Archive | August, 2013

Everyone’s Worst Nightmare

15 Aug

I had a conversation the other day that really threw me for a loop.

I was talking with a friend who is the personification of a Portland woo-woo type: she gives astrological readings, knows a practicing shaman, assumes all jerks are really just hurting people with no healthy outlet for their pain, and always wears comfortable shoes. I don’t know that I have ever heard her pass actual judgment on anyone.

We were discussing a friend of mine who is really having a horrible time controlling her weight, to the point that her life is in rather immediate danger because of it. I was sharing my fears for my friend, wishing I could do more to help her, and talking about how desperately hard it is to feel that you are so out of synch with your own body. Her response was as surprising to me as it was profound:

“It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, to be fat.”

She said it like it was a given, a foregone conclusion that the worst possible fate that could befall anyone was to be fat. She said it as thought it was emotionally sensitive. She said it as though it was apolitical. She said it as though I wasn’t fat!

The sad thing is that a lot of people, far more than I care to admit, would probably agree with her. I remember reading about a study many years ago, in which elementary school children were shown drawings of 5 or 6 different kids: one was blonde, one was black, one was in a wheelchair, one was short, and yes, one was fat. The test subjects were asked which of the kids in the drawings they would like to be friends with. In every single case, the fat kid was chosen last. While sad, this is unfortunately not all that surprising. I mean, we all say it: kids can be mean.

But it was shocking to hear such a hardcore sentiment coming from an otherwise intelligent, sensitive, savvy woman. “Everyone’s worst nightmare.” I mean, really? Worse than, I don’t know, being paralyzed in a freak accident? Worse than losing your family in a car crash? Worse than being caught in an earthquake or a tsunami? Worse than Asthma or Arthritis or Cancer or Herpes? Worse than weekly dialysis or chemotherapy? Worse than telling your legs to move while they sit stubbornly still? Worse than watching someone play a guitar without being able to hear it? I mean, come on – there are a lot of deeply shitty things that can and do happen to people. Being fat is the worst of them?

As a fat person, I don’t think so. And that’s why I go to the gym and work out at home and walk marathons and lift weights: because all of those things could happen to me, at any given time, and I want to live as fully as I can, while I can. The truth is that being fat is a detriment only when it comes to being a fashion model; I don’t see myself on the cover of Vogue anytime soon. You can still be healthy and strong and capable in a fat body. There’s no need to put off going to the gym until you lose weight. There’s no reason to think you can’t do distance fitness events. There’s nothing stopping a fat body from being a healthy, fit, active body.

Because at the end of the day, not being able to move my body at all, not having the choice to be active…that is my worst nightmare.

Lily-Rygh Glen