I am the type of person who can only juggle so many balls. With school out for summer, I've been full-time parenting my needy son (curse you, ADHD!) while also working on a full slate of freelance jobs and trying to build a solid base for my little local blog.
As if that wasn't enough, I've also redoubled my weight loss efforts, which I've never really talked about. I am overweight and my natural inclination is laziness. Like, hardcore laziness. Like, I could lay on the couch all day long watching tv laziness. Ehem. Now that that's clear, I am proud that I'm trying to change my life-long habits by eating more healthfully and purposefully. We buy lots of local produce from either our Farmers' Market or the local CSA. We grill/bake/stirfry and never fry our foods. We have limited processed foods available to either the adults or the kids. I feel pretty good about our food intake.
It's the caloric output that gets me. Not only am I lazy, but I've lived my whole life -- as has every other fat person in the United States and other Western cultures -- under the self-righteous and disgusted gaze of non-fat people. They judge and assume and speak openly and loudly of their fear of being just like me. I can't begin to number all the blog posts I've read about the horror of being fat or a blogger's hatred/scorn of her overweight body (even when the body in question isn't really overweight at all).
The problem is not that the gaze is there. It's there for every women in one way or another. The problem is that this nasty gaze keeps many of us fat folks from doing what it will take to be healthier. With that in mind, I present these top five reasons fat folks would rather endure scorn than walk a few miles:
#1. The dreaded upside down V. Fat people know the V. You're geared out in a loose shirt and some type of cotton shorts, ready to get your walk on. You get going and your thighs rub rub rub and suddenly your inner thighs are naked to the world because the shorts' material is sitting up in your crotch. You try multiple ways to keep the material where it belongs -- the hip twist, the subtle squat, holding the material in bunches at your outer thigh -- until you eventually give up and dig the material out. Over and over and over again. I've considered just duct taping the legs to keep them in place. You could wear biker shorts -- and maybe you will if you're walking in the dark -- but the humiliation of walking with the upside down V is searing.
#2. Gawkers. You already have the upside down V. Now you have an audience. People in vehicles slow down and stare at you as they pass. People sitting out on their porches watch you as you come and then stare at you as you leave. You try desperately to keep the V out, but they're watching you. This is especially frustrating when you've gotten a really good pace up and your breathing is labored. You're trying to keep your V out while also trying not to be mouth breather. Fantastic.
#3. Encouragers. While gawkers are annoying, encouragers are just ridiculous. I'd honestly rather be stared at like a huge circus freak than have some out-of-shape old person congratulating me for having enough brain cells to know how to put one foot in front of the other. Fat people are just minding their own business trying to get a little walk in, but our society of thin(ner) busybodies feel they are justified in telling us how great it is that we're actually exercising, how more people "your size" should take that initiative, and a rundown on the health benefits of exercise. And, yes, I've experienced all of these and more.
#4. Chatters. There are some people smart enough to know that fat people know exercise might make them not-fat and there are plenty of people who know enough not to stare at one walking by, but then they go and mess it up by trying to hold a conversation with someone who's struggling to keep her shorts out of her crotch while breathing with her mouth closed after being stared at by morons and told she's an asset to fat people everywhere. Seriously? Does now really seem like the right time to discuss that new decision the HOA made? Could we wait to chit chat about how hot it is? Because I'm sweating profusely and my glasses keep fogging up and I think there's spittle in the corners of my mouth. Rain check, okay?
#5. Chafe and blisters. You gave up on the V, so your thighs are seriously chafed from rubbing together for the last 15 minutes. Your shoes don't fit right because your feet are over-pronated or flat or wide and so the resulting ill fit has rubbed blisters into your ankles, soles, and toes. You're hobbled from physical pain and feeling over-exposed from constant run-ins with busybodies. You want nothing more than a shower to get the nasty sweat off, bandaids to protect your sensitive spots, and the damn couch to lay on. Because that's where your ass belongs. And that is where you'll likely stay because damn if it's worth it.
So now you know. And, hopefully, next time you see a fat girl huffing while hoofing it through your neighborhood, you'll leave her the hell alone and realize she wants nothing more than to go about her business without either your pity or your input. Fat folks around the world will thank you.