There are times when we take burdens that we were never meant to carry. Maybe we were raped at age four and given the tremendous baggage that came along with it. We go on and carry it around for almost four decades because we never quite realized it was never really ours in the first place.
That rapist took many things from me that day, but the worst thing he did was gave me a huge parcel of shame that I would internalize and lug around for decades because I’ve never realized I could let it go.
It’s not my baggage.
Likewise all the negative criticism I’ve received because of how I look is not my baggage to carry. I kind of realized that today when I read a juvenile and offensive blog from a Marie Claire writer. Her beef was with fat folks, stating specifically that she didn’t want to see “morbidly obese” TV characters making out.
The exact passage was, “I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”
So in this blogger’s mind, it’s “aesthetically displeasing” to see fat people doing anything, which has nothing to do with the distress of seeing an addict engage in unhealthy behavior, no matter how much her little aside at the end would have you believe.
She does go on to dole out some nutritional advice for us fatties to lose our disgusting rolls of fat so we won’t be so darn aesthetically pleasing and put a big fat wrinkle into her day. Like she says of Mike and Molly’s lead characters being in Overeaters Anonymous, “So … points for trying?”
Either way, her very bigoted, insensitive and hateful dialogue tried to crawl up on me like an unwelcome parasite; a tick or leech that would dig its way into my ear and attach itself to my brain so that my inner Chatterbox would forever spew this type of unnecessary vitriol.
It’s not my baggage.
Her issues with my weight are exactly that – her issues.
She maintains that people can’t be healthy when they are morbidly obese, something she says in a dutiful apologetic update to her original blog as “100% more than their ideal weight.”
For me that would mean I would weigh somewhere around 318 pounds, which … incidentally… I don’t weigh. I *used* to weigh that much and more but have lost enough weight than I am under that scary 300-pound mark. It’s something I’m pretty proud of, but because I’m not thin yet it’s something that doesn’t really count when people are bigoted against fat. All they see is the fat right now, not the stuff done behind the scenes to fix the issues that made me fat in the first place… like that baggage of shame I inherited when I was only four.
They don’t know what I eat or what I do to lose weight, they just assume I’m eating like a cow because I have “rolls and rolls of disgusting fat”. I’ve come a long way, with a long way to go. And I’m never going to make it as long as I’m weighing myself down with the unnecessary baggage of everyone else.
Per the *real* measure of morbid obesity – the BMI scale – my range of obesity is anything over 192 pounds. Yeah. I kinda weigh over that. Morbid obesity would put me at anything over 256 pounds, which I’m not afraid to say I do weigh.
It’s not like I can hide it. You know I’m fat just looking at me. What you don’t see is that I’m a great mom, a talented writer, a devoted friend, a loving wife and a passionate advocate. All that requires a little more effort on your part to look a little closer.
Just like I might not have known she was a bigot just looking at her. I had no preconceived notions at all. I let everyone’s actions and words speak for themselves.
How they look? Eh. That’s way too fleeting and superficial. I may be fat, but I’m not emotionally lazy. People are often too beautiful to miss. Dismissing them for any reason can often be a real loss on our part, and is far more indicative of our own insecurities rather than their absence of value.
There are some folks who jumped to her defense as if all us offended “fatties” suggested in any way that obesity is healthy. It wasn’t defense of obesity as much as it was (rightly) attacking her very apparent intolerance and utter ignorance why people tend to be obese at all (such as carrying around all the baggage of everyone else).
Let’s go back to the core of her discontent:
“I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room…”
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the health of the obese person in question. She’s not trying to figure out why they’re fat so that she can help them be healthier. Again, it has everything to do with her own level of discomfort.
You could literally take out “fat” and put “black” or “gay” or “disabled” and it would still be the same comment. It says I have to change or hide for her comfort, and sorry… that’s not happening. It has nothing to do with the object of her disdain or any feigned concern for their health. If you care about the health of someone else, you don’t couch it from the perspective of your comfort. This blog has to do with her own inability to accept others as they are as opposed to what she’d like them to be.
Apparently it is more socially acceptable in this country to be mean than it is to be fat, which is somehow more of a failure than the lack of empathy and tolerance. Since fat is considered a “choice”, the general mentality is, “If you don’t want people to treat you poorly because of your size, lose the weight.” And if we don’t, or if we in the process of but it doesn’t happen overnight, then our ridicule is somehow deserved by “normal” folks.
Sorry. In my world it’s not normal to be an asshat. You still have to take responsibility for what you say and how you think. Judging people so superficially is your failure alone.
If all you see when you see a fat person is how unhealthy we are, you’re completely missing out if we’re doing the long (and arduous) work it takes to be healthier. Just seeing someone on the street isn’t enough reason to throw your narrow-minded viewpoint onto the existence of a stranger.
In other words… it’s your baggage. And you can keep it.
I refuse to carry it anymore.
Especially since the entire thing was nothing more than a fluff piece that had no discernible merit. It was possibly meant to get the kind of attention inflammatory pieces tend to attract… hence the mealy-mouthed apology as if she had no clue the things she said could be so offensive. Here’s a tip: If you want to be a real writer, take responsibility for what you say or don’t say it at all.
The CNN article that she referred to in her piece was far more informative, better researched and as a result a lot less one-sided. Because that is actual journalism rather than just a talking-head piece for a fashion magazine. And that actual journalism showed that no matter what this blogger personally feels, a lot of people respond to “real” folks who look and act more like they do. Hence why the sitcom Roseanne ran successfully for so long. Both lead characters were obese, yet both still were able to be affectionate to each other and demonstrate love to each other.
And we loved them for it.
They lived their life unapologetic about being who they were because they knew the baggage of small-minded bigots and snark-for-snark’s-sake critics was not theirs to carry.
Let this be our lesson today. Outside approval is neither required or desired as long as we know that we’re doing what we need to do to be stronger, healthier and more empowered than we were before.
All the rest of that stuff is not our baggage.
So let’s put it down and walk away.
Good Mood Gig from SAM-e