It takes a lot of courage and patience to articulate truth when wider society is so adept at, and chronically intent upon, “criticizing, finding fault as if there were a reward for it” (Zig Ziglar).
Robin was invited to share the following work with Resilience 101 because it is an eloquent and deeply personal expression of the impacts we have on one another when we make assumptions, and form judgments, that are based on zero facts.
By guest contributor, Robin Walker.
I did it to myself in a way. I saw the title, I clicked on it, thinking for a second I would be hearing a vile human speak and a balanced human counter him … I made it through the first 2 minutes before I just had to turn it off, before I had to walk away and try not to just cry out of sheer anger and frustration. I wanted to write a letter to this person quietly, but couldn’t find a link or address, and truthfully, as I thought about it, I knew I needed to make this open forum. Will it change anyone’s mind? I truly don’t know, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Dear Joe Rogan, I made the mistake of watching you and Milo talk about Fat people, granted I only made it through a grand total of two minutes of the whining and back patting of how gross fat people are and how SJW’s must be fat, gross, lazy people, and how you didn’t understand fat acceptance. “Why should we applaud these fat, lazy, unhealthy people?” We aren’t looking for applause, we are looking for acceptance aka, we want to exist with out constantly being harassed, without people like you and Milo feeling it’s perfectly OK to openly hate us, mock us, or foist your insecurities on us because we don’t fit your wants and desires.
Mockery, bullying, harassment, negative reinforcement, have been proven not to work, yet we, fat people, get it from all sides, constantly. You judging a persons worth from a cursory glance and if they don’t fit the photoshopped, surgically enhanced, small bubble you live in, then they are gross horrible people to you. They should just put down the fork! Just go to the gym! Just stop being fat! But you fail to look at anything else. You fail to look at socioeconomic status vs availability of food (especially health vs unhealthy food cost). You fail to look at stressor/ addiction and how harassment/fat shaming actually makes those things worse. Even if you look at addiction to Drugs and Alcohol you would clearly see the more stressed an addict becomes (often) they lean more heavily on substances to negate that stress. And recovery is never easy, and never goes away.
And then there are people like me, who, due to absolute shit luck, won the Genetic, How BAD Can This Possibly Get Lottery. My entire life I have been Stocky/Fat, literally my entire life. 5’4″ in Fourth Grade, a solid 150 lbs, had a cycle, boobs, the whole 9 at 9 years old, and not a single doctor decided to test me to see if there was something wrong. I ate like a normal kid, though I did have a penchant for fruits. I was teased Mercilessly for being fat, and even though I did Gymnastics, dance, Martial arts, Basketball, swimming, Weight lifting which I excelled at, and other sports (year round Martial arts and at least 2 sports seasonally) while maintaining a 3.3+ GPA, my weight never went down.
At a young age I was made known that I was ugly because I was fat, unacceptable because I was fat, that I didn’t matter as a person because I was fat, and nothing I did made that any better. I cried till I fell asleep on so many nights because I was a hideous, awful person for existing. I hurt so bad inside I started hurting myself on the outside trying to bleed away some of that pain so I could just function. My parents, my classmates, my doctors took every opportunity to shame me for being fat, not one of them looked at WHY. It was so bad that it overshadowed what little happiness there was, to the point that its hard to remember that I can be happy, or that I deserve to just BE. I still don’t know how to process an actual compliment.
It wasn’t until I was 15 that a doctor finally thought to test me and found I had Hashimoto’s (Hypo Thyroid). So they put me on Thyroid meds and Phen Phen with a 1000 calorie diet. I lost a grand total of 12 pounds in 3 months and almost lost my sanity to go with it. It wasn’t until a few years later that they found out Phen Phen strips your heart and was killing people in their 20s and 30s, all in a pursuit to fit a narrow mold. Now I get to worry about the damage done to me decades down the line. It took another couple of years before they Finally diagnosed me with having Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which, wait for it, ALSO screws with your body and how it retains weight, most notably, not letting weight go. SO I got a Gastric Bypass at 24, the really major kind, where they rip up your internal organs, reroute some things, put you on a strict diet, and I lived through that hell thinking “Finally! I’ll be thin enough that I will be normal! I’ll blend in, buy average clothing, I’ll be normal and people will leave me alone.” I could barely eat, but my body, after dropping nearly 40 lbs in 2 months, nearly shut itself off. The weight loss nearly stopped dead in its tracks, so I started taking handfuls of diet pills, thermo boosters, pills that made my heart race and gave me blinding head aches. I kept most of that secret from my boyfriend at the time, and most of my friends. I damn near went broke and literally almost died Trying to reach that magical thin… or at least “normal”.
I lost 100 lbs before the pills almost killed me and before my body said “I don’t care what you take, not another pound is coming off”. And slowly, but surely, the pounds crept back on, and over a decade I’m back to where I started.
THEN I got the news that I had stage 3 cancer, the kind that pretty much only women get, cancer I had had for YEARS because doctors didn’t take my complaints seriously, didn’t test for, didn’t see anything wrong because I was Just Fat, and Being Fat was the reason I felt screwed up and why my body didn’t work right. “Just lose some weight and it will get better”. NONE of them looked at WHY I was fat, they just blamed it on a fork. It took be hemorrhaging and going to the ER where I practically forced them to do tests to find out what was wrong. Oh the joy of Estrogen Sensitive cells and no one listening cause what would this fat person, who is probably just lazy, you know?
That cancer cost me my entire reproductive system and I got to do menopause at 35 while recovering from being gutted. Guess what menopause does? Slows down your metabolism and makes it hard to lose weight.
The long and short of it? You wouldn’t know ANY of that just looking at me. You wouldn’t know unless I told you, unless you asked about my scars, unless you spent time to know me as a person instead of making that cursory assumption at a glance as to my worth as a person and how I fit your Ideal of what a person of worth is supposed to look like.
I/we want you to accept that we exist. I/we want to be represented. I/we want to be treated politely and with the common courtesy that others are afforded. I/we want people to stop fat-shaming, and feeling entitled to fat-shame us, just because you can’t stand that we can actually feel happiness even if we don’t fit in a narrow box. And BARRING that, barring being nice, just follow the old adage and say nothing if you can’t say something polite.
Don’t step on my neck to elevate yourself, cause I will fight back.
This article also appears on Robin’s Facebook page.