Friday, December 29, 2006

What do you think about fat people?

Ten minutes into our run today, I threw this question at my friend Sarah. I've never asked anyone this question before, and very rarely even use the two words 'fat' and 'people' in the same sentence. I always thought I was protecting the innocent, sparing this vulnerable category of people. I was prepared for Sarah to chide me for calling them fat, or comment on what a strange question that was. Sarah's very quick on the uptake, so after a beat, she answered like she had been waiting for someone to ask her this question for years. 'Fat people really bother me'. I laughed, because it was such an unexpected response. 'Why?' I encouraged more. 'Well first they're always complaining that they can't lose weight as they're eating a huge McDonalds meal'. I felt she was being harsh, and wanted to rescue my fat people. 'You know what's funny' I said, 'I think the majority of Americans are prejudiced against fat people, and I think it's mostly because we're scared of becoming them'. Sarah agreed completely, then we both shared stories of how we had gained lots of weight in highschool and college, and later lost it, so we could really appreciate how important maintaining our current healthy weights was. We also both agreed that it would be incredibly easy to get right back in that fat boat.
This whole topic came up because of another friend had just met this great new guy.. They were cyber-dating, she saw his photo and was attracted to him, and they had good email communications. Then he suddenly sent her a recent photo where he had obviously gained a lot of weight. That photo ended their relationship. She wasn't attracted to overweight men. And it got everyone thinking in our group: How do we feel about weight issues? Very strongly, apparently. My little sister Anna is the kindest person, would never say anything mean to anyone. She invented her own language when she was 6 years old. It's called da da da da da's. She has about 20 or 30 of them. At least five of them were created for Zhenya, our father, at various stages of emotional upset. She had one for uncle Steve getting out of the cab to visit us on Shabbos. She had one for me when I had my hair pulled back too tight in a bun. And she has one for fat people. That's just the way it is.
Every human deserves respect and sensitivity to her differences, but as humans, we can't help having a little fun. It's all fun and games until you've gained 10 pounds by eating your whole box of dried peaches.