Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Invisible disabilities while being visibly fat

October 28, 2011

I was doing some research the other day on Fibromyalgia and came across this quote:
Although fibromyalgia can lead to intense pain and fatigue, it’s important to keep fit as best as you can in order to avoid unhealthy weight gain.” This quote was taken from what is considered to be the foremost expert website on fibromyalgia.  My mind is still sputtering and sloshing around in my brain pan, trying to comprehend how someone could even write a sentence like that.  Do we really hate fat people that much?  It seems so flip to me.  Oh sure, you have intense pain and fatigue, but OHMYGODWHATABOUTTHEOBESITYEPIDEMICBOOGABOOGA!!! Oh sure, we know that when you have fibromyalgia your brain sends about 10 pain signals for every 1 pain signal sent in a normal person, but you know, you should really worry about how fat your ass is getting.  You don’t want to be “unhealthy”.
So that quote is what got me thinking about today’s post.  Although the fat acceptance movement seems to be making tiny bits of progress here and there, it seems that we must still justify our fatness by proving our health.  Well let me just clear that up right now: I am not a healthy fat person.  I would not be a healthy skinny person either.  No matter what I weigh – my body has chronic health issues.

If you are someone who has chronic pain, then you probably understand the irrational rage that goes along with someone saying “But, if you just exercise! You’ll build up tolerance!”  It is usually at this point that I start making rabid dog faces and twitching a bit.  This is one of the most invalidating phrases I have ever heard in my life.  When I hear this, I feel as though I am being blamed for my own illness.  “If only you weren’t a fat, lazy, bastard, then you wouldn’t be in chronic pain.”  Exactly how out of shape would I have to be, that holding my toothbrush up to brush my teeth causes cramping in my arm muscle and a need to sit down for 10 or 15 minutes afterward to recover.  It’s not like I lost my tooth brushing stamina at some point.

It goes along with the whole bootstrap idea.  If only I would push through my intense pain and fatigue, eventually my suffering would make me deserving of a thinner, healthier body.  When someone looks at me, they don’t see the pain, or the fatigue; they just see fat.  And as we all know, fat deserves to be punished.  You should see the looks I get when I go to Walmart and I choose to use one of the motorized wheelchairs.  Granted, I look young and extremely fat, but beyond that people cannot tell why I would need a wheelchair.  If I don’t use a wheelchair and instead walk slowly, stopping periodically to get the muscles in my back to stop cramping, I get equally judgmental looks.  Once again, the only thing people can see is that I am young, and fat.  They don’t see the fact that I take 400mg of Tramadol daily just to help take the edge off the chronic pain.  Or the mornings where I’ve cried from the searing pain caused by my 5lb little dog walking over part of me. Nope. I am visibly fat and that is where most people tend to end their assessment of my worth or abilities.  I’d love to see experts try and use that line on someone else with a disability or illness:
“Excuse me; I know that you have 3rd degree burns over 65% of your body, but you should know it’s important to stay fit to avoid unhealthy weight gain.”
Perhaps then we will be able to identify these self-righteous asshats via the imprint of various medical equipment that has been chucked at their head.

While I respect and admire many of the people who are charging ahead in the fat acceptance community, proving that fat does not mean unhealthy, I will be trudging slowly behind, wincing, and breathing heavily, chanting my own mantra: I am fat, unhealthy and I deserve just as much respect as any other living human being. 

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