This Isn’t a Tree, I’m Not a Kitten

Not a kittenI am so tired of this whole  “Save the Fatties” campaign thing.  Jillian Michaels thinks that it’s ok to verbally and emotionally abuse us because she’s “saving our lives”.  Doctors ignore our symptoms (sprained wrists, broken bones, rashes, intense back pain, cancer) and treat our body size because “no matter what’s wrong with us we’ll be healthier if our bodies are smaller”.  Perfect strangers feel like they should question our food choices, make assumptions and comments about everything from our habits and health to our fitness for parenthood because it’s “for our own good”.  People at the gym, including employees, assume that we are beginner exercisers and encourage us in our quest for weight loss without bothering to ask us how long we’ve worked out or if we’re even trying to lose weight because they want to “encourage us”. People, including journalists, actually think it’s ok to ask “Should we accept obesity?”  Seriously.  As if our fat bodies are someone else’s to accept or reject.

I won’t speak for any other fat people, but for me this needs to stop.  If you do one or more of the things that I just mentioned, then this is for you:

This is not a tree, I am not a kitten, you are not a firefighter come to climb your little ladder and rescue me.  My fat body is not a message to you that I am somehow incapable of taking care of myself or making decisions about my health, or that I am looking for unsolicited opinions about how to live my life.  As the brilliant Marilyn Wann has said, the only thing that you can tell from looking at my body is what size I am, and what your prejudices and stereotypes about my size are. Deal with them or don’t, that’s up to you; but I have no obligation to be the pillow that you beat with a tennis racket trying to work out your issues  – trust me when I tell you that “emotional punching bag” is not just another free service I offer.

I am perfectly capable of making decisions about myself, my food, my exercise, my health, and anything else about my life. If I want your opinion on how to live my life, I swear you will be among the very first to know – but it’s safe for you to assume that this fatty doesn’t need saving.

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Published in: on March 26, 2014 at 4:07 am  Comments (38)  

38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Digging the Ani DiFranco reference… one of my favorite songs ever. As usual, amazing!

    • I am so happy I wasn’t imagining that!

  2. I am not at all religious, but can I get a big Amen here? Preach it, sister! One of your most inspiring posts.

  3. I am not a kitten, either… though I do speak cat fluently. Jake the Kitty and I often have long conversations in his native tongue.

    And that’s another thing I don’t want fixed!

    • So glad I am not the only one. The Human residents in my house think I am slowly losing it when I start conversing with my cats.

    • I speak cat fluently. My girl comes when she’s called, actually. We totally understand each other.❤

    • I meow at my cats when they meow at me. Sometimes they meow back again, and we have whole conversations, too. =^_^=

    • LOL! My husband and I translate our cat’s meows into the voice I think he would have if he spoke… for some reason, it’s a distinctively British English accent.

      • For some reason Jake sounds like a high-pitched Peter Lorre. Go figure.

  4. Nice post! Your mention of doctors ignoring our symptoms had me wanting to share that my bladder cancer was discovered and diagnosed because *I* decided to go out on my own and make an appointment with a urologist after my primary doctor kept ignoring my symptoms of severe bad and pelvic pain as anything other than aches and pains due to my weight. She was more OBSESSED with trying to talk me into having bariatric surgery than to really listening to me and my symptoms. I had a tumor almost 3 inches long growing in my bladder (successfully removed). I still have a malignant tumor on my right kidney and adrenal gland that my oncologist is keeping an eye on……lesson learned. No matter what your size ALWAYS listen to your body and if your current doctor isn’t listening, find a new one. It is your right.

    • I’d consider a malpractice suit against the doctor not for monetary gain but to help ensure that she gets the picture and begins to treat patients for who they are, not who she wants them to be.

      • I stopped her in a main hallway of the hospital where we both worked at the time and casually said to her, “Oh, by the way, you know how you kept insisting that there was nothing wrong with me other than my weight? Well, while you were so obsessed with pushing me to have bariatric surgery you completely missed that I had bladder cancer. So the next time a patient comes you for help you might want to pull you head out of your ass and LISTEN TO THEM!”

        • Ooh, how did she respond?!

        • Annnnnd, for that I give you an e-High Five.
          YESSS!

        • Good on you! She deserved that in spades!

  5. Yes. Just yes. Oh, you have high blood pressure all of a sudden? It must be cuz you’re fat (even though it was perfect before I started a new medication). Oh, your elbows are sore lately, must be cuz your fat (not cuz I’m 40 and workout with hand weights while I run on the treadmill). And those people who are super skinny and have diabetes- it’s genetic. Those people who are average sized and have heart attacks and strokes- (silence). Don’t people realize that bullying is bullying regardless of age. We teach our children not to bully but then concern-troll fat people’s lives. Who asked you!?

  6. Hell fucking yes!! PREACH! HAIL! AMEN! JOYOUS SHOUT OF PREFERENCE HERE!

  7. Great metaphor, love it! Thanks for all you do!

  8. Amen sista!🙂

  9. Wonderful article!!!! We are not here to be rescued. Don’t need to be rescued! I think it is important for all those people who think they know better than we do about our bodies, to take a personal inventory of their ego. It is such a controlling issue that many people have, who need to tell other people how to live. I am so glad that you brought this out in the open!!! Thank you again for another interesting article!

  10. ‘People at the gym, including employees, assume that we are beginner exercisers and encourage us in our quest for weight loss without bothering to ask us how long we’ve worked out or if we’re even trying to lose weight because they want to “encourage us”.’

    Hanne Blank once mentioned on FB how she was on a treadmill at a gym and this dudebro came up to the once next to hers and set it faster. She increased her speed to be greater than his, and he sped up too. After a few more iterations of this, the dudebro gave up with an exasperated sigh and left. The assumptions people make are mind-boggling.

  11. Gah. Someone is pulling the “I’m the firefighter” thing in the comments of a post about a little girl who was kicked out of her Christian school for not looking feminine enough. For some reason, he thought that it was OK to point out that the little girl is fat and that, instead of shaming her looks for their lack of femininity, the school should instead shame her looks for her lack of physical activity. When I and others pointed out he was body-shaming a little kid, he said it was about health (of course) and that he wasn’t going to be silent because of other people’s feelings. I shot back that maybe he should be silent because her body is none of his business. I’m expecting a “U R A FATTY 2” comment shortly.

    • He went in another direction. He actually compared not shaming a child for not being thin to letting children smoke cigarettes.

      • Right. Because fat is a choice. *eyeroll*

      • Oh, brother.

        Look, if these tools really want to compare our current situation to smoking, okay, lets.

        The tobacco industry manipulated data and outright lied to say smoking wasn’t harmful when there’s actual peer-reviewed research connecting it to multiple health problems.

        What’s that sound like?

        That’s right. The diet industry and the anti-obesity health-industrial complex. Their number-one go-to study, Flegal’s 1998 NIH piece, has a big ol’ FIOA disclaimer on the top in which the researchers admit inflating the numbers by *several hundred percent* (which they blame on a “computer error”). The AOA, supposedly a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting obesity, was invented and funded by Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, and their pitch-men sit on the board, making what are supposed to be unbiased decisions. Calorie restriction and yo-yo dieting have been connected to high blood pressure and high cholestorol – the very things they claim they prevent. Bariatric surgery is one of the deadliest procedures doctors can legally perform, and smaller and smaller people are being bullied into it or having treatment for REAL diseases held hostage to their agreeing to it. The whole obesity epidemic is a moneymaking scheme, one politicians profit from promoting – profit at fat peoples’ expense.

        So, by all means, fatphobes, trot out the tobacco industry for comparison… but you might be sorry you did.

        • I love you.

          • Me too.

            • Right back at ya.🙂

        • In regards to your comment about bariatric surgery, as I commented earlier, my primary care doc was really pushing me to have it. Luckily for me I worked in surgery and approached two of my surgeons, each of whom had performed bariatric surgery, what their advice was for me regarding having the surgery done. (both are also friends of mine outside of work) They both, EMPHATICALLY, said “NO WAY”….they informed me of how dangerous it actually is and that the real danger is the many nasty complications that can occur years later down the road…..

          • That’s a horrifying story; I’m glad you had friends who were *genuinely* concerned enough about you to tell you the truth about it.

  12. “People, including journalists, actually think it’s ok to ask “Should we accept obesity?” Seriously. As if our fat bodies are someone else’s to accept or reject.”

    Thank you. It can’t be put any better than that. The concern trolls whine about “justifying my fat” do not seem to realize *I am not asking their permission;* they do not have the authority to decide whether or not it’s okay if I exist, and if they think they should have that authority, that says a shitton more about THEM than it says about me.

  13. The administrator of the health center where I work came in when I was working out in the pool. She ASKED me if I used the pool often and what sort of workouts I liked to do. She didn’t assume. She was actually trying to discern how many people were using the pool and other items in the wellness center. Never did my weight enter into it. I talked to her about my health concerns and why I prefer working out in the pool to working out on land (fibromyalgia, joint and spine issues.) She did it right.
    As far as other people “encouraging” me goes, don’t want it, don’t need it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.

  14. The thing I like is how I cannot win in a grocery store. At all. Ever. If I buy “junk food,” I get the “Well, THERE’S your trouble…” folks. If I am on a “clean eating” trip, I get the “Sh’yeah, okay, like she really eats like that” folks.

    Also, I am unsure why everyone believes that THEIR diet…oh, sorry, LIFESTYLE CHANGE is THE ONE THAT WILL FINALLY WORK. First, I’ve probably tried it already. Second, I HAVE AN INTERNET CONNECTION, AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

    Sorry. I’m done now.

    • I’ve always been flabbergasted at people who think that what’s in someone else’s cart is any of their damn business.
      This is one reason why I shop early in the morning. The other is the fact that I get off work at 6:30 A.M.

  15. A-freaking-MEN!! I think I need to start making a daily ritual of reading this before heading out the door and dealing with the world.

  16. So, this is my first time commenting. Ragen, I kind of love you (in that “I’m a mostly-hetero married chick”-kind-of-way). I live far away from my parents and talk to them, on average, once a week for half an hour. In February, my father had a medical crisis while away from home. As a result, I spent several days sitting around a hospital with my folks. One evening at dinner, I made an off-hand comment that I would snore less if I lost weight. Unfortunately, my mother interpreted this as an invitation to discuss my weight (which I already knew she disapproved of). I channeled you and stated that my weight was not a topic for discussion. A day or two later, my mother asked me (while we were eating breakfast together in a hospital cafeteria) if I had considered lap-band surgery. I calmly stated that I was not interested in the potential surgical complications, and she dropped the subject. However, I was deeply hurt by her comment and have been recalling it involuntarily ever since. I am an intelligent, beautiful woman. I have a wonderful, supportive husband who loves me exactly as I am, however I am. Yet, people both close to me and not close to me feel comfortable stereotyping and criticizing me based on the size of my body. Their comments hurt my feelings. My question is this: How do I stop caring what other people say? I am especially susceptible to the “I’m concerned about your health” comments of my parents, a physician and a nurse. How do I change my internal monologue to accept myself, regardless of what those around me, especially my critics, say?

    • Hi Julia,

      Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog, I’m really glad that you like it. I’m really sorry that you are dealing with this issue with your parents, if it helps you are definitely not alone in dealing with this kind of thing. The ways that I deal with this are:

      1. I try to remember that the person/people talking to me are ridiculously misinformed in this area – they’ve been purposefully misinformed by companies for which it is profitable to do so.

      2. I put the problem where it belongs – on them and their beliefs, not me. I’m fond of the mantra “the world is fucked up and I am fine” feel free to modify to suit your own language tastes, of course.

      3. I decide if it’s time for an educational moment, or a boundary. If it’s a teachable moment I’ll ask if they want to hear my reasoning for my decisions (and explaining whether I’m offering a one sided bit of information, or inviting conversation.) If it’s boundary setting time then I explain what I require (it’s not ok to speak to me about my weight/food/health etc.), then name the consequence (which I can actually enforce) for not giving me what I require (I will leave – the room, the hospital, the county, I won’t call for a couple months, you can’t see the grandkids etc.) and then if the bad thing happens I follow through on the consequence. I hope that helps!!! Just let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you!

      Big Fat Hugs!

      ~Ragen

    • Julia, let me just say I’ve been in your shoes with my mother most of my life. My weight has always been the open-season topic in my immediate family (mom, dad, and me). I felt pitied by my parents who couldn’t ever understand what I live with in my head. I felt uncomfortable around other family members because of the judgment I felt. It wasn’t until I found Ragen’s blog that I began to see that I didn’t have to accept that kind of treatment, even from the parents I adored (though they’re not around any more to get that). So now, with my sister, certain topics are off limits and I’m OK with that. Took me a long time, and GOOD FOR YOU for being able to put yourself in that position with your mom.🙂 Yes, it can hurt, but it might make it easier to accept if you can understand that she (unlike a stranger) actually does say things out of real concern. But I hope she gets. it.🙂


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