Choosing Fat

It seems like I can’t turn around without someone talking about that woman who has decided to try to gain weight until she’s the fattest woman in the world. (I’m not even going to bother linking to anything; we all know what’s up and I’m pretty sick of reading/listening to people bolster their own self-esteem by comparing themselves to her.)

Jezebel has some interesting reflections today on other women who elect to gain weight intentionally. We’re not talking about people are trying to bulk up a little to keep you from seeing their bones or something, we’re talking intentionally getting fat.

I’ve been rolling this over in my mind for a while, because I think it’s a complex issue.

First off, I definitely see where the fat awareness people are coming from in thinking that this is NOT helping their case. The fat awareness campaigns, as Anna at Jezebel points out, is about people having healthy bodies. Sometimes, for some people, a healthy body includes more “pudge” than our social norms encourage. It’s possible to be active and eat well but still have love handles. The idea that size 12 automatically means unhealthy is well worth countering. However, by intentionally seeking to gain weight, it’s hard to stay healthy.

And you know, I’ll admit–I can be a little size-ist. I’m a size 2 because I eat well and go to the gym and ride my bike a lot. When I don’t, I “balloon” up to a size 4. OH NOES. I mean, I have about eight zillion different body image issues and like a good girl grown in America, I think I’m fat and I obsess and all that, but I don’t know what it’s like to be truly overweight. At my heaviest, I’ve been just shy of a size 8. I really just don’t know what it’s like to be living a healthy lifestyle and yet still get judged as being “a fatty” or “needing to put down the bonbons for once.” Hell, I’ve been on the receiving end of the “woman, would you please eat a sandwich?!” line.

What I’m trying to say is that despite good intentions, I can and do lose sight of the fact that fat–whether true obesity of just our culture’s notion of “fat”–is not necessarily a choice. It’s not something everyone can control. I mean yeah, some people DO get fat because they think getting a diet soda with super-sized McDonald’s lunch and dinner seven days a week is a healthy diet. But that isn’t the norm.

So, you know, having a bunch of people out there purposely trying to gain weight–and going for the fattest woman in the world title, somewhat as a publicity stunt it would appear, because we desperately need the world to think even more that Americans are fat fucks–that’s not helping the people who are healthy and “large.”

On the other hand, I’ve joked before that someday I’m going to totally let myself go and get super fat just so that I can stop dealing with random guys hitting on me in sleazy ways when all I want to do is ride public transit so I can go pick up some groceries or something. But in the end, I am way too well brainwashed to want to stay slim and conventionally attractive in my physique. I don’t worry about whether or not a piercing or tattoo will influence how people see me in quite the same way as I worry about having a second piece of cheesecake. Interesting.

So, there’s part of me that kind of cheers for these ladies for being a pretty brazen kind of cultural rebel. That’s some pretty serious dissent against the dominant paradigm, y’all.

I still don’t know where I stand on this. I still think it’s pretty wild no matter how I view it. Regardless, it’s certain an interesting bit of current events that merits a bit of thinking about.

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03/19/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized.

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