Fatty Goes to the Gym

15 11 2008

So, in a week I’m off to Rhode Island to participate in a 5k memorial race.  It’s not competitive; I’ll be walking along with most of the people I know.  A 5k isn’t long as far as I know– Google told me it’s 3.1 miles, which I should have no problem with.  I don’t walk as fast as my (“normal” weight) acquiantances, most of whom live in Boston and simply walk a lot more than I have as of late.  A few months ago, my boyfriend signed me up as a “sponsor” at the U Maine school gym.  It’s a great deal: 25 bucks a semester.  A lot has been going on since I signed up, though, so I haven’t been able to make it out to do anything.  Now, of course, there’s a fire under my butt to start going.  I want the little boost of resistance and leg muscle to walk a little faster.  Thursday night, Kevin and I decided to go.  He’d do basketball pickup games while I waked on the indoor track and maybe hit the stair climber.

The gym was packed.  There were ten people on the (somewhat small) indoor track, and roughly 80% of the machines were in use.  Kevin said he’d never seen so many people show up for the basketball pickups.  We’re walking through the facility to find a place to put our stuff.  Looking around at the hordes of people, I realize: there is not a single female (possibly even male) that I did not outweigh by 180-200 pounds.  Yes, I had to be double the weight of almost every person in the place.  Not a single person even approaching chubby.  It was incredibly upsetting.  Now, I’m not really a self-conscious person.  I have no problem swimming at a public pool, ordering dessert after dinner, and I always go through the world as if it didn’t even occur to me that someone might think less of me because of the fat on my body.  Standing there, though, in that gym, surrounded by skinny girls and trim guys, I crumbled.  I was mortified.  I went to the car while Kevin played some basketball.

Sitting in the car, anger started to wash over me– at myself, at the gym.  I love being active.  I let myself deprive myself of that.  I started thinking, though– was it really me?  College girls can be truly awful.  If I got on one of the stationary bikes, surrounded by them, what might happen?  Could some of them be volatile enough to say something?  I really did not want to take the time to verbally rip them a new one.  I know that, when all is said and done, I have every right to be there, just as much as they do.  On some level, the assumption that I might be there to lose weight infuriates me.  I am not opposed to weight loss really, but I am not trying to and the concept of being misunderstood bothers me more than anything.

Too Fat for Fitness deals with this subject as well, sort of.  It’s hard as heck to be healthy and active when one can’t even go into a gym and feel comfortable.  Maybe a lot of fat people feel this way, and that’s why they don’t go.  In the summer, it won’t matter so much because it’ll be warm out, but it’s not like I live in Southern California.  This is Downeast Maine.  It actually gets cold here.  I guess I just don’t know what to do.





Through the eyes of Ruby?

29 10 2008

Today, I was puttering around my usual internet haunts, and saw a discussion thread about a new show on the Style Network: Ruby. This woman is really quite beautiful, with an attractive smile and Southern twang to her voice. She’s also almost 500 pounds. Actually, I think it’s 487, but the TV spots say 500 for sensationalism. At first, I was almost happy– could it really be that there is a television show about the life of a fat woman? A show which illustrates the dimensions of her personality? Her daily struggles to fit into society like a thin person might? I kept reading. It turns out that this show is going to chronicle her “weight loss journey” to become, in her words, “skinny.” Is it so much to ask that we could have a fat woman be the center of a television show who is NOT trying to lose weight? Showcasing a secure, self-loving fat woman (or man) in a lead or romantic role (especially with a thin partner) will always be “controversial” until someone bites the bullet and just produces something. Unfortunately, I am barring independent films from what I’m saying– as well as they may mean, independent films simply are not going to reach the masses of the world like a major production might.

I went to the official website for this show (link above), and started watching the previews and nosing around. Even if the main plot centers around her weight loss, should the show bring light to her inner workings and struggles, the show would do some good. The videos were hard to watch, and the “Getting Healthy” and “Living Large” were problematic in places as well.

Starting off with the videos: all three I watched featured that cheesy, piano-y, “inspirational” music. Not only does this set the stage for an ugly ducking-to-swan-like story, but it also creates a sense of pity for Ruby. She’s shown as being quite active, though– there are clips of her dancing and going to the gym, and also walking her dogs. Ruby’s voice is played over the music, saying various things that, frankly, made me very sad.

“I want someone to tell me I’m beautiful.”

“I can’t even cross my legs.”

“He said, ‘I want to marry you, all you have to do is lose weight.’

The first quote is depressing. Surely, many fat people have felt this way. Perhaps I am fortunate to have found the communities I’m involved in at such an early age (I became involved in the SA/FA movement at 15), but Ruby appears to be at least in her 30s. Has no one told her she’s beautiful? If that is the case, it’s incredibly saddening. She IS beautiful. I’m envious of her looks and smile, even just from the images I’ve seen of her just now. As for the second quote, well, a lot of people can’t cross their legs. I know I can’t, and I never could. Even when I was very young and on the swim team (and pretty skinny, looking back), I could never cross my legs. My leg muscles were too developed. Assuming I got down to a “normal” BMI, odds are I would still be unable. I know a lot of people who are not ever going to be able to cross their legs. It’s a shame that this action has become a symbol of femininity, when, much like other symbols, it’s unattainable for some/many/the majority of women.

Of all three quotes, though, the last is the worst. Ruby talks about a man who wanted to marry her. He tells her he will if she loses weight, and eventually leaves her. She says, in the video, that she realized she really loved him after he left, and that if she couldn’t lose weight for him/true love, then something really MUST be wrong with her. This really highlights the critical issues with females, the media and what we do to ourselves. Something is wrong with YOU because someone ELSE could not accept and love YOU for YOU? How is that your fault? Moreover, how could you love someone who would leave you because you were unwilling to change yourself? Women do this to themselves far more than men. Where are the women who are brave enough to realize that the fault does not lie with them? It would be wonderful to see women who don’t succumb to the guilt society heaps on this gender. At any rate, it becomes obvious Ruby has some self-confidence issues through this segment.

The “Getting Healthy” section also shows problems. I’ll start by saying I’m not in any way against weight loss: people need to own their bodies and be responsible and healthy. However, this is not tied to weight alone. This section focuses pretty much only on fat loss, though. “Setting Goals” talks on and on about setting “realistic” ten-pound goals. It’s really a shame. There was nothing to be found about other types of goals: jogging for an hour without stopping, being able to scale four flights of stairs without getting winded– things that show improved cardiac health. The video clips had cleverly placed sound bites of doctors telling Ruby that she was headed for strokes, loss of vision, loss of leg function, etc. Nothing had been said about her having or being pre-Diabetes, so I infer that she’s getting the usual no-no speech from a practitioner. Of course, that won’t really be known for sure until the show is aired. The only part of the dieting section that I was impressed with was the five-week sample menu that Ruby is supposedly consuming. I actually got hungry reading some of the items! Unfortunately, it’s pre-packaged food from a Jenny Craig-like diet center. Personally, I’d rather cook the stuff myself. A lot of it would be amazing when freshly prepared.

All and all, the show makes me nervous. I want to think it will do some good– maybe show people that being fat is not quite the horror many make it out to be. Will Ruby have difficulty losing weight? It does say in her “About Me” that she has been fat as long as she can remember. And I guess, if it came down to it, I’d rather see this than MTV’s Model Makers.





Uh-Oh! Bed Bath & Beyond knows women can’t control themselves!

28 10 2008

This morning, I went out front to grab the mail. The only thing in there was this week’s Bed Bath & Beyond circular. Seeing as I am still without employment, I took an idle and semi-uninterested glance at the cover. Immediately, I felt shock and disgust course through my system.

Let’s break it down. You’ve got three pictures of beautifully plated and prepared foods in chafing dishes and on a tiered dessert plate: turkey breast with sparingly drizzled gravy and whole cranberries, meatballs (or stuffing? It’s hard to tell), asparagus and carrots (one with a small amount of cheese and onions, the other with onions and…squash rind or something), and finally, mini cheesecakes, some kind of chocolate cream poof, and petits fours. These three panels each read “yumm,” each panel with one more “m” in the word than the last. The fourth panel is a pair of women’s feet on a digital scale, which reads “UH-OH.” The added text reads “…YIKES!”

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this? First, of COURSE it will be a woman on the scale. On occasion I will see males used in weight-related jokes or schemes, but nine times out of ten, it’s a woman. Let’s rewind a second and look at most of the food. Lean turkey (breast). Carrots. Cranberries, Asparagus. This is healthy food. Yes, there is some cheese and gravy present, but the amount shown wouldn’t even reach the bottom of the chafing dish. Yes, I think we can all agree that there’s nothing reduced-calorie about the desserts, but they are also seemingly small in size. Even having one of each variety is not going to result in a catastrophic weight gain. And even if you do gain five pounds, is “YIKES” appropriate? Seriously? Your world is not going to crumble.

This circular’s cover reminds me of magazines like Woman’s Day: a picture of a beautiful cake on the front, with the headline, “LOSE 23 POUNDS WITH POWER WALKING!” Translation: make a cake for your family while you eat celery and work out every day. Or the Special K ad where a mother and child are icing a cake. The mother goes to lick some cake batter from her finger, and then a voice comes on: “you’re about to undo your whole day.” With a lick of cake batter, really? Oh yes, puffed rice flakes with tiny bricks of vegetable oil and chocolate flavoring is really on par with cake batter. That’ll DEFINITELY get rid of your craving.

It’s sickening how often women around food is correlated with some kind of lack of control. Women are bad drivers, women are too emotional, women can’t have a normal relationship with food. NATURALLY, if a woman is around a dessert plate, she will eat ALL of the items, resulting in a weight gain (shown on her shiny new digital scale) that will surely end her life. The reality is that a plate of the food shown on this circular would not greatly affect one’s weight. And then, at the notion it MIGHT cause one’s weight to increase, negative imagery is used. ‘Cuz, y’know, God forbid. You might get the Diabeetus.





Fat Princess

29 07 2008

I’m gonna get it for this.

I don’t have a problem with Fat Princess. I think it’s kind of charming, in a way. The game itself looks fun to me, and I am not offended by the concept of a princess being fed cake until it’s nigh impossible to move her. There are many, it seems, that are offended at this concept. I’m not entirely sure why, though. First, I have to say that video games are not as influential as people may think, especially not ones you can buy and download for five bucks that would have had virtually no hype if they had not been made controversial. The game itself looks like fun, and realistically, it will probably release, be mildly popular, and then fall away as most games do. Nothing about Fat Princess screams “INSTANT CLASSIC.”

Some of the things others are reading into the game are a little out in left field to me, as well. Maybe she’s not helpless when faced with cake. Maybe she ran away to the opposing kingdom’s castle and wants to stay there and eating copious amounts of cake is the idea they all came up with. Then, there’s the idea that there is some kind of fat joke underlying the whole game. I haven’t seen any articles elaborating on a plot in the game, so I can’t say if there even is one. I doubt there is, so really, all this about fat jokes and women and food and everything is speculation. Everything I have read about the game thus far shows it to be relatively simple, almost like Capture the Flag with a fat chick instead of a little pennant.

Besides, the game could awaken a whole new generation of fetishists. Sexual deviance makes the world interesting. That wouldn’t be so bad, right? Or, is that just as bad as those who laugh at fat people?

People don’t generally make video games to influence the masses. There are, of course, exceptions, but for the most part, creators just churn ’em out. The developers for this game may not even be aware of the message some are gleaning from this game. Maybe they thought it was harmless. It would be great to see an interview with them, though, and maybe that’ll happen in time.

Maybe there are just bigger fish to fry, I think.





The No-Man’s-Land that is 24+

29 07 2008

Just now, I was reading some complaints about B & Lu, and I got to thinking.

At one point, B & Lu carried almost everything up to a 30. Skirts were a good ten inches longer on me than they should be, but that’s what tailors are for, right? I thought maybe they were just sold out of a lot of things in the higher sizes lately, but apparently, they’re just scaling down. Why? It seems like a popular trend. Avenue is doing the same– half the time I go to look at an item I’m interested in (a rare happening in and of itself), and the biggest size is a 26. Even with Avenue, B & Lu, Lane Bryant and Old Navy, the selection is sparse for those above a size 24. This is not to say those who are a 24 can shop anywhere; it’s more of a tiered thing. 20, 24, 28 as I see it. Anyway, this downsizing of size ranges really bothers me, as someone who wears anywhere from a 26 to a 34, but most of the time, a 30, as I have a hard enough time as it is. I don’t need less people to select clothing from.

I’ve also noticed a lot of people avoid Old Navy because of the veritable slap in the face that pulling plus sizes from the stores was. I’d love to shop on principle like that, but I get probably 90% of my clothing from Old Navy. It’s cheap (yeah, sweatshops. ‘nother can of worms), comfortable and fits me well. The style also meshes well with how I like to dress. I call them often to leave feedback, but I will never stop shopping there. This may be counter-productive, but I’d rather wear clothing I like that is comfortable rather than too-short shirts (*cough* Lane Bryant) and thin, short-lived pants (Avenue).

I think Silhouettes is the worst offender of all, actually. They’ve never boasted anything particularly fashionable, until recently. They have had some really cute stuff for sale in the past year or so, but guess what? It stops at a size 26. So, all you fabulous women who wear a larger size? You can wear their basic, vanilla clothing. That has a fantastic size range. Anything with current styling, well, guess you’re just out of luck. This dress is a dress I would wear. It has been on sale forever, because I guess those who want fashionable clothing in a 26 or less go elsewhere. Their size chart says their 26 is equal to a 28, but I’m not sure about it. I don’t know that it would fit me, anyway, because I really can only get into a large-cut 28. Silhouettes is a company I refuse to buy from due to their sizing. Without a doubt, when I get a catalogue, I flip through it, and every item I like goes up to a 26 only. In fact, most of their items only go to a 26.

So, where is the love for people who wear 24+? Or, 28+? As stated probably a million other places, these people care just as much about fashion as smaller females. Why is this group left to huddle in the corner in plain, boring (for the most part) clothing?

Don’t even get me started on skinny jeans.