Tag Archives: fat and jolly

Because I’m Happy…

I think one of the most difficult barriers I’ve encountered on my journey towards self acceptance is the constant barrage of input telling me that people in larger bodies can’t really be “happy”.  In stark contrast to the “fat and jolly” stereotype is the notion that all fat people are unhappy deep down.  And this information is everywhere.  From our television and magazine advertising to barroom pop psychology to well meaning friends and relatives, it seems like a lot of people are pretty sure I would be a lot happier if I would just lose weight.

“But I am pretty happy,” I tell folks. Their reply, “Not really.  If you were really happy you wouldn’t be fat.”  Sigh…  One of the pieces of prejudice I find most daunting is the notion that all people who are fat are eating to compensate for some life deficiency.  Either we were sexually abused as children, or didn’t get enough love at some stage or are facing some buried psychological trauma.  “It’s not your fault you’re fat,” they state, while patting you on the head.  “We just need to fix what is broken with you emotionally, and the weight will just flow off your body.”

Think I’m making this up?  No lie, when I was getting one of my fitness certifications, one of the teachers pulled out a magic marker and headed towards the big paper pad she was using to sketch out the “fitness wisdom” she had to impart.  She drew a picture of a fat person (small oval over big round body–it was no Monet).  Then she drew another circle inside the fat tummy circle.  “Fat people have a hole in their lives,” she stated.  “There is something missing inside them that they attempt to stuff full with food.”

hollowfatpersonI was mortified.  And I was pissed.  This clearly wasn’t in any of the written materials that she or we had received with the course.  This teacher was just making this stuff up and stating it as fact in a training course that is designed to train people to teach exercise to other people.

But most of the extremely thin people in the room simply nodded their heads knowingly and accepted it as fat fact.  Along with this notion is the notion that if we lose weight, if we become visibly and socially acceptably skinny, all our problems will melt away and we will finally be happy.  This idea is so pervasive that people spend billions of dollars in pursuit of the happiness level of thinness.  I believed it.  I got thin.  For a little while after a ridiculous diet that made me very sick, I was thin.  And I waited for the happy.  And waited.  And waited…

There was some euphoria over increased clothes shopping opportunities.  There was some afterglow from the constant validation and encouragement I got about how much better I looked.  (Although there was also frankly a lot of pissed off wondering what people thought about how I looked before.)  But did I experience magical, mystical happy–smiling while eating a salad, orgasmic swooning over eating yogurt happy?  I’d have to say that never arrived.

Oh God, I think I’m… AHHHHHHH!

And now that I’ve lived and loved in a fat body for a while, I can say I’ve found a modicum of relatively reliable happy.  Am I happy all the time?  Nope.  Do I swoon over yogurt?  What, are you kidding?  But I’m pretty happy most of the time.

That is why I was so very, VERY excited to see this music video by Pharrell Williams and what seems to be half the population of Los Angeles.  Take a look. I’ll wait…

Honestly, this music video is what got me on this whole subject with you in the first place.  First of all, I have to apologize.  This great song is likely to leave you with an earworm that lasts for days.  Sorry about that.  But on the upside here we have a video with lots and lots of people who are boogying down and singing about being happy.  And remarkably none of these people look the same.  There are kids, young people, middle aged people and old people.  There are men and women.  There are single people and families.  There are people who are extremely mobile and some who are less mobile.  There are people of all different colors.  There are thin people, fat people and in-betweenies.  They all look happy as hell, and there is not one single carton of yogurt or salad in the entire music video!

Happy2

The video is actually compiled from a much bigger project called 24 Hours of Happy.  Go check out the website.  It’s the coolest!  I’ll wait.  The website contains a 24-hour long music video to this song compiled by Pharrell and his team. I have absolutely no idea how much raw footage they shot, but I imagine it must have been epic.  The net result is a web-based clock.  At any given moment, you can click in and watch Angelinos of all stripes shaking their thing.

Aside from being a super cool project, the thing I love about this is that it helps demonstrate an idea.  Happy doesn’t look the same on everybody.  You don’t have to be a particular color or size or shape to be happy.  You don’t have to be young.  You don’t have to be thin.  You don’t have to eat dairy products of any kind.  But it is still possible for you to be happy.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Privilege and wealth and security and a lot of other things can certainly make happy easier.  And there is absolutely no doubt that the rampant discrimination that accompany fat stigma can make it much harder to find happy.  But I do know that I found it extremely helpful on my journey to learn that happy was at least possible at any size.  It made it much easier for me to fight for happy for myself and for all my fat brothers and sisters.

So I will continue to blog, because, I’m happy…

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you like, you can join in the happy RIGHT HERE.

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Thursday Theater: The Second Candy Crowley Debate about her Weight

I have to say that Candy Crowley did a pretty good job of being tough in the most recent presidential debate.  And it’s no surprise that some folks are pretty up in arms about the fact that she did her job and told the leader of the free world and the man who is competing for that position to sit down and be quiet at times.  And there is some concern that she added information to the debate when perhaps she should not have.

But most people seem to agree that she did a much better job of managing the dialog between two of the world’s most powerful men than had been seen in the first debate.  So are people on Facebook singing her praises?  Is the Twitterverse glowing with her awesomeness?  Well yes, and then again no.  Because what some people feel the need to talk about right now is Candy Crowley’s weight.

Here’s one post I ran across on Facebook:

Since it’s the 21st Century, why do we even need Moderators? Siri can ask the questions, refrain from interrupting, and 5 seconds after the red timer light goes on, cut off the speaker’s mike. Also, we can save the Rain Forest from devastation by not having to raise all the beef cattle necessary to feed Sliders in the hospitality tent to Candy Crowley.

 

I found this truly offensive, so I said “This is offensive”.  Here’s the response I got:

LOL!  I think the above two responses are even funnier than the original post (wink). Talk about what’s wrong with America! We need a tickle prison for people who live by strict PC rules; maybe enough laughter will lighten them up. And I’m not talking about their weight.

And this one:

She’s a big fatty, and she’s demonstrably biased towards Democrats, that’s enough for me.

Okay here’s the thing.  Declaring that a debate moderator is biased towards one political party may or may not be true in this case.  But at least the question is relevant to the discussion at hand.  What does the fact that she’s a big fatty have to do with the price of fish in Finland?  Nothing.  It’s just a form of hate speech against an extremely intelligent, successful and powerful woman that someone is pretty sure they will get away with.  It’s a cheap shot, and it’s lazy thinking.  But it’s so pervasive in our society that people are appalled when called out on it.

I don’t want to dwell a great deal more on this particular Facebook exchange.  What I really want to talk about is the idea that a woman can ever be powerful enough, successful enough, or strong enough in this world to avoid being called a “fatty, fatty 2×4”?  Is there ever a moment that she’s free from this sort of playground harassment?  Based on what I see coming through on my Facebook feed, I’d have to say no.

And I’m not saying this to depress you.  I’m saying this to make a different point.

For many years I lived under the delusion that if I were smart enough and funny enough and successful enough and dressed well enough, and so on, I would finally be free from childish taunting about my weight.  But at a certain point I realized that I won’t ever be “good enough” to avoid this kind of nonsense.  I had to learn to deal with it when it came at me.  And I have to work to change the world.  Because I’m unlikely to permanently change my size to a level that’s acceptable, and I can’t change the rest of me enough to make this kind of mindless, petty, playground nonsense not happen to me.

And you know what?   This afforded me a freedom of a sort.  I started focusing my energy on getting what I really wanted in life rather than avoiding pain.  I realized that I had no moral obligation to be jolly and I only needed to be funny when I really wanted to.

You don’t have to be nice all the time.  You don’t have to be funny or jolly.  You don’t have to be tame or quiet or good.  Pain will happen anyways.  People will say stupid things anyways.  So you might as well be the person you always wanted to be.  And join me and my colleagues in our quest to make the world a better place for people of all sizes.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S.  Why not start by joining The Fat Chick Clique?  It’s free and it’s liberating!