I am taking part in a blog collective in that we all write a post under an umbrella topic. Started by the ever lovely Rhiannon and with some of the best women I know taking part (that would be Amy and Alice) we will all be writing monthly. This month's topic is 'prejudice' and I decided to write it on something that I feel very strongly about.
I am fat. I don't sit around eating a family pack of crisps to myself every evening or eat four dinner's on the trot. I eat a varied diet and the majority of my meals are under 600 calories unless I eat out. I enjoy a bottle of wine every now and again and I have no opposition to exercise when I am well enough. I can often be found in the gym on a good day blowing off steam, taking the dog for a five mile walk and walking to and from school daily for the school run.
In truth, it's portion control. I eat a lot of food. It may be food that's arguably good for me but a lot of it still equates to a good amount of calories. Since I can't exercise too much with my condition my weight is stable. I am losing 1-2lb a week consistently but I can't see a difference in my body shape right now so while it is disheartening, I feel so much better for eating well. If I cut down my portion sizes and walked just ten or fifteen minutes more every day there's no doubt I'd see a bigger difference but I don't. That's my choice.
People have said that I must be lazy. They have told me they imagine me to be disgusting at home because that's the view we have of overweight people. Comments like "Why do they make tracksuits in larger sizes? They'll never use them for their intended purpose". Comments that include the words 'lazy, disgusting, afraid of exercise, no pride, unhealthy' etc. These words are all born of prejudice, of pre-judgment. These people don't have grand insight into our lives or our homes but feel they do as excess weight speaks volumes.
Yes, there are health issues associated with being overweight. Yes, some overweight people do eat too much of the wrong food. Yes, some overweight people don't exercise. To position an entirety (over half of the UK population, in fact) in 'Fat camp' is wrong. We are not all like each other. Some, like me, don't really have an excuse. Some do. Some fit into this category of lack of pride, unhygienic and lazy. Some don't. Some find it offensive because they're struggling with their weight themselves and chipping away at their self-esteem doesn't help matters. Some are very comfortable in their own skin at the size they are. We are separate people rather than one fat entity that needs to be eradicated.
I won't get started on the NHS paying through the nose for obesity related cases. I won't start on healthy lifestyles being promoted yet unattainable for those on low incomes or with health conditions. I won't start on the choices of grown adults and I definitely won't start on inflicting unhealthy lifestyles on those that have no choice. They are related to what I'm trying to say but I have a whole lot of opinions on those matters.
In short, prejudice against the fat is prevalent in modern society. Thin is in, always has been and while curves are celebrated, cellulite is condemned. When my ideal body unfortunately exists in a separate body (Kelly Brook's) and is considered akin to a 'heiffer', something is wrong. Adele is overweight, celebrated for her voice but condemned for her imagined lifestyle. You see a fat person in a magazine and you know the article will reference the weight, not the achievements even in some small part. In a multicultural world with many acceptable lifestyle choices this prejudice should not be as readily available to pick up as it is. For us, for our future generations and for our mental well-being.
It is so difficult to look past the fat and see the person for some people but when you realise it's none of your business and judging someone on facts you've overheard or read isn't as black and white as you'd like it to be, it becomes a whole lot easier.