Can We Talk About Fat?

Can we talk about fat? Can we talk about it openly for a minute? Can I be totally politically uncorrect?

I’m fat right now. Fat: There is no other way around it. I am not curvy — literally. I have a T-shaped body, so when I gain weight I get fat instead of curvy. I am not a big, beautiful woman, because I am genetically petite, not big. I am fat.

I got fat by eating too much and not exercising enough. It happened over the course of four years of marriage, and really picked up steam while I was pregnant. I was starving when I was pregnant. I never vomited. I had no urge to vomit. I wanted all the food, and I wanted it in my belly.

I could blame pregnancy, but really I like to eat. I eat a lot. I just joined an online diet program where I have to track what I eat, and it is becoming quite clear that I eat way too much. Right now, as I write this, I am eating a totally unnecessary Popsicle. I like Popsicles a lot. They have no nutritional value. Popsicles are frozen sugar. I really like sugar.

Here are a few things I really like that contain sugar: pastry cream, frosting, chocolate ice cream, coffee with milk and sugar, chocolate, chocolate covered almonds, and apple pie. I also like things that decompose quickly into sugar such as pasta and corn nuts. Pasta is basically sugar in a tube or string form, and corn nuts are a food of the morbidly obese. I know it sounds harsh to say that — that corn nuts are a food of the morbidly obese — but do you eat corn nuts? No, you don’t. You don’t because you are neither me nor morbidly obese.

I come from a family of chubby people. I don’t say that to be mean. I say it because it is the truth. I wig out when I am fat because fat is pretty much my genetic destiny, and it takes a lot for me to fight nature. I come from a family of people who stay up late and compensate for lack of sleep by eating sugar. It is that simple. I am walking in the footsteps of people who eat cookies and candy to stay awake.

It also doesn’t help that I am married to someone who has such a fast metabolic rate that he has to eat about twice the amount of carbohydrates as the average person or he will get gaunt and sweaty. As I said, getting fat started with getting married. With marriage came waffles, leftover challah, homemade pies for Shabbos, and more responsibilities at home which meant less time for exercise.

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I know this one lady who runs a business, teaches classes, takes care of her children, and her house is clean. She lives in a big, beautiful house and it is clean. She is so thin, and she must’ve had her colors done because she always wears the right things. I wish that I didn’t think that the existence of this lady somehow invalidates my own existence.

Why do I think that the worst way for a person to be is fat? At the same time, some of my favorite people are fat, and I don’t think less of them for being fat. (That is kind of like saying, “I’m not racist. My friend is Black.”) I think the worst way for me to be is fat — other people I am totally cool with. You do you, boo! The worst way for a person to be is cruel, or maybe narcissistic. There is no moral superiority in being thin. Like being thin doesn’t mean you’re eating less and then sending your food that you’re not eating to feed starving people in Monrovia. That would be morally superior, I guess. I guess it would be superior to spending money on organic kale smoothies and Spinning.

I don’t understand Spinning. I have done it, and it seems masturbatory. You ride a bike but don’t go anywhere. It’s just you, this weird bike, a dark room. You enter, you suffer, and you leave. I say this as I eat my fourth slice of cheese.

The question is: So what if I am fat? So what? Every day I am grappling with that question. I think about how fat I am, and then I say, “So what?” I mean what is the big deal about being fat? It doesn’t hurt anyone. My husband loves me and isn’t pressuring me to lose weight. My son wouldn’t know the difference — he just wants mom and milk. I’m not entering any beauty contests. What’s my rush? What is my big rush not to be fat? Why do I feel like I MUST GET RID OF THIS FAT RIGHT NOW?!

Well I have a degree in Women’s Studies, so it’s not like I’m naive as to why I care so much about my weight. I’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that women should be so tiny as to barely exist. Like little hairless wisps in the wind! I grew up in a white, white, white, rich, rich, rich place and everybody was so skinny, and it all did a nice job at brainwashing me to think that the worst possible way to be is fat. Despite the fact that I became a “progressive” feminist and then became a Lubavitcher (you’d think I wouldn’t give a rat’s tuchas about it at this point because my accumulated knowledge would counter the effects of growing up in the suburbs and being exposed to mass media), I still believe this stuff. That I have to lose weight. That the most important thing in life is to achieve the perfect weight. To not look like I shove pretzels and peanut butter into my mouth (try it — it’s satisfying).

I’m fat. I’m not OK with it. I can’t end this essay by saying, “Well now I love myself and I’ll just be fat and happy.” That’s not how I am, and it’s taking an enormous amount of time and money to change how I am. I’ve probably put my therapist’s four dogs through college already. And also, let me remind you myself that when I was skinny I had other reasons to hate myself, and they were much more serious reasons than being fat, so if I have to hate myself for something it might as well be for something innocuous.

Fat is innocuous. It is just fat. Pudge. Soft stuff around the body. I toy with the idea of being OK with being fat. Like maybe buying really nice clothes in this size and just accepting that this is my body. I’m a size 14. I used to be a size 6. I was a small and now I am an extra large. I keep messing with the idea of just letting it be OK. What if I didn’t care? What if I could stop criticizing myself for having put on a boatload of weight? What if I stopped looking at other women who seem to stay skinny during pregnancy and then lose weight while breastfeeding and not even bother with it? Cool for them, right?