Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fat Shaming Worked for Me

In 2008, I got dumped.


It was sudden and devastating, and I didn't know what to do. So I moved back in with my mom and ate pizza on the sofa for six months.

A few months in, I started to notice some next-level fatness on myself. I had never been thin, but I was transforming from borderline-plus-size to “My 600 Pound Life.”

Around the same time, I was introduced to the music of The Gossip, whose lead singer was a spherical young woman with an incredible voice by the name of Beth Ditto. I googled her because I liked the music, and discovered she was into something called fat acceptance.

Beth Ditto was all over SPIN and Rolling Stone, wearing tiny bodysuits that emphasized her rolls of white, doughy fat. She was even naked on the cover of some magazine. Celebrities like Keira Knightley who wanted to assuage their “thin privilege” guilt lauded her as stunning and brave. Fans referred to her as beautiful, sexy, and gorgeous. Although my instinct was to be mildly repulsed and alarmed for her health, I suppressed this, and decided to be like, “You go, girlfriend!”

You go to the hospital, girlfriend!

I was still a progressive at this time, so I was really good at repressing reason and relying on feelings. I wanted to feel good about fatness because it was beginning to cover my body. So I doubled down, proclaimed myself proudly fat, read “body positivity” blogs, and ate more pizza.

Before long I noticed that I felt uncomfortable all the time. Pictures of myself made me avert my eyes. The only clothing I could wear without restricting my breathing was leggings. Dudes stopped hitting on me completely. I got winded from walking up half a flight of stairs.

I had joined a roller derby league and my out-of-control body was never more evident than when I tried to move it around on wheels. I was slow. Everything hurt. I huffed and puffed through each lap, feeling like a prisoner in my own flesh.

I had to include this photo because oh my God.

I've often heard the argument that "if fat shaming worked, there would be no fat people." I don't think that's accurate. Most adults are too polite to fat shame people to their faces. The shame might have to come from inside you. The only time I recall someone shaming me to my face – sort of – was one day when I was driving to work while eating chicken strips from Jack in the Box. I was operating my motor vehicle with one hand while eating a ranch-dressing-dipped chunk of fried chicken with the other. I was wearing a faux fur black coat, black cat eye glasses, and red lipstick, with a long blonde ponytail. (I said I was fat, I never said I wasn't fabulous.)

I was simultaneously pulling away from a red light and shoving chicken in my face when a truck full of blue-collar dudes pulled up beside me. The driver saw me and went “YYYYEAH!” with a loud roar of laughter while punching his buddies to look over at me. I looked away and executed a greasy one-handed turn before I could see the other guys' reactions.

This was bad, but it wasn't bad enough to make me change my behavior.

Then one day I broke a chair.

Marilyn was not fat. She was 5'5” and according to biographers fluctuated between 115 and 145 lbs. A size 12 then was not the same as a size 12 now. I bust chairs AND myths!

Granted, it was kind of a rickety chair that was already known to have one gimp leg, so it sort of leaned to one side. But no one else had ever flat-out broken it before.

Only my family saw it happen, so I didn't get laughed at. But it was embarrassing for me and everyone else. I felt incomparably sad. That night I got on the scale.

I'm not going to tell you the number, but it was bad. It was very bad. 

"Fuck you, number."

The next week I stopped eating carbs and lost 70 pounds in ten months. Then I met my husband and got married.

Over the past four years since my marriage my weight has fluctuated predictably (when I eat carbs, it goes up) but for the past year or so, I am once again lowkey plus-sized (and shrinking), I feel healthy and good, I think I look alright, and my husband is into this shizzz. 

There was a brief period in the first year of marriage when I got into body positivity again. Looking back, it's obvious why: I was gaining weight. This often happens to women right after they get married, when they are relieved of the stress of wedding planning and suddenly realize that not only do (a) cupcakes exist, but (b) it would be highly inconvenient and expensive for their husband to leave them.

I started writing long, weepy posts about all the people - from my mom to SOCIETY - I could blame for my fatness, my low self-esteem, and whatever else was making my life suck.

That's what these "fat acceptance" activists are doing. They're looking for a way to feel good about themselves when their every instinct says they shouldn't. It's much easier to sit down and blog about body image than it is to lose weight.

The inconvenient truth is that I would not be, at this moment, of statistically average size and married to a human man if weren't for one thing:


It was shame that made me get on the scale, shame that made me cry at the number, shame that motivated me every day of that first life-changing ten months, shame that motivates me today. Shame drives my indomitable will when I want to eat a carb.

I have more will power than anyone I know. I have it because, once upon a time, I broke a chair, stepped on a scale, and reached the pinnacle of shame.

It wasn't self-love that got my ass off the couch. It wasn't a desire to be healthy that made me put down the pizza. It was shame.

Calling someone fat to her face is, in most circumstances, cruel and terrible, but if that does happen to you, instead of whining about it you should make lemonade out of that bitch and thank God for your wake-up call. It may be what you need to make a U-turn before you get to a chair-shattering level of fatness.

Obesity is a disease. And you know what – it may not be entirely your fault. Obesity is the result of a combo platter of genetics and choices. I was dealt a shit hand genetically, raised to eat poor-people food, and had to figure out for myself what to do about it. Because no matter why it is you're fat, the fact of your fatness is your responsibility. The abortos like to say "My body, my choice." The difference is, in this case, that statement is accurate.

For some of us, it requires Herculean feats of will power and constant, ongoing sacrifice to keep weight off. But you have to decide whether you're going to accept that or keep carb-loading your way to an early death.

Shame hurts. So does being fat. So does dying young.

If you're ready to Stop Being Fat, I highly recommend Zero Carb Health. I have tried every known human diet, and it's the one that works for me.

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