tonight I had The Fat Talk with my folks. we’ve discussed my weight and health my entire life, generally with some combination of tears, anger, frustration, and sadness. i should preface this with the statement that my parents love me so very much and they are my favorite people in the world. they are two of the most compassionate, loving, selfless, and all around fan-fucking-tastic people I’ve ever known. however, they, like the rest of us, live in a sizist society, so until I began to explore FA, our conversations about my weight and health (the two always came together) were really hard for me. They are both in the medical field and I was raised to put a lot of trust in medicine. so when they told me I was at a higher risk for diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, you name it, because of my weight, i trusted them. And I was a kid with some shitty self-esteem at times (who wasn’t?). i didn’t feel pretty enough or thin enough and they wanted nothing more in the world than to make it better for me. i won’t get into the specifics about what used to be said when i was younger, but suffice to say that we didn’t and still don’t often talk about my weight because it is a big ol fatty fat mcFat elephant in the room. Best to just move along and not force awful conversations if we don’t have to.
but with this blog and my work with FA, i’ve become much more comfortable having these difficult conversations. so we talked tonight. They told me about how they are concerned I am lonely and unhappy. They talked about how they wanted me to lose weight as a young person (and now) because they thought I would have a better chance at finding love. And they told me about their concerns for my health – my increased risk for diabetes and so on. And then I got to share my feelings with them; I got to educate them on FA. I promised them I’m not faking my happiness just to get them to shut up. Sure, i’m lonely sometimes. but so are skinny people! And if I wanted a damn boyfriend, i could have one. all sorts of fat people have partners. I just haven’t found one that is as awesome as me yet. I was able to stay grounded and tell them that while I want to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into my diet and to move more each week, it’s possible that i may never lose another pound in my lifetime. I think this was a huge shock to them, because they still hold out hope that one day I will decide to lose 40 pounds and then my life will be better. But it’s important for them to hear that my life is great now and that I can be healthy AND fat (and have been for most of my life). As for the health stuff, this is where it gets a bit tricky. We discussed HAES a bit and they agreed with my statement that health indicators change for the better with a good diet and moderate exercise, regardless of a person’s weight (Dr. Dean Edell is my mom’s hero and he has said as much). But when we get really down into the specifics about an increased risk for diabetes and such, I can feel myself slipping back into my kid-self, unsure of the medical language, not well-versed in the ins and outs of discussing peer-reviewed articles, etc. They know medicine, they’ve been in the field for 30+ years. I don’t feel comfortable (or educated) enough just yet to jump further into the “being fat doesn’t necessarily put you at a higher risk for [fill in the blank].” so i’m able to set boundaries – we won’t talk about this aspect of FA until I feel more prepared. And we may just need to agree to disagree.
bottom line is, my parents have been married for 31 wonderful years. they love each other with a kind of love that is pretty rare these days. they want the same things for me and they fear that because i’m fat, i’ll never get them. ALL of their concern stems from love for me, I get that. and i don’t begrudge my dad’s seeming inability to get past the fact that it’s possible i may never lose a single pound again. he was raised in a large family where women were regularly called out on their “weight issues.” he is in medicine. to him, it’s fairly straight forward. lose weight and have a better chance at happiness, because the world is rougher for fat folks. so i won’t fault him for his thoughts. what i will fault him for, however, is a refusal to start to try and see the world in a different manner now that he’s talked. and i trust and love him – he will work on it.
fat people are happy. fat people live normal lives. in fact, we DARE to be happy and live normal lives when many of us are told on a daily basis through subtle (and hit-you-over-the-head) ways that we don’t deserve to be or do either. and right now what i’m most happy about is having parents who want only the best for me and who can truly listen to me and try to see the world through my eyes just a little bit.