The Fat Stereotype
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I've never been a mean person, but I am an overly sensitive one. I never speak without thinking first, and I can't honestly tell you the last time I hurt somebody's feelings. I try hard not to use hurtful words, and I do not judge a book; or a person; by it's cover.
I was at work today, and the kitchen has been giving me some trouble. In an effort to try to remedy the problems, I made a statement in exasperation. I said "I would rather find another job than do this with you guys all summer". The waitress that I work with was in the kitchen area too, as we were both attempting to make things right.
I love to bake. Being 300 pounds and off balance (right now), it is not a good idea to have quantity of delicious baked goods about. So when I get the urge to bake, I find it calming and delicious, I take my leftovers to work and give them to my co-workers. One of the cooks thinks my little sister is adorable. So after my exasperated statement (above), he said "You can only quit if your sister can stay." We were having a good laugh about this when my co-waitress Corie ran in and said "Who will bring us baked goods if Jennifer leaves?". There was some back and forth as to whether or not my sister can cook, to which I replied no. Corie said, "Didn't you know that good looking people can never do things like cook?" While I know that I am not an attractive person, I still became highly offended. When I replied, "I'll have you know that I was pretty hot before gaining weight", she ask-exclaimed "REALLY?!" You know the kind of incredulous reply as if there is nothing that could have been imagined less? It was like that.
As the day wore on, I became increasingly more offended, annoyed, dismayed. Last week when my sister was in the restraunt, Corie told me she could tell that we were related. That being remembered, that means what she considered so unattractive is my weight. I weigh just over 300 pounds right now. I've had a horrible year and fallen of the wagon more than I am on it. I've been through the worst things that can happen - but I'm still here, I'm still breathing, and I'm still trying. None of us know what another person is thinking, feeling, suffering through - but we all see what we see. And I guess that what people see with me is the huge body that I'm surrounded in. But that isn't all of me. I'm a good person, a good mother, an educated woman, a caring wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, and friend. I have a network of people who care about me no matter how big I am - and for that I am grateful. I am so thankful today for the people who find me funny, witty, intelligent, caring, and whatever other nice things they think no matter what I look like.
What amazes me after all of the feeling offended and self reflection is the way that words can hurt. We are a nation of people who are very politically correct - we've largely remedied the way that we talk about others in a hurtful manner; yet we still throw around the hurtful "fat" words. I mentioned this at a family gathering once, and someone thin suggested that it's because people "choose" to be fat - that they have some control over it and therefore can not be sensitive about it. I've seen many people shrink in size while on sparkpeople, and that is a choice that they should be proud of. But I've seen just as many try, suffer set backs, fall down, get back up, etc, etc, etc... Where is the old addage "an A for effort?" While I may only be roughly 16.8 pounds less than I was when I started 1 1/2 years ago - that's still nearly 17 pounds less. In that year and 1/2 I've had devestating news with my father's health, financial ups and downs, an ectopic pregnancy and chemo treatments; and I'm still almost 17 pounds less than I was. My eating is largely much better. I can do more physical things than I could before (and I could move before). I guess it isn't all bad even when the world assumes what they will.