Saturday, March 2, 2013
Another Interview with a Friend: Fat From a Male Perspective
When I was doing interviews with Pam, I had acouple of other friends jump on the recorder later. I started talking to my friend Don, about the time of my 400lb weight gain. Now part of this conversation is kind of telling, the part where he says I barely looked female. He was absolutely correct. At the time, they found that I had immense testosterone going through my body. Even at smaller sizes as a teenager girl, I never looked feminine, when I had the weight gain this severely worsened. In fact, going on one drug I am on now, that helps the heart and also feminizes a person, Spironolactone I forget how much of my appearance changed since being far more swarthy and masculine looking. The androgens were coursing through doing their damage. The discussion of steroids, too is of interest as I was on steroids constantly for severe asthma, and later what would become COPD, and even am on one inhaled steroid today. Another interesting part of the discussion is when we cover weight and the affect of sleep deprivation. This interview is circa 2004/2005.
MEMORIES OF THE SICKNESS: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
[FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP starts by asking Don what symptoms he noticed about her illness.]
DON: Well, let me think…I do remember, amongst other things, you had no problem moving around. You were pretty big, but you had no problem moving around. I did notice, A), you tended to get bigger, [it was] much harder to move around. Towards the height of your weight illness, you barely were able to get up and down the stairs – it was a good thing the cars I had were able to fit you in.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Any other symptoms?
DON: Tiredness; and I would say, towards the height, a definite androgyny came over you. It got awfully hard to be able to tell whether you were male or female, just by looking at your face, and such – you almost had to depend on the clothing [to tell]. I also think part of it may be, as you pile on weight above a certain level – I notice that also w/guys.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Am I much more feminine now?
DON: Oh, definitely female, no problem telling there. I also think part of it was, you get above a certain pound of weight – or you get below a certain level, gender differences do come out.
MEMORIES OF FAT-RELATED INCIDENTS
DON: Well, basically, it was like you just said: people were very mean towards you. Especially in [name of huge city I lived for a time], I think, people were just basically mean towards you – that may explain part of your [past] involvement w/NAAFA, because suddenly, there was this safe zone for you. I also think that part of it was, again, you got above a certain level – and I do think that people -- at a certain point -- sort of think, when you get above a certain weight, you’re supposed to hide yourself away. Not necessarily out of shame, but – out of the simple fact that, above a certain level, it takes so much for you to keep your body alive, that you walking around would be a physical impossibility.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Did the weight loss from the 600s, near 700lbs(pounds) to 500 range help?
DON: Yeah. You get above a certain level, I don’t think people expect you to move around. Also, the androgyny [was a problem]: at a certain point, people want to know whether you’re male or female. They tend to base it on obvious physical characteristics, or your dress.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Do you remember some of my emotional outcomes when I was having this weight gain? What would I say about it at the time? What was my manner? You can be honest in this.
DON: I’m trying to remember, that’s the problem. Not only that, but I don’t think I saw you that often. If you see somebody on a constant basis, you may notice something, but it’s much more noticeable than if you have a two- or three-month period [between visits]. I do know you were talking about why you were putting on so much weight. I think you were putting on…30 pounds [a month].
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: That’s almost like a pound a day.
DON: And I do remember, you were always talking about your asthma: I remember, it started w/your asthma, now that I think about it. You were complaining about having to do asthma [treatment?] for an extended period of time, much longer than people suggested – and that, I would say, crosses all borders.
I remember I’d been having some trouble w/my eyes, before I figured it had something to do w/allergies. I remember getting these droplets, and basically sticking it in the eyes, and they’re some sort of steroid. Basically, they cleared the stuff out. A little bit later, I’d go through this stuff, and the lady [WHO?] said, “Don’t use it, throw it away! Keep using that stuff, you may get cataracts.”
And generally, they say, steroids are best for short-term [use]. At the time, I wonder how much of an effect on the weight gain that that stuff [prednisone] had.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: I think it actually triggered a lot.
DON: Yeah, ‘cause you’re talking [about] long-term use of a steroid.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Also, I know towards my late twenties, as my asthma got worse, I couldn’t move around as much.
OTHER REACTIONS TO THE WEIGHT GAIN
DON: There’d be friends and family, I’d put them on the line: “This is FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP, she’s awfully fat, she’s suffering from a few things,” and they always took my word at it. When I was much younger, there was this woman named **********: very infamous. You mention that name, it’s like [sounds “Dragnet”-style music]. You knew this was a girl to be feared – I think somehow, I spotted her, and she was very overweight…to the point, again, of androgyny. [Was in elementary school.]
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Was she tortured in elementary school?
DON: By the fact that her name had with it, a lot of infamy based on it, I’d assume that she was tortured, and picked on. For some strange reason, I remember just looking in a classroom, seeing this overweight girl: “Oh, that’s **********.”
HOW SOCIETY TREATS FAT PEOPLE
DON: I think part of the problem w/society right now is, we’re in a very odd, very unusual situation. Historically, fatness has always been the exception, not the rule, but there’s been a major change, starting in the ‘50s – when you had this image of the “ultimate,” Marilyn Monroe, statuesque, extremely built – almost manic, you’d say. And it happened, during that period of time, actually matched up to where women were able to develop in that sort of situation. Also, remember, we had gone through the Depression, and World War II – two periods of starvation – and suddenly, we got plenty, like you wouldn’t believe. And since then, the ideal has directed itself towards thinness.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: The focus on thinness actually makes people fatter, because it brings an over-concern w/food.
DON: I think our diets have changed: It used to be, women would stay home, and cook food. We used to have smaller portions, and we used to eat in the home; nowadays, we drive in our cars, we stop off, and everyone’s working. What’s really interesting – look among the rich. Women who can develop careers and run companies are actually staying home, raising their children. They’re choosing it. If you were able to choose it, they choose it. Because, basically, you’re eating at home: there’s something about women that they actually enjoy keeping house more.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Actually, I had so many problems the work world. I felt forced to be a hyper-feminist by my family with none of the benefits – I was rejected on one level, because of “you being an art teacher”; that’s kind of a female profession.
DON: Well, teaching has been considered a female profession – basically, anything to do w/nurturing generally is considered female. And I think there’s some aspect about that, I can understand you feeling like you were forced to be a feminist – basically, you want to protect yourself. You have to get out in the work world, and it’d be a good thing if you could rise up in that world, take on more responsibilities…
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Well, a lot of my friends felt like we were set up – we were told, “You can do all this, and have all this,” and it turned out to be a bust for most of us.
DON: Well, what they didn’t really tell women is – basically, you could choose this, or you could choose that: the idea [of], “you can have it all, bigger and more is better, blah-blah-blah.” Life is a definition of choices: every choice reduces the amount of freedom, ‘cause it forces you up on one line. The only way you could maximize possible freedom is to just keep yourself undecided as long as possible, and even [in] that [scenario] – time starts closing down stuff, eventually.
MEMORIES OF OTHER FAT PEOPLE
DON: Let me think: I had a friend named *******]: he was sort of fattish. He developed this fantasy world where he made himself out to be much bigger than he actually was – and he was much better at it. Your husband is not the thinnest person in the world. He made himself out to be much different than most people.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Would say being fat has some people form more distinct identities?
DON: Having weight, ‘cause some cases, if you develop fatness, it can cause a withdrawal.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: What differences do you see in me, from other fat people?
DON: Well, basically, you seem to be out there more than most fat people. I don’t think you grew up w/the stereotypically fat profile, which is “Keep on being beaten down and up, you just withdraw.”
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Yeah, I had some years of normalcy.
DON: The thing was, I don’t think you were specifically fat, until you moved to [big city I used to live in].
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Until I had the huge weight gain – yeah, I know. I was considered “large” or “Amazonian,” by most, but not “huge fat pig,” or anything like that. I wasn’t really noticed.
DON: I think part of it is, “fat” itself is sort of a loaded term. The idea is, you’re talking about all this weight pressing down – part of the definition of fat is, so much weight pressing down on an inner mass.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Yeah, that’s true.
DON: And it is kind of interesting – I look a little bit fat, but most people don’t notice it, because I’m still able to move around quite a bit.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Yeah, you have gained some weight. I’m not trying to be mean, or nothing, but you have in the last year…
DON: Well, right now, I’m up to 265, 270 pounds. I had been steady around 260 since, I would say – since the second year of living w/my girlfriend, that’d be ’99, 2000, and I’d been around 240, 250 before that.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: That makes sense, yeah – see, you can carry it, because of your height, too. But if you were to gain 50 more (pounds), you would enter “Fat World.” You know what I mean? It is kind of almost a different existence. I would say “Fat World” came for me when I hit 320, and then, of course, it went up, and up, and up.
DON: It depends on how you carry it – one thing about guys versus gals is that guys tend to carry their stuff around here [the waist], whereas, w/gals, it’s lower down.I think, in some ways, it is an adaptation – but, like I said, it’s kind of weird how you can get around growing fat, too. I remember, before I had my pneumonia, I think I was around 240, and I lost some weight because of the pneumonia…recovering from that…recovering from the weight loss, I think I sort of overshot to about 250 [pounds]. So, maybe in some cases, the dieting is there, but you’ve also got all the food you eat – to be honest, for your average person, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to do some heavy duty adjustments to your diet, and such.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: That’s true.
DON: The thing is, most people – you lose weight, and it’s like, “Good, I can relax”…
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: And they go back to the way they did before. In my case, if I ate fried chicken every week, I’d be dead.
DON: Well, basically, w/most people, your comfortable weight adjusts upward…in fact, one of the things I noticed during the first couple months I was living w/my girlfriend, I sort of leveled off around 260.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: Can you understand why people get themselves off the diet rollercoaster, though, and just kind of give up on that whole world, to some extent? Well, I have some health problems – that’s why I’ve refused to get weight loss surgery. It is difficult, ‘cause they always expect you to be on the constant diet.
DON: You do have to have constant vigilance, even if it’s just the idea of portion control – as Americans, we’ve grown used to eating so much, and we’ve also grown used to, when we feel the least bit hungry, we snack.
THE LOST GREAT AMERICAN NAP
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: I think the whole American lifestyle is messed up. I know, for me, when I was gaining the weight, I had no time to relax – especially during that job – no time was mine. Never could cook. I didn’t even have the right facilities to cook!
DON: I’ll bet you part of your problem was the weird time, because I do know that people who have trouble getting enough sleep, they tend to fatten up, because you’re taking about cortisol – basically, from what I can guess…I’m not gonna say I know everything about it….but my understanding is, it basically makes your body burn energy efficiently.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: There’s a hormone that’s released during sleep, and I even have that in my theories about weight gain; there’s a hormone that’s released when you sleep. I know people who’ve had serious sleep apnea, have gained 200 or 300 pounds. I know – for me – I have the sleep apnea finally treated and it seemed to be another factor in not gaining weight anymore.
DON: And, basically, ever since the wide distribution of lightbulbs, Americans have had one hour less sleep per night, on average, than they used to get.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: I think it’s even worse than that, now – people brag about having no sleep. Now, I can sleep as much as I want; that’s one blessing of disability [laughs], ‘cause [what] I remember, for years, is being absolutely sleep deprived.
DON: Well, I would say, not being sleep-deprived – but I’m aware that my body, if given the chance, would happily drift over to ten hours of sleep a day. I know eight is generally the average; some people can get less. But, generally, the average most people get is six [hours] – you know there’s massive amounts of sleep deprivation going on in this society today.
FIVEHUNDREDPOUNDPEEP: OK, well, thanks for the conversation, Don.
DON: You’re welcome.