Fat, the acceptable hatred

I decided to circle round back to some of my comments I made the other day when I was writing about SAID: Self-Acceptance Image Deficit. My toe is coming back around to normal and I am beginning to feel like myself again. I realize that my toe was actually paralyzed and try as I might, I could not bend it or feel it on the ground until I stepped and then the pain was excruciating. But I am on the mend and want to move on. Image: that is my topic for today and what society has done to the large size human being….at least in my neck of the woods.
We seem to have a First Lady who is hell bent of obesity in children. I thought back to my childhood and tried to remember if there were kids in my grade school who were ostracized for being fat. I actually do not remember any one being that big as a kid. Oh wait, I was…. According to my parents I was huge but in the world of school and scouts, I was not. I was thick as they say now and I was also taller and earlier to bloom than my classmates. This did not ostracize me in anyway and I do not remember being mocked for being fat. First of all, I kept up. I was not the slowest or clumsiest. I actually was good in sports I liked. I was popular with the boys as I developed early and quite prolifically at an age where boys were fascinated with breasts. Oh wait; they never stop being fascinated do they?
But the world was different. I was not allowed to watch TV. We had to be outside and in my house you wanted to be anywhere but there. I grew up in a farming community where chores where the order. My favorite place to be was either down the street with Elaine who had a horse and calf she was raising. We walked everywhere or rode bikes and went to the barn in the village where she kept her animals. The other favorite place was Peggy’s and her family owned a farm with vast quantities of property on the lake and adjacent fields. We rode horses or tended to something that was required with the younger siblings. You did not ever watch TV in that household. There were always chores and you did them gladly. I can muck a stall with the best of them.
Kids did not have phones, IPods or other devices plugged into their ears at all times. We learned to listen for snakes in the grass so we would not step on them. We listened for the wind so we would know how to tack a sail. We listened to the wheat and corn rustle and ripple. In town, you listened for the clock tower so you knew when to come home. And you paid attention to your friends talking to you directly and not in a chat or text. I know I sound like an old fart who does not appreciate technology, and that is hardly the case. But we connected in a different way. A bigger difference was we moved constantly. We walked or rode bikes to each other’s house. We put on records and danced. We played physical games like softball, tennis and one of my favorites, tether ball. Being on one of the clearest lakes in New York State, you took swimming lessons in June and sometime in September you climbed out of the water. Otherwise, I was in it as much as I could. We walked farm fields and one of my favorite memories was walking out to the sheep herd in the pasture and cuddling with the lambs. Sheep are wonderful animals and I am delighted we have a farm around the corner from my house here in the village that has a huge herd. The Stinky Farm being so close to the village is another story, but it is one that makes living where I do so special.
It was not until junior high that I realized I was different than most girls. My friends were all different shapes and sizes from almost six feet tall and some a little round. But none of us where treated badly. It was a benefit to my brother who is two years older that I had such comely friends. But around that time my parents ramped up into a campaign of terror because they held the belief I was a monster, a behemoth of a girl. My mother especially spent an inordinate amount of time making sure I knew my appearance did not please her. This is not going to be about that. This is a tale about a poor girl in my sister’s class who was pretty close to tipping the scales at about 300 pounds. I think back and I remember her being so pretty and sweet. But the story goes that people felt sorry for her. She was really the only girl her size in the small school district. There were plenty beefy girls as you will find in farm country. Taking care of a farm is not for weaklings. This young lady was a victim of humiliation in an attempt to actually do something nice for her. The story goes they held a lottery and all the guys had to submit their names if they did not have a date secured for the Senior Ball. Then one name was selected and they had to escort this young lady to the ball. It was common knowledge this was happening and acceptable to the rank and file of the senior class. My parents wrapped the story around that it would happen to me when I was ready to go to the ball, which was several years away. It did not happen by the way. I secured a date all on my own, but the fear never left. Who in their right mind would think this was a good idea? But I was too young to deal with it then.
Now we have an epidemic of childhood obesity. My step daughter was a very chucky young girl when she lived with me. But because of the divorce and the divide of the family, she spent a huge amount of time in front of the TV and eating convenient food such as pizza. I fault her father for perpetuating that lifestyle and it was difficult to instill new habits when they moved in. She had to walk to school, which was right up the end of the street. She had mild Aspergers and so making friends was hard for her. Like her father, she is very clumsy and chunky and does not like physical activity. But she gained confidence when I worked with her on “her look.” She actually has a sense of style which remains today. She had friends and joined the theater group and because she has a fabulous sense of humor, again much like her father, she was popular with her gang. But left to her own devices, she would lock herself in her room with her computer and DVD player. When she needed correction, we would remove all the devices which really was fine with her, because she loves to read. When her mother interjected, she moved out to live with her and unfortunately returned to a sedentary life style and as a young woman she now has some serious health issues due to immobility and her size. She would dwarf the young woman with the senior ball issues.
The situation with children is not what they are putting so much in their mouths but the fact they do not move. I never see kids walking unless it is a mandatory take the dog out walk. We have ball fields up the street and they are only used by the official leagues that play there. You never see a pick-up game. The tennis courts are primarily used by my generation. You do not even see gangs of kids roaming the village or hanging out anywhere. They go to the mall and text each other from the various coffee settees. I see the young girls who still walk to school and they are tiny. So tiny, I wonder about their health. I cannot imagine what the comparison must be for someone who is thick and their classmate. I have not been in a school system for a while now as I do not teach in public schools, nor is my step-daughter here, so I am out of the loop.
But I do read about bullies and young people killing themselves over being ostracized in some manner. We attack soft drink manufactures and fast food places, when the issue is acceptance. Do not get me wrong, I am not a fan of fast food in any manner. Nor do I allow soft drinks in my house and banned all of it, burgers to soda from the lips of my family years ago. But if some kid picked on my step daughter like they seem to be doing now to different types of kids, I would seek them out. What is wrong with people…..
But then I realize, it is not the kids, it is a learned behavior. We push this one size, one beautiful look through media. I cannot spend the time on this topic as it would fill pages. Both my husband and I wrote papers on it for our psychology courses we took in college for our teaching degrees. It starts with the parents seeking to understand what is really going on. And then teaching their children to accept the differences they see, to embrace individuality and honor the being, not the vessel carrying the soul. I am running out of time for this morning to continue with the passion I feel about this topic.
I am not advocating for allowing children to consume and become obese in any manner. I am a strong believer in you are what you eat. Personally, I get pissed off when people comment on my food consumption and it usually in surprise. I eat almost daily the same foods. For lunch it is chicken and salad or green beans….and I have done this for YEARS. I have not eaten red meat since 1986. But this is not about me. This is about all of us embracing people for what and who they are. Being fat is not always a choice. I am going to say that for some, it is not a result of consumption. I ate less than anyone in my family and they all are thin. But for whatever reason someone is on the portly side or actually obese (and I hate that word), take the time to see the person and not judge. We would never think to walk up to someone with a disability such as a disfigurement and poke then in the gut and make a comment about their physical being. But I have seen it first hand with people of size, including someone walking up to me as a young woman and asking me when my baby was due? This was shortly after I had miscarried and I ran crying from the store. The shirt I was wearing was the style back in the 70’s that tied in the back and draped softly over my round belly. But her action was inexcusable. My best friend and I were going to have t-shirts made that said: “I am not pregnant, just fat. Get over it.”
I have much more to say on this topic but for now, take a look around today and really look at people. It is one of my favorite things to do. Sense how you react. Pay close attention to anyone who you see who is of size and figure out what your reaction is. I bet it is not something you would disclose. Not accepting people of size is the last area of acceptable discrimination. I am on roll (no pun intended) to help stop this being acceptable.


5 thoughts on “Fat, the acceptable hatred

  1. I agree with what you say about children being rounder these days, not because they eat more but because they move less. We had to run around and use our imagination, while now they seem to squat and play computer games. Having said that man’s capacity for renewal is always amazing so anything is possible in the future

  2. Thanks for this post. I share the same feelings although I don’t have issues with weight. Many people judge on what they see, instead of accepting others as they are. Perhaps we all do it a little bit. I’m sure I do.Being mindful of that can only be good.

  3. Well said. I agree. I would write more, but the arthritis in my spine decided to remind me today that I have arthritis in my spine 😉 So, I am in “conservation” mode. Peace . . .

  4. I think you gave voice to lots more than you think…
    but even today people have this sheepish need to be politically correct…
    Good post one I appreciate…
    Take Care…

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