Things I Would Like To Not Care About

I would like to not worry about:

  • Whether a medical professional will consider my symptoms before making a diagnosis.
  • Whether a job interviewer will not hire me because I’m fat.
  • Whether the friend talking about her diet is doing so as a way of passive-aggressively commenting on my body size, eating habits, or perceived dieting status.
  • Whether I will be seen as an equal partner in my friendships and family relationships, or seen as “stuck” with whoever will have me.
  • Whether a bathroom stall will be wide enough for me bend over and wipe everything, or if I’ll end up squatting “sideways” in the stall.
  • Whether the person who keeps looking at me while I eat is actually engaging in voyeurism without my consent.

I’d like…

  • I’d like my breathing hard walking uphill to be seen as a function of exertion, not fatness.
  • I’d like my periodic wheezing to be seen as a symptom of asthma, not fatness.
  • I’d like the fact that I’m married to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like the fact that I have sex to not be a shocker.
  • I’d like people to treat my exercising as about function and pleasure, not as “a major life choice deserving of applause” OR about weight loss OR as a reason to shout insults at me.
  • I’d like my food choices to be about nourishing my body, about helping my body function well, and about pleasure — not about weight OR being a “bad fatty” OR being a “good fatty”.

I sometimes joke about having “dieting PTSD” from my teenage years, but really, a lot of these buttons were installed by my family (which is not at all uncommon).   I am trying to decouple weight from food and exercise.  I’m trying to decouple health from weight.  I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it.  Most of the time hearing other people talk about diets isn’t a problem, per se — it may be uninteresting, but doesn’t always and automatically start a round of self-recriminations or a visit from The Ghost of Failed Diets Past, and I consider that a win.

I also realize that some of these buttons — like someone commenting on my food choices — are going to get pressed, simply by living in this society, so I’m trying to “disconnect” them.  (This would be easier if there were an actual wire leading from the “button” to my brain that I could reroute or disconnect!)  Again, I’m not always successful, but I’m working on it.

Some of these, like how employers perceive fat applicants or how medical professionals’ biases harm fat patients, do affect my life in very real ways.  I can advocate for myself, I can overdress to seem “more professional than thou”, but all I can do is the best I can.

What about you?  Does this strike a chord for you, or not?

27 thoughts on “Things I Would Like To Not Care About

  1. It certainly does strike a chord. Something else I’ve had trouble with is clothes shopping with female friends. It’s reassuring to have other fat friends and know we can use the same plus-size friendly places, but on the flip side, I feel a bit awkward with thinner friends, not quite knowing whether I should say, “Oh, let’s go to Evans next” or if I should just give up the idea of being able to buy clothes for myself nad help my friend with her choices. I guess there’s always the classic ‘look at the accessories’ thing. I’ve also been disappointed so often when looking for clothes that I tend to just assume a lot of places won’t do my size.

    Your thoughts about food and exercise are good too, I’ve noticed of late that my ankles tend to ache quite a lot and think I could probably do some kind of exercise that might give them strength, but I’m a little worried that if I ask a doctor, they will just tell me to lose weight… In fact, I find myself not asking the doctor at all about possibly weight-related concerns and finding other ways to deal with it. I’ve found it really liberating to think of health apart from weight, just wish everyone else would do the same :)

    • Re: Shopping with friends, I usually ask “What stores are you thinking of visiting?” and plan from there. If they’re going to stores that don’t carry my size and I want to look for clothes for me, then I suggest a store I can shop at. With friends I am comfortable saying “I don’t think they carry my size”, if true, and I also realize that a friend who needs, say, petites or talls may also need specialty stores.

      I also suggest going to bookstores, shoe shopping, and/or personal care stores like Lush. Shoe shopping I like to do with friends because I seesaw between being way picky and “just give me anything”, and a friend can help me sail between the extremes.

      (I realize this does tend to require a bit more planning than some folks like to include in their shopping outings. ;)

  2. nearly a decade ago, I tore a ligament because I was speeding on a motorcycle. I also permanently scarred my knee.
    It pains occasionally especially after I take it trekking in the mountains.
    If a ‘normal’ sized person had gone to a doctor for help on how to best live with a painful knee and related this story, she would have been looked on as a foolish(for the speeding) but adventurous woman. She would also have been given some exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles and probably some advice on how to climb, heat packs, etc
    Because it was me, and I am overweight, the doctor did not even touch my knee but declared his prescription- ‘lose weight’.
    I have not yet gone shopping for clothes with my love because of my fear of salespersons who smirk at me..’your size? oh no..’
    I eat healthy, and that is an excellent lifestyle choice – not an attempt to lose weight that calls for comment.
    I love chocolate, and that is an excellent soul food- not a failure to diet.

  3. It really does strike a chord for me & you stated in beautifully. Basically you said what I have always said, for more than 30 years since I decided to stop dieting & live in my natural body….that I do not want ‘special’ treatment (& the same is true regarding my disability), I want the same treatment afforded to others. I want, if I have a medical condition, to be given the same treatment & afforded the same respect to a thin person who has the same problem, since there are no illnesses which happen only to fat people & not to thin person. I want to be treated as a PERSON, not as a fat body. I too want to be seen as a naturally active person who enjoys/needs movement, not as a fat slob who is just NOW started to exercise & “do something about myself”. I want people to understand that my disability & my fatness are not directly related, but that they co-exist within me. I do not want to be pitied, nannied, or condescended to. And I want people to understand that I am an intelligent adult capable of caring for myself & living my own life…I do not need anyone else to tell me what/how to eat, exercise, or anything else.

    So, yes, this definitely strikes a chord with me.

  4. yes, very much strikes a chord, several of them. Especially now when I’m unable to be a “good fatty” with the walking and ballroom dance classes because I fell last weekend and messed up something in my bad knee and now I’m worried about going to the doctor on Tuesday because she’ll no doubt blame it on my weight and not the ice in my driveway. (new doctor, which also sucks.)

  5. I’m vibrating with all of the chords that have been struck with this piece!

    I am fat and pregnant, which means that lately I have been going to the doctor and getting weighed more often than I am accustomed to. The way they talk to me is horrendous, as if I’ve got some nerve being fat and getting knocked up. The disapproval in the room around the subject of weight is palpable.

    I can’t take sleeping meds while pregnant, and I’m a lifelong insomniac, so sleep has been hard. I mentioned this to a friend who lives several hours away and incidentally has no idea of my daily routine, and she said, “Um…you could try exercising,” in a snotty tone. What does one even say to that that doesn’t sound defensive?

    Anyway, thanks for the safe space to vent, and for solidarity.

  6. It definitely strikes a chord! I broke my ankle several years ago, and it was never treated because the x-ray tech read the x-ray wrong, and when I complained about it still hurting, my doc told me to go on Weight Watchers. It wasn’t until two months later that I had a more in-depth x-ray done and found out it had been broken that whole time. That was 2.5 years ago, and it still hurts off and on sporadically (even this week).

    I also like the idea of disconnecting; it resonates for me! Thanks!

    • If the two x-rays were at different facilities, it might be good to send a letter detailing what was missed to the first x-ray facility as an “FYI, you should revisit your training”.

  7. Strike a chord? Yes! Every single one of your “I’d like to NOT worry about(s)”….especially the one about being seen as an equal partner in relationships instead of “stuck” with whoever will have you. The first few years of my marriage, I tortured my husband with my insecurities and asked a million “Why do you love me?” questions to test his love. He never failed to produce the “right” answer, but the doubts I had came from friends who questioned why me, and family, who believed I must be pregnant for him to marry me. My own father, after I rushed back home 3 months into my marriage when my mother had her first heart attack, asked me how far along I was when I arrived at the hospital. It didn’t matter how accomplished I was, how pretty I was, how loveable I was, how much I loved my spouse, how much I had to offer someone I was in a relationship with…..what “they” assumed was that I had to have resorted to some sort of trickery to make someone marry me. Even though I was dating more than one person at the time I met my husband, I MUST have somehow forced him to pop the question.

    Believe me, that kind of message wounds you.

    • Truly, what a vile response from your father. And such a typical thing for parents to do. I remember when my now-husband was scheduled to meet my family, and he asked anxiously whether my family would think he was good enough for me. I said Honey, don’t worry, they’ll probably wonder whether I’m good enough for you.
      What I have found is that the kind of family (or “friends”) who keep telling you that you’ll never catch a man if you’re fat are NEVER happy when you do find somebody. Your happiness means less to them than their vindication. So they’ll snipe at whatever relationship you do obtain. Sad but true. You have a lot of company in that experience.

      • What I have found is that the kind of family (or “friends”) who keep telling you that you’ll never catch a man if you’re fat are NEVER happy when you do find somebody. Your happiness means less to them than their vindication.

        Yes. How dare you live happily ever after when you’re doing it wrong!

      • I guess I knew I wouldn’t be alone in this, but when you’re in the midst of it, you certainly feel alone….and not good enough, and unloveable, and ugly, and, well, you know the drill. My dad’s words WERE vile…and it still hurts even though he has passed on 9 years ago now. He even told my husband he had his “permission” to smack me when I got too mouthy—which I always have been, in spite of his paternal oppression. Vile is the perfect word for his misogynistic behavior–and the very reason I empower my girls to be vocal and take charge. As for my husband….he was as appalled as I was with dad’s statement, and told him he would never physically hurt me….and hasn’t. Our relationship works well because we communicate and stay commited and believe our own experiences with each other, not what others told us. I can honestly say that I’m pretty sure I have the most stable, loving, and respectful marriage of all my friends and family members. And that is the best revenge…..living a life well and full of love.

  8. so I’m trying to “disconnect” them.

    I hear you! :-)

    And in this case trying and keeping on trying, is succeeding. Unlike ideas which are systemically bankrupt.

    No names.

  9. Wait fat people have sex? Srlsy?

    But yes. YES especially today. I’m really really congested and was hauling my fat ass down Mercer trying to get to work and was a bit winded after a couple of blocks. A woman stopped and gave me a card for Rain fitness. I told her I have a fucking cold and to fuck. off. Apparently I hurt her feelers. This is my unimpressed face. …

  10. I live in SoCal, was shopping with a friend last week. She’s a size 10 but the dress she was trying on didn’t fit. When she asked the sales girl for a size 12, we were told–with more than a bit of an attitude–that the store doesn’t carry plus sizes. Size 12! Really?

  11. More yes than yes, this resonates with me. And December is always the worst for this stuff, because holiday parties! Lots of people talking about what they should and shouldn’t eat! Food policing!

    And as a college student I’m now back at home for winter break, and a lot of my buttons are being pushed just via proximity. I spent a few months really pretty anorexic like six years ago and now at home I’m spending a lot time sitting around hungry and generally not really eating quite enough food because it’s somehow not worth the effort to go get it. I don’t want to lose weight. I know that even if I did want to lose weight, cutting calories doesn’t really work, especially for me. And I know that not eating enough is really bad for me, emotionally and physically. So why am I sitting here, hungry? It’s terribly frustrating.

    I might go talk to a therapist, but our family therapist recently retired, and although her business partner is still practicing I don’t know how the partner is with food and weight issues. I’m so afraid of her saying “maybe this isn’t a bad thing and you just need to reframe the way you’re looking at it(, fatty).”

    This was a really excellent post.

  12. STANDING OVATION!!! Well-put, so well-put. These especially resonated with me:

    ■I’d like people to treat my exercising as about function and pleasure, not as “a major life choice deserving of applause” OR about weight loss OR as a reason to shout insults at me.
    ■I’d like my food choices to be about nourishing my body, about helping my body function well, and about pleasure — not about weight OR being a “bad fatty” OR being a “good fatty”.
    ■Whether a medical professional will consider my symptoms before making a diagnosis.

    Especially the last. My knees were injured in a car accident a couple of years ago and the dr refused to do an MRI on me because my knee issues “HAD” to be about arthritis, not injury. Ummm, yes, I have arthritis in the knees *because* I had an accident……I was just as fat beforehand and had no arthritis. But knee pain in a fat person can ONLY be about arthritis. I got the “lose weight” lecture, and “you must have tried hard enough/done it correctly enough to lose weight” lecture. UGH.

    And like Anna, I’d add another one to the list: I’d like some acknowledgment that fat people have babies too, that we *deserve* to have babies too, that many of us have healthy pregnancies and babies, and that we *deserve* to be treated with respect and care during our pregnancies and births, regardless.

    p.s. Thanks for the shout-out to my blog.

  13. Most of your points resonate with me. I’m not married nor asthmatic nor have I ever been in a too-small bathroom stall (yet), but otherwise? Yes, indeed.

  14. Awesome post! Really awesome! Yes it does strike many chords with me and sometimes it can be overwhelming but like you said it helps if you can “disconnect” yourself from some of these things. Once I realized that I don’t have to worry about what other people think about myself, that it is just how I think about myself that matters has made a huge difference in my life! However like you mentioned you can’t ignore everything that happens to you in life and sometimes it really does just suck!

  15. Thanks for your blog. Your words really resonate with me. I’m now a thin person, but I used to be fat. Guess how I got thin? Cancer! It works a treat. And you know what has been painful for me? How many people complimented me on my weight loss when I was staggering round with Stage IV cancer. Colleagues would stop me in the hall to congratulate me – my grey face and the way I used to clutch my sides were obviously far more attractive than my fat. Now that my eyebrows and eye lashes have started to grow back, the compliments come thick and fast. Apparently I’m a much more worthwhile human being than I used to be.

    Sadly, my new thinness has failed to cure my gastric reflux disease, which was always blamed on me being overweight. Now that I’m thin , I get the prescription medication to control it, rather than the lecture about how losing weight will fix things.

  16. A friend of mine went to the doctor as a follow up to a knee injury, and asked when he could start running again. The doctor replied, with the conditions your joints are in, Never. Find something less stressful for your joints.

    The doctor didn’t blame his weight or his size- didn’t say, “when you reach X lbs”, he actually looked at the real problem- delicate joints- and made recommendations based on THAT.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s