A Big Fat Fairytale

DragonA reader sent me an article today that claiming that most fat people have no idea that we are fat. I’ve seen articles about how doctors don’t talk to their fat patients enough about weight loss, how fat people don’t know they are fat, that nobody is brave enough to talk about obesity.

What the hell are they talking about?  Are these surveys based on 9 out of 10 people who live under a rock?  All of those articles should start with “Once upon a time” because they are fairytales.

Magazines at the grocery store can’t stop talking about weight loss.  I, and many of the readers who e-mail me have almost never been to the doctor and not had our weight brought up and that includes, in my case, occasions when doctors suggested that I should lose weight for strep throat, a separated shoulder, and a broken toe. My theory is that the media likes to interject this idea into their stories so that people don’t call them out for reporting the same “everybody knows”  crap in multiple stories day in and day out without checking the evidence or, you know, asking questions as journalists might be expected to do.

The big problem happens when people believe this story and think that fat people are wandering the world oblivious to the fact that everyone from the media, to healthcare professionals, to them wants to stereotype us based on how we look, or that god forbid we don’t hate ourselves and spend all of our free brainspace, time, and money trying to be thin –  and they think it’s somehow up to them to disabuse us of these notions, or remind us that if we’re not giving all of our efforts to self-hatred – if we dare to enjoy our lives in any way – then we’re just not trying hard enough.

The fairytale is based on another fairytale:  Once upon a time, we got the idea that other people’s bodies were our business.  And we all lived miserably ever after.

Until we called bullshit on these fairytales, made public health about providing options to the public instead of about making people’s health the public’s business, and chose to respect and appreciate people of all shapes and sizes.  Maybe it’s not happily ever after, but it’s a much better start.

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Published in: on June 27, 2015 at 11:21 am  Comments (19)  

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have a mirror. I have seen photographs of myself. I know what size clothing I wear. I can see my belly, and I know what angle my laptop is sitting at against it as I type at this very moment.

    Trust me, I know I’m fat.

    But if all of this were somehow not getting the message across, I’ve had people moo as I pass by. I’ve had people look askance at my belly if I buy ice cream or a soda. I’ve had people say they’re sure my baked goods are delicious based on my body shape rather than because they believe me when I say I’m a good cook or because someone else tried something and said it was tasty. No, clearly the proof is that I can’t stop gobbling all my own baked goods up. I’ve had people (who have no medical training and are not being asked for medical advice) inform me that I have: hypertension, diabetes, several different heart conditions, severe constipation, terrible joint issues in both legs, and severe gluten intolerance. They know all this just by looking at me.

    Funny thing. I do have issues with my right knee from time to time. Nothing to do with my weight. It’s all about the tumble I took down the stairs twelve years ago when I landed smack on my knee and couldn’t afford to go to a doctor to have it checked out properly.

    Of course, judging from the experiences of many fellow DWF readers, other FA writers, and Mr. Twistie (who once had severe edema and pneumonia diagnosed as heartburn from eating so very much so quickly that he became very, very fat – and that by the doctor who had that information about his congestive heart failure in the chart right in front of him!), there’s every chance I would have been diagnosed as icky fat and given a prescription of weight loss.

    Even if all of that weren’t enough, I own a television and have watched shows like Project Runway, where Tim Gunn once referred to a size four model as ‘the zaftig girl’ and Doc Martin where his eulogy to his recently deceased auntie who ran an organic farm all by herself in her early seventies was all about how she was fat and didn’t exercise!

    Will someone PLEASE tell me where the hell all these fat people who don’t know they’re fat are hiding? Because I’ve met people less than half my girth who spend the vast majority of their time fretting about how to get thinner lest anyone accuse them of being fat. Why? Because everywhere they turn they are told that if they aren’t fat now, they should be panicked over whether they might one day become fat.

    I know I’m fat. I just don’t intend to waste my time and energy trying to fix something that isn’t broken. I’d much rather spend my resources on something important or something amusing.

    • I haven’t been here for a long time, Twistie, and I just love what you have to say. My recent lovely experience was with an optometrist. He has been unable to correctly prescribe new lenses for my glasses (I can see just fine through the old ones), and this is because … I am diabetic! And my A1C is 8.5! When I told this to the technician who did the blood draw five days later and the office person at the clinic I go to, they simply could not get it through their heads that an OPTOMETRIST told me my A1C. “Was he looking at someone else’s chart?” He was looking at no one’s chart, he was looking at me. My A1C is not 8.5 (or his revised Delphic prediction of 7.1) and I am not diabetic. I am getting so sick of these people that I don’t know what to do.

      I buried my Toby (my 25-year-old Belgian horse) on the same day I was told I was diabetic. I’ll always be Tobysgirl.

    • “I know I’m fat. I just don’t intend to waste my time and energy trying to fix something that isn’t broken.”

      hahah Amen Sister! Sadly, the “Obesity Epi-panic” mongers only follow this up with the “vague future health threat”. I’ve been “omg death-fat” for over 30 years and according to all my blood and other tests I’m perfectly healthy.

      I know that SOME DAY I will likely be sick (most of us humans will eventually get sick from something if we’re blessed enough to live long enough) but, more than likely, it will be blamed on my weight – doesn’t matter what I get sick from, it will be blamed on my weight. The vast majority of us fat people, if we get sick (doesn’t matter that thin people get sick from the exact same disease), it will be blamed on our weight. That pisses me off.

      • I know, right? Since I became visibly very fat more than 20 years ago, I’ve been threatened with imminent death left right and center while my vital statistics just kept knocking along in the average range. My blood pressure went up recently. I quit drinking caffeinated beverages, resolved some issues in my daily task list, and down it went again. Still fat.

        • If we got the bubonic plague, it would be because we are fat.

          If a thin person got the bubonic plague, well, that’s just awful luck and/or horrible living conditions.

    • I too bake my own bread (sometimes now, since the flour I use is frickin’ expensive). Usually it goes moldy and I have to throw it out because I’m the only one eating it.

      • Ironically enough, Mr. Twistie is the one who eats most of the bread I bake. I put sandwiches in his lunchbox that he takes to work.

        But once in a while I make myself a sandwich, too, or some toast.

  2. Geez Louise, just yesterday I went to my endo’s office, and those people won’t let me FORGET I’m fat! Every time I go in there they tell me my lab tests are excellent, that I’m managing my type 2 diabetes very well, and, get this, how great I look.

    Then here comes the inevitable question, “How tall are you?” It’s like being asked, “How do you feel about that?” in a therapy session. “Look,” I respond, “I can divide two numbers and come up with a quotient that tells me I’m FAT.” But I give her my height anyway, she does the calculation, states my resulting BMI number, and tells me (lo and behold) I’m overweight. REALLY? As Johnny Carson used to say, “I did not know that!”

    At the end of the visit, I ask for a copy of the billing containing all the ICD-10 codes. And guess what’s written in and CIRCLED at the bottom of the sheet? OVERWEIGHT.

  3. you missed the corollary- parents of overwieght kids don’t know they are fat thus we MUST send fat notices from school even if their BMI’s are 16, restreict calories in there lunches and send overwelming “your FAT” messages. GEE anyone want t speculate abut the eating disrder
    rate in the future

  4. I had a doctor tell me i should consider WLS when I had strep, Ragen.

    I also had one tell me, while he was doing a transvaginal ultrasound, that if I ever wanted kids I should seriously consider WLS. Never mind that thin women also have PCOS. Never mind the lack of studies on children born to mothers who have had WLS, or even the lack of studies on pregnancy after WLS. I was still actively dieting back then, but the idea of being pregnant in a body that was chronically malnourished, as is often the case in gastric bypass in particular, seemed like maybe not the BEST idea.

    But yeah, I have no clue that I’m fat. And my family, who was constantly telling me I was fat, clearly had their heads in the sand about my weight, too.

    *insert giant eye roll here*

  5. I went to an orthopedic clinic to consult about a minor wrist fracture that I felt was being handled inappropriately by a bullying nurse practitioner (it was). I had a positive interaction and left, didn’t need a follow-up. Two weeks later I got a letter in the mail from the office, saying that according to my BMI, I am obese and the recommended treatment was weightloss.

    Imagine that! I might never have known I was obese if that clinic hadn’t seen fit to send me a letter telling me so.

    • Haven’t researched this, but perhaps informing patients of their fatness it is some sort of C.Y.A. for medical and health care providers. I asked my CNP about why it’s so important to state the obvious to all patients who fall within the so-called danger zone on a chart of many colors (sponsored by a brand name version of Orlistat).

      She replied that it has to do with legal issues. Maybe I should have told her I was 6′ 3″ instead of 5’3″. Do you think she’d believe me?

      • it is = IS

        • They can send the fat letter to me if I can send the ‘too stupid to live” letter to them. Seems only fair. Might even include a recommendation that they “get a clue” (not sure the “too stupid to live” can actually take steps towards increasing intelligence).

          And, yes I am 6’ 10″. If you are not gonna measure my height then you’ll just have to take my word for it.

  6. Here’s an idea. The next time we FAT people go to our medical and health care providers and are prescribed weight loss or WLS, let’s openly state that we are refusing medical advice. Now since we are all going AMA, they can refuse to treat us, period. But that would put a big dent into their practices if they kicked all us fatties out. Just a thought.

  7. (Weight loss TW, numbered weight mention TW, doctor TW.)

    Well, this seems relevant. Had to get a prescription renewed and my doctor wanted to measure me. Whatever, your deal. Apparently in the year since the last time I’d been there, I’d lost a whole 3 kilograms. (About 6 pounds for Americans.)

    My doctor got all excited and I was just “really?”. I weigh over 250 pounds. I could probably lose 6 pounds by peeing for a really long time. Or depending on if I’m on a period or not (thanks, boobs). Let alone that the last appointment was during winter (when it’s often -40) and this one was during summer (when it’s not -40 and therefore I leave my house more/walk more).

    It’s still baffling to me that a number that is a perfectly normal weight fluctuation over a YEAR is something a doctor would get so excited about.

  8. I had an appendectomy (went fine), and a few hours later (while I was still pretty out of it from the pain killers and anesthesia) the anesthesiologist stopped by and said, “I’m not sure if you realize this, but you’re very overweight and really should consider going on a diet.” (Note: I’m around 300 lbs. There is no possible way I could possibly be unaware that I am fat.) At the time I basically just stuttered a lame response about having been on many diets in my life. Oh how I wish I wasn’t so drugged because I could have come up with something at least slightly snarky in response to that dumb sentence. He left with, “You really should think about going on a diet.” Still pisses me off.

    (The surgeon who did the appendectomy happened to also have a big WLS business, so the follow-up appointment a week later was pretty much as nightmarish as you might expect. Complete and total jerk that he was at that appointment – oh, such an ass – he at least did a good job on the laparoscopic appendectomy. I was back to work after 5 days and felt fine.)

    On a tangential line, the last time I went to my PCP, I declined to be weighed, and I to said the nurse who paused when I did so, “It’s not exactly a mystery that I’m fat.”

    “Oh, you’re not fat,” she said, clearly on autopilot. See previous mention about my weight. I kind of looked at her like she was mad, and she looked a bit sheepish and changed the subject. Cracked me up🙂

  9. I can’t wake up in the morning without knowing i’m fat. I can’t walk down the street without the looks that tell me I’m fat. Trust us, media. We know we’re fat. FFS

  10. I actually asked someone this once, why they would think that fat people don’t know they’re fat. The response was: If fat people knew they were fat, they would do something about it. Obviously. Thanks for another great post, Ragen!


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