why then is Lisa Brounstein, fat actress, world traveller, writing about this?   It’s hardly my wheelhouse.   Sure I have a lot to say about the government and politics etc.   And, everyone knows I have a HUGE soft spot for animals.   I have always said, “I am one bad piece of bacon away from being a vegetarian again.”   I was a vegetarian for 17 years.   Even today I can go days without eating meat.   Hell, I apologize to bugs before I kill them, if I don’t capture them and set them free.   So, I am writing this not because of the video.   It’s because of what my friend posted before the video.   It’s because of what she said.

I am not going to post what she said verbatim for multiple reasons.   First, I don’t have her permission.   Second, I don’t think she really means what she is saying, completely.   I think that people, even people who love me, just don’t realize that fat and obesity really aren’t the source of all the ills in the world.   I really believe we have been trained and educated to believe that that is the case.   We are taught to believe that fat is ugly and wrong and if people weren’t fat than the world would be a much better place.   Wow, really?!   Okay, hear me out.

My friend started off talking about the BP oil spill and how our tax dollars are going to be used to clean up BP’s mess.   I have done some reading on the matter.   It doesn’t make me an expert. I am devastated by what is going on in the Gulf and have thought about going down to clean birds.   I read they are only allowing experienced volunteers and people to do that.   Which is probably better.   I think it would emotionally wreck me, forever.   The pictures are so upsetting.   I am not a fan of BP.   I think they have handled this whole thing POORLY.   How’s that for your understatement of the day?   But what I will say, is that we or rather, our government has allowed this to happen.   We allowed BP to drill off shore.   Those waters are federally owned and they are regulated by the Federal Government.   The law is written in such a way to protect the oil company with a punitive financial cap of $75 million.   Yes, BP really, by law, only has to pay $75 million.   However, they have given the government 20 BILLION dollars to aid in the clean up as well as to help the people who are and have lost their livelihoods.   Now it’s up to the government to dole out the money.   How’s that going?   How did the mortgage/bank bail out go?   How about that automaker bail out?   I’m just asking.

Then my friend went on to say that cattle corporations (she was saying that BP is a big corporation like the cattle corporations) are rounding up these majestic horses in order to use the land for their own cattle so they can sell the meat from said cattle and make even more money by selling to McDonald’s who will in turn sell Big Mac’s and fries. This would then effect the taxpayer because we are paying for the needless slaughter and storage of these horses all so these cattle corporations can get richer.   Okay, I can get that…mostly.   I don’t believe for a second that the government isn’t getting something out of this.   I am sure they are getting a lot.   It’s like a subsidy.   They aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their heart.   I am sure there are many sides to this sick and twisted story.   Okay, now here is what got me.   She goes on to make the correlation with the round up and eating McDonald’s with people growing more obese.   Oh man, really?

I watched the video because she mentioned BP and tax dollars and then also mentioned the obese.   As someone who is considered obese and someone who is really tired of my tax dollars being spent on things for which I disagree with, I had to look at the video.   I didn’t get the correlation completely.   Unless, she was saying that because cattle ranchers are driving the horses away so they can let their cattle graze there and then they sell their beef to McDonald’s where people buy Big Macs and, of course, only fat/obese people eat Big Macs, then it’s the fat people’s fault that the horses are being tortured.   That is only a correlative argument…you know, “correlation is not causation.”   In essence, she’d be saying it’s obese people’s fault that the wild horses are being slaughtered and tortured.

It’s that seven deadly sin scenario.   Greed, gluttony, extravagance, sloth…doesn’t that describe me?   You know, I just sit around all day and eat Big Macs and fries on my gold plated couch with my 60 inch flat screen TV.   No, I don’t.   None of that is true.   I honestly don’t think I have ever eaten a Big Mac.   Maybe as a child but I don’t have a recollection of it.   What is my reason for writing about this today?   My reason is this.   I am fat…and I say that with no malice or degradation.   I am definitely a BIG woman.   In medical terms I am obese.   So, I write this to give a face to all of those faceless and headless fat and obese people out there who are consistently being called forth as the cause of so much of the worlds ills today.   Especially in the United States and in Britain.

I honestly believe she probably didn’t think twice (or once) about me when she wrote what she wrote.   I understand that she is angry and frustrated.   Clearly she is angry about the horses and the horrific fate they are meeting.   And, she is a very intelligent person.   There isn’t a chance she isn’t upset about what is going on with our country in general.   As a human being and as a fat person I feel like it is my responsibility to remind people that fat people aren’t faceless or headless like they show on the news.   We have feelings.   We are human beings.   I am sure many of us care about the plight of the horses and the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico too.