No, this is not a true confession. It is not a whine. Call it a movie review and some introspection. It is, though, my third post in one day on this blog, which is something of a record.
I just watched the movie To Be Fat like Me on You Tube. It stars Kaley Cuocco before her present TV fame. It was made, I believe, in 2007. It tells the story of two high school girls who enter a documentary contest to earn money, in Kaley/Allie’s case, for college.
Allie is your basic popular ,thin, pretty, athletic blonde, not so good in academics. Her friend is a brainiac. Allie gets the idea to do a documentary to prove that fat girls can be just as popular as thin ones. It’s all about personality, she says to her chunky younger brother.
That’s all I’m going to tell you. Look it up on You Tube, if you haven’t already seen it. It’s worth watching. (Have to add here that when I was searching for the picture, I came across a really bad review of this movie. Some critic or group of critics thinks it’s one of the fifty most ridiculous movies of all time. I don’t know. I don’t watch many movies).
It spoke to me because I’ve been fat most of my adult life. I wasn’t a fat kid in school, but I wasn’t thin, either. For a little while, during college, I managed to reach my lowest weight of between 110 and 115, just about right for my height and frame. After the babies started coming, though, I never saw those numbers again.
The steady weight gain has brought me now, at age 68, face to face with diabetes, insulin resistance, possible heart conditions, and all the other awful things that come with Syndrome X. And I’m working on it. I’ve lost nearly 17 pounds since the first part of October. I’m swimming for exercise. I’ve never been an athlete, and I don’t enjoy sweating. Swimming is perfect for me.
It’s the emotional side of being grossly overweight that resonated with me in this movie. Did you know that medically speaking, if you are 20% or more over your ideal weight, you are considered morbidly obese? Yeah. That’s a real downer. Morbid obesity. I’d never even heard the phrase before I saw it on my dad’s death certificate. He was only 70 when he died.
People who have never been fat and never had to work to stay slender really are blessed. I hope they realize how blessed they are.
Now look, I’m not doing the pity me thing here. I did this to myself, and no one knows it any better than I do. Honestly, though, there were a lot of things I didn’t understand about my own body, metabolism, and so on. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in the past three months is that even when I thought I was “eating healthy,” I was taking in way too many carbs. Now that I’ve learned how to monitor that, I’m avoiding just about every low-calorie “diet” meal in the freezer section. For me, it’s the carbs that have made me fat. Love me my carbs: Chocolate, pancakes, bread, donuts, chocolate, ice cream, pastry, potatoes, chocolate . . . .
I’m still eating some of those things, but not as much and not nearly as often. I’ve even managed to lose 3/4 of a pound over Christmas! That’s pretty amazing for me.
But back to the emotional issues. One character in the movie, Ramona, shares some pretty amazing insights with Allie. One of the things she said, loosely paraphrased, is that when you’re fat you don’t own your body. Everyone else does. People think your obesity gives them the right to moo at you, call you “Tank,” look at you in disgust, tell you that you need to lose weight, even refuse to wait on you in a clothing store that “doesn’t carry your size.” And you’re supposed to hang your head in shame, because you’re such a cow. You deserve to be humiliated. If you weren’t such a pig, you wouldn’t be treated the way you are. It’s your own fault.
So. I’m thinking about all this, about my own experience being the fattest one in the room most of the time. People haven’t been unkind to me right to my face. I don’t know what they say behind my back, and I don’t worry about that. I do know how I feel, though, because fatness is not cool at any age, for many reasons. I hate being fat. I’ve made jokes about it, blamed the gene pool (lots of overweight in my gene pool) and generally gotten along pretty well. But inside, I hate it. I truly, truly hate it.
Watching the movie has renewed my determination to keep tracking those carbs, to keep increasing the laps in the pool. Not for anyone else’s benefit, but for my own health, my desire to live long enough to see my grands grow up and have families, my energy to be productive and useful as long as possible.
So call this my New Year’s Rant, instead of a resolution. I just needed to put it down in black and white before I forget about it.