The Elephant in the Room
There was a time, which lasted far too long, when I was in denial about the impact my weight was having on my health. I used to say I was the healthiest fat person I knew. Ha. I was an idiot.
Maybe there are people who can cruise through their entire life looking like the Michelin Tire guy, without at least the threat of a medicine cabinet full of pills to keep them company through their waning years. I was not one of them. At the first sign of trouble, as with most things, I ran shrieking to the canebrake, because I had no intention of dying before the age of 50 from a heart attack.
So, I mended my errant ways, got off the hard drugs—the processed sugar and other white substances put here on this earth to tempt us to madness—and started loving vegetables in a way I did not know humans could feel for legumes. Yes, of course I dropped a bunch of weight, but the best news is that I might be healthy during my remaining years, until I’m hit by a bus, when none of my efforts to reform will amount to a hill of edamame.
The point is this: even though I was in almost complete denial, I was, at the same time, extremely embarrassed. I had not always carried extra rolls. At one time, I was quite svelte, actually, and my mother, her skinny ashes now scattered to the four winds, used to remind me of this fact often. So when I read that there are women vying for Fattest Mother of the Year Award, I was, to put it mildly, aghast. What happened to shame?
I spent many years feeling ashamed of what had happened to my body, and those were years when if I’d understood what sugar and carbohydrates do to my system, if a doctor had said to me “you are now officially on track for a heart attack and diabetes,” I honestly would have paid attention… but no one did. I wish they had; I wish a doctor had smacked me upside the head and gotten my attention, but in fact, it took a long series of mishaps involving broken bones and not being able to walk for a year, to teach me that I could do better than be a lard butt for the rest of my days.
There is such an enormous premium placed on thinness in this society—it’s more than a health issue. It’s also a matter of self-esteem. I can honestly say that there were days when I didn’t want to leave my house due to my adipose tissue buildup. I was raised by a couple of relatively thin, narcissistic people who, like most in their generation, grew up ingesting whole milk, butter, eggs—all things people of my generation were taught to avoid.
When it turned out that in fact, what we should have been avoiding was the crap scientists added to perfectly good food, I think most of us started to figure out a) we’d been lied to by our parents’ generation, but that was nothing new and b) green beans taste pretty damned good if you’re going to die any minute from an embolism.
You’d be amazed how motivating being faced with a heart attack can be. For one thing, heart attacks hurt. Then there’s the Afterlife Social Stigma, which you can carry with you to the grave and beyond if you have an imagination and shame. You have to understand that in my imagination, I’m listening to gossip between the nurses after I’m dead. They’re rolling me off the hospital bed, onto the gurney, preparing to take my rotund form to the morgue. The scene goes something like this:
First nurse: (One of those thin ones you figure never ate a Snickers in desperation, not once): “Do you know what she died from?”
Second nurse: (Skinny, but she buys a box of Krispy Kremes after work every single day, the bitch): “No, what?”
First nurse: [Emits grunting noises from exertion of lifting dead weight; sighs, rolls dead weight onto gurney]: “She was only 52, and she keeled over from a heart attack!! At 52!! God, can you imagine?”
Second nurse: “Well, what do you expect? With flab around the middle? Everyone knows flab around the middle is a heart attack waiting to happen!”
And then the judging, knowing looks, the rolling eyes, the pointed reference to undue quantities of Krispy Kremes, the snide comments about my saggy breasts; the snickering. You get the picture.
Now, the women vying for the title of “World’s Fattest Fatty” apparently do not care about heart attacks, nor must they spend their time imagining nurse-vultures pecking over their bodies once they’re dead. I guess they live in the moment, because it only takes a moment to find something else to eat. Please do not send cards and letters; I know not all fat is about food, but come on. Most is.
I know fat-bashing is not politically correct, and I do not expect to be forgiven, but this is not about that extra 15 lbs. you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you (or I) try. I think we can admit, this is more serious than a few extra pounds that society will never quite accept. This is pathological behavior; it’s much more than odd. Their patent denial of everything we are taught to revere in this society, all the standards women are told to aspire to, makes me wonder what motivates these women, and what we might have to accept about fat, for those standards of thinness to nudge a little bit. These women claim not to be hurting anyone, but the extent to which they are hurting themselves is disturbing, to put it mildly.
I didn’t know you could be happy being fat, or that it was something to aspire to, and I’m left wondering if they will change the face of self-acceptance, or whether they are just rather obviously in denial, avoiding their very own elephant in the room.
- After a Heart Attack – Making the Most of a Second Chance (everydayhealth.com)
- Is It GERD or a Heart Attack? (everydayhealth.com)
- What to Do When Someone Has a Heart Attack (everydayhealth.com)
- How Heart Attack Treatment Saves Lives (everydayhealth.com)
- Angina treatment ‘increases heart attack severity’ (telegraph.co.uk)