Through the twist and turns of this universe, the post I wrote earlier in the week has turned into several discussions in other places about what it means to “let yourself go”. People have different definitions, many of which match me to a T. It’s funny how crippling pain, constant nausea and chemo force oneself to be less than circumspect about one’s appearance.
But in addition to all of those suggestions (wear sweats all the time, lie around on the couch) pretty much everybody has one key thing in mind when they say “let yourself go”.
Put on weight.
I love how one of my defining physical characteristics–being fat–has become the gold standard for personal failure. I love what that says to every girl and boy and woman and man out there who are fat for whatever reason. It says that we don’t care who you are or how you became fat. You are fat and that means you don’t care about looking nice or taking care of yourself. It matters not all that money you spend on expensive clothes, beautiful shoes, exercise classes. You are fat and you are a totem of human weakness and inertia.
Of course since I’m me I point this out to people. Some of them are wise enough in the ways of the Kath to just say “good point” and drop it. A few say things like “we can agree that a person who is 300lbs is grossly overweight and unattractive.” And you know, if there’s one thing I like EVEN MORE than the dismissal of fat people it’s being told when, where and what I have to think. No. We can’t agree on that. Don’t speak for my headful of opinions and eyesful of taste. We can agree that you sound like a pompous pickledeer when you say things like that.
But there it is. The word everyone uses when they think they’re being polite. I say “fat” and the other parties always say “overweight”. In conversations like this, “fat” is always “sh!t” and “overweight” is always “defecate”. People think it’s kinder to say the O word.
People. It isn’t. Stop it now.
Fat is a medical term. It’s like arm and eye and capillary. It’s a word of neutral value that describes a body part. I’m fat just like I’m female. (I’m also forty and fair-skinned so I better watch out for gallstones.) I’m fat like I’m caucasian. I’m fat like I wear glasses. It’s just part of who I am.
But the word you all think is so polite? Overweight. That word says that there is a standard weight, a normal weight, a baseline weight. It says that by exceeding (or not attaining, as the “underweight” do) that standard you are an exception to normality. You are an outlier. Overweight compares people to everyone else.
It is by far the less polite word.