Monday, May 4, 2009

It’s All Because You Are Fat

Since being diagnosed with three chronic illnesses I have spent a lot of time in the office of various specialists.  Other than learning about the potential treatments that I could undergo, I have been subjected repeatedly to being referred to as fat (even before I was) and  reminded that things would get better if I would just lose weight.

When one is taking 60mg of prednisone, combined with so much pain that mobility is highly impaired, how exactly does one lose weight?  Apparently I need to be reminded repeatedly that being fat is soooo unhealthy for me.  If we silly Fibro sufferers would just stop whining about the pain and work out, we would find some relief for our condition.  My refusal to just “suck it up” only worsens my condition.

It makes me want to remind them that stress also flares up the fibro response.  Continually making someone feel like a failure and unworthy despite their best efforts does not help their medical condition.  I want to ask, what happened to the vow of first do no harm?  It is emotionally abusive and enough to enrage me.

Not everything that is wrong with someone has to do with fat.  I do have three chronic illnesses that maybe, just maybe, might be making me feel under the weather.  These doctors may have the medical expertise to diagnose an illness but they have no idea what it is to live with one on a daily basis.  The fact that they could even suggest that a lack of will stops patients from participating in behaviour that might have the potential to improve health only proves how disconnected they are from how the pain truly affects the body.  No one wants to live in chronic pain…I don’t wake up saying gee I’m glad I’m me and not  some 18 year old starlet with boobs like a floating device and legs for days.  No, everyday I wake up praying that I’ll hurt just a little bit less only that have that one request go unanswered. 

Then there are the supposed supportive friends who try to placate me by saying that I have “an excuse to be fat”.  It’s just the medical establishment they tell me and once I explain my “condition” to others, I will not be exposed to our cultures virulent fat hatred.  Regardless of the reason why I carry this weight, judgmental  looks, and ill informed commentary are not acceptable.  The social disciplining of body size is hurtful and completely unnecessary.  The only reason to run someone else down  is to make oneself feel better about some perceived physical flaw. 

No matter how much you weigh, no one can ever completely fulfill the ridiculous beauty standards that we have created.  There will always be something wrong with your breasts, nose, legs,  or hair.  These imperfections keep the medical establishment busy with cosmetic surgeries and shaming, as well as fund the bloated diet and exercise industry.  Everywhere you look, someone is profiting from fat shaming except those that must deal with the stigma of being reminded continually how far we fall short from the ideal.

Women in particular are targeted with the body perfection meme. Who has not looked in the mirror and felt those moments of insecurity and quiet panic?  As much as many of us are womanists/feminists who believe that our true value is in who we are as people, we continually fall prey to the patriarchal understanding of ‘woman’ as simply a body to be consumed.  So much of womanhood is tied up with appearance that insecurity has become a normal phenomenon.  When we add the stigmatized identity of fatness with one of disability it can be overwhelming.

What would be lost if we stopped judging people based in appearance?  I have been told that I spend far too much time dealing in probabilities or what should be, rather than the world that exists.  As a disabled fat woman, how can I embrace a society that is determined to erase and shame my existence?  Am I to love my oppressor in spite of the personal cost to myself?  My disability is permanent and the resulting weight gain is probably permanent as well and therefore; to surrender is to allow someone else to decide my value and my worth.  I do not wish to play “super crip” and rise above because being different does not have to mean less than if we all decide that all bodies matter.

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