It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done some non-professional writing, but tonight, I truly felt the urge to put a few thoughts to (electronic) pen.
Anyone close to me knows that I’ve suffered from confidence and body issues my entire life. From being a human Q-tip as a kid, to suddenly growing multiple asses after I quit smoking; it’s been a rocky journey.
I’m a porker. I’ll call it what it is.
Recently; I listened to a podcast from one Joe Rogan, a man I used to admire. On it, he and his buddy decided that devaluing people of size was to be the object of their derision and scorn for that broadcast. He also “suggested”, no, exclaimed that body shaming was good for fat people, and that we damned well deserve it! He sunk even lower by declaring that body shaming would surely force these lazy fat asses to see the light and turn our forks in for stair-masters.
I’ll not be listening to anything this man has to say again as long as I live. Take that to the bank. It’s also highly unlikely this piece will ever find its way onto his laptop screen. That kinda sucks, but hey, I can’t control the web.
If, however, by some miracle, this man ever did happen to read this; and I was fortunate enough for him to do so before he 420’d his brain into orbit, I’d like to point out the following. Fat-shaming…the thing that you defend and extol your motivator for thick-waisted morons like myself does immense harm and little good. In fact, it’s an act of pure malice; plain and simple.
If he required proof; I’d happily point his nose to the year 1983 when the first public figure died from complications of Anorexia Nervosa. Her name was Karen Carpenter; and like so many that followed; she was fat-shamed publicly. That incident, where some insensitive journalist called her “chubby” in print, forever changed the course of her life. And as history now recalls; it ended it far too soon.
I remember watching a television special The Carpenters made back in the late 70’s. Karen came out in a pair of overalls and sang her song; sparkling plenty and full of energy. Where I should have been enjoying the performance; all I could do was try and contain my shock at how “off” she looked. Even to a child, you could tell she wasn’t right.
Her death saddened me deeply. No one with that much talent should meet their fate so young.
She became the poster child for Anorexia Nervosa in much the same way Rock Hudson would become the face of AIDS a few years later.
I remember my grandmother once poking my sister in the gut and commenting on how “pudgy” she was becoming. I also remember how deeply that hurt her. She was far from fat, but those words cut into her like a scythe. It was a miracle she didn’t end up going down a darker path like so many other teenage girls have for hearing such things themselves. She was fortunate enough to be able to brush it off. So many others aren’t.
During my youth, I read a book titled “Blubber” by Judy Blume. It is a tale about the fat girl in school being mercilessly bullied and how she coped with it.
That book has haunted me ever since. As a person that’s survived many attacks from bullies throughout my travels, I certainly identified with her.
Personally; I’ve had my own battles with body image and casual “help” from others.
In the late 80’s; I was going through the worst period of my life. I endured a deep betrayal from someone I loved. In spite of that emotional pain, I faithfully remained their pillar of strength as they fought for their life in the intensive care ward.
As fate would have it; my best friend was going through a similar experience at that time. I blindly went to him for advice and support. He, unfortunately, had none to give. I certainly was in no position to provide him with any in return.
I was utterly on my own; no support from anyone but God.
I attempted to go to my family; but that was just not in the cards. The one conversation I had with Mama resulted in my telling her off for the first time in my life. Because of her claim that I was exaggerating the situation to get attention; I didn’t talk to her, or anyone else in my family for a very long time afterward. I spent years filled with rage and hate after that phone call.
It took me a long time to forgive not only her, but myself for being that angry.
Then one day, a “concerned” friend decided I needed his valuable “opinion” at precisely the wrong moment. He thought it was a great idea to comment (maliciously I might add) on how tight my jeans were becoming (at that time, I was anything but large). He further offered that I should be like him, and that my fat was disgusting.
I wasn’t fat. I was 135 pounds. I had gained exactly seven pounds. I was, however, very very impressionable and in an incredibly fragile state of mind. So, to please him, I dieted. I ate my salads and I Jazzercised myself into a heap every spare moment I had to work out. I made a total effort.
Two weeks in, I hadn’t lost any of the weight. In frustration; I cheated and bought myself an ice cream cone. Well, soon I started feeling very guilty for that treat, so what did I do? I decided to yawn it up in Technicolor over the porcelain god. That one incident soon became a habit. The reason was simple; I liked the fact that I could get into a size 26 jean comfortably after only a couple of weeks.
Of course; there were repercussions. My hair was my crowning glory. During this period all the hair at the bottom of my head fell out in chunks; not to mention the constant laryngitis I suffered. I also had a whole lot of acid reflux accompanied with chronic headaches. Yet to me, it was all worth it. That so-called buddy certainly complimented me on my rediscovered waist. Of course, he then decided my feet were too wide and suggested I have my baby toes taken off so I could wear narrower shoes like he wore.
You can’t make this shit up. But he was certainly filled with it.
Words…they can sometimes cut deeper than a machete.
I learned that Elton John years ago also suffered from Bulimia. He as well had faced one too many toxic pen critiques for his weight and took his woes to the loo. In fact, I’ve long since learned that many men had traveled a similar path. Some didn’t escape, others grew stronger for the experience.
Fat-shaming is sooooooo helpful, ain’t it, Joe “ol’ pal”.
Here are some statistics for the uninformed.
30 million people will suffer from some sort of eating disorder in their lifetimes. Women tend to be the biggest “losers” here.
Did you know that 50% of all women will eat unhealthily at some point in their lifetime while trying to lose or maintain their weight?
It’s a fact that 70% of women between 18-30 years of age don’t like what they see reflecting back at them in the mirror. It makes you wonder how many of them have heard “thunder thighs” being uttered when people thought they were out of earshot.
We men are not exempt.
37% of all men will binge eat at some point. This is usually prevalent in older men (like yours truly) and can lead to a viscous cycle of depression, not to mention weight gain and health issues.
It’s also a fact that 43% of us are suffering from body dysmorphia issues. As well, younger men will often resort to binge eating when they are being victimized or bullied (are you reading this Mr. Rogan). This does not lead as often to Bulimia or Anorexia Nervosa, but men do still suffer from it. And…that figure is on the rise. In fact, it’s up by 70%.
And to what do we owe this alarming trend? Body shaming for the most part.
We all pass the magazine racks and see that body beautiful. Impossibly toned and tanned; each man looks like they inhabit Mount Olympus. Every model on the cover of Cosmo looks like she ate a blade of grass for supper a month ago. Add to that jerks like Joe Rogan who have suddenly decided they are your personal judge and jury.
Where does this stop????
Demi Lovato recently decided to put an end to her weight loss efforts publicly. This beautiful and incredibly talented singer has a crazy strong body. She, however, has had a lot of people attack her for her very natural curves. So she’s basically taken a moment to tell her shamers to go fuck themselves.
She’s my new favourite person.
In Mr. Rogan’s smoke-filled world; if people aren’t running around trying to attain that 3% body fat ideal; they’re to be chastised and bullied until they see the light.
I wonder how many have sought their own “final solution” due to people like Joe. Many, from what my Google search has brought up while researching for this blog post.
I say it’s high time we all put our foot on the brakes. Hate is hate, no matter how many puffs of smoke you spew while using it as a weapon.
I’m throwing down the gauntlet, Joe.
Mr. Rogan. If you ever do read this; pay attention. I too, like you and your friend Mary Jane, have something to say.
You, Mr. Rogan, DO NOT get to tell me how to look. You also don’t get to tell me how to feel. And you certainly don’t have the right to bully me into dieting and exercising.
Joe Rogan, and all those out there that think their painful words are spurring me on to hit the gym; fuck you. Seriously, FUCK YOU!
The day I decide to finally break this cycle, it won’t have anything to do with you. It won’t be because I’m trying to please you or people like you. It’ll be because I decided I need that change. I could care less about what you think of me. Seriously.
If I never lose another pound, know this; I am good with it. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. I lovingly embrace my gut, butt and chins.
Yes, I am the product of my own bad habits. However; its I, not you, that looks into my mirror each and every day. And only I get to either admonish or praise that reflection staring back at me. I choose to praise it, devil be damned!
It may be in Panavision, but it’s mine. You, sir DO NOT have the right to try and diminish it; or me.
Stuff that in your hash pipe and smoke it, asshole!