09/01/2012

I expect I will regret this but...

...there's been a few things in the media this week that have really touched some nerves, and I'd better get it out there before I explode. I'm going to make a pot of tea first, because frankly, that's only proper. Of course, to satisfy the fat haters out there, I would have to make it with skimmed milk (an ABOMINATION) in case I put on an ounce. Oh and have a quick run around the block. Should I happen to want to have one of my home made, free from preservatives and additives digestive biscuits, which I make only rarely, as in maybe once a year, why then I'd have to do at least an hour on a treadmill, just to ensure that I don't offend society by becoming fat.

Oh. Wait. I AM fat. Apparently I can offend many people in Society merely by my appearance already. I find this an absolutely awesome thing. Jeremy Clarkson actually has to SAY something before that happens, so that makes me much more influential than he is without even putting in any effort so I shall revel in that for a bit. See me revel. Look, me, revelling I am.

On to the Media. There is a person called Ros Reines who writes for The Telegraph in Australia. I think she is the equivalent of our Liz Jones in The Daily Mail here. Sad, definitely screwed up over her own life, and quite bitter with Serious Issues. She decided to have a go - AGAIN - at Julie Goodwin, winner of the Australian Masterchef competition. Coincidentally, I believe Ms Reines had just lost a lot of weight with the Jenny Craig program, so she might have felt the need to crow a little. Julie bit back, eloquently and quite rightly so. You can read her response here. I tell you now, I know who I'd rather have dinner with.


Of course, that response brought out some really rather horrible replies. I'm happy to see that quite a few of them are gone now, but I read them, and they went mainly along the lines of fat people are lazy and greedy and do no work. They should get to the gym, stop being so lazy and soon they will be thin.

Oh thin! Glorious thin! How we should all strive to be thin, then all our problems would fade away. We would be lithe and wonderful, and we could be 'ourselves' at last, or at least that's what the lastest spate of Weightwatchers ads would have us believe. Do you know what we really would be? Thinner. That's it. We don't stop being us, our problems don't go away. We're. Just. Thinner.

When I got married, I weighed in at 20 stones. I saw my wedding photos and I died inside. I dieted. I managed to get down to 15 stones and there I stuck. Induction Level Atkins for two years AND I STAYED THE SAME. I went on to eat more foods, because you do get very bored on the Induction level and I still eat low carb generally. I put on a couple of stones but have now stayed at the same weight for roughly 4 years, regardless of how I eat.

Do you know what I have now? A far more comfortable experience when I sit on a hard seat, that's what, and added neuroses about what I eat. Neuroses about being SEEN eating. Food is forever divided into good or bad, not just food. If I deny myself anything, I feel great. If I give in, I like what I eat, but I feel bad. In what way is this better? Before I lost it, I actually didn't care about my weight. I didn't really notice it, to be honest. It was other people who pointed it out. Other People seem to have no problem commenting on my weight, or on anyone's weight for that matter. "Oi! Eat some pies!" shouted at a skinny person is just as bad, just as damaging as "Oi! Fat bitch!" shouted at a fat peron.

Growing up, I was told I was fat. As an adult, looking back at school photos, I had the shock realisation that I hadn't been fat after all. I was bigger than the other kids, but that was it. Bigger. Taller, larger feet, wider, and more broadly built. Kids being kids of course, I was fat. To my Nan, I was fat. Thankfully, to my wonderful mother, I was just me.

I do distinctly remember squishing my stomach together with my hands once, and saying to my dad "I have all this to lose!" I would have been about 7 at the time. Of course what I was doing was squishing skin, not fat.

Adults used to say to me "Oh you'd be so pretty if only you lost weight." as if that is an okay thing to say to a ten year old child. I wasn't amused about that, and I believe I told the man so, in no uncertain terms. I admit that I do still look at my face in the mirror, and try to see the thinner face undeneath, but that way madness lies, so I do stop if I actually catch myself doing it.

The point of all this rambling? I'm not sure if there is one, but there is a worrying emphasis on BEAT OBESITY these  days, instead of BE HEALTHY. It's like Obesity is the new Evil Thing that must be vanquished. Even the esteemed Michelle Obama has gotten in on the act.


I can see where she is coming from, but villifying a nation of children because of what they look like is not the way to do it. That just makes them targets, as if they weren't targeted enough already. Teach people, teach the parents how to cook properly, and to eat well, that is the way to go. Teach health, not size.  If you teach someone to cook with real food, to avoid the processed, high sugar foods out there (you look just how much sugar is in one of those 'light' cereal bars) then weight loss MAY OR MAY NOT follow but that wouldn't be the object of the exercise would it? Getting healthy would be the object. You see, it's what is on the inside that counts. The outer layers are not always indicative of what is going on inside, and I'm a bit fed up of everyone assuming that being overweight means that a) you eat and eat and eat all the time, and b) that you are not healthy. 

I fully accept that there are people out there who DO eat and eat and eat, and weigh far too much than is good for their poor bodies. If you eat six big bags of crisps every day, and a pizza or two every night, with extra added takeaways and snacks and sweets, well, yes, of course you are going to be fat. 

Or are you? 

I have seen many people eat like that who do not put on weight, but I cannot see the inside of their arteries. The same way that you cannot see the inside of mine, yet people assume that I am unhealthy, even though I don't eat anything akin to what many thin people do. Thin and Unhealthy exists, believe you me, just as Fat and Healthy does. Talking of Fat and Healthy, let me introduce you to another inspiration of mine, Ragen Chastain.


Just watch her dance, read her words. I don't need to say anything more about her, not really.

The other thing that I have a problem with is all of these Help the Fat People programmes. You see, they always choose people who eat terribly badly. Even the Food Hospital, which is normally very good, the one time they showed a lady who genuinely had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which inhibits fertility and makes weight loss very difficult. I know. I've got it.) they chose a girl who ate nothing but white bread, crisps and cheap sausages. Once she started eating vegetables and fruit, cooking properly and cut out the processed foods, hey presto, she lost weight, the acne cleared and the PCOS allegedly got better. Why not choose someone who has PCOS, is overweight, yes, but eats right and yet still has all the problems? Now that is a challenge, but that doesn't make for a very interesting TV show, does it? 

If you show a table, laden with goodies, pies, cakes, takeaways, all sorts of high sugar, highly processed foods, and have a glib, suave, THIN presenter saying "This is what you ate IN A WEEK!" and there you have just painted a picture for the nation. That is what all fat people are like. Must be, it's on the telly innit?

Fat people crying also seems to make for good TV as far as I can tell. Watching these poor people on display while they get shown what they 'truly' look like with a camera on a stick? "THIS is what your stomach and stretch marks look like from way down here!" Well, nobody looks good from that angle, not even Angelina would look good from there so I suspect it is a proper scare/repulse tactic.

They get put on exercise machines that terrify them, they are shown being bullied and screamed at in a truly horrifying Fat Camp. "Hell yeah!! Let's laugh at the chubbies getting what they deserve! After all, it's all their own fault for being lazy and greedy, right? All fat people are dumb and slow aren't they? Ha ha so funny. That girl's got great hair though, and he looks like a jolly chap. I'm sure they don't mind."

NOT SO.

Fat people are the same as thin people. We have fears and pains and hurts and terrors, just like anyone else. A heavy exterior doesn't make for a thick skin. Oh we laugh it off, and come back at the haters with a sharp, witty retort but it still knifes deep into us. Victimised for a thing that may not be our fault, but we are ALWAYS told that it is. 

Are you ill? It'll get better if you lose weight.
Do you need that piece of cake?
Should you be eating that?
Losing weight would make you feel so much better! Surely you can see that?
You have asthma? Lose weight.
You have PCOS? Lose weight.
Lose weight first, and then we'll see about looking into the other stuff. No, really, we will.
Did your leg fall off? Oh I'm sure losing some weight would make you feel better.

If a fat person goes to the Dr, all the focus is on the weight, and not the actual illness. That is NOT the way it should be but it is, and many times we don't get taken seriously unless we raise merry hell.

I even got told by one consultant that he didn't understand why I was fat, his daughter had PCOS and she wasn't fat. Then he showed me a photo of her. Showing a photo of a beautiful, flawless, slim girl to a person who felt worthless anyway? Nice one.

Genes, baby. Genes. She had a very slim, very pretty, Asian mother. He was a fat, round Jewish guy so it could have gone either way, and she got the thin genes. Don't even get me started on this Gillian McKeith/Nigella Lawson comparison photo meme that's doing the internet rounds. The only physical difference between the two photos is that one is of a lady that got good genes and the other is a photo of one that didn't. Oh and one lady is all dolled up for an evening out, with make up and hair all done, whilst the other is in a photo taken after days in a jungle eating bugs and feeling sick. I might not agree with what she does, but damn, that was harsh and pointless.

I found his dietary advice to be non-existant. It amounted to "Take these fat loss pills, you eat too much." despite the fact that I had already managed to lose 4 stones, told him what I ate and STILL had all the physical problems that PCOS gives you. Which is why I was there. But apparently Xenical would make it all better. I did not let my insurance company pay his bill.

At least no-one has tried to tell me that my MS would get miraculously better if I lost weight. That would probably not go well for them.

Anyway. This has all gotten a bit too poor me for my liking, so I'll finish with what the real problem is.

Fat Hating is a trend that is alarming. Jamie Oliver, as much as some people dislike him, made it all about the health, and not about picking out just the fat kids. What Mrs Obama, and our own Mr Cameron are doing is, sadly, picking out the fat kids. The Fight Against Obesity is all very well, but what then happens to the thin kids? The ones who get missed, because they can't be unhealthy, they aren't fat so they must be doing just fine, right?

The answer to that is no. Thin children lacking in decent nutrition will suffer as much as a fat child lacking in decent nutrition. They can be fully fed at every meal and yet still lack the vitamins they need to keep their brains and bodies on track. We owe more of our appearance to our genes than to our diets but our health is dependent on a good diet. By that I mean a way of eating, not a diet as in that thing that thousands of us go on in January and give up in March.

Thanks to my genes, there was no way that I wasn't going to be this shape, need glasses and go grey prematurely. There was no escaping it. It's time to stop victimising the fat people because of their appearance, and start trying to work on how to make PEOPLE IN GENERAL more healthy. Fat, thin, or inbetween.

Making people feel that they are useless, and that their appearance, their very bodies are all wrong, and that they are a waste of space or useless or ugly unless they become thin, that is never going to be the right way to do things.

I'll say this now. Anyone says to me that nothing tastes as good as thin feels? They are going head first into a vat of Nutella.

EDIT:
Yes, an edit, for clarification. In case it wasn't clear - and I fully accept that it might not have been because, you know, RANT - by no means do I think that saying  "Fat Acceptance!" when people cannot walk properly, or breathe, and get carried oiut of the house on a trolley when they've had to take the doors off its hinges to do so is in any way proper, right or natural. If you cannot walk because your fat is in the way of your own knees, or your fat is actaully suffocating you, then you need serious help and assistance. How you got there I do not know, but support is needed. 

Being the fattest woman or man ever is not an aim to aspire to. When I've seen shows like 1/2 Ton Dad, I am both horrified that they got this way, and desperately sad for them too. I cannot imagine how they got there, or how they are going to get back to anything resembling 'normal', and live a life with their families again. 

But there people out there in the world who are large, but functioning perfectly well, eating healthily and doing fine medically, being villified by the press and by the medical profession based purely on appearance. Size is not always an indicator of health. I have had one person close to me recently suffer a heart attack, and he was on the low side of the BMI, ate well and still had blocked arteries. The Dr missed it. Well, he looked slim, yes? Judge a book by its cover, and you will forever miss what is going on inside.

9 comments:

BarbCA said...

Ah! Lisa. You have said it so well.
I was a skinny kid, a skinny teen, and a scrawny young woman. Total strangers would make snide remarks to me.

In my thirties I began to gain wait due to thyroid problems so I started dieting.
I dieted myself up to 193 lbs.
I finally said to hell with it, I will just be a fat old lady. I have lost over 20 lbs and didn't diet.
I try to eat sensibly but I still enjoy my food. We use the smaller plates and that may be a factor.
My skinny mother used to look at me and say in that nasty/nice way. "You look like you've gained quite a bit of weight." Grrr!
I am who I am and I'm OK with it now.
Thanks for posting this, Barb.

Lisa said...

Thank you Barb, that means a lot.

By no means do I think that saying "Fat Acceptance!" when these people cannot walk properly, or even breathe, is in any way proper. If you cannot walk because your fat is in the way of your own knees, you need help and assistance to fix it. Being the fattest woman or man ever is not an aim to aspire to. I will be honest and say that it repulses me. When I've seen shows like 1/2 Ton Dad, I am both horrified that they got this way, and desperately sad for them too.

What I DO object to is people who are large, but functioning perfectly well, eating healthily and doing fine medically, being villified by the press and by the medical profession based purely on appearance.

Kavey said...

This fat girl says hear, hear!

Lisa said...

Thank you Kavey m'love!

Shu Han said...

great post! I think health is so much more impt than weight. and health is definitely a lot more than weight. it's loving life, loving food, loving the people around us. I;ve seen too many skinny anorexic druggie actors/models on tv to let that be the image of perfection. Bring on a curvy nigella lawson anyday!

Lisa said...

@ Shu Han - thank you so much finding me, and for your comment!

Foodycat said...

Kaz Cooke - Australian woman and legend - said it very well. If you eat a sensible diet and do a bit of exercise 3 times a week, you will be the right shape for YOU. If you don't happen to have the tall, skinny genetics then it doesn't really matter what you do, you won't look like a Victoria's Secret Angel.

Julia said...

That my lovely is quite simply one of the best blog posts I have ever read .. and I will happily point people in it's direction should the need arise !!!! You brilliant lady .... very eloquently put ! Very informed and very fair ! Wonderful !!!

Lisa said...

How lax of me not to reply back to the latest commenters! I'm rubbish. :(

@Foodycat - I've got tall, but never had the skinny. I don't look as heavy as I actually am, for which I am grateful, but you still get The Look from Drs because of the weight. I just Look at them back now, because anything I say will be disbelieved.

@Julia - a very heartfelt thank you to you. I sometimes don't speak my mind, because it usually gets me in trouble, or I then can't articulate beyond the initial aargh, but I tried hard with this one, as it's a proper Rant from the Depths. :)