Today is a new day for Party Now, Apocalypse Later Industries. We're going to start periodically posting guest blogs here. Today, or first guest post is "Fat Blogging" by Malea Marx. Malea writes with a raw, uncompromising voice that both you and I can only hope for. I'm thrilled she is our first entry, and you will be too. You can also check out her tumblr here.
How do you get in on the guest blogging action? I'm so glad you asked. We'll pay for guest blogs, and all you have to do is send your post to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to be considered. If you've been reading the blog up until this point, you know what kind of posts I like. I'll entertain anything in the same vein. I'll also entertain posts that will are completely different, that I'd never be able to write in a 1000 years. Send me your best, and if you have that Party Now, Apocalypse Later something, I'll send some bucks your way!
Now, enough about the opportunities on the site, on with our first guest blog:
Fat Blogging by: Malea Marx
Have you seen the Calvin Klein ads with their first “plus size” model? To be fair, Calvin Klein hasn’t labeled her as such, but many sources have. Her name is Myla Dalbesio. She is 5’11” and a size 10. She’s absolutely stunning.
There is nothing about this photo that I have a problem with. She’s beautiful, and, in my opinion, pretty much has the ideal female form. Long limbs, hourglass shape, full breasts, collar bones to die for, and we’re not even talking about her face.
But this isn’t about her.
We’re inundated with messages about what appearance is appropriate. Too short, too tall, too fat (is there any such thing as too thin according to the media?), too scrawny, too muscular, too dark, too light, too something. If we don’t fit this fabled idea of what a body should be, it’s because we’re not trying hard enough. God forbid we be overweight. A little chub is bad enough, but when we approach the O word, there’s clearly something wrong with us.
Here’s the thing: I’m a fat girl. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a full picture of myself online. I could say it's because I'm concerned with online safety or privacy, but that would be a lie. The truth is, seeing pictures of myself is somewhat startling. I still think of myself as I was in high school (23 years ago) at 180 pounds and in amazing shape. I participated in four sports, played the quads in marching band, was involved in a ridiculous number of extracurricular activities, and was just generally fit and active. Instead, from 2000 to 2005, I doubled my weight. Since then, I have hovered around 375 pounds.
Even though I lived it, it’s astonishing to think that a person could gain 180 pounds in five short years. This breaks down to about 36 pounds a year - three pounds a month. That sounds like a lot. I had to eat at least 5,000 calories a day to pack on that much weight, right? Using loose math (there is no solid scientific answer as to how many calories one must eat in order to gain a pound), that’s only about 280-370 extra calories a day. One candy bar over. Twenty-four too many potato chips. One cup of yogurt for a midnight snack. A quarter of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the end of a terrible day.
Here’s what people don’t understand. I didn't get this way just because I like food. I didn't get this way just because I blew out my knee, had it reconstructed, and could no longer play sports or be active like I had always been. I didn't get this way because I was lazy. It’s something else that people, including myself, often can't see.
They can't see the girl who was losing her mind when her nightmares and flashbacks got so bad she couldn't sleep and for whom life is still a major struggle.
They can't see the girl whose family told her she was disgusting, going to hell, couldn't live at home anymore, wasn't allowed to sing in church because she "clearly didn't mean it," wouldn't be allowed to see her nieces and nephews because she would be a bad influence, couldn't use her aunt's pool to throw a birthday party for her girlfriend because her aunt and uncle didn't want their son to think that being gay was okay (though it was frequently used by other family members for similar events), who was forced to go to religion based psychotherapy, a process that reforms gay people after being forced out of the closet at 19.
They can't see the girl who, from the age of 13, was called sociopath, liar, trouble maker, family destroyer when she tried, repeatedly, to get someone, anyone, to listen about the abuse she'd been enduring her entire life.
They can't see the suicidal ideations and attempts, the scars that crisscrossed her arms and stomach and thighs, the pounds of junk food binged because she didn't feel like she deserved to have food that would be healthy for her, the hours of therapy, the weeks of hospitalizations, the bottles of medications.
They can't see the girl who endured practically every category of abuse, and in fact sought it out as a way to try to protect her younger sisters.
They can't see the girl who was so angry at everything that all she wanted to do was scream and be left alone to listen to music, who had been serving as a replacement parent since before she even started school, who took her anger out on her sisters because she was given the responsibility but not the authority to take care of them, who punched through a window to shatter glass into her cousin's face, who stabbed a pencil through a classmate's arm, who thrashed said classmate’s twin brother, who easily dispatched any boy who pushed her too far (other girls seemed smart enough not to start fights).
All people see is the fat.
There's no recognition of the torture and torment that went into every swollen adipose cell. There's no thought given to why those cells got that way. The assumption is that the morbidly obese (do we even need to talk about that terminology?) person is lazy, dirty, slovenly, gluttonous, unhealthy, has no self-control, has no will power, and is generally sub-human.
Obesity is the last politically correct and socially acceptable prejudice. It implies that it’s okay to judge someone for being overweight because it’s obvious they just eat too much. It’s easy to be bigoted when society supports that bias because the individual has no self-control. It’s understandable, and even lauded, when the (unwanted, unsolicited) advice is: “Just exercise!”
Am I saying that I don’t like to eat? Am I saying that I exercise the recommended amount? Am I saying that the calories I ingest are always fewer than the calories burned? Of course not. I’m not unaware of my own shortcomings. I’m not naive enough to think that anyone (including myself) would believe it if I were to claim it.
What I am saying is this: When you look at an overweight person, especially someone as drastically overweight as I am, ask yourself why. The how is simple: it’s mathematics, science, fuel intake versus fuel burned. The why, however, may very well be something you never would have considered.