Fat shaming.

 

Because, you know, fat people deserve to be insulted.

It's helpful to insult fat people. It'll motivate them to lose weight.
Oh. I see. They're doing us a favor.

If we didn't want to be insulted, we'd just lose weight.

I'm a big ol' fat guy. Your approval is not required!

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I thought this topic was important enough that it deserved its own page rather than be included in my list of articles.

 

 

Before you read this, please understand I like myself just the way I am, regardless of my weight. I couldn't care less what anyone else thinks of me, except for my friends and family. I do not suffer from any kind of inferiority complex. I do not suffer from any kind of insecurity about who or what I am, about my accomplishments in life or about the journeys and adventures I've experienced thus far. I certainly do not feel the need to express any kind of apology for the amount of space I take up on this earth. I am confident in myself without being arrogant, and my weight does not define me as a man or a human being any more than does my hair color (or lack thereof), eye color or the month in which I was born. People calling me names? No big deal. Doesn't phase me one bit. Self-righteousness and stupidity are far worse sins than is being fat.

 

The purpose of this article is NOT to whine about being insulted for being fat. Quite the contrary. This is simply an objective observation that many beefy people have never been in the position to make, because many of them have been beefy people their entire life. So I'm in a somewhat unique situation to offer an objective observation about the injustice of "political correctness" not being applied equally to beefy people the way it is to most other sectors of society.

 

Instead of John Howard Griffin's "Black Like Me" experience, this is my "Fat Like Me" observation and experience.

 

A little history:

I gained over 100 pounds in a year due to drastic lifestyle changes, heart disease, subsequent heart surgery, and the resulting treatments and medications for heart disease.

 

I also have three separate back maladies and a bad knee, which prevent me from getting proper exercise.

 

Before all that, people considered me a big guy, more muscular and solid than fat. Just big. 6'2" and about 220 lbs most of my adult life. People compared me to a brick with legs. I was never "ripped" or "cut," but I was solid and muscular.

 

Much of that was because I was a heavy metal drummer.

 

People think that since drummers sit, their workout is mostly arms and hands. Two things about that misconception.

 

The first is...think about all that gear it takes for a band to perform. I used to carry amplifiers, drum gear, cabinets, guitars, bass guitars, keyboards and P.A. columns, racks of power amps and cables and lights and sound effects, day after day, night after night. (Thank God for when the day came I had roadies!!!) Before you could even play a gig, it all got torn down in a rehearsal studio, loaded into trucks and transported to the venue, then carried into the venue and set up on stage. That alone is at least several hours of hard physical labor. Then it all will get torn down again after the show, hauled back to the rehearsal studio, then set up again. All that often happens in one day if you're only playing a one-night stand. I'm here to tell you that, when you see a band playing a show, the performing you're seeing on stage is only a TINY part of what it took to play that show.

 

The second misconception is...a drummer's performance only provides a workout of their arms and hands. I play hard, fast and heavy, with a lot of energy and power. Both my legs get a huge workout, especially since I play a double bass set of drums. From my hips, all the way down my legs to the balls of my feet, every muscle in my legs are constantly being pushed and exercised. My back muscles strain under the pressure of playing a kit as big as mine. From my chest muscles all the way through my shoulders and down my arms, to the fingers on my hands, every one of those muscles get a tremendous workout. No. Playing drums in a heavy metal band is not easy because you're sitting, and it's more of a workout for your entire body than you think. That's in addition to the set-up and tear-down of the gear.

 

Just the act of playing a 90-minute show night after night with the intensity that I had when playing drums in heavy metal bands was more of an aerobic workout than most people could handle...even people in relatively good shape.

 

Then, after many years in music, came the heart disease and subsequent weight gain...that drastic change in lifestyle I mentioned, and the change in people's perception of my value and worth as a human being.

 

As I said, my value and worth as a man and a human being isn't dependant on someone's opinion of me, and my value to society doesn't need validated by acceptance from anyone for anything, especially the amount of space I inhabit on this earth.

 

My self-worth isn't determined by the opinions of others, and my self-esteem doesn't waiver with the fickle acceptance of society's standards.

 

I couldn't help noticing the differences in the way people viewed me, and their comments about me and to me, once I started gaining weight.

 

These are the conclusions I've reached about this topic.

 

To "normal" society, being fat exposes a lack of self-control...which equals being a loser in the game of life. Obesity = failure as a person.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth in most cases.

 

Being fat = being unhealthy. The common perception is that fat people cost insurance companies and the health care system billions of dollars due to the sickness and disease brought about by obesity.

 

While this is true in some cases, EVERY segment of society has specific health risks associated with their genetics and culture. So, while there are specific health risks associated with being obese, there are also specific health risks with many other sectors of society.

 

Plus, obesity is not necessarily the cause of sickness and disease. It is often a symptom of some underlying disease or malady more than it is the cause of sickness or disease.

 

Please do NOT misunderstand me. I know obesity is a huge problem in this country. I'm not trivializing the diseases associated with obesity. I'm simply making you aware that quite often, someone being fat is NOT necessarily a direct result of stuffing too many Twinkies into their mouth.

 

The stereotype of us fat folks is that we are fat and it's our own fault, always, without question. We purposely stuff our faces with Ding Dongs, make bad food choices, have no self-control and, simply put, are a burden on society.

 

And yet, these same stereotypes seem not to apply to alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, or people with social, mental, emotional disorders or phobias. They are seen as victims of a disease or a personality disorder, beyond their control, and should not be ridiculed for something over which they have no control.

 

Can you imagine sitting at a table in a coffee shop and having some doofus come up and start making fun of you because you're blind? Or because you're gay? Or because you have Cerebral Palsy? Or wear glasses? Or are Chinese? Or black? Or Indian?

 

The hypocrisy is that, while excessive weight gain is often a symptom of an underlying problem over which that person has no control, fat people are free and open targets, fair game for any smart-mouth insult anyone wants to hurl at them.

 

Much of society actually believes shaming fat people motivates them to lose weight. Like they're doing us a favor! They feel we "deserve" being insulted and shamed.

 

I've actually heard people say that if we don't like being insulted, we should lose weight. Again, the irony is that they would never tell a mentally-challenged person that if they didn't want to get insulted, they should just get smarter.

 

The self-righteous arrogance of those who freely insult fat people is the same as those who once deemed Jews as inferior beings. As long as we're fat, we're less than human.

 

So, many beefy people have medical causes for their excessive weight.

 

What about that segment of fat people who don't have a physical cause, but suffer from mental or emotional maladies? Just like the alcoholic who can't pass up a shot of vodka, many fat people suffer from the exact same addictive diseases which render them unable to control their desire for food. Some people have imbalances in their brain chemicals that prevent them from ever feeling full. They can sit and eat a full meal, and still feel hungry.

 

And before you say they just finished a meal and should know they're full out of common sense, why doesn't the alcoholic who just finished half a bottle of Jack Daniels know he's drunk? Why does he keep on drinking? To apply this logic to the peopple who suffer from alcoholism and not to people who suffer from eating disorders is ignorant and hypocritical.

 

What about the person suffering from Agoraphobia who can't go outside their home? Should they just get over it and go outside? Should you "do them a favor" and make fun of them to make them want to go outside? Insult them, mock them, trivialize them to help them get over their disease?

 

What about people with allergies? Are they the victims of scorn because they sneeze and cough and snot all over the place and have watery eyes?

 

What's the difference between an alcoholic not being able to pass up a bottle and a fat guy not being able to pass up a Ho-Ho?

 

Why is the fat girl worthy of ridicule, but the drug addict, or any of the other people suffering from uncontrollable disease, worthy of sympathy?

 

The resulting hypocrisy is astounding. Someone can drink themselves into oblivion, ruin their life and the lives of their family and friends, bring their family to financial devastation, and for them, political correctness dictates we not say a word, but understand they are the victim of disease and need help and understanding to overcome their plight.

 

Meanwhile, someone suffering from a food addiction should just stop stuffing their faces.

 

The "norms" and "standards" society sets for us are purely marketing ploys fostered by the media and different commercial industries.

 

The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and fuels prejudice against beefy folks to keep people "motivated" to lose weight. They are simply reaping the benefits of a mass media who has established the "acceptable" physical appearance for a "normal" person.

 

The fashion industry caters to the thin and "normal" sectors, selling them the idea that getting fat is worse than death.

 

Then you have the skinny, scrawny, underweight sector. Weight gain and muscle growing products are also a multi-billion dollar industry for those who want to bulk up.

 

The more segments companies and mass media can divide society into, the more specialty products companies can market and sell.

 

Before there was an America, the softest, roundest, chubbiest women were seen as the sexiest of all people. Being beefy was a sign of financial strength and stability, belonging to the social elite. That's why most paintings of women from the 16th century up until about the 19th century were of thick, curvy, soft, round women. They were the objects of desire.

 

While I agree that many people are beefy because of the choices they make, I also think there are a huge number of beefy people who are beefy because of the same personality, mental, emotional disorders and addictions from which alcoholics and drug addicts suffer.

 

Either way, being made fair game for personal insults is egregious. I think political correctness dictating that drug, alcohol and gambling addicts deserve sympathy, understanding and support, while fat folks deserve insults, mockery, scorn and ridicule, exposes political correctness for what it actually is: Hypocrisy.

 

I also think that, since most Americans are shallow people, comfortable with applying judgment based on superficial appearances, beefy people are just easier targets. Beefy people are obviously easier to spot than alcoholics or addicts. The outward appearance of a fat person blatantly reveals the target that shallow and superficial people need to render judgment. Often you can't look at a person and see they're an addict. They don't wear t-shirts or signs. You usually never know if someone has some sort of disease lurking in their system. But a fat person is fat, openly, all the time, and simply provides an easy target.

 

So, this prejudice against us fat folks will probably never change. While I'm not offended by what anyone calls me, and I'll probably just laugh if it's funny, or possibly punch them in the nose if it's particularly insulting, I do feel sorry for the ignorance, arrogance and stupidity of those who feel they must insult me.

 

While I will probably never lose all the weight I've gained, they probably will never get any smarter, and that's the bigger transgression.

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