The Weight Business
So every time I express my dissatisfaction with my weight or say how I don’t think being fat is a good thing, someone invariably calls me a bigot.
Which is fine. It is very possible that I might be (a little bit) bigoted against fat people. Considering that I am one myself, this might all very well be true. But hey, that depends on how you see it.
If you’re fat (and by fat I mean if you are above the medically recommended weight for your height and it is not due to heavy bones or increased muscle mass) and you’re perfectly healthy, then I say more power to you. I still think you should lose weight but I’m not really knocking you. Hey at least you’re healthy. I definitely cannot make a blanket statement for every fat person on this planet, but I believe (and I believe that I am at least mostly correct in this belief) that most fat people are unhealthy to some degree and would be at least a tad healthier if they lost weight (doesn’t apply if they lose the weight and become underweight which is a whole new ballgame).
The way I see it is this: Even if you are fat and healthy, your fat is still preventing you from carrying out the full range of human physical abilities that any able-bodied, normal healthy, human being should be able to do. (Assuming that you don’t have some other health problem preventing you from doing so). This is not to say that there are not fat people who cannot run, but I believe I am correct in saying that the average slim (not thin) person can run faster, jump higher, walk longer, etc than the average fat person.
And to me, that makes all the difference. It might not be a factor for you, and it might not be a deal breaker for you, but it is for me. It scares me that in an emergency situation, the difference between being able to run away or being able to crawl out of a small escape opening (and trust me, escape openings in emergency situations are always mysteriously small) and death could be all these extra kilograms. It bothers me.
Maybe I am just paranoid, (and I will not disagree with you if you imply that I might be a little) but I don’t want to be the one that couldn’t climb out of the wreckage of something even though I survived the impact because I was too fat to fit through the window.
There’s a story my Mom told me when I was little (okay, she did not explicitly tell me this story – she was telling someone else and I was supposed to be sleeping in her lap but eavesdropping on adults’ conversations was my all time favourite hobby so I just listened anyway) about how when she younger (before she had me) she took a night bus somewhere in the East and the bus had a small accident. (I think one side fell into a ditch and couldn’t get out), and to make matters worse, armed robbers were stationed in the bush and were coming to rob/attack the passengers (and this was in the days before luxurious buses travelled with armed escorts).
Sha, sha, sha, the driver was helping the passengers escape through the window, but there was one woman who was very fat and she got stuck in the window and the armed robbers were coming and people were trying to pull her through but she was thoroughly stuck and the conductor even had to re-enter the bus and push her from behind and try to squeeze her bottom so that she would fit through. Apparently there was a very real possibility that if the robbers burst through the bushes they would have to leave her behind.
I don’t remember how the story ended because at the time (at least to my child’s mind) the story was hilarious and I couldn’t stop laughing. (of course at that point my Mom discovered that I wasn’t sleeping at all and sent me to my room so I never got the end of the gist) but the image of that fat woman stuck in that Ekene dili Chukwu window has stayed with me since then.
Now, couple that with the fact that two years ago I had an experience that reminded me of that story. I was in the airport waiting for a flight to New York when I saw a morbidly obese man approaching the boarding line. The first thing I thought was ‘Omg, is this dude allowed to fly?’ – insensitive yes, but I am being honest here. Most of you would probably have thought the same thing.
As if karma decided to get me for my insensitive thoughts about the man, when I had settled into my seat in the plane, I looked up and saw the man coming towards me, and lo and behold, he turned out to be my seat partner. Not only did he not fit into the seat, but he squashed me against the window and completely blocked my view of all other passengers in the aircraft. Now ever since the Sosoliso crash, I have been terrified of flying. I used to love flying but since the crash getting on a plane has been a major feat of bravery for me. Whenever there’s turbulence I keep wondering if this is the moment the plane will crash and how long it will take and if the fear will kill me before the impact does. All through the flight (which had quite a bit of turbulence) one thought kept going through my mind.
Mid flight I realised something very important. It occurred to me that if (God forbid) the plane were to crash, and if somehow I miraculously survived the impact, there was a very real and very high possibility that I would still die there if I was trapped under that man or pinned to the wall by him because there was no way on Earth I would be able to move him from my body and escape if that was the case.
Now once again, I am being honest here, for what it’s worth. That thought made me angry. I was very angry at this man whose weight was not only a liability to himself but to me for sitting next to me and potentially placing me in danger. That thought also made me very sad because it also occurred to me that in the same situation, assuming the man survived, he still most likely would not be able to run away.
He was a very nice man. We had a very pleasant conversation through the flight, but I couldn’t get the image of him falling on me out of my mind.
Now fast forward a year and some and I’m a fat person. I’m certainly and by no means anywhere near as fat as he was, but I’m definitely overweight. I may not look it, but I weigh far more than I ever imagined I ever would.
Again, I cannot express the feelings of other fat people (including those that are perfectly happy with being fat and those that are miserable about it) but I can express MY feelings, and this is what I feel.
First of all, a little background info so you can see where I’m coming from. This is the first time in my entire life so far that I have been fat. Prior to this, I have never been fat or even overweight. Never. I have been thin a couple of times but those were rare and very short-lived.
Here is how I feel about my weight.
I hate being fat. Hate with a capital H. And I hate people that try to tell me that it is okay to be fat. It is NOT okay to be fat (at least for me).
Because I’m scared. For the past year I have had random sharp, stabbing pains in my chest on the left side (which is of course where my heart is). I’ve had an EKG but they said there’s nothing wrong. Still every time it happens, a small part of my mind resigns me to the idea that I might be about to die. A big part of the whole reason I had to start seeing a shrink in the first place was because every time the pains came, I was convinced I might be having a heart attack and I was scared shitless out of my mind.
When I sit up on my bed against my pillow I can’t fully inflate my lungs. My stomach doesn’t bend over the way it did when I was slim and instead packs up against my rib cage squashing my lungs and making me feel like I can’t breathe.
I have to take the elevator even if I’m going just one floor up because when I climb the stairs I hear a sickening cracking sound coming from my knees and the pain is almost unbearable.
Before last year I had never broken a bone in my life. Last year the doctor discovered a stress fracture in my foot.
I used to have flawless skin. Now I get breakouts.
I cannot run. I cannot even walk briskly. Anything faster than a slow amble will leave me clutching my chest and wheezing.
I got toenail fungus because the only shoes I can wear are sneakers and I wore them for a whole year.
When I eat too much I don’t just feel full like I used to. I feel physically ill for days.
I have not jumped in at least one year.
I have not squatted (crouched down) in two.
Kneeling even for less than ten seconds feels like a trial by fire.
If anything was ever obvious, it is that my weight has robbed me of a number of normal human physical functions.
I hate being fat. That’s how I feel. Of course, there is also the fact that I have suitcases and closets full of clothes and shoes that I cannot wear, but considering how cold it is here and how skimpy those clothes are, I really couldn’t give a shit. What horrifies me though is how sick I feel almost all the time.
I have never felt this way before in my life and I want it to stop. I just want to go back to the way I used to be and feel healthy again. Being fat is not a good thing. That’s my opinion. You may have a different opinion and you might think it shouldn’t matter but from what I’ve experienced of it, any children of mine that even threaten to become fat are going to jog round the garden 50 times a day and eat carrots indefinitely. My weight is definitely holding me back.
I feel tired all the time. Exhausted. I’m sleeping ten, twelve hours a day, and I feel like I have no energy whatsoever even when I wake up in the morning. Plus I’m finding it harder to remember things and I’ve always had a very good memory. I don’t know about you, but I find being fat disgusting. It’s not healthy and anyone that tries to argue otherwise is being wicked. Being thin is also definitely not healthy and equally disgusting (unless you are a naturally skinny person) but as far as I am concerned, being slim is a well deserved ideal. I would not wish fatness on anyone. It feels horrible. And I’m not even talking about the psychological feelings that might come from society’s current obsession with thinness, I’m talking about simple physical feelings. I feel sick. Ever since I’ve been this weight I have felt sick on a semi-constant basis. The time when I was a normal weight and felt healthy and able feels like it was another lifetime.
Seriously yo. I’m not saying this to be mean. I’m really not. If you’re fat and you like being fat then that’s you’re business. As for me, I’m not cut out for this. I can’t continue like this and I will not stop until I return to the size (and hopefully the health) I once had. I feel like a prisoner in my own body and it is not cool.
And this is just my take on it.