Fat Matters by Devon Miller-Duggan

A fantastic and thought provoking new blog by frequent contributor Devon Miller-Duggan–fatmatters.wordpress.com. Check it out!
Also, re-posting the first entry here:

Welcome to my round world.

I have a lot I would like to say to the folks-of-normal-size and the medical profession in general. Much of it boils down to two basic things: Where the hell do you get off making all those judgments? & You’re not helping.

First, let me share my credentials. I was not fat as a small child. I started to get plump when puberty started occupying the territory of my body and people (loosely defined as other children, my family, and people on the street) started talking about me to me about my being fat. So, much of my 57 years (47, to be precise) I have run around with “fat” as the core of my public identity. It is the first thing that anyone sees or thinks about me, and, very often, the abiding “tag” with which I am identified. Oddly enough, I gather it’s the same for conventionally beautiful people, and not always an easy tag for them to bear, either, though I suspect that the burden of beauty is more work-with-able than the burden of race of other visual tags.

I am not lazy. I am a little undisciplined, but it does not translate into my not getting much done. Quite the contrary. At any given point, I usually have five or six projects going, ranging from crocheting for charity to the novel I’m working on to running various committees at my church. I am one of those people about whom her friends say “I don’t know how you get so much done.” I exercise. I am not stupid. The fact that I went to one of the Seven Sisters, then to Johns Hopkins, have a Ph. D. from a reputable institution and have published a book certainly doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m profoundly intelligent, but it does pretty much guarantee that I am not stupid. I am not clueless. I probably know more about calorie counts, carb counts, glycemic indices, and the general biochemistry of weight than you do. I am not a rampant, cream slurping sensualist. Well, not entirely, anyway. I am not a member of NAFA, the National Association for Fat Acceptance. I don’t think being fat is a good thing. That being said, there are fat people who are beautiful and fat people who are remarkably healthy. But mostly it is neither aesthetically advantageous, nor without health consequences. At 57 I’ve already had both knees replaced. My always-skinny aunt has had to have hers done, too, but mine had to be done about 15 years earlier than hers. I have type 2 diabetes. But I take my meds, exercise, and my A1C is 5.6—I’m a compliant patient. I am not pathetic, unmarried and miserable. I’ve been happily married for 35 years to a non-fat man with a big fat degree from a nice school in Cambridge, MA. And no, he’s not a “chubby chaser.” His all time favorite screen goddess is Audrey Hepburn—go figure. His other is Sophia Loren–I don’t have those cheekbones-of-a-goddess either.

I’m not merely “plump” (a word I am actually rather fond of) or slightly overweight. At my heaviest, I was more 130 pounds overweight—unquestionably “morbidly obese” by any standard out there. The term “morbidly obese” is repugnant. But then, many doctors are “terminally stupid” about their overweight patients (and, very often, their female patients, their older patients, their younger patients, their breathing patients—I am hugely lucky to have a GP who’s not an a-hole), making nearly unchangeable judgments about my intellect, my character, my life, and the causes of anything that was wrong with me. No, really. When I was in my late adolescence, my friend-of-the-family physician suggested that I had flu because I was fat. We will pass over in silence the extent to which the orthopedist who did my knees talked to me like I was 13—and the fact that he very clearly didn’t think it mattered how UGLY my scars were.

Why am I fat? Unless you’re my therapist or my doctor, it’s none of your bloody business. But I know why I’m fat, how I got that way, and how I stay that way. I know with some precision. I even know why I have so much trouble willing the good for my own body. That’s none of your business, either. Heredity and an unwillingness to make being thin the whole-and-sole focus of my life are factors, though.

Others are entitled to an opinions about my weight, just like I’m entitled to an opinion about their height/haircolor/taste in clothes/morals/behavior/whathaveyou. But no one is entitled to talk to me about it any more than I am entitled to walk up to them on the street and ask why it’s okay for them to wear $600. shoes when there are children in this country who have none. And, in my case, people I barely know do, in fact, walk up to me and offer opinions about my body: “You have such a beautiful face; you’d be gorgeous if you lost weight.” We’ll pass over in silence the things cars full of teenaged boys have been known to shout as they passed. We’ll hope they’ll grow out of it. Some teenaged jerk-pig-dog-wantwits do grow out of it. Many don’t.

Obviously, I have a fair amount to get off my chest. I’m not getting any younger, so it seems like 2012’s a good year to start speaking my mind. Hence the blog. I plan to tell stories, offer tips, and meditate on the business of being fat in a world that has better things to be thinking about. We’ll see how it goes.

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