I’m a kind of laid back lassie, one given to minor and petty outpourings of vitriol but, on the whole, pretty apathetic about just about, oh, everything. Which makes this action, yes this one, the one I’m undertaking right now, a novelty. Rarely have I been so very irritated (and please do not misunderstand – quite a lot of media rubbish irritates me but I do not find it worthwhile to attend to it) that I will comment on some piece of drivel I’ve discovered. Today I made the mistake of reading an appalling article by one Ms Rachel Cooke* who is, I am sure, an otherwise charming and probably quite attractive, though we all have our little paranoias etc, and svelte size 10/12.
It’s been a while since I exercised my critique muscles – as with so many of my other muscles – so you’ll have to forgive me when I say that I just do not know where to start with this woman’s article. Should I go for ‘as for people like me, who see only clogged arteries when they see a fat person’ or perhaps the assumptions in her commentary that to be fat is to be unhappy, automatically, always, and just because of being fat. Let me just ponder that last point… What comes first, do you think, the fat or the sad? You’re quite right, we’re intelligent adults and that query was beneath me. Too simplistic an idea and one too ridiculous for words. These are fatties we’re talking about. They are an abstract after all, well, except for those annoying militant ones who seem to think that the general objective to life is something other than being skinny. Oooops, now I sound like a fat apologist or something. You can tell at this point, can’t you, that I’m fat. Very very fat. I really ought to be more ashamed. Honestly, first thing I’ll start purging and exercising excessively and then I’ll apologise to everyone...maybe I can come to an arrangement with the government to pre-pay the medical expenses for the diseases that I do not and may never have along with my HECS debt. Given how grasping they are I’m pretty sure they’ll agree. Maybe it was a mistake to put that out there.
I’ve read this article a couple of times. Maybe I’m just being a defensive fatty, a bad and silly fatty, a not knowing my place fatty, but this woman’s prejudice and misconceptions really do frustrate me. I certainly feel that I’ve missed the point as I’ve let my words, my insecurities, and my horrible flab flop about in an orgy of self-reflection and writing. I feel that I’ve misunderstood the world as a whole. Tell me, kind folk, do people only attend the gym to not be fat? I thought that it might be because it was something that they enjoyed or because they desired something particular and positive rather than something general and reactionist – an action in the negative. Is it only fat people who fail to eat correctly at every meal (aside from those anorexics and bulimics but they’re on the path of righteousness and should be left alone)? I mean, I’ve never known anyone who can eat enormous amounts of shit all day, every day, and still be skinny as a rake because they lucked out in the genetics/metabolism game…oh no wait, I have a cousin like that…and I work with a girl…and I had a friend at school who was like that…and then there’s… Sorry, sorry, over-simplifying again. This is not about why people are fat but that there are fat people. Worse yet, people who whilst being fat go about living rather than sensibly trying to kill themselves in their shame. Poor unhappy fat people! I wonder that the suicide rate isn’t rather higher. I bet that’s the reason why there are so many suicides. There’s bound to be some kind of great correlation in the future about how the suicide rate is the fault of the obesity problem; nothing to do with the rich/poor dichotomy or the dissociative society or anything like that.
Alas, the more I read this shite, the more annoyed I am that such a poor and pointless article was published. She lacks a definite point and makes no real conclusions. She exposes her own prejudice beautifully and attempts to normalise it. She also exposes a truly pathetic level of personal vanity. She can barely leave the house in a fat-suit because she fears ridicule. I wonder why she fears ridicule. Could it be that her instinct (yes, let us absolve her of personal responsibility by reducing her status to that of an animal – well, maybe not one that hibernates, stupid fat bears) is to deride those different from herself? Could she be fearing that others will behave as she would? And, I’m quite curious now, how does she behave that she expects such cunty behaviour? Yes, yes, appalling pop-psychology… And back to the point. Why have I let someone like this exasperate me so? Because it was published at all. Because it perpetuates fat-hate without thought. Because it creates further prejudice. Because it’s supposed to do this. Because all the other birds have been shot and we need a new target. Because fat people cannot defend themselves. I could argue until I asphyxiate about why it’s so fundamentally wrong to hate for something as petty and pointless as being fat but I’ll never so much as win a point, let along the battle or the war, because I’m fat and for some obscure reason that I fail to understand this is not allowed to be just another of my personal problems. In being so visible I make it everyone’s problem and am apparently forcing the issue by daring to go out in public. Did I misinterpret that? It’s very hard to tell when someone discusses how fat-rights campaigners are trying to transfer their misery on to normal skinny people after obliquely mentioning her own issues about food via her disgust at seeing a fat person eat something unhealthy. It’s all about the food, you know.
And now, I’ve stayed up far too late writing and must get some sleep. I’d should save this and finish it later but, for some reason – probably to do with my being fat and therefore lazy – I never do go back to finishing the things I’ve started writing. Shit, there are birds chirping. I’ll leave you with some other bit-lets from tonight that otherwise would not see the light of day. For some reason I felt that they were pertinent if not succinct.
1) This may surprise you but I’m not an ill looking person – always presuming that I’m not on some mad ego trip and that people haven’t been lying to me my entire life. I’ve inherited some pretty good genetic goods, along with some quite shit ones, and, alas, a lot of them are physiological. I’m sorry but I got the good skin (yes, that’s where it went), attractive though myopic eyes, thick, (allegedly) attractive hair, fairly nice even features – no obvious deformities other than the fatness, oh except for the slightly mangled legs and feet but who looks at those? Sometimes people even compliment me on my looks, sometimes they even mean it. Before you yawn over my irrelevance I’ll share a little secret with you. I have more issues with being considered pretty or attractive, no matter how big my arse gets or how small, than I do with being fat. I am not one of those women who makes much of an effort though I have stopped actively trying to uglify myself. You made the connection there, didn’t you? It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? The fat could be considered a self protective coating. An extremely ironic Teflon, if you will. Only, I don’t think it’s the whole story. Sure, I concede, it is a part of it – it’s all part of my deep psychological need to be unhappy, blah, blah, woe…and all I have to do is become skinny because that will solve the problems…uh huh. No. There is a lot more to this story and so much of it is bound up in my damaged psyche but somehow I suspect that most of it has very little to do with my pant size. Let’s blame poverty and my parents instead! Or perhaps my obvious low intelligence.
2) Have I ever told you about the trips to doctors I’ve had. Trips where I’ve been so upset, so stressed that I thought I was losing my mind (which is, in fact, a real fear of mine – like the marionette thing only much worse) and yet was rational enough to think that there might be a physical reason and so have had semi-thorough checkups. Visits where doctors are actually disappointed that my blood pressure is normal, that my glucose is normal, that my cholesterol is normal. They aren’t disappointed because my problems are quite obviously psychological (and generally quite temporary in nature, though I am a recurrent stress-head); they’re disappointed because fat people are all supposed to have all of these things all the time. Not having so much as one is very frustrating for them because all they can say is ‘you ought to lose weight’ rather than ‘you have to lose weight because you’re all sick and diseased and diet and exercise with fix this’. These problems in skinny people are, apparently, always purely genetic and therefore out of their hands. Sorry, bitterness crept in – I must go eat sweet things to ease my pain or something.
3) It’s funny, but I seem to have failed to develop some of the body issues that one is expected to have. Unless I’m being utterly paranoid (it does happen sometimes) I do not fear appropriate nudity at all. I dislike being judged though and being disliked for such a petty reason as that I am too fat. (Oh the creeping horrors of childhood! Those utterly cunty teachers who taught us to dislike our bodies – I do love it when adults enact their own insecurities in front of children. What kind of arsehole goes out of their way to make a child feel bad, btw? I mean really, I ought to sue some of those arseholes for psychological damages.) I am not so afraid of my own body, though some of its little quirks and unattractivenesses irritate me, that I cannot bear to be naked, that I am horrified to see my flabby self in a mirror. I’m not the least disturbed by the nakedness of others – we’re adults, aren’t we? We all have bits and there are only two main kinds so who gives a fuck? It’s all variations on a theme. Could’ve been a better theme, sure, but a theme nonetheless. I have a detached sort of fondness for my old body, even if no-one else has, it does its job in ferrying about my persona and my brain quite adequately
* Cooke, Rachel, ‘Is weight the new race?’ The Sydney Morning Herald: 22-23/07/2006 - Hmmmm, I'd be pissed at the SMH's edit job too, if I were her. Still, I think I'll maintain my rage - just for a little.