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The fat-thin thing

I have always had trouble with my weight. I was a fat, bottle-fed baby and I gained and gained so that by the time I was in high school I weighed about 250 pounds. Although I tried diets as a child they usually did not go anywhere. One time when I was maybe thirteen my mother brought me to some kind of clinic and I managed to lose about 25 pounds before I gained it back. And when she bought an exercycle I loved that thing and lost a bit using it. I was not, however, a yo-yo dieter. No dramatic fast changes. So at least I didn't do that particular type of damage to myself.

When I was 25 I went on an extreme type diet and lost a lot over several months. At my lowest I weighed about 145, which for a 5'-11" woman looks pretty skinny. I managed to keep that off a bit but then slowly regained, up to about 230 pounds in my thirties, when I was working for the city of San Luis Obispo. I took up bicycling and became a vegetarian (not at the same time, but close) and lost 30 pounds in a couple of months. Then 20 more. And ten more. That was a really healthy way to get there, and I was rather happy in the 170-pound range.

Over several years I gained that back, and more. I reached close to 300 pounds. I started walking. Then paying attention to food - keeping track in dietpower - and I upped the exercise over time. I lost a lot of weight. I guess I was in my late forties or early fifties at this time. I kept to a regular exercise program and stayed on track with the food. I think I mantained that weight for the longest time and I felt good and was doing it right. Then I had an "arthritic flareup". A strange kind of condition that caused my left calf to develop an odd kind of stiffness and my knee to be in great pain. I found that exercise made it worse. I went to an arthritis doc, the one who defined it as a flareup (other arthritis sufferers use that term for another condition), and said there was no help for it except rest. Four months or so of rest. I suspected it would be very difficult for me to maintain my weight without exercise. I sure tried. But ultimately, over time, I started regaining and here I am again. My knees are far worse than they were several years ago so my exercise options are much more limited.

Here's the point of this post, though. Every time I lost weight other people would compliment my looks. Some would ask how much weight I lost or ask how I did it. I hated these questions and comments. I knew that 1) I had not found the magic answer to the question of maintaining the motivation and determination, and 2) I was the same person fat or thin. I hated the implication that as a fat person I was not as good as the thin one, yet more than anyone I knew how this attitude pervades this society (and my own feelings as well). And of course, when I was fat again there were no compliments. I just met someone in the market yesterday whom I had not seen in several years and I felt that the real conversation was beneath the surface: how did you get fat again?

Although I would like to be treated the same, fat or thin, and would like to be free of my own prejudice against my fat self, I am not. And as a result I don't enjoy seeing people who "knew me thin" when I am fat.

And thank you, dangerouslysane, for having a discussion with me (on another topic) that brought these feelings to the surface again.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, boy, does this hit a lot of buttons. I understand completely. In fact, a couple of years ago I ran into my ex for the first time in, oh, about 11 years, and I was at my heaviest -- that spiraled me into a major depression that I am just now getting over. (We hope...)
Mar. 19th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
I have an "ex" too, who knew me thin. If he were to call to ask me to meet him for coffee I would go but I can imagine how he would then see me. Perhaps it would be a good thing overall if he felt superior just by looking at me and comparing me to himself. If I could get that sense from him I might just know, for all time, that this guy is not worth the pain I have suffered over him.
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
How frustrating for you to feel like that - or to have others judge you or make you feel like that. I know you through LJ - and fat or thin - you are honest, have a quirky sense of humor I love and down right friendly.... no one could as for more than that........... I think you are pretty special.........
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
I think this is one of the reasons online friendships can be more honest than many real-life friendships. Even though there is much that is missing.

Thank you for your kind words.
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)
*Although I would like to be treated the same, fat or thin, and would like to be free of my own prejudice against my fat self, I am not.*

Nicely said.

I know I want to smack myself when I look at a celebrity (or some such) and say, "wow, she's getting fat" when out the other side of my mouth I'm spouting the "fuck you, fatty hater" spiel. Hypocrite, thy name art Jen.

What is it with our society as a whole when discussions of personal weight (more importantly the shedding of) are seen as ways for women to "bond"? I think about the office jobs I've had, and all the secretaries clucking over their lean cuisine meals and sharing weight watchers points conversion charts. Is the diet industry just another way to keep the female half of society distracted? "Oh, dear, just think about keeping your thighs from touching and don't worry about the big bad world."

*refrains from mounting the soap box I've already hauled out*
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
and that's another thing! (speaking of soapboxes)

I was so sick of constant talk of weight and diets when I was working. When others at work started little diet contests I refused to join, and I did not encourage discussion of fat or diets. Made me crazy. I have actually heard theories that these discussions of thinness and also of fashion are indeed methods of keeping women distracted. The theories are that it's deliberate. I'm not a conspiracy theorist myself, and tend to think that people are just too dumb to do some of these things deliberately. Nevertheless, the effect is the same. A huge percentage of our society is so caught up in this type trivia that real things do not touch them.

Your mention of celebrities makes me laugh. At times I will be watching television with Paul, who is no sylph (is that word used with males?) himself, and he will make some derogatory remark about an actor who has aged or gotten fatter. I just want to point my finger. Actors are people, too, and what they do when they are good has nothing to do, really, with how they look.
Mar. 19th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)

Speaking of the actor thing (and looks) I really hate when an actress (since you don't really see it that much with males) is lavished with attention for getting fat (or ugly) for a role. But, if that same actress put on two extra ounces just because she had one extra crumb of food, she'd be a fat hog worthy of our pity and disgust.

And, one prosthetic nose can not make someone "ugly". Forget it. You have to be BORN with ugly, thankyouverymuch.
Mar. 19th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
No kidding. Who better than we to know UGLY?

All the fuss about The Titanic and Kate Winslet, how she was maligned for being fat. If you'd met her on the street you certainly would not have called her fat. What was really going on there was that Leonardo is unusually thin, boy-like. Always has been.

There is no question, of course, that male actors get a lot more roles no matter what size they are or how old they are. Raymond Burr, for example. Even in that arena, though, the ugly-watchers hold sway. One of the best shows on television, Murder One, featured Daniel Benzali, an overweight bald guy with a hell of a lot of charisma. When he was taken off the cast I didn't see any reason to keep watching it. And I heard that he was removed because he "wasn't sexy enough". Anyone thinking that has no idea what sexy is.
Mar. 19th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
Or "Bridget Jones" Renee Zelwegger (I don't know if that's spelled correctly). All the chitter about how FAAAAT she was. Shit. If that's FAAAAT, then they need to come up with a new word for what I am! (I'm not even going to get onto my "chick lit" = bullshit soapbox)

I never thought about the whole "decaprio adds 10 lbs" thing. It's true. But you can't let him beef up and look like a MAN because then he'll be threatening to the pre-teen girls who use his Tiger Beat pictures to wall paper their bedrooms (and help pepetuate the "don't worry your pretty head" mentality already mentioned).

And as for the "men get roles no matter their size" you only have to see one episode of The Sopranos to have that proven. From the titutlar Tony Soprano all the way down the crime line, those men are FAT. And unhealthy, stuffing their faces with prosciutto and pasta, wheezing and out of breath while trying to have sex with prostitutes.
Mar. 19th, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
yes, yes! We're on a roll now. A show I never watch but have seen in passing - King of Queens - is one of so many where the guy is nothing to look at but the woman can't have an extra ounce on her. Can you imagine it the other way around? The only time that would fly is if it is Roseanne, who has such a cult following that she can do anything (and more power to her, however misguided she sometimes is).

Years ago (this really shows my age) I watched Johnny Carson on the Tonight show interviewing Totie Fields, the comedian (I won't use the "feminine spelling"). Fields was fresh from the hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for cancer. She said the cancer had done one thing: made her thin at last! She was overweight all her life and she actually - it was no joke - was glad that the cancer had made her thin.

She died not long after this. Being thin didn't stop that.
Mar. 19th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)
Damn! I forgot about the sitcom double standard. I'm racking my brain and it's really hard to find one sitcom where you don't have the fat doofus of a man and thin long suffering wife. There are a few out there (where the man isn't fat) but "Roseanne" (and "Grace Under Fire") are two of the only ones where there was a "fat" (in quotes because I don't consider the lead--I forget her name--in "Grace Under Fire" as fat). Roseanne was great because both her and her tv husband were fat (Grace on Grace under fire didn't have a husband, if memory serves).

With King of Queens, the female lead has gotten skinnier. She started out being "normal" then thinned way down. Of course, they had to have fat storylines when the actress had a baby.

Which leads to another rant (which involves hiding actresses pregnancies). "Frasier" made me SO PISSED when they tried to hide the actress' (who played Daphne, Jane something or other) pregnancy by having a whole "she got fat and had to go to a fat camp" storyline. No joking. They even went so far as to have a "hilarious" scene where Niles (puny thing that he is) couldn't help big fat Daphne up off the ground. It was insulting not only to fat people, but to women as a whole. It wasn't enough to just put her in baggy clothes (or use camera angles) to hide her obvious pregnancy and let it at that. Oh no. Why it's FUN to laugh at big fat pigs. Wallow for us, fat woman, and smile while you do it. Aren't all fat people jolly, like that bastard Santa?

Ooh, I'm getting my dander up. There was also this episode of CSI where a guy (who had a fat fetish--what a freak, he likes fatties--ooh, titilating!) was smothered by his fat lover. Fat jokes abounded! Ooh, isn't that show so cutting edge.

And as for the "dieing to be thin" idea, I have issues with the popularizing of eating disorders. You see magazine covers that go the "woe is them" route about "poor starving starlets". First of all, if those starlets were REALLY starving to death, they wouldn't look that attractive. Truly starving people are, forgive my bluntness, disgusting. And they wouldn't have the energy to get out of bed, let alone put on a gown and ten pounds of jewelry to get their photo taken on the red carpet. The whole "poor starving starlets" thing is just so much more "keep the girls distracted" malarky. Don't you find it amusing that way back in the day, being fat was a sign you were rich and well off (and could lay about eating rich foods). It's come full circle now.
Mar. 19th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
I somehow missed that part of Frasier, which used to be a fave show of mine. I am sorry to hear they went that direction. Damn.

Renee Zellweger has had many ups and downs, including some where she's way too thin. I think she may enter the crowd of lollipop-heads, as they call them, and never return. It's sad when intelligent actresses fall into that trap.

Oh, and I am rich. And that's why I'm fat. I never have to lift a finger in my mobile home.
Mar. 19th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
I used to enjoy Frasier, too. But that storyline disgusted me.

Ooh, I'm rich too. ;) And I have the rolls to PROVE it.
Jul. 23rd, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC)
Arthritis is very unpleasant disease.My gradnmother is suffering from it due to overweight like in your case and she moves with great difficulty.The problem with her is that her condition can become worse but she can't be better.
Cara Fletcher
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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