It’s been over two weeks of lifestyle changes so far this year and I think I’m feeling better already. Some inflammation has gone down, I feel more flexible, and I’m in quite a bit less pain overall. The diet changes have been easy in some ways and difficult in others. Living in the world where coffee, cheese, and bagels exist and trying to ignore them is a challenge, but the rewards of losing weight are immeasurable at this point.
Just because I am trying to lose weight does not mean: 1.That I am ashamed of being a plush-sized woman 2.That I am jealous of thinner people and 3.That I think that larger people are lessor people in any way. I’ve never appreciated the way people treat overweight people. Between the media and every day folks, it seems that the most acceptable form of bigotry is against people who are fat, otherwise called weightism. Let’s face it. It’s not politically correct or acceptable at all to single out people of other races, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. In fact, where the woman used to be the most oppressed class of human being, now weightism has become quite acceptable and an almost encouraged form of prejudice.
Recently in a report from Bill Maher, he was criticizing someone for bullying someone in the media. Then in the next segment, he was bashing some politician for being fat. I’m shocked that his editors did not see how hypocritical this was and that they allowed it on the air. But then again, according to Wikipedia’s definition of weightism, “stereotypes are that obese persons are lazy, lack self-discipline, and have poor willpower, but also possess defects of intelligence and character.” So what’s the BIG deal about being heavy? Why should heavy people suffer from both the obesity AND the negative stereotypes?
Battling weight since age 5, I’ve seen it all. I’ve had boyfriends break up with me saying that they could not get turned on by my body. One boyfriend’s regular joke was to say (after sex as I went for the bathroom), “You’re really beautiful….in the dark.” I’ve been turned down for parts in plays, refused necessary surgeries, been called fatso, been told I’d be cute if only I lost weight, and been told by other musicians that my weight was going to keep me from achieving anything significant in the music business. My husband, however, a REAL man, has always loved and accepted me no matter what weight I have been and has never once criticized me in any way.
The feelings of self-loathing which arise from being treated like a 2nd class citizen are a great appetizer. And since new studies show that inflammation is one major cause of depression, those who are obese are likely to be depressed. Then as they become aware of being ostracized by others for their size, they become more depressed and they eat in response in order to soothe the pain. It’s a bad cycle. Sometimes when people feel unloved, they look to fill it with something else.
If you add to the already unhealthy spiral happening here, by featuring television and movies depicting only young, beautiful, thin people, juxtaposed on screen showing characters over indulging in alcohol, drugs, food, sex, and money worship, what you get is a confused public led to the watering hole of greed and intolerance, unable to feel compassion for anyone. We are just buying the image that skinny, caucasian women are better than the rest. It’s a lie. It’s damaging to everyone. And it needs to change.
But how can it change? What would make the media start featuring larger, older, women of all shapes, sizes, and colors? In my humble opinion, we have to stop mistreating ourselves, our friends, strangers and people on TV and in films in our blogs and comments on social media. If the exploiters of the stereotypes stop making money from us, they will have to listen to us. Just look at your own reaction to someone who is fat, or too thin, or too poor, or too rich. Why do we think these people are separate from us? We are one. Period. When we think bad thoughts and point fingers at others, there are other fingers pointed back at us. We should work on our own minds first, instead of focusing so much on outward appearances.
I am not advocating being medically unhealthy. I am not endorsing overeating. I am not telling you to be fat instead of thin. I am saying “try to be happy and comfortable in your own skin.” Over the last few years as I have gained more weight, I realize how many women seem happy to see me up on stage rocking out an Aretha tune shaking my ass to the beat. I wail and sweat and shake my boobs and I scream and squeal with raw sex appeal. I think I’m sexy at any size. And if women can be inspired by my “courage” to shake my booty on the stage, then I have a moral obligation to overcome any flashes of low self-esteem and throw my nipples to the wind and funk up the world around me with love, and sexy, juicy, bold compassionate acceptance and graciousness.
My heart is as big as my butt and it needs a bigger body to contain it. But, if I can inspire others by making changes to help myself to be healthier, then I must shine the light on my weaknesses until they become my strengths. It is a process. Thank you for allowing me to write about my journey. Be kind to those who struggle . . . with anything. Just, be kind.