Saturday, November 19, 2005

Large and In Charge

This is a reposting of an old journal entry from Sorting the pieces, because Virginia mentioned in Animal Spirits that she hoped I'd place it in this journal. I included the comments because they add to the original entry, but email addresses of the commenters were deleted because of privacy concerns

I've mentioned before that when something is brought to my attention three times, I feel a need to address it. Last night's fat pity party, another rude size comment yelled at me in a parking lot today and Scalzi's entry on Being Fat met the criteria, so here I am. There's not a lot I can add to the list mentioned in the link in his entry, but I can confirm what I can. I've had a lot of skinny friends make light of my comments that there is a lot of fat prejudice out there. They've found it hard to believe that doctors and nurses have refused to treat me for health situations, blaming everything from back pain caused by a kidney infection that eventually required hospitalization to injuries caused by accidents (like the sprained ankle caused by getting caught in a slide of small rocks while hiking) to my being fat. Muscle pain is just part of being fat was the thinking. The aches were only my body's response to carrying a heavier load. When I was younger, I had a doctor deny my request for birth control pills because all fat women have high blood pressure even though he hadn't checked mine. He went on to add insult to injury by suggesting that my desire for birth control pills came more from hope than a real need. At the same time, after a knee surgery, I turned down the offer of a temporary handicapped parking permit because I was hesitant to open the door to people assuming I had it just because I was fat.

People really do make comments about the contents of your grocery cart when you're fat. Sales clerks really do ignore you until you ask for help. I got one girl fired from Victoria's Secrets when after finally asking for help, she told me she thought I was just there wishing. Her manager gladly rang up the purchases I made for my daughter. Other people ignore you as well. In the special features on the Shallow Hal dvd, Gwyneth Paltrow is walking around the lobby of a hotel in her fat suit. She's just being friendly and being ignored. She was stunned at how lonely she felt.

Strangers really do yell insults at fat people, and I've even had things thrown at me by those same idiots. Professionally as a recruiter, I've had employers who knew me only over the telephone tell me that they wouldn't hire a fat person. Upon probing, I was told that not only are fat people just not attractive enough, they're also all lazy. Another said that they can't afford the health risk of a fat person but only assumed that a fat person would cost their insurance more. Statistically speaking, taller people are at higher insurance cost risk as well, but height is generally seen as an advantage in employment.

Some food service people feel the need to tell me how just how much sugar something I've ordered has in it or compliment me because the dish I ordered is "really good for a diet." I've been tsked-tsked from people at other restaurant tables because I'm not afraid to eat and actually enjoy food in public. I've received emails about diets and how much happier I would be if I lost my weight after I've written about it before. I've received a few nasty ones telling me it's all my fault and to just shut up and quit whining about it.

I've surprised people by being well dressed and well groomed. A lot of people ask me where I shop because they have a friend or relative who would love my clothing. When I go out, I often feel a little overdressed, but I don't get the free flung insults when I'm in a dress and heels, so I consciously dress that way to avoid those nasty drivebys.

When I was single, I sometimes surprised people by dating some really good looking guys. I was even asked more than once how "a girl like me could get a guy like him." Well, for one, I'm wonderful. Two, there really are men out there, and some of them are gorgeous by any standard, who really like larger women. Some people say this is just a fetish, but I don't really see why being attracted to a woman who's large and curvy is any more fetishistic than being attracted more to blondes than brunettes or only to women with long legs. I've also dated men who weren't necessarily attracted to me because I was large, but because I've got a lot of things going for me, and they could see that. And yes, I crushed on more than one guy who thought fat girls were just gross.

The whole weight thing is very complex, but what I mind most about being fat isn't the fat or the physical complications that come with it. Those do bother me, but I can do something about those. By the way, I have been, but the ups and downs of my scale are the least interesting thing in my life, and that's why I don't write more about them. What I mind the most are the illusions people have about fat people.

When someone has made up their minds that a person has to be a certain way because of their appearance, it's prejudice. One may think that fat people deserve the rudenesses I've mentioned because we've done this to ourselves. What we eat and how much we exercise is only part of what determines our size. That aside, prejudice cannot be changed unless it is addressed, so I'm going to speak up. Rudeness is not something that anyone deserves. Job discrimination is not something that people deserve. The inference that a fat person is too impaired to know what's good for them is not deserved. Lumping all fat people into one category is not deserved. If someone wants to think this way, that's their business. It becomes mine when it affects me, and for some reason, I think I've found the courage to speak up. Link to this entry

This entry has 30 comments: (Add your own)
I was a heavy child and teenager, and my weight has bounced around quite a bit during adulthood. I really appreciate what you've said here. Anyone who has struggled with weight has felt the sting of this prejudice to some degree. It is painful and can leave scars. And unfortunately, those comments can seriously damage self esteem...especially in a culture that idolizes thinness.

I have been both skinny and heavy. Currently I am 40-50 pounds over top "healthy" range for my height and age. I have known many heavy people that needed to lose because their heath was suffering. I have know just as many skinny people that needed to gain because of their heath suffering. I get so angry when I hear mean comments about "fat" people. My best friend was heavy, she had surgery because of her health. I have people say to me when they hear how much I weigh, but you are not fat. You are so right, dress is everything when it comes to how people see you. I am offended when I see skinny people "letting it all hang out" just as much as I am in seeing heavy people doing it. Ok my comment is kind of disjointed. Sister I love you for who you are. Until right now, I guess I never really realized that you might be a bit Rubenesque. Just think, at one time artists were devoted to painting our curves, we were celebrated.

I was shocked at some of the situations you've had to endure. I really didn't think people did that sort of thing anymore. Sigh!Glad you told it straight. Kathy

Powerful truthtelling. I'll be thinking about this for a while.

An excellent, sad, smart and powerful post! Unfortunately I am no longer amazed at how stupid and cruel people can be. I guess I have seen too much. That isn't an excuse for those born with less than a full brain though. (One would think that the employeers would really want to be weeding out the brainless, not the weightless.)In my world view, there are many genders, not just two, and when I see a really skinny (frail looking to me) girl that the wind could just knock over, one who has dressed specifically to emphasize that, I think they are not my gender. Give me a woman who stands solid on the earth, as if the power of the earth grows right up into her. We don't need to look frail and non-threatening to make the world comfortable. We don't need to make the world comfortable at all, only ourselves. I have not met you but from what you write, I am sure that you stand solid on mother earth. I bet some of the "uncomfortableness" (read: stupidity and cruelty) that you have experienced from others has come from people that don't know what to do with a powerful, strong woman who doesn't live solely to meet the expectations of others, but rather lives solidly in your own truth and beauty.Peace,Virginia

I was always tiny until I got pregnant with Shelby (around a hundred pounds) and now I am 160. I am surprised at how differently people treat you! You are so right! I am the exact same person I was then, even sweeter, but I am treated very differently. I am just as smart as I was then, too....

Part 2 to my comment I ran out of room LOLWomen are soft, beautiful and curvaceous naturally ... they should EMBRACE those unique characteristics not make themselves ill and unhealthy! Women who are thin, are hardly ever happy either So it's not just women who are "over weight" who have a poor body image, but I truly believe that women of all shapes and sizes should be accepted (unless of course either end of the weight scale is a dangerous weight for the person to be at)If someone at a store ignores me for any reason, I will speak up, if they CONTINUE to ignore me, I will cause a dang scene in the store and make EVERYONE notice THEM hehehe it works wonders! If anyone commented about what I ordered, so help them I would make them feel 2-inches tall and I wouldn't even have to be LOUD in order to do it, either LOL Forever a happy "Curvy Angel" ;)Maria

I agree completely! Size discrimination is the only "allowable" remaining prejudice It is pathetic and extremely disappointing. Something which was seen as beautiful at one time, now is seen as disgusting, in the eyes of the Media primarily. Women making themselves practically skeletal because Heaven forbid they may ...*Gasp* "get fat!" Oh! say it isn't so! *eyeroll* I have a Double whammy I've been called Fat and "Crippled" (That's the only 'C' word I can't tolerate) So I know the pain and harm words from children, adults, doctors... whomever, can cause as well.Now I do believe if a person's weight is causing severe problems for their health, things should be done, but since puberty I have been up and down in my weight I am 5'6" and I have ranged in size from a size 12 to 18/20. I am currently a size 18. I have basically maintained this size for the past 6 years. I was at the Gynocologist recently and she just blurts out "Don't eat sweets, bread, pasta or drink soda because you need to lose weight" So I said to her very calmly "I didn't ask for your opinion ABOUT my weight I am happy where I am right now I eat balanced meals, I rarely eat sweets, I hardly ever drink cokes, so you need to keep your advice about the size of my ASS to yourself and just examine what I'm here for you to examine! If I want to lose weight, I KNOW how to do it, thanks Doc!"I do make healthier choices with food, I drink water regularly and if we had a car I would gladly be working out at CURVES for Women with my mother again Not because I strive to be "thin" Not at all! I want to keep my curves I want to REMAIN "Plus sized" But I want to be a HEALTHY "full-figured" woman!Comment from

Excellent commentary. I used to be average. When I got irradiated for cancer they deliberately stopped my thyroid. I take medicine but it made me gain weight. My childhood best friend has never stopped hassling me over this. She will ask how much I eat etc. I finally told her that apparently she would have rather had me thin and dead. Last year I went on a diet and lost 30 lbs. Not for anyone but me because I felt it was a health issue. More people should realize that most people are genetically predetermined to be thin or heavy. You can also be heavy and yet be physically fit. More people need to concentrate on themselves and stop finding fault with others. There will always be the people who try to build themselves up by insulting and bullying others. Sad. Nelle

I'd rather take the verbal beating then heels and nylons!LOL! I fight better in jeans and sandals!Put a Smile on your face and a song in your heart.Wishing you health, happiness and laughter.TJ~

Amen! About friggin time someone tells our side of it. I remember a job I worked years ago. My partner refused to teach me how to do it because all fat people are lazy and they all smell funny. She resisted getting anywhere near me because she was afraid of how I would smell. She was really surprised to find out that I take a friggin' shower everyday and that I use deoderant besides. As far as being lazy, I worked circles around her once I got someone else to show me the job. I wonder what she thought when it hit her that I rarely ate at work even though she ate constantly. I gain even when eating nothing but salads. I'm tired of being treated like I don't count. Guess what. I do. And so do you! - I think we just came upon the subject of Judi Heartsong's essay this month. Damn, we're good.Jude


Coming from a family that was made up of at least 50% large people, I don't understand the whole fat prejudice thing. Most of the people I have loved in my life have been fat...notably my beloved late sister, my mother, two more of my sisters, and my husband, at some times. No, I am not fat...I have been heavier than I should have been, but have not struggled with being "fat" all my life, as you have. I know fat prejudice exists. The first time I encountered it, I thought, "WTF???" But it's out there, and I feel bad about it.I guess I have to wonder why employers have more bias about obesity in employees than about smoking. They don't seem to care if employees smoke. If it's a non-smoking workplace, workers are just expected to figure out that they can't smoke at work, and deal with it. And that's the end of it. No negative connotations, no believing that smokers are slobs, and have created their own problems. Though smokers carry around as much or more medical risk than overweight people, they are not the targets of job discrimination and jokes about having no self-control. Why?I would NEVER tell someone who has not made the decision to diet that they need to, or that they would be better off if they did. Wait...that's a lie. I HAVE told my brother-in-law that if he lost 75# he probably wouldn't have the problems with his knees that he does... Shame on me! What I want to say, Cynthia, is--I love you just the way you are. Lisa :-]

Wow! I think this is one of your best writings ever and you've got a lot of good ones.I don't need to see a picture of you or ask your size to know you're beautiful. It's screams from between the lines of this journal. I'm sorry for the ugly (as in mean) people of the world and I'm sorry that any of it may have hurt you. :-) ---Robbie

Cynthia, I applaud you. You are strong and proud and you speak your mind. A woman to be admired and emulated. I am honored to know you.Vicky

Fat helps sex.Comment from

Thanks for sharing... I cannot believe how rude people can be. I hope what you have written will be an eye opener to some really STUPID people out there. Unfortunately will live in a world full of idiots. Julie :)

'Fat" must be a theme today, I wrote a poem about it, have you seen it yet?

Tell it like it is.

BRAVO! I agree and I've been a fluctuater but never real thin like the magazines...well as a kid but not later. I'm going to mention you on my journal so more can see this! :-)

Amen, amen, and amen again. I've had problems for years, I'm down about a hundred pounds from three years ago. I've never been shouted at, That's something I can live without. Great entry keep on with the great attitude. Jackie

I so totally agree with you!People don't make eye contact with me. When they do, it is split second before they divert their eyes. What's even worst is when they talk about me, like being fat means I am deaf as well.I used to not let it bother me. But it seems now, I feel compelled to say something. Usually along the lines of "So, I suppose you have no fat people in your family and how would you like it if you overheard people saying the same things about them?"There are not too many families in America today with NO fat relatives.But, its still no excuse. I believe people of good will you never stay quiet....Cat

As a person who has been at both ends of the scale, I can say that everything you have said is true. People really DO treat you diffently, based on weight. There are so many incorrect assumptions made about overweight people, especially in the business world. I think this starts so young. Is there anyone of us who didn't grow up hearing jokes about fat people in cartoons, situations comedies, and movies? And it was treated as something that was totally acceptable. I can't imagine the torture it must be to attend school as an overweight child. It has to be a special kind of hell. It breaks my heart just to think of this. Tina

I'm with you girl ... and i'm one who has not battled largeness in the sense of 'fat' per se all my life but I was always bigger than my pals. I personally find too thin women, the kind they paste all over magazine covers repulsive SPECIFICALLY because I know that's what they're trying to tell us that's what we need to be to be accepted. I was just thinking on the way home how I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it when DOVE (hooray for dove!) came out with their new ad campaign with normal curvatious women. GOOD IT IS ABOUT TIME is what I thought! I am battling with my self worth over whether some guy will like me if he sees me naked. I reminded myself that he has a bigger belly than me BUT in this crazy world it seems to be ok for men to be larger ... I was thrilled when Camryn Manheim came along and portrayed such a strong and sexy woman in the media ... but she as most hollywood types succumbed to the weight loss industry. And I applaud her for wanting that and following through. I grew up with a large mom and have large bones and now in my late 40's it's catching up to me. In the past few years I have learned to shop in the women's department and it appauls me the horrible and lack of choices available. And I live in an area where ladies tend be much larger than in more metropolitan areas. I don't understand why we can't look GREAT too ... I like to dress nice and I don't really want to wear knit and elastic all the time. but you all here can relate to the feelings and this is what this is about. Size can be overwhelming even if you aren't 'large' it's how we perceive ourselves ...

very good post. Every person on this earth is beautiful and special in some way. I love to people watch and I see as much beauty in rounded figures as I do thin ones...... no, the really thin ones I just want to feed.We are setting unrealistic expectations for our daughters with the pictures in the magazines and television commercials. The best commercial I have seen in ages is for the real beauty campaign from Dove? I think I am remembering right. Real women of all ages and sizes in their commercials..... it is about darn time.Beauty is everywhere, all around us every day.Cynthia, you are beautiful inside and, judi

Are you serious about a comment being yelled at you in a parking lot? What in God's name is wrong with people? When I read things like this, I want to pack my family up and head for the hills somewhere far away from everyone. I agree that people make horrible assumptions about overweight people and treat them horribly. It starts from the time kids are very young these days and it's so crippling because I think the most anyone of us ever wants is for others just to love us for who we are, and NOT our size, and yet overweight people get judged on their size over and over and over again. It's unacceptable. Totally. And I'm sorry you've had to go through this.

You GO Girl!!! I am aiming my hedge apple right at them! Anne

OH CYNTHIA!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Having battled with weight most of my life.....and an eating disorder to boot...I have lived on both extremes. I can say one thing for sure...having sent myself to the hospital to have food pumped in me...being skinny aint all its vracked up to be...I have finally come to terms with WHO I am.. As is...I am the same person fat, skinny or just hanging in the middle..There is a prejudice. People can deny it and say "Oh you are just being sensitive" BLAHHHHHH and yet of course they have never ever had to deal with everything you mentioned and more. I am behind you 150% on this! YOU GO GIRL!PeaceJodi

AMEN!! I can really relate to this entry, hon. My younger sister has experienced everything you mentioned, and then some. I have seen her reduced to hysterical weeping because of somebody's remark.Excellent post!Big hugs,Barb-


Blogger Paul said...

Hi Cynthia...I'm glad you're moving over some of your best posts (you have so many great ones). Thanks for finding me.

November 19, 2005 8:11 PM  
Blogger Virginia said...

AOL lost a very good writer. Our gain is that you continue to write.
Peace, Virginia

November 19, 2005 9:00 PM  
Blogger Sie said...

An excellent post. Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes.

November 20, 2005 1:32 AM  

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