Woman Loses 282 Pounds And All This Battering Hatred, Film At 11

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 9.648% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Let us start this hootenanny by reminding you that I am chubby myself, and I am personally attracted to larger women.  So please, when discussing the horrors of fat hating, don’t make the mistake of thinking that I think fat people should be removed from sight.
That said, this article in Yahoo puts me in two distinct mindsets at once, like two muscled guys trying to cram through a door.
The headline is “Woman Loses 282 Pounds In Three Years,” and the teaser text says, “After years of being bullied, ignored, and mooed at, Natalie Strawn decided to change her life…” at which point it tells you how she lost a lot of weight and now society likes her.
On the one level, I find this to be terribly sad.  The fact that fat people are subjected to all of that loathing is pretty awful, because obviously every person you see who’s overweight is:
a)  Horrifically unhealthy, unlike all of those suave bulimics and anorexics we idolize;
b)  So slovenly lazy thanks to this accumulation of large that obviously they must be unmotivated welfare freaks with nothing of worth to give;
c)  So ugly that they’re downright rude not to immediately change themselves for our convenience.
So the fact that a fat girl gets a lot of shit is, well, sad.
On the other hand, I used to get a lot of shit when I didn’t shower for two weeks on end, and wore the same shirt for four days at a time regardless of what soup stains had accumulated.  And after a while, I asked myself the rightful question: “Self, if society thinks so poorly of me for behaving this way, is it worth the troubles, or should I change myself to be better?”
And I think of the liberal gut reaction that NO, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOURSELF, which is kinda bullshit.  There are a lot of people for whom “Be yourself” equates to “Be an asshole,” and so you see people cutting other folks off in mid-sentence and haranguing folks with their interminable rants on sports cars or fitness or the latest computer technology.
Or, in a less toxic example, you have this constant barrage of “NEVER CHANGE” and as such you have all these people who feel lonely because they’ve been taught that the world should conform to their needs, and never quite discovering that there are quite significant benefits sometimes in changing small things.  Dressing better makes people treat you better.  Listening actively makes people like you better.  Cultivating some surface knowledge of the shit you don’t care about (for me it’s sports and cars) often makes you able to bridge to topics you do care about.
You can get a lot of mileage by ignoring this constant refrain of “You’re awesome the way you are” and asking, “Say, maybe if I bathed regularly and combed my hair, people might respond better to me.”
Yes, that’s a lesson I learned.  I’m not proud to repeat it here, but hey.  Honesty’s what I do.
Fitting into society isn’t a bad thing.  A lot of times your crazy uniqueness is actually a hindrance, and maybe it’s time to learn how to, you know, work with people.  But no, everyone is a perfect snowflake, if you just stand your ground people will come to you.  In movies, anyway.  In real life, you often just sort of disintegrate on the edges of the playground as everyone carries on in their reindeer games and ignores you, able to subsist in this real-life loneliness with a straggly net of e-friends who have gathered from the corners of the globe to listen to each other on walkie-talkie radios and no real-life hugs.
So I go, “Hey, if she’s getting all this flack, then why not drop some pounds?”  It’s a rational response: PEOPLE HATE FAT? DON’T BE FAT.  (Even if that’s a lot trickier than it sounds.  Permanent weight loss is hard, yo.)  Shouldn’t I be patting her on the back for a wise decision in trade-offs?
Then I see the fact that the video made the front page of Yahoo!, and my blood boils again, because the lesson here is that this fat woman used to be shit on by everyone and now she’s lost all this weight and she’s desirable and wonderful and ARE YOU LISTENING, FAT PEOPLE?  The lesson in that post-interview is not “Hey, how do you learn how to deal with jerks?” or “Really, is society’s evident spite at fat people justified on any level?” but rather EVERY FAT PERSON SHOULD DO THIS, HERE’S HOW, NOW SHE’S WORTH OUR ATTENTION.
Because you know, you don’t see these kinds of front-page miracle turn-arounds for ugly guys who groomed and dressed better and learned how to talk nice (though to be fair, there are a few fashion shows that scrape the surface of that).  No, every time something hits the front pages it’s “YOU LOST WEIGHT, NOW WE’LL SHOW YOU ON TELEVISION!” because fat-hating is so ingrained into our fucking society that we have prime-time hit shows devoted to rehabilitating these useless fat people into human beings.
And I just stall, locked like a Blue Screen of Death.  Because honestly, yes, society hates fat so much that it is a logical conclusion to lose a few pounds to get a better career, a more supportive boyfriend, health care that won’t write off your every ailment as “That’s ‘cuz yer fat, porkzilla.”  But on the other hand, isn’t losing weight just giving into what is a fucking insane desire on society’s part?  Because there’s a point at which yeah, I probably would fit in better if I never read these silly “book” things except for bestsellers and never mentioned my polyamory, but fuck that.  There are lines where you give into society and start to erode your core personality.
So I’m filled with rage and shame on all levels – because it’s the NRA and abortion argument all over again, where you have one side that’s so “NO, IT MUST BE THIS WAY” and the reaction of the other side inevitably mutates to “WELL, THE OPPOSITE OF YOUR WAY MUST BE WHAT WE WANT,” and the middle ground dissolves so that you’re left with two camps where any change to society is an assault upon your being and no, fatty, you can step out of the adipose ghetto if you just drop a few pounds and smile and dance prettily for us, and I just want to punch the entire fucking world.

2 Comments

  1. missloopy
    Dec 13, 2011

    yeah, i pretty much feel like this. sometimes you have to play the game… but it sucks all the way around.
    i lost 40 lbs over the course of about 3 months a few years ago…. i lost them due to being in horrible chronic pain and stress & too sick to eat. i forced enough food down to keep a low buzz of energy, but i was likely living on 500 calories a day. the 40 lbs has slowly found its way back to my happy body, but for little bit there, i was noticeably thinner.
    everywhere i went people brought it up. i had dropped off the radar for a bit, and then emerged a “beautiful” thin butterfly. people would tell me, “WOW! you look Great! how did you do it????” i would reply, dryly, that i had stopped eating. they would stare blankly at me & try to laugh it off like i was joking.
    i was pissed. “well, it sure is good i lost all that grotesque fat, so now you can all think i’m beautiful!” mostly i just stayed quiet.
    so then, as i got happier, and healthier… as i started eating balanced meals again… my body found it’s way back to round curves. my husband is no less attracted to me, but it has taken a lot to get comfortable with it for me. after all, all that weight loss had made me look so great! everybody said so…
    side note, do you happen to have the link to the post on “nerds” & learning to operate in society/making friends where you talked about that same shower & hair brushing thing? because i totally brought it up in conversation the other day with a friend about her awkward guy… and i thought i had it in my memories, but it seems not.
    hope you are feeling better today dear! <3

  2. Frelance
    Dec 13, 2011

    Good post. I find the internal conflict regarding conformity is highly relatable even for people whose issues with the public aren’t appearance-based.

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