|Happy, Happy Hippo! |
by Ardelfin at morgueFile
It may be somewhat ironic that I’m posting this as I’m currently doing a bit of a lifestyle turnaround, losing weight and getting back in shape. But let me start with the disclaimer that I am doing so for a number of reasons, and the main reasons are medical (high risk of diabetes in my family) and my urge to be able to run a 5k and take part in roller derby.
Why did I bother with that disclaimer? Because it’s important. Because it matters.
It matters because, about a month and a half ago, I went to a seminar on weight loss and obesity. It really was a bit of a shill for weight loss surgery (something I don’t need or want), and I was absolutely floored when one of the women there said that she had gained weight after going on anti-depressants, but that she would go off them in a heartbeat if she could lose weight because she’d rather be sad than fat. But being clinically depressed isn’t just “being sad.” As someone who has had plenty of my own mental issues, I can tell you that if I could be happy every day, I wouldn’t mind carrying around an extra 20 pounds. If that’s all it took, I would be there.
But apparently she isn’t alone. CNNpublished an article by Rebecca Simmons where she cited that “54% of women 18 to 25 said they would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.” One of Simmons’ friends, when asked about it, said that, “the thing is…if I got run over it wouldn’t be my fault, but being fat is something other people can blame me for.”
And, sadly, her friend is right. Even though 70% of American adults are overweight and more than 33% are obese, research studies show that people who are overweight are often thought of as “lazy, unsuccessful schlubs with no will power.”
In fact, back in June, a lovely psychology professor (who is now on leave) named Geoffrey Miller went ahead and tweeted “Dear PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.”
He, of course, apologized and said he didn’t mean it. But he did. Apologies don’t take it away, and, in fact, his tweet probably did a lot more harm than good. NBC published anarticle in July that pointed out that “fat shaming” actually increases the risk for individuals to become or stay obese. “Research has already shown that stigmatizing overweight people leads to psychological factors that are likely to contribute to weight gain – things like depression or binge eating…we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety – that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors.”
So how does this turn up in my crazy ass feminist blog?
Because, for the most part, society doesn’t mind fat men as much. Now, I don’t want you to take that the wrong way. Fat men still have issues, still are looking down on, still are teased and “shamed” and all sorts of other horrible things, and they still have eating disorders (although not as commonly as women), but society does one thing to make it acceptable: they have them on TV all the time.
Think about the classic TV couple. Honeymooners. The Flintstones. Even King of Queens. The guy can be overweight, but the woman has to be thin and attractive. Fat guys win thin chicks. But fat chicks…holy mother of god, no!
Melissa McCarthy, who is awesome in “Mike and Molly” btw, has been attacked for being overweight – called “a female hippo,” “tractor-sized,” and “a gimmick comedian who has devoted her short career to being obese and obnoxious with equal success.”
To go back just a few years, I recall plenty of comments like this also being addressed to Roseanne when the show was popular. Yet, somehow, I don’t remember anyone saying that about John Goodman.
In fact, in the New York Post’s “50 Fat Celebrities,” more than half are male (although they include Mike Tyson, who I take umbrage as listing as a celebrity when it should be “convicted rapist and felon”). But regardless, even in this list, the majority of the “fat” women are probably no more than a size 8, maybe a 10. And that’s “fat” enough to compete with male stars like “Fat Joe,” Vincent Pastore, Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, and Kevin Smith. Apparently a female size 8 is just too much to handle, but a male size XXXL is what it takes to make the list.
We need to accept the fact that fat happens, and it can happen for a reason. Just two weeks ago, I was at an autism conference, and when looking at the effects of genetics, there is a gene that, when it is damaged or changed, can have several different effects, one of which is severe obesity. Yes, that’s right. It *is* genetic! What a shocker!
Okay, so what’s the message here?
Leave us alone when we’re fat. Let us be happy if we’re fat. We’ll change when we’re damn good and ready, and if we aren’t, then suck it the fuck up. People exist in all shapes and sizes, and we have different genes, different metabolisms, and different goals in life. If you don’t like that there is a “fat chick,” then it’s your problem, not hers.
And to the women reading this post – be yourself and be happy with it. To wish for clinical depression or a hit from a truck is one of the most depressing things I have ever heard of. Being fat is not something to be ashamed of. If you wish to change it, do. But don’t do it because of the external pressure to change. You’ll never be happy if you’re doing it for someone else.