Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gone to Excess

As I was disembarking from the train in Grand Central this evening, I witnessed, among the passengers looking to get onto the train, a very large, dare I say, morbidly obese woman making her way down to the platform. She wore a large, tent-like, floral dress and she looked nice and put together, but as she [hobbled isn't the right word, and tottered neither] along what I most noticed about her were her eyes. She looked scared. But not the scared that one finds when in a new situation, or when in a bad neighborhood, or even when confronted by sudden events. There was something about her eyes...she was looking for the next taunt, the next obstacle, the next disappointment. I walked past her and almost started to cry. Because she looked trapped.

Trapped in her own body. As some of you know, my mother is also extremely overweight. It horrifies me that there are so many people, many of our loved ones included, that, for whatever reason, have to live their lives through this sleeve - this other body, if you will - of fat. My mother said to me, the last time I was home, that many people call fat people lazy, but what they don't realize is that everything they do, they do for almost two people.

So many overweight people complain that no one sees "the real me." And it's true. It's the real them that is buried under the pounds and the dimples. Some fat women try to "embrace" their fatness - this is all me, etc. But I think most overweight people feel burdened by it. And misconceived by those around them. And overwhelmed. And inconsolable.

And I guess what I'd like to say is, "I see you."

But how do we address this? Fat people are ignored, dismissed, cast aside, as though it's a sign of slovenliness or disregard. Most truly fat people are that way because they're either addicted to food or there is something biologically wrong with them (and when I say truly fat, I mean obesity that causes other health problems like diabetes, congestive heart failure, etc. - not just chunky). I wish I could get my mother out of her sleeve. I wish I could wish it so. But the problem with obesity is that it makes you a huge risk for just about any change out there, be it diet, exercise, surgery, stomach staple, you name it. So there's this crazy impasse, that every obese person faces, about trying to actually lose the weight, shed the sheath. Especially those that are so overweight that it seems insurmountable.

I'm not so sure what I'm trying to get at any longer in this post, only that we need to help those fat people around us not feel so scared and judged. They are just like us.

Okay, I just typed that last paragraph and realized it reads like a self-indulgent high schooler (or young starlet) who thinks she's the most hip thing on the planet but is trying to do get into college (or the New York Times). Let me try again...

I would like to make it better, but I obviously don't have the power to. I have infinite sympathy for overweight people because of my mother's plight. What I want is for you (and yes, I mean you, not the world, because the world also includes those who prostitute themselves on Jerry Springer, and for them there is no hope) to change your attitudes about overweight people - not because it's okay, but because the first step in their being able to do something about it will come from true friendship, love, and most of all respect. See them for who they are. Not what.

2 What'd you say?

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just wanted to say thanks for this blog entry. Important and wise words, and I appreciated them. Being obese myself. I have rid myself of approx. 57 pounds, but still struggling. It's hard!

I like your blog! Can I link to you perhaps?

hugs Monsoon :-)

2:09 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Brenda said...

Of course you may! Link away - can't promise it's always this 'inspired'. :)

5:22 PM, November 06, 2006  

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