Friday, September 24, 2010

Supersized Ostracization

Before I get started, I have friends, and am behind now on calling couple of them. One of my friends of 26 years duration hopefully will be visiting me for a weekend soon, and did so in May. It's not the number of friends you have but the quality. I value my friends, even all the ones who live far away from me, and love them dearly. With me, you won't see one of those small talk artists with a giant social circle, where they barely know each other, I and my friends personally share and truly know each other. That said, socially my life has not been an easy road to walk down.

This is topic many in size acceptance wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Some talk about the active size discrimination, they don't get a job, they get made fun of in the street, but who wants to admit in the Facebook Age where friends are collected like baseball cards, that they have any social difficulties whatsoever? Who wants to admit at the extreme extroverted world of fat parties with their belly dancing divas, that they'd rather be having intellectual conversations with people rather then boozing it up and flirting? Where in these places can one talk about some of these deep issues?

The ultra-supersized face this even in size acceptance, where to discuss the special challenges of life at super-sized weights is anathema among the "fat-positive" types. Even the censorship on some websites, is part of this silencing those of us, who want to talk about harsh realities, rather then wearing our plastered on forced smiley faces. To be frank, the fat admirers don't want to hear about it, and the many of the mid-sized do not relate to it and if they do, fear of being in your shoes, leads them to a place where they do not want to look.

One thing I want to talk though when it comes to being ultra-super sized is social ostracization. It does happen. Even if you dress well, have the confidence of a Hollywood millionaire celebrity, it's going to happen. Five hundred pound people do not fit the average American's view of "normal". The 600-700lb life brings the actual gaping stares and pointing fingers for the few who can still walk and make it outside free of or in a wheelchair. Over that, you're no longer leaving the house or nursing home. When one crosses into the huge weight arena, size discrimination just doesn't become a once in a while thing where you encounter an idiot or narcissist who has no manners, it becomes a way of life to where inside you wonder if you are a member of the human race.

Affluent more urban areas, more conformity of dress is expected and a thinner body among the corporate minions. A working class small rural town where there are more other fat people, more old fashioned ethos, and more laid back, there is easier acceptance and your weight ceases to matter among those who know you. You know you are in a place that feels like "home" when several church members get up on your behalf, and walk out to protest a visiting pastor who insults you for being fat without you being present. Those are things not to be taken for granted.
This doesn't mean anywhere is perfect, but today after the horribly regretted move, it's not fun to go to the library and see the staring eyes, the raised eyebrows, it's not fun to go to a group, in a town where even the locals admit it is a bit snobby, and when people choose groups within a group finding yourself sitting alone at a table. Before I escaped to the rural friendly town, life in the huge urban city was a nightmare, being poked and prodded on the bus, being attacked verbally just for being present, seeing all three ways of life, the rural small town, the big metro city, and the affluent mid-sized city, my goal is to make it back to another rural town, or the one I had to leave. There are other things I value, a more rural area fulfills.

Many people would say you are a nice person: what's the problem? The early 40s, is a bit old to be complaining about being a "misfit", it's not even all the fault of those around me, my body has forced me inside more and more especially as I have aged. Maybe not just "inside" on the housebound front, but maybe emotionally and mentally as well, since so few relate to the kind of life I've had to live.

The worse thing about fatness is the buffer it puts up. The judgement is immediate, and when you are in these huge ultra sizes, you do fit "freak show status" like it or not. You will get stares, sometimes raised eyebrows looks of shock at your over-corpulence. Places like Wal-mart, there may be couple others in your boat, but other places like art openings, and the rest, you are the "heavy" among the slim hipsters, who snack on chips and never gain an ounce. You notice some relatives, put up endless pictures of your family members all over the wall, but your mug is always left off or relegated to an out of the way spot. You think inside: "Oh don't be paranoid, don't misjudge", but you have faced too much and know that you are not viewed the same as other people [except by those who are close to you]

There is an invisibility that can go along with fatness. You can be talking to people and realize they don't even see "YOU", the person, they see your body instead, and its swelling limbs, huge body. Even entering an art show, you start asking "should I send a thin friend to enter my art work? Will it make my chances better?" You imagine the stories and almost hear the thoughts people have in their heads as they see you waddling by, "I wonder what she eats", "How did she let herself get that way!", "I'm glad that's not me!".

To be the greatest curse of being fat, has been having a body, that serves as an iron wall, over self expression as an artist, as a writer, and as a person. The Internet is almost the perfect world for me, in many places as I can roam body-less, where no one has to know except places like here where I admit how much I weigh.

Every super sized fat woman [or even ultra-fat person in general], I have known has talked about this deep hurt, in being ostracized by society. I know some ladies who have been totally abandoned by families, left to scrape for the lowest crumbs of society; it goes beyond just fat discrimination and losing a job, it affects being able to express yourself as a person.

I stand up for myself when I can, that is my only answer to this, my second answer but the most important one is letting God determining your worth as a human being. But some of this stuff is not easy, and I don't mind being honest about it.

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