Something happened a few weeks ago that really got me pissed off. I was so pissed off that I wanted to run up to my office and type a belligerent blog post full of even more swears than usual. It probably would have been full of all kinds of vile name calling and dangerous sounding threats too. I do some of my best work when I am pissed off. I decided to wait though. As much as I love swearing and verbally assaulting icky people, I really wanted to be able to speak about this with some intelligence and although I don’t personally feel that creative use of “sentence enhancers” (what my son calls swears) is indicator of being unintelligent, I do understand that some might see it as such. So yeah, I waited until I wasn’t so emotional about this thing that pissed me off so badly to write this in order to avoid being too potty-mouthed. That being said, people are real fucking jerks sometimes.
I have a friend; we will call him Fernando (because that is the song that started playing when I started typing this sentence). He is a really nice man. He is very kindhearted and funny and I like the dude a lot. I met him through a friend when I started a private group on FB so we could be each other’s weight loss “support group”. So anyway, Fernando was at the gym one night doing lap swim when he noticed two young women giggling near the pool. He kept on swimming, working his ass off, when he realized that they were laughing at him. The really bad part is that they weren’t just openly making fun of him exercising; they were taking pictures of him with their phones!!! Fernando was understandably very upset! He gave the girls an earful and complained gym management and I am happy to say that they responded to the incident very well. In addition to apologizing they reviewed footage from the cameras during that time and printed pictures of the girls. These pictures were distributed all over the gym where employees could see them and when management finds out who the girls were, their memberships will be revoked.
I threw the happy ending in there because I felt like it was important for you all to know that something was done about their behavior and that my pal Fernando didn’t allow them to walk all over him, but I do have some things to say about their behavior and that of those like them. If those nasty little bitches knew how much courage it takes for someone who needs to lose weight to go to a gym and exercise in a public setting they would be embarrassed by their behavior. If they knew how much more courage it takes for someone who is not an ideal body type to don a fucking swimsuit and get into a pool to do hard physical work in a public setting they might come close to feeling half the shame they should feel about their actions. Shame on them and shame on their parents for raising such shitty people.
I was of course very offended for my friend when I heard this story. I even threatened to fly to his city and start cutting bitches when I heard it. But what really makes me sad is that this isn’t unusual. I saw two women talking about me in the locker room after doing aqua aerobics the other day… they weren’t so obvious and they weren’t openly mocking me or laughing… they even had the decency to look away and blush when I gave them the look that said “I know you are talking about me… keep it up and I will give you something to talk about”. Here is the thing. Making fun of people because they look different or don’t live up to the standards of beauty that our culture sets is not OK. In fact, it is mean and doing it makes you a bad person. It is juvenile, bullying, bullshit. It is also very damaging. Losing weight isn’t simply about achieving some predetermined standard of beauty in order to fit in. It is about saving lives. Obesity in this country is a huge problem! But it is a bigger social issue than most realize because there is so much shame attached to it. Those stupid girls shouldn’t have been making fun of Fernando and snapping photos of him! They should have been applauding and encouraging him! I try to talk myself out of going to the pool all three to four days a week I go take classes because I don’t want to be seen in a bathing suit or workout clothes in public. But I don’t have a pool at home and that is one of the only safe ways for me to get the exercise I need in order to gain control of my health, so I grab my gym bag and head out the door knowing that people like that have rotted little black pits for hearts and they are ugly on the inside.
I have gained a little more fuel for this rant in the last week or so because as is so often the case, when something is on your mind, examples of it start jumping out at you. Last week I was looking through magazines for images to use in a collage project I was doing for a round robin journal swap. I found one I wanted to use because it fit with the theme and ideas I had but was more than a little bothered by something about the image. It actually took me a few to place what was wrong. The image below is of actress Sofia Vergara. I am a fan of hers and really like her for many reasons, one of which is because she is a curvy woman and proud of it. She is perfect the way she is so the fact that someone felt it necessary to airbrush/Photoshop her is just bizarre to me.
You see that area in the circle there? Did you notice that there is not more than the slightest of creases or bumps in the fabric anywhere? I am sorry, but even the thinnest of women and girls would at the very least have creases in the fabric around that area. I know this because I was once a very thin person who went around wearing things like short-shorts and bathing suits because I looked good in them, not because they were necessary to exercise in. Every bathing suit or pair of shorts I have ever owned got creases in that area when worn BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE MY VAGINA IS!!!! Sorry to break it to you but if your crotch doesn’t look as smooth and crease free as a Barbie Dolls when you are nude, then it isn’t going to look that way when you cover it with cloth. Did they seriously airbrush away the evidence of the vagina she has hidden under her clothing? What is so shameful about a vagina?!?!? I quite like mine; in fact, I think it is pretty nifty! And I am willing to bet the line of men and women who would like to see any trace of Sofia Vergara’s vagina would come pretty close to encircling the globe at least once. Why did they make an effort to hide the curves and shapes that make her so womanly??? Could it be this weird standard of beauty I brought up earlier? You know, the one that makes you feel like a piece of shit if you don’t wear a size five?
My last little ranty bit is about finding plus sized workout clothing. I am usually fairly lucky in this department because my size is the highest size that most regular clothing stores carry so I can usually get away with shopping in places with no “plus size” department. That is unless I am trying to fit something over my boobs… then all bets are off because even if a shirt or dress says it is my size, if it wasn’t made specifically for a “plus size” figure then it most likely will not fit over my top half. Anyway… earlier this week I decided that I could use a pair or athletic shorts to wear when I am working out at home because my house does not have AC and riding the stationary bike in yoga pants gets a little too hot. I had Big Orange take me down to the big Fred Meyer in hopes of finding something on sale. I looked around the store for a few and realized that there was nothing above a size 10 on any of the racks… I noticed a store employee standing nearby and asked her if there was a separate section for plus sized athletic clothing and she told me “oh, the plus size department was taken out after the remodel so you won’t find anything in your size here.” Are you fucking kidding me??? I hate to say this but I see far more plus size people shopping at Fred Meyer than I see ultra thin people so they have in essence decided that a very large portion of their customer base doesn’t count. As a result, as soon as Safeway opens again up the street I will no longer be shopping at Fred Meyer. Beyond my desire to find a pair of shorts quickly this is just another example of overweight people being hidden away. If you don’t wear a size 5 we don’t want to see you shopping here… is that it?!?!?
My point is that there is so much shame being wielded that it makes it even more scary and embarrassing to stand up and take the steps that one needs to take in order to make healthy changes in their life. If it isn’t some insensitive twit at the gym, it is airbrushing and Photoshopping away curves and “imperfections”, or just plain pretending that “imperfections” don’t exist and that the people who have them aren’t living, breathing human beings with feelings. It is ignoring the fact that half the really hard work in getting off the couch and moving is shoving down the shame and embarrassment in order to step out into the world and do the work that needs to be done to live a healthy lifestyle.
So the next time you see something out there walking… working out… swimming… the next time that you want to laugh at the way someone’s body moves or jiggles when they are exercising… the next time you see this you think long and hard about how you would feel in their place. Remember that no one gets fat on purpose. No one just wakes up one day and decides they want to be obese! Well, except that one weird lady from that one strange addiction show. Anyway, no one looks like the airbrushed celebrities in magazines and if you need to make yourself feel better about who you are and the way you look by knocking someone else down, then you really need to spend some time examining yourself and your own world. The next time you see someone who is not the ideal body size or who doesn’t fit this weird standard of beauty we seem to have, smile at them. Be kind to them. Be proud of them. Be a positive part of their journey.
I want to leave you with some things to watch and think about. I applaud Dove for their Real Beauty Campaign and they have made some really great videos/commercial about this very subject. Watch them. Learn from them. And for the love of all things good in this world, BE FUCKING NICE!