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07 November 2004 @ 10:03 pm
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.
I feel: contemplativecontemplative
cute, in a dumb guy with a dream kinda way.skyfading on November 8th, 2004 01:11 am (UTC)
if I weighed 200 lbs, I'd be underweight.

why is that? i only know how to base weight off of height, so i'm interested in how you got that.
Vicki: Who me??hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 01:21 am (UTC)
Because of my height and because I am literally large-boned, as opposed to women who are very tall but willowy. I'm built like a football linebacker under the extra fat.
(no subject) - skyfading on November 8th, 2004 01:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - taradiane on November 20th, 2004 11:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jordan Catalanoprettyveela on November 8th, 2004 01:57 am (UTC)
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 everyone has suffered discrimination and yes we do need to come together. I think it's going to take time because some groups will feel as if you're using them just to further your own cause.

There are some parts of constantine's post that I agree with and some that I don't. I asked the question on Fandom Wank about "Is Blacks/Gays the new OTP?" and MissWindy answered me by saying:

The cynical side of me thinks it's because it's the most emotionally charged and sensationalistic comparison a person can make re: oppression. I've seen it called the "it's-just-like-slavery bandwagon" before. Writer Cornell West talks a lot about how everyone who wants to make a point that their group has suffered persecution and oppression for centuries always says "It's just like slavery!" Me, personally, I've seen Jews, gays and lesbians, paraplegics, left-handed people, people in the autism spectrum, the morbidly obese, homeschoolers, anti-smokers, and senior-citizen advocates all compare their special interest group to the struggle against anti-black racism, so I think West may be on to something.

But now whenever I see anyone compare anyone who wants to be treated in a way that they perceive as "more fairly" whining about "We're practically the NEW BLACK PEOPLE!" it invokes a knee-jerk reaction to tell them to STFU. Whether or not the analogy is apt.

No matter how true the analogy might be or how similar, it's going to cause a knee-jeck reaction. Getting over that hump is the key.

Vicki: Dariahermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:08 am (UTC)
I completely understand the point, and honestly, I've never compared fat discrimination to race discrimination before, although I have compared it to queer discrimination.

And I'm not about to say I know how to get over that hump, but maybe if we keep pointing it out, people will realize it's more than just a hump.
(no subject) - prettyveela on November 8th, 2004 02:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Gah? - prettyveela on November 8th, 2004 02:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Gah? - hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Gah? - prettyveela on November 8th, 2004 02:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Gah? - hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Gah? - prettyveela on November 8th, 2004 04:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Gah? - hermorrine on November 10th, 2004 03:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
That's what she said.: -_-altricial on November 8th, 2004 01:58 am (UTC)
Honestly I'd rather be all the other minority groups combined in one than to be fat. I went to family gathering yesterday and couldn't even bring myself to meet the eyes of my relatives cos they've got SO MUCH to say about my weight. I'm proud of my sexuality but I doubt my weight is something I'll ever be vaguely okay with.
Vicki: *SIGH*hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:06 am (UTC)
And that's because you know they think you could change it.
(no subject) - altricial on November 8th, 2004 02:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 8th, 2004 09:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - prettyveela on November 8th, 2004 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 8th, 2004 09:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dejaspirit on November 8th, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 9th, 2004 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
Pervy Hoodie Fancierdancingrain on November 8th, 2004 02:10 am (UTC)

Man, I seem to be saying that to a lot of people lately. I kinda like knowing that.
Vicki: Natural beautyhermorrine on November 8th, 2004 02:23 am (UTC)
And it means a lot to me that you said it. *hugs*
Kay Taylor: corsetkay_taylor on November 8th, 2004 06:41 am (UTC)

Morri, your posts are always so well-written and well-argued. I'm particularly with you on the bisexual issue - I've never met a straight person (yet) who has a problem with it, but I've been ostracised from my LGB group time and time again because I'm 'normal on the outside' and have a boyfriend. Gah.

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?

And that is so true.
dejaspirit on November 8th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
It's like this in most demographics though. I get more racism, frankly, from Black people than I do from white people regarding my melaninly challenged appearance. It's sad, and silly, and sometimes scary.
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 05:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kay_taylor on November 10th, 2004 11:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
God for Harry, Rachet and Saint George!rachet on November 8th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC)
What a great post, Morri. Congrats on putting this all out there. I wish I was brave enough to do this.
Vicki: Handgrab!hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks. And if you don't feel brave enough for everyone to see it, filter it highly or post it private or print it out for your therapist. Just get it out of your system.

meg: autumnmeggitymeg on November 8th, 2004 02:49 pm (UTC)
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.

Word. I don't actually *know* how much I weigh - but I have a ballpark estimate, and unless you're a doctor or another overweight person, you wouldn't ever guess my "number" just by looking at me. I'm large-boned and broad-shouldered, with very muscular calves and a 38DDD chest; I'm a size 18 on good days, a 20 on the others - and yet people don't have any problem accepting the 170 on my driver's license (which was put there when I was 16 - I've always just renewed my license so it's never changed). As if!

And yet, when I went in to see my new GP the other week, she said very seriously "you know, the high end of the safe weight/bmi range for your height is 153" or something like that. I just looked at her, and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but have you *looked* at me? If I was 153, I'd be skin and bones."

Anyway. Great post - and I agree with you. And Dionne. I may have been born white, and straight - but that's about all the head start I got, and it sure as hell doesn't mean that I don't understand and empathize with other minority groups. Because being fat, or poor? Just as much of a struggle for acceptance as being black or gay - except we don't have the luxury of a whole mess of anti-discrimation laws.
That's what she said.: :-@altricial on November 9th, 2004 06:29 am (UTC)
Whoever invented the BMI ought to be smashed in the face by a weighing scale -.- Today, I was recommended by my doctor the surgery that Morri is going to get just based on my BMI.
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 03:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 9th, 2004 03:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 10th, 2004 05:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 10th, 2004 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 10th, 2004 05:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 10th, 2004 06:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - altricial on November 10th, 2004 06:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 10th, 2004 10:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
dejaspirit on November 8th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC)

Vicki: *SIGH*hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC)
Whyfor sobs?

(no subject) - dejaspirit on November 9th, 2004 07:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hermorrine on November 9th, 2004 08:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
drama queen: Crossed legscirakaite on November 11th, 2004 08:31 pm (UTC)
*friends* I've seen you commenting elsewhere, and have mutual friends, and . . . that was just incredibly well-put, and so true. I'm a rugby player, and a rower, and I'm built like one- tall, very stocky, with solid bones. People have been telling me since I was 12 that I was fat, and that sort of thing tells to stick. Yeah, I go through phases of being more and less fit, depending on a lot of factors, but the bottom line? Weight isn't something that you control. And telling people that they've always got the choice about it is one of the things that leads to eating disorders.