I have a friend who is seriously considering bariatric surgery–the gastric sleeve, not the bypass. She’s a super-smart about-to-be-PhD nurse who is a walking compendium of common sense, can build/plumb/wire just about anything (and has the power tools to do it), has a wicked sense of humor and a gorgeous heart. But her knees hurt and she’s been turned down for long-term care insurance and she did one of those medical weight loss programs last year, lost a bunch of weight, and was still turned down. I don’t think she’s all that fat (she’s significantly smaller than I am and walks every day), but, apparently the insurance company does (insert here my usual rant about the vile, conscience-less profit-obsession of and rank greed of insurance corporations and the whole Medical-Industrial-Complex, who are hand-in-glove with each other–not to mention the fact that the gross bulk of our medical expenditures in this country, in spite of the M-I-C’s happy demonizing of fat folk and their medical excesses, goes to the terrifyingly, repugnantly excessive end-of-life care the M-I-C is so happy to feed. Like we can cheat death forever. Like it’s the enemy of the aged–skinny or fat.). I asked whether she wanted me to keep my mouth shut and support the heck out of her decision, or whether she wanted me to pass along all the articles I have about why it’s mostly a bad idea (mostly is an important word there) and then support the heck out of her decision.
I also know a young woman–my daughter’s age–who is having the surgery. I don’t know her well enough to be in the same sort of conversation with either her or her parents. So I nodded and made a vaguely supportive/sympathetic noise.
Of course, it’s THAT time of year. Resolution Time. I loathe and despise Resolution Time. The message of it can be perfectly benign–it’s not a bad thing to take stock and think toward how to be more peaceful and productive with yourself. But, really, the only resolution that gets any true respect in this culture is to become more HEALTHY, by which They (you know–Dr. Oz and everyone else in the media who is filling up our heads) mean exercise lots more and eat lots less–with infinite salvific variations on how this is supposed to magically happen and infinite stories of how this or that person has made it happen (and damn few stories about those same folks 5 years down the road). God, it’s exhausting. It sucks that being disgusted doesn’t eat more calories.
I do have a resolution, btw. But it doesn’t have squat to do with my “health.” It has to do with writing, and, should I manage it, will go a lot further toward improving the heck out of my life than losing weight would.
So my friend says we can talk, and I will support the daylights out of whatever decision she makes. The young woman–I wish her the best possible outcome–short and long term for whatever process she chooses. It does, in fact, suck to be fat. not for any particularly valid reasons, but because the world makes it wretched on a jillion levels. Because humans seem to have some sort of need to have some group to loathe hard-wired, and fat folk are about the only group left it’s almost universally okay to loathe. We’ve had this discussion before. It’s exhausting. I’m really trying not to have it as often. I’m really trying to save up my anger for stuff I can do something about or that involves chemical weapons and harm to children. I’m becoming increasingly uninterested in the idea that people think I’m lazy, stupid, aesthetically challenged, morally void, greedy, and without human worth because I’m fat. I’m BORED. it’s a bit of a paradox–or something else I don’t actually know a word for–that I can be both bored and hurt at the same time, But there you are. People who equate thin with ALLTHINGSWORTHY are small-minded, deluded, mean-spirited, wrong–the list could go on for a long time and you could play a sort of match game to see how many and which terms applied to which specific haters. But there are better things to do–ranging from taking a walk to writing a novel or cuddling any baby you can get your arms around.
So I’m going to just give you a present. Go here and read this: https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott/posts/419734154822900
And have a year in which you define yourself for yourself and define health for yourself and beauty for yourself and find the kindness within to nurture and pursue your true self. Not so that you can live up to anyone else’s standards, but so that you can approach all the other human beings around you with kindness. All of us have wounds, and the overwhelming majority of us deserve kindness (I will make some exceptions for, say, Assad, the folks who invented ALEC (maybe), sexual slavery traffickers–people like that, because I am an imperfectly evolved human and they really are inexcusable.) So maybe we can start with ourselves and move outward. And make the world fat with kindness.