Sunday, May 29, 2011

What This is All About

I've never really considered writing a blog before.  I never felt I had anything important to add to the flood of memes and counter-memes that pours ceaselessly through the internet.  However, recently I found a reason not only to tell my own story, but also to ask to hear yours.

First, let's make this clear: I'm fat.  I've been fat since I was eight, and will likely remain so until I either die or am able to get medical insurance that will cover surgery.
I know that there are lots of other words I could use to describe myself.  I could say I'm voluptuous, Rubenesque, or full figured.  I could go with curvy, womanly, or heavyset.  I could say I'm a BBW, or that I'm plus sized.  However, all of those phrases sugar coat a difficult truth that I've had to live with for my whole life, and I'm not fond of euphemisms.  I'd rather be bald and forthright about being fat, and by attributing it to myself as a neutral characteristic, dare anyone else to make an insult of it.

With that settled, let me tell you why this Blog exists.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine responded to a recent study in a way that really made me think.  The study centered around the fact that doctors often don't bother to encourage their obese patients to lose weight.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not fond of being nagged about my weight; it's been a problem for me for most of my life, and if one more person says the words "you should just" in my hearing, I'll likely as not bite their head off.

However, the authors' objection wasn't to the fact that doctors weren't nagging their patients; their problem was the reasons why they were staying quiet.  In essence, the study concluded that doctors often considered fat people ugly, lazy and generally unworthy of attention.  Given that conclusion, doctors often chose not to encourage diet and exercise on the assumption that their patients would fail anyway and weren't worth bothering with.

My friend, who's not a skinny guy himself, said that it was kind of good when doctors didn't try to cram diet and exercise down people's throats.  He said that in general, fat people don't particularly like to exercise (based on his own experience), and do enjoy food, which makes that particular trade off very difficult.  My friend didn't mean anything bad by this; he just meant that he'd rather not be bugged about his weight.

My gut reaction was that there was something wrong with this response, and so I gave it some thought and came to this conclusion:  While not every fat person wants to get thin (or should have to), every fat person has the right to be treated equally and fairly, just like any other patients.  In failing to counsel their obese patients (which it is their job to do), doctors were treating them like second class citizens.  Whether I want to diet, or indeed can diet effectively, or not, I deserve to be treated with respect, caring and consideration.  When doctors abandon their responsibilities to me and other patients like me, they are failing to do this.

That made me think about the many other problems and prejudices I've faced in decades of being a fat girl and woman in a world that is actively hostile to us.  I wrote a long response to his comment, which I'll post here later.  It outlined a lot of the things that people don't understand about what it means to be fat.  I received a lot of positive feedback about it, but after a few days I realized that sharing it with my friends and a few people outside of my circle wasn't enough.  Indeed, telling the story myself wasn't enough.

In the end, I decided that I would create a place for people like me to share our stories, our difficulties, our hopes and our regrets.  I'll start by telling my own stories, but what I really want is for you to bring yours, and the stories of your brothers and sisters and friends who've faced this kind of prejudice.  On the main blog page, you can find my E-Mail address.  If  you have a story, poem, essay, painting, or other kind of media you'd like to share, please E-Mail me, and I'll add you to our authors list.  Your story (and its copyright) remains your own; I just want to create a place to share a creative response to the prejudice we face on a daily basis.

I hope to hear from you!