Society hides people like me – fat, healthy people. We don’t fit into the current idea that you can look at somebody and tell how healthy they are, we don’t make the diet industry any money, and we won’t just loathe ourselves like they want us to. I’ve found that when people are faced with a real live healthy fat person they often try to solve their new found cognitive dissonance. In my experience they do this by:
Using the Vague Future Health Threat (aka the VFHT, this technique takes advantage of the fact that everyone dies to say that someday all fat people will die and even if we get hit by a bus they’ll find a way to blame it on our fatness and then say “see I told you so!”)
“The human body just wasn’t mean to carry that much weight.” (You don’t know what my body was meant to do)
“It’s okay to be somewhat overweight but at some point you’re just too fat.” (Are you serious? “a little”? “At some point?” What you are really saying is “I have no clue, but I really want to put my 2 cents in and feel superior.)
Challenging us to “Prove it”. And this is where I made my mistake because I am healthy and fat and athletic and I’m a great fan of evidence so I took up the challenge and started down a bad path. Let me tell you how this went so that someone can learn from my mistakes. This all took place on a listserve:
Someone posted information about me on a listserve of people who, at first, were being reasonable and curious. I was e-mailed and challenged to state my numbers. I posted my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure etc., all in the exceptionally healthy range. People called me a liar and VFHTed me. Besides, a random stranger on the internet asked, what could I do physically?
So I posted pictures of my strength and flexibility
They said that my ankle must have shattered 30 seconds after the first picture was taken because how could I hold my 284 pound body up on on my toe like that? They said that holding that same 284 pound body up in an arch and doing suspended pull ups isn’t that hard. They said I must be flexible because I’m all fat and no muscle. They asked why I didn’t show something more athletic.
So I posted a picture of me leaping.
They said that if I did it twice I probably would have shattered bones in my foot. (Never mind that I’m doing this on concrete and that it’s the 26th try because we were working with a new lens and my feet were fine.) They asked can’t I post anything where I’m moving?
So I posted a dance video:
They said that it’s slow and that makes it easy (because they aren’t dancers). They said that if I went any faster I would faint and be out of breath.
So I posted another, faster dance video:
They got mean. They called me a whale, they called me a hippo, they said that it doesn’t matter because I’m still fat.
And there it was, staring me in the face. The truth. The reason that “proving it” will never work and the proof that I was wasting my time. Their core belief is that accomplishments only count if you’re thin, so since I’m fat no amount of proving it will ever be enough. Also, I realized that these are adults who resort to name calling and that I was spending a lot of my time trying to prove things to people for whom I have no respect.
I’ve said before that I’m much more concerned with fat people realizing that they deserve respect than with other people realizing that fat people deserve respect. It turns out that the same goes for posting pictures or videos or numbers. Don’t like what I post? Don’t believe me? I don’t care. This isn’t about you or for you, I’m done making that mistake.
This is about refusing to be hidden by society. This is because fat people deserve to see themselves represented as more than just a headless picture carrying a fast food bag and I can help with that. When it comes to athleticism, there are fat people of all stripes – some are couch potatoes, some are active, some are hardcore athletes. Lots of us are healthy and happy. This is about showing an example of that.
If you have a picture or video of you doing something awesome, it would be awesome if you would post it in the comments. I promise I’ll keep it safe from trolls so that you can get your appropriate props and people can see another representation of someone doing something awesome!