The Fats of Life

You don’t have to look hard to find evidence that we don’t like fat people in this culture. Stand in a check-out line at the grocery store and see tabloid headlines blaring “[Insert name] gains 25 pounds!” or “[Insert name] tips 200 lbs!” or “50 Fattest Celebrities.” Celebs, at least female celebrities, can’t catch a break for all the zoom lenses trained for cellulite, bloat or “mom jeans.”

It’s ironic considering how many Americans are obese. According to the CDC, more than a third of American adults are obese and more than a third are overweight. According to WHO, obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. So, does that mean we’re self-hating fatties? And yet, we have awareness of this fatphobia problem.

I don’t know why we hate fat people so much, but having been an overweight and/or obese person for many years, I can tell you it isn’t easy. And once you have a baby, the post-baby body is…well…less than ideal. Even for someone like me — who hasn’t been classified as a healthy weight (according to the BMI) for much of the ’00s — it is hard to look in the mirror post-pregnancy. I know what fat feels like. For me it’s not about fat rolls and pounds on the scale, it’s about the texture and shape. Every part of my body has changed. The skin hangs limply, stretched to the point of numbness in some places. It bulges stubbornly in places I’ve never had that problem. My ass — if you can believe this — is actually flat as a pancake now, where it once was round and perky. So, it’s not just that I weigh more or less. It’s about the composition of things.

The reason why I am sharing this is to point out the problem that so many post-baby women have. It can feel disheartening. And then, when you add in work (whether at home or in an office), other children (if you have them), family obligations, taking care of your household (cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc.), driving the cat to the vet … and on and on … it starts to feel wholly impossible to get back into shape.

And this, my friends, is why it is so irritating to me when I see the media give itself fellatio over “stories” about women who’ve lost all their baby weight in a matter of minutes after giving birth. It’s the epidomy of unrealistic! It’s tantamount to air-brushing out the work and pain it would take to do that. Her baby weight just melted off! Her abs are more amazing than ever! Bullshit! Even if the fat melts right off — and I can believe that because I lost 35 pounds in the first 5 weeks after my baby was born through nothing more than breastfeeding — it doesn’t mean that the body looks awesome or that it is as firm and properly toned as ever. I am back to my pre-baby weight. So what? I’m also still wearing maternity clothes and can’t get my old jeans back on. That’s because the body changes in more ways than just weight with pregnancy! And many celebrities also have the help of a whole staff of people to help them out.

I also wonder at the methods so many celebs use to get rid of their baby weight. I saw an episode of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami (don’t ask). The one that just had a baby was training to get back in shape for a cover photo shoot for a women’s fitness magazine. She said something about how she didn’t want a lot of air-brushing because she wanted to show moms that it was possible to look good again. But she was also working out for hours, twice a day, and barely eating. She eventually collapsed on a run on the beach. So…that’s realistic? That’s showing me that I can do it, too?

I’m not saying that I don’t care about the changes pregnancy made to my body. I have some vanity like everyone else. But I am not going to kill myself trying to look “hot” again. And I’m not going to be a self-hating fat person.

3 thoughts on “The Fats of Life

  1. The CDC’s BMI calculator is as crazy as this country’s disconnect between it’s own fatness and it’s fat-hatred. According to that BMI calc, I’m OVERWEIGHT. And you know me, Em. Do I appear to be overweight? If that’s the standards that are used to measure the U.S. as a third overweight, then we have a serious problem.

    I’d rather see a health-obsessed society than a weight-obsessed one. The one would cancel out the other.

    • I agree the BMI is problematic. But how else can we talk about it? Body fat percentage is actually the most accurate to show health, but it’s also the hardest to do (full body submersion in water, tricky). I don’t know if I’ll ever be in the healthy range according to BMI. But I know I’ll run a 5K again. And I know health is not measured by pounds or sizes but by fitness and overall health. But how many people are even talking in those terms? How many people see those magazines, feel disgusted with themselves and just give up? That’s not the example I want to set for my daughter.

  2. Pingback: Feminist in a fat-shaming world | The Sin City Siren

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