Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fat

There are an incredible number of blogs devoted to the experience of being overweight. Kelly at Shake What Ya Mama Gave You has compiled an impressive list of them on her blogroll. My short review: the bloggers at Fat Girl Says Freedom and The Fat Girl are the most skilled writers I've found on this subject, but no one beats Fatty McBlog for pure sardonic commentary and a complete lack of interest in actually losing anything.

I have to admit, it's tempting to start logging every detail of my current fat-under-siege activities, although I'm sure just as many people would find that boring as would find it interesting. Why does this subject pull the focus of so many people? Maybe self-esteem is hard to measure and impossible to quantify, but people like me find some relief in our ability to witness and document the changes in our bodies. Maybe weighing and measuring pounds and inches is the closest we can come to tracking self-esteem.

I'm drawn to these websites similarly to the way I'm drawn to watch an obese person walk down the street or drawn to look at the latest report on how fat Americans are. I'm relieved to not be that size, but I also know how easy it is for me to gain weight and how little time it would take for me to become obese. I'm looking at the obese person, but I'm also looking at myself and what feels like my genetic and cultural destiny to be fat. Also, many of us have the same self-sabotaging mechanisms, so the pain I find on blogs about being overweight sounds very similar to my own pain. I have the same self-loathing when it comes to body size and food, it's just not as noticeable by others.

Also, people use a fixation on food the way I've used a fixation on other things in my life. The Fat Girl blogs:

Being fat is not crippling anymore. Being fat does not make me an outcast anymore. And that means that fat never did those things. It means that the problem was not fatness, but the way I thought about fatness and about myself as a fat person.

I totally did this with the lonely-and-manless thing. I believed I was pathetic and that I didn't have a real life because I had no partner. Blogs about being overweight really express the same pain everyone has. We just have it about different issues.

Fighting off weight gain takes a lot of energy and effort, but I do it. I believe most slender American women over the age of 35 are working hard to stay trim. I know I am. How many of us are motivated by fear of obesity? Probably most of us.

It's a damn crime that so much of our consciousness is taken up with concern over weight. How much more could we be accomplishing as individuals and as a society if we weren't fixated on losing and gaining and losing and gaining? Time, money, energy, sweat, thinking about food, trying not to think about food, trying to think about anything other than what I can eat and what I can't eat. It goes on and on and it's every day and when I consider living like this until I die it becomes another reason life just seems too hard.

Thousands of years ago survival required humans to constantly search for food, every hour they were awake: hunting, foraging, gathering, fishing, looking for new sources of nutrition. Without such obession, human beings wouldn't have made it. Is this the inevitable outcome? After who-knows-how-many millenia, with high-calorie food in abundance wherever we turn, our previous fixation on getting enough food has turned into an obsession with resisting it? Is this really a natural preoccupation and I should just accept it and stop bemoaning the brainpower I'm losing to counting calories and evaluating food choices?

I'm speaking specifically of the American food experience. The U.S. isn't dealing with large-scale genocide and famine. Our problem with food is the opposite of most countries'. I hate how easily we've waddled right down the high-fat path of huge restaurant portions, chips and soda everywhere and sugar-sugar-sugar. Our American ability to sell anything to each other combined with our genetic predisposition towards fat and sweet has created a culture of blobitude in which almost every adult I see could stand to lose some weight, the "freshman ten" have become the "freshman fifteen" (I swear when I started college in 1984 it was just ten pounds that girls tended to put on during our first year in college), and even toddlers appear overweight. We have created a nightmare for ourselves.

I'm so glad to see that we're starting to come to our senses with the withdrawal of soda pop from the schools and Walt Disney Co. finally breaking away from their evil pact with McDonald's Corp.. Can we get this under control, this marketing of high-fat crap so that we can then market weightloss crap? And can we turn it around so that we don't export this bullshit market to the rest of the world along with Coke and Quarter Pounders?

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