Vicki (hermorrine) wrote,
Vicki
hermorrine

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How being fat is like being queer is like being black is like...

I read and commented on both constantine's post here and katrionaa's post here and commented on them both. And when I started commenting on the latter, I got to thinking.


Chances are, I'm going to piss off some people with this, but that's just too bad, isn't it?

I'm white. So I lucked out on this one, at least in terms of society. I freely admit that. I didn't feel racism directed toward me until I was nearly 30, and it was very bizarre experience. I'm certainly not saying that due to only a few experiences, I suddenly know the ins and outs of this sort of prejudice. But on to the next...

I'm bisexual. I've known I was since the age of 10, and so I'm fairly certain that it's genetic, and I have a number of other reasons why I believe this. The issue with being bisexual, however, is the fact that we enjoy prejudice from both straight people and gay people. The straights who are prejudiced think we're "just gay anyway and trying to fool them," and the gays and lesbians who are prejudiced think we're "sitting on the fence," "trying to enjoy 'straight priviledge,'" or "pretending because in recent years, it's become cool to be bi." I think what bothers me most about this one is that by a huge majority, the people I've actually met who I've felt prejudice from were from were gays and lesbians. I guess they're angry that I can "pass" as straight. The thing is, I go out of my way not to do so. I'm out at work - and have been for my past 3 jobs - out to my family (with one exception), and out to my friends. I talked about my ex-boyfriend to all of the above, and if I ever have a serious girlfriend, I will talk about her. I, like constantine, am emphatically not saying that every single queer person should do this. Many people do not have the mostly accepting family I do, colleagues and employers who are open-minded, or absolutely excellent friends. I'm also 33 years old and frankly, to a certain extent I'm past caring what other people think. *shrugs* But I'd like to think that my being out makes some small difference, and I think constantine's point is an excellent one. Yes, she's a good friend of mine, but that doesn't make any difference. Friends are people who like each other well enough that they can disagree on some issues and STILL like each other - it's called agreeing to disagree. I know I've done that with some of you before, and hopefully in a manner that wasn't nasty - I'd except the same of you. Onwards...

I'm fat. Fat as in well over the limit of any typical doctor's scale, as in only a blind person wouldn't know it - if you want the exact number, ask. The reason I don't readily give out the number is that I've found that the majority of people don't really have a clue as to how the numbers on the scale actually look like on human beings. Most people think 200 lbs is fat, and if I weighed 200 lbs, I'd be underweight. So if I told you what my actual number on the scale says, some of you would likely wonder why I wasn't a) round as a beach ball, b) making my living in a circus sideshow, or c) dead already.

That being said, I've had people over the years say the same things to me about my being fat as they have about my being bi, hence the reason for this post. Both GLBT folks and straight people have said to me, or others like me: "But being fat is a choice. You could lose weight if you wanted to - you just aren't applying willpower to change your behavior." And to that I've answered the way I'm sure many queer people have: "Yes, I've chosen to be something that the majority of society looks down on, if not hates, because it's JUST SO MUCH MORE FUN THIS WAY." Right.

Now some of you might be thinking: But Morri - aren't you trying to have weight loss surgery? Doesn't that mean you can lose weight? Yes - but you have to understand what I've gone through to get to making this decision, which was extremely difficult and I must emphasize, not for everyone. If anything else had worked, I would not be doing this. And I have to say that what brought me to this extreme decision was that I realized I was ready to die. I know many of you are now completely confused, so let me explain.

I've been fat all my life, and it runs in my family. I have a number of medical conditions, but the most serious is diabetes. I've been diabetic since I was 21, so 12 years now. I've been fairly careful most of that time and I've never had any complications. During most of that time I was involved in the size acceptance movement and had given up on dieting or really trying to lose weight. I worked on accepting and loving myself as I was, instead of trying to become what society wanted me to be. And I really managed to achieve that, with the help of friends who felt the same. But there was a problem. I kept gaining weight. And my health was deteriorating. It got to the point 3-4 years ago where I started having trouble walking. I found that I couldn't really walk for more than about 5 minutes without being in an extreme amount of pain and needing to sit down before I fell down. And there were a lot of other, more personal things that I either couldn't do any longer, or had to figure out new and more difficult ways to manage. My quality of life went down considerably, but I tried to change my eating habits, tried to do some kind of exercise. Weight loss surgery was suggested over and over by almost every doctor I saw, but I kept refusing - I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about people who'd had WLS, not to mention it seemed like I was just giving in to society's pressures. I didn't care about being thin and I don't think that necessarily makes one more beautiful. But I did - and do - care about my health.

Early last year I started having problems with foot infections. For diabetics, this is a bad bad thing. When you hear about diabetics having toes or feet amputated, it's because they have a sore or cut on a foot that they don't notice or can't feel, and because diabetes is a immune disorder, it becomes infected. And then the infection spreads, and eventually the foot or leg or other body part has to be removed for the person to survive. So you can see why foot infections would scare me more than, well, almost anything. So I was seeing my podiatrist on a regular basis and we managed to get the infections healed, but he said to me, very seriously, that I needed to do something about my weight. He's known me as a patient since I was 12 years old and he's seen me grow up and gain more and more weight, and he told me that this was just the beginning - things were going to get worse. He also noticed the edema in my calves, and the fact that my high blood pressure was not under control despite medication. And he suggested that I seriously look into WLS. I was only 31 (at the time), he said, I was too young for these problems. He didn't want to see me die. And so I thought even more about WLS, something I'd come seriously close to having a few years earlier, and I then decided that it was time. Yes, I could die on the table having the surgery. Yes, I could die afterwards from complications. And yes, if I don't have the surgery at all, I will die in a few more years. So it's time.

I've written all of this to prove that even in a case where there are medical problems involved, where I have mobility problems, where most people don't find me attractive, where I am discriminated against for jobs, in shops, by airlines, etc, even with all of these things, the majority of society still believe that being fat is a choice. And I'm here to prove that wrong. The only choice I'm making is to have a very serious operation where my digestive system will be completely rearranged and my entire life will be turned upside down because of it. If there was a way other than this, I would have done it. But there isn't.

Sometimes I think that people who are part of a minority get so much out of being put upon and being able to complain about how bad everyone else is treating them, that that is the reason they get so pissed off when another minority compares themselves to them. No one else can possibly know their angst and pain! No one else has it as bad as they do! I'm not trying to say that I know how anyone else feels, and I know that I can explain how crappy my life is and how badly I get treated until the I turn blue, but why is this a pissing contest at all? Why can't we all acknowlege that there's something wrong with all these sorts of discrimination and then work together to make society see ALL of us? I think that is what constantine's original point was, and it's mine, too.

And I'm done.
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