Day 12...In America...Is Fat the new leprosy?

Why is it that with approximately 65 % of our over 20 population overweight or obese, That the morbidly obese are still the target of so much scorn and hatred...heck, they even get it from the merely 'overweight' crowd.
I am approaching merely 'overweight'. When I was morbidly obese I was ignored.
I don't mean your run of the mill ignored. I mean door smacking into my forehead ignored. I mean when I did make eye contact, I would get a mildly disgusted look and a quick turn of the head back.
I know this wasn't my imagination.
You know how I know.
The same gym at which the infamous forehead smack happened at, well lets just say, I have had the door held for me the last twenty pounds or so.
more so in the last five lbs.
In 60 lbs, I may get a red carpet rolled out for me, who knows.
I have been ogled by a redneck, given free service at best buy by a strange looking little man.
I have had the door held, random hellos from men in parking lots and today...
Today I was whooped at as I took a 3 mile walk on post.
yes, whooped at...granted it was at a distance.
I turned around cause it kind of sounded like the death call of a wild animal...but there were two guys hanging out of a pickup truck saying woo hooooooo.... looking good!
(why is it always the ones in pickups?)
I tried to feel flattered, but it was the same types 60 pounds ago that would snicker as I walked past in the adjoining neighborhood....they snickered and said "have a niiiiiiiice walk" in a real sing songy voice.

Now those fools probably wouldn't recognize me, in fifty pounds they may even try to hit on me in a bar or something.
Why do we reduce people to body parts?
I read a heartbreaking story about a 500 pound man who had hurt his knee. When he was released from the hospital the paramedics sent him home, he sat in a chair where he got stuck...for five months.
His wife called people to help, but no one came. They didn't have health insurance..so the man sat there until he died.
I know some of y0u have only gained 20 or 30 lbs and want to look better. That's a struggle of it's own.
My concern lies with the people who have gained 80,100...200....300 or more pounds.
Cause at that point, it's psychological. You are using food as something other than fuel.
You could be 20 pounds into this phenomena.
We all start somewhere.
We can't just dismiss and ignore these people. Where is the compassion for people who are struggling with a food addiction?
If that were a man who was drinking or drugging himself to death, he would have been able to find help.
The pushers would have been punished as well as the people feeding his addiction. I think the man's wife bears quite a responsibility.
If that man couldn't get out of the chair, who was getting him food?
When the paramedics were called as he was dying, they cut him out of the chair...he had ballooned from 500 lbs to 800 lbs.
She could have put him on a diet. What was he going to do... say no?
We have to stop enabling people. Including ourselves.
I did it for years, telling myself it wasn't that bad.
It was that bad. I am not talking about 'packing on a few pounds'....or 'not fitting into my skinny jeans'.
I am talking morbid obesity.

I saw a blurb where 1 in 10 people don't know that they are OBESE. Obese is anything more than 30 lbs overweight.
We use fuzzy language to make it better...chubby, pudgy...pleasantly plump.

In America, Fat people are laughed at....they are the primary target of jokes in comedies...I don't think there is any other substrata of people so ridiculed and maligned. It is viewed as something 'within their control'...well, in reality..so is drinking and drug abuse, but these groups of people are helped. The obese are Not helped. I know there are groups out there for fat acceptance and I can see why. A little sensitivity would go a long way in taking some of the solitude out of the fat experience. But when you are that overweight, when you are that unhealthy, sitting by and doing nothing...enabling, can be just as bad as going out and buying your alcoholic spouse a case of beer.
Here are some statistics:

You lose brain matter when you are overweight.

It affects your ability to get a job.

It can affect your ability to get pregnant.
I am not writing a blank prescripton for chronic disease for all overweight people, some people who are just overweight are very healthy. In fact, being 10 lbs overweight in your forties and fifties may help you stay alive....look it up...it's true!
I am speaking of 100 lbs and more, it's going to catch up with you.
People always say, if it is so painful why don't they change.
They don't change for the same reason drunks sometimes drink themselves to death, or someone shoots heroin until they OD.
It's the only coping mechanism they know.
I viewed a few Richard Simmons interviews today.
He treats the obese and morbidly obese like the human beings they are. He tells them not to give up, that they are worthy of retrieving their healthier selves.
If this country is ever going to get healthier, we need to change how we view this problem.
I am off my soapbox...
That story about the man in North Carolina really bugged me for some reason.
My calories today are sitting at 1500 on the nose, pretty cool huh.
exercise, three mile walk...30 push ups and some tracy anderson plie's.
Hope you all are making great choices and getting healthier,


deisegal said...

Oh what a horrible story!! For a while there was a real glut (er, excuse the pun..I think?) of programmes on TV here about "supersize" people and their efforts to lose weight, I'm talking the 300, 400lb people. They'd usually have to go into hospital for months. You are right, the people around them basically become their pushers. One of these programmes showed a woman with her huge teenage son and how upset she was at the situation he was in but at the same time he was basically festering in his bedroom playing computer games and when she'd come in to offer him a "snack" the snack she was offering him was the size of a huge binge dinner for most people she kept asking "do you want x with it and y with it". I gave up watching those programmes...

Oh wow, word verification for this comment is "skini"!!

Anonymous said...

Eating is something everyone can relate to, whereas drinking and drugs, not so much. So when I (used to) see a morbidly obese person, I'd think, I've got my eating under control, or I'll only let it go so far before I reign it in...why did they let it go so far? It's still shocking to me to see a morbidly obese person. But rather than judge, I think for me it's more important to approach my thoughts along the lines of compassion. And, I ususally feel sadness for their situation. Mainly I try to keep my thoughts neutral and realize that everyone comes from a different place.

outdoor.mom said...

c'mon... didn't it feel just a little bit good to be becoming redefined?! Congratulations on the new you!! Obesity in America is sad and an epidemic, but one less has been claimed (you)!

Beth said...

Thank you for your comment in my blog! I notice the same thing, of course, in the way people treat the overweight. I have to admit that sometimes my first reactions to some people are not what they should be either, and I am ashamed of myself.

Vagabonds Mercantile said...

Yesterday I was doing my grocery shopping. 80% of my cart was loaded with produce and I felt good about that. As I waited for someone to make room for me by the organic carrots I couldn't help but notice the size of her.
For the first time I didn't look at what she had in her cart so I could judge her. For the first time I felt empathy rather then disdain.
I have finally admitted to myself that just because I didn't let it get as far as she did, that doesn't mean I am any different.

What ever the addiction, were all addicts. Some of us go further down the hole then others. It's up to the rest of us to be kind and patient with those who aren't ready to climb out.

Vagabonds Mercantile said...

As I just reread what I wrote , I thought of my brother in law. He has been an alcoholic and drug addict nearly his entire life. I'm afraid I haven't been understanding or kind to him. After all these years I don't know that I change my relationship with him,but I can certainly be kinder.

South Beach Steve said...

Chris, I know exactly where you are coming from on most of this. I do have to say that for the most part I haven't ever felt shunned. Part of that is because I am a guy. As much as we all hate to admit it, overweight guys are treated different than overweight gals. Sure, there comes a point they treat both the same, but at the level I was at, I didn't see it in a terrible way. I did get laughed at though. I did get called "fatty".

Being overweight is truly the permissible prejudice (I think I am sensing a blog post there!). I think most people think it is entirely within the control of the person who is overweight, and truly, it usually is. Just like any other habit is entirely within the control of the person plagued by it. Of course, that greatly oversimplifies things, as there are addictions that are in place, emotional issues to be dealt with, and lifetimes of bad habits to be broken. Those are the things no one thinks about. Those are the things that make it closer to a drug addiction than total negligence. Oh, so much to say and write on this.

Chris, great, thought-provoking post.

Last, but by no means least, congratulations to you for taking contol. Congratulations for getting to a point doors are held for you. Congratulations for the cat call. Congratulations for reaching a point you have experienced favored service. While that is all things on the other end of the prejudice, it still is an accomplishment for you to have reached this point.

Lori said...

It's so true. I am treating so much differently now than I was 100 pounds ago.

Not sure why bashing fat people is still one of the most accepted prejudices out there.

Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking post. I have only dealt with being looked at, laughed at or pointed at for being morbidly obese infrequently. When it did happen, of course it hurt.

Great work on the calories and exercise!

Foodie Girl said...

I am one of those people who have to lose more than 100 pounds. I am also one of those people who kept telling myself "it's not that bad". It sucks now, trying to get back to a healthier me. I could have been doing this a long time ago.

Christine Jeske said...

Thank you for posting this. Food addiction and body image have been something I have been doing a lot of soul searching over this week.

I have also noticed how differently people treat me as the pounds come off.

It truly hurts and angers me that my body defines me. Who cares if I lose all 100 lbs, I will still be always be a recovering self destructive personality on the inside. No one has a right to judge.

Now if there was only a way I could grow taller in the process, cuz I will always be a target of shorty discrimination . . .;)

jo said...

Yet another great post. You are just so--so--wonderful, I love reading what you have to say.

About Richard Simmons, I am a member of his Clubhouse (but I never go anymore) and he has said that no one touches fat people, so he not only touches, he hugs. Human touch is so important. I can just imagine what he does for people in person, let alone online.

It's politically correct to hate fat people, to treat them poorly, to make fun. It's very sad. People are people. You are dead on right about the fact we help drug and alcohol addicts, yet we treat those with food disorders like they're contageous.

On a personal note, people in my neighborhood are not nice to me. It's very apparent, and it started immediately when we moved in. I could write many blog posts about it. I've cried, I've been frustrated, but mostly I've wondered why. One day my husband told me, he thinks it's because I'm overweight. That was then, this is now, I'm still obese, but looking at it with fresh eyes, I think he was right.

As you say--pricks. lol They don't know what they're missing.

Sevenbeads said...

What a sad story about the man in the wheelchair. Yes, it's likely his wife contributed to the problem.

The whole epidemic is frustrating because food is so plentiful and conveniences make us so sedentary.

Joanne said...

What a fabulous post - it should be published!! I am not quite sure why I remained fat - I got fat for a few reasons during my first reason (none was lack of love). I believe most of mine came from a poor self-image. I look at my scale that tells me I am obese and look forward to the day I am merely overweight - that day will come. I see successes like yours and feed off that success. Thanks for being a great new inspiration.


Hanlie said...

I live in a much kinder society, so I don't get treated badly. But then again, obesity is not as rife here as in America.

Yes, obesity is self-induced, but you have to look at how the deck is stacked against the consumer in America. The foods that make you fat are everywhere and they are relentlessly pushed on the consumer. They are relatively cheap. The public is being lied to daily about what constitutes a healthy diet and healthy living and the food, pharmaceutical and medical industries are laughing all the way to the bank. Every significant date brings on a new round of aggressive advertising to make you want to eat, eat, eat.

The ideal weight/body shape that is touted is so unrealistic that people just give up.

I'm not making excuses, I am just saying that the deck is stacked against the individual at every turn. The school system turns out people who have learned to conform or be ostracized, so it's hard for the individual to break free from the herd, who are all buying in bulk, being good consumers and tumbling over the edge of the cliff.

Think about it... it's all very well to be in good shape, but you will get flak if you don't eat what others eat and spend your time like they do. Don't dare to be different!

The whole of society is the enabler.