Weighty Matters

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Dispelling the Fat & Jolly Myth

on March 22, 2013

There’s long been a myth that fat people are jolly.  You see happy obese people in books, movies, television shows.  It’s almost a stereotype.  However, logical, reasonable people realize that being overweight does not create an abundance of happiness.  I’m not saying that all of us who are or were overweight are miserable all of the time, but we’re not Ho, Ho, Hoing all over the place a disproportionate amount of our lives.

We’re happy sometimes.  We’re sad sometimes.  We can be jolly and upbeat and the opposites also hold true.

Just like with other people.

Now, there are no doubt many overweight people who put on the show of being smiley, happy, full of joie de vivre and perennially upbeat, regardless of whether we’re actually feeling those things.  I spent years going out of my way to do whatever I could so that people would like me.  I was convinced I had to work harder at this.  I had to put out this shining, everything’s great, whatever you want I’ll go along with it demeanor.  That’s how positive I was that being fat literally and figuratively outweighed my perfectly fine, loveable qualities.  Yes, that was all the bloom of that stinkwood known as lousy self-esteem.

To the friends who knew me and stuck with me in those years, loving me for me no matter what, you have my love and my gratitude.  I wish I’d understood myself better and been able to accept myself the way that you always did and continue to do today.

This is not the real root of this post.  It’s just something that came to mind while I was processing some other emotional stuff that’s been going on for me this week so I thought I’d put it out there.  I don’t actually have a conclusion or anything wise to say about the fat and jolly myth, but it’s better that I put the bleckidy blurk blurk out in the post than keep it inside.

Anyway, the last two days have been fairly crappy for me emotionally.  I even had a mini-meltdown about it yesterday.  In retrospect, I can laugh.  When some people have meltdowns, it’s like emotional lava spewing up and then running down the sides, destroying everything in its path.  When I was much younger, if I’d stuffed anger for too long and then something triggered the eruption, it was ugly.  When I finally expressed that I was really, really mad, everybody around me knew it.  Hell, everyone in a three block radius probably heard it.

Now, with, *cough* maturity, I’m much more contained.  This is not the same as repressed.  It’s just that I don’t keep a lid on things until the steam pressure builds and explodes.  I’ll vent appropriately to a friend.  If the situation has reached the point where I feel overwhelmed or overcome, I shut the door and have a nice, private cry.

So, it’s been that kind of two days.  While the emotional stew has bubbled I have, naturally, wanted to eat everything in sight.  I’ve been good about resisting the food urges for the most part.

I’m glad it’s the weekend.  I’m really glad that I have an evening where I can take my tea and my dogs out onto my porch and just chill out.  I’m also going to be honest with myself and say that, overall, I’m grumpy as all get out.  Seriously irritable and prickly, and it’s obvious.   I went to get a polish change on my nails.  While the polish dried, I was enjoying some relaxation in the massaging pedicure chair, just sort of zoning.  Someone in the salon walked over and just sort of proclaimed, “Wow, you look tired, Mary.”

I really hate when someone says that to me.  Nice Mary would have given her a small smile and a polite, “It’s been a long week” response.  Tonight, I instead gave her a somewhat, “I can’t believe you said that” look and a moderately sarcastic, “Gee, thanks.”

A few moments later when I was leaving, a perfectly nice woman who just saw me a few days ago said, again loudly despite the fact that there were many customers in the salon, “You’ve lost even more weight, Mary!”   Well, the truth is that I haven’t since she saw me a few days ago.  I could, and probably should, have let the comment lie with only a polite, “Thank you”.  But instead I said, “No, not really.”  At least when the other woman then said, “Oh, but you look wonderful anyway”, I was able to find a scrap of my normal graciousness and thank her for the compliment.

I thought about this and the last couple of days while I ran into the supermarket, when I got home, as I ate and tried to figure out what is bothering me the most.

Then I read Jenny Crusie’s Good Wolf Lunch post on Reinventing Fabulous.  I realized that my Bad Wolf is telling me that I was a bitch and haven’t been playing nice with others.  The Bad Wolf wants me to think I’m wrong for being pissed off about some stuff that happened this week because, after all, fat people aren’t supposed to be pissy.  We’re supposed to always be jolly.  The Bad Wolf says, “You know better.  Suck it up.”

The Good Wolf says, “Nobody on the planet is required to be in a good mood all of the time. ”  The Good Wolf reminds me that I’m perfectly allowed to be cranky sometimes and to respond with authenticity even if authentic at that moment does not mean sunshine and roses.

So, tonight I give myself permission to just be however I want, to feel my feelings whether negative or positive, and to not feel badly about myself for any reason.  That’s how tonight I will live in reality instead of myth.

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3 responses to “Dispelling the Fat & Jolly Myth

  1. Hope says:

    Nobody should ever tell someone else that they look tired unless it’s accompanying a free latte. :p

  2. Skye says:

    I’m glad you figured out you were grumpy and gave yourself permission to be so. That’s a good way to get through it. Now you’ve got a whole weekend to unwind and get on a different track. Take care!

    And I agree with Barb: it feels like an airing of one’s private issues to say loudly “gee you’ve lost even more weight than when I saw you last”. I don’t like having that much attention to my private issues.

  3. BarbN says:

    If it were me, the reason why that comment would have made me pissy (because it would have) is because I’m a very private person, and I don’t appreciate it when someone wants to publicly broadcast my private concerns, even when they mean it as a compliment. It helps some to remind myself that some people would WANT everyone in the salon to know that they had lost a ton of weight, which keeps me from being quite so resentful of (what seems to me to be) their incredible lack of tact and respect. But the good wolf/bad wolf idea is a better way to re-frame the whole situation, thanks for sharing it. I haven’t read ReFab since the whole Betty implosion so I haven’t seen that post. Maybe someday I should go back! 🙂

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