One of the things I find deeply frustrating as a fat woman is the assumption by many complete strangers, that I am not doing enough for my health. And the more I appear in public and on television, the more I hear this criticism leveled at me. No matter what I’m doing for my health, clearly I’m not doing it enough, because, well look at me. And if I should claim to be doing something far beyond what another person is doing, then I must be lying.
For example, I am a fitness teacher. I exercise pretty regularly and moderately. But many people believe that clearly, I’m neither exercising hard enough, nor the right way, because look at me. I’m still fat. I should lift more weights. I should exercise at a higher intensity. I should do Fred the Celebrity’s Super Insane Fitness Plan. Forget that I might get injured. Forget that I would hate it and quit after a few workouts. The folks that know everything about everything are glad to let me know that since they are thin and I am fat, I’m not working out as well as them. And when I tell them, that when I was training for the marathon and walking/running up to 35 miles per week I still maintained this weight, they tell me I was eating 4,000 calories per day, or lying. People who are conventionally thin, don’t get this treatment. If a conventionally thin person says that they exercise 45 minutes per week, they are usually told, to keep doing what they are doing because they look great.
The same is true with eating. Many people assume that since I am big, I eat nothing but junk food, I eat large amounts of food and I eat all the time. In pre-interviews for certain public appearances, I am grilled over and over about what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat, and so on. No thin woman is asked these questions. It is assumed that if they are thin, they are eating well. But the producers ask these questions of me because A) they think their audience will wonder (and they are probably right about this) and B) they just can’t imagine that I’m not eating the whole house because, well, look at me. We have been conditioned so deeply to believe that fat people do unhealthy things and fat people do healthy things that we assume that we know, by looking at someone what their habits are. In the name of full disclosure, I would say that my eating habits are pretty average. I eat more than some and less than some. I eat more junk food than some and less than some. Some of those who eat less than me weigh more than me. And many people who eat more than me weigh less than me. As comforting as the idea is that we can control every aspect of our appearance and our health outcomes with our behaviors, it just isn’t true.
So all we can do is what seems to be best for us at the time. There is no perfect exercise regimen. There is no perfect diet. There are no perfect people. There’s just people. So the next time you look in the mirror and decide that your size means you aren’t doing the right healthy things or doing enough healthy things, maybe that’s the time to just stop. You don’t have to put yourself into the same box that society does. Make your own plans and build your own life. Build a life that is joyous and right for YOU.
The Fat Chick