Saturday, August 9, 2008

FAT BLOG: You Look Marvelous

This is an excerpt from a series of post on weight and body image from one of my offline blogs. It was written in December 2006 when the web and world buzzed about Britney Spears panties or lack thereof.

Part 1 of 3
December 2, 2006

Okay, this post mentions blondie's panties, but it's not about that. I didn't know what all the fuss was over Britney Spears and her panties or her lack of panties, so I clicked on a news video at Comcast. The clip on Britney's panties was longer than most stories these days on Iraq or AIDS. Oh, but this is America and Britney is blonde and thin. Perhaps not as thin as she was in her teens, but she's no hefty mama.

As fascinated as some people are with this young woman, her story did not hold my attention as long as the CBS news story on The Business of Dieting (video). "America spends about $35 billion on diet products," according to the report. In the piece reporter Sharon Alfonsi says, "For decades companies have been selling slim and we've been eating it up." She paraphrased Dr. Louis Aronne saying that "The government is still treating weight loss like a cosmetic problem and not a serious health problem."

I don't think it's only the government's perception that obesity is simply a cosmetics problem instead of a matter of life and death. Comedians, sometimes loved ones, and strangers in the street still poke fun at fat people the same way they would a woman who wears black lip liner, pastel pink lip color, sea blue eye-shadow, and cherry red rouge with near white foundation. "Oh, don't she look like a clown," the yell and wahaaaaa!!!!, pointing. Only the truly ignorant would do that to a person they thought was ill or in a painful state of mind.

They poke fun in the same way, but the commentary is nastier, wounding fat people and fat children sometimes for life. You can wash off that bad make-up with soap and water. Fat don't go away so easy.

I've always been fat, except at birth maybe when I weighed only five pounds. Still you should see my roly-poly baby pictures. I remember being a young child and having people pinch my cheeks and say I looked adorable, but even the comments that people hope are kind can hurt: "Oh, you have sucha a pretty face." I heard that often as a child and teenager. Like others, I've gone through periods where I've said I didn't care that I tend toward fatness, but the truth is I do, and I wear my weight like a shield and a curse.

My perceptions of body image formed early. I recall being teased about being fat in kindergarten, and when I look back at those pictures, I realize I wasn't what we'd call fat today. I was a little thick. One incident from my childhood that branded me to the bones is an incident in my fifth-grade class at Phillips Elementary School, 7th Ward, New Orleans, La. Someone, and I'd bet money it was a girl, organized the entire class to chant "Fat, Fat the water rat!" in that sing-songy, brutal way of America's greatest bully hits as soon as I entered the class. The teacher wasn't in the room. I sat down slowly and cried quietly.

By the time I was 12, my mother had me at Weight Watchers. I still know the old diet by heart. Later sometime after my graduation from high school, my mother said she thinks she was kind of secretly happy I stayed "a little fat." It kept the boys away and kept me on the straight and narrow academic path, she said.
Yeah, well she had a point. Another thing that's stuck in my mind and that has affected most of my relationships with men is how males treat fat girls and women. Males give lots of mixed signals about curves and rolls.

No boy wanted me as his partner in gym for square dance lessons. The teacher would usually force me on some boy who then treated me like a leper. The girls made sure he did by saying things like, "Oooh, Bruce! You know you like her!"

What made life more confusing, hence the mixed signals reference, is often these same boys would do something like try to steal or force a kiss when no one else was around. And I've had more than my share of males calling to say "I love you, but don't tell anybody." This is why today I don't tolerate men who want to be discreet about a relationship with me. Baby, if you can't shout I'm yours, then screw you! And that screwing will never be the literal bumping of hips they want. No, it's the screw of no ice water in hell. You can see this theme in the poem "Light and Only Light."

At the same time, I'm equally suspicious of males who come on strong, shun the darkness, and scream "Baby, you're hot!" ... Continued with Part 2 that may eventually show up in this blog too.

  • poem "Fat Is", poem
  • I Wish I Were Thin, I Wish I Were Fat: The Real Reasons We Overeat and What We Can Do About It
  • Study Finds Obesity Starts in Womb

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