When Ex-Fatties Are the Worst

TW: this post will contain discussion of a specific and extreme diet

I had a professor a few semesters ago who would constantly say “confession is good for the soul” before he said anything personal. I’m going to borrow that for a moment and confess something. 

Six or so years ago, I was briefly an ex-fatty. Technically I was still fat, but I was starved down to in-betweenie sizes. And I was terrible. 

I’m sure I was an absolute chore to be around. My favorite topic of conversation was my diet, and I’d police what others ate freely and uninvited. 

What did I do to get this way? A “doctor” was selling a liquid diet from his office, and I fell for it. So I consumed minute quantities of powdered milkshakes and soups peppered with the occasional granola bar type thing (solids!). When I complained that I was too hungry to function, this “doctor” prescribed me Phentermine. If you aren’t familiar, it’s half of Fen-Phen — remember that stuff that had to be pulled because it killed people? Yeah, I took one of its components. 

It “worked” I guess. I lost something like 70 pounds, getting down to a size 16 from a 22/24. And guess what? That wasn’t good enough for me. I still hated myself. And it made me The Worst. 

See, when you do something like that, it’s all-consuming. You are literally starving yourself. It becomes all you can think about. Did I eat too much? Not eat enough? Should I drink extra water so I pee a lot before my next weigh-in? So it’s the only thing you can talk about. 

And now that I’m on the other side, I recognize how incredibly boring that must have been for everyone around me. 

When an ex-fatty is horrible toward fat people, that’s got to be a part of it. Also, you feel slighted — I did all this awful stuff to become smaller and I still hate myself, why does his fat chick get to love herself without the pain? It’s a prime example of Jes Baker’s idea of body currency, which you should read about if you haven’t. 

I’m not making excuses, because there are none. No one should be a douche about your body. Ever. I feel terrible that I was ever like that, and I now dedicate myself to never acting that way again. 

When you’re an ex-fatty you think you have an answer, that you’ve solved fatness. Of course, you don’t. There is no solution (not that there needs to be). Weight loss is temporary. But when you’re in the process, it’s like you’ve found a new religion or something — you have to proselytize. 

So how can we, current fatties, shut up ex-fatties? It’s difficult to say. If you remind people that weight loss is temporary you will probably be treated like you’re mean and stupid, which is not fun. I tend to stick with something aong the lines of, “if you feel good then I’m happy for you but that is not how I wish to live my life so please don’t bring it up around me.” You have to set boundaries and follow through. If they persist, leave the conversation (if possible). In the future if it comes up, leave again. If you can’t leave, redirect. Every time they bring up their starvation, talk about the weather or the Yankees or the new crochet technique you learned. 

Just because I understand their mentality doesn’t make it ok. No one gets to make you feel lousy in your own skin. 

Correlation/Causation (When It’s Convenient)

Last week, news came out that eating processed meats (like bacon and sausage) is strongly linked to developing cancer. 

My natural inclination was to make a few vegetarian-friendly jokes and move on. I already don’t eat that stuff so it didn’t really impact me in any strong way. 

But oh my god, y’all. The way people reacted was intense. Suddenly individuals who never normally bother to question anything from studies were dissecting every word of every article to point out the differences between correlation and causation. 

Because statistics are boring unless they mean someone might take away their bacon. 

If only people cared this much about correlation vs causation when it comes to other things, like fat acceptance. Everyone is perfectly happy to claim that being fat causes all these things and will make us die early without paying any mind to the difference between a definitive cause and a spurious relationship. 

Threaten someone’s meat consumption and suddenly they’re a statistical genius; point out that their fat hate is based on bad science and bias and it’s “everyone knows” and that we should never question a doctor. 

Apply the fervor with which you sought a loophole in the sausage-cancer link (no pun intended) to things that can actually help people, like combating misinformation about weight and health. 

Can’t Stop Us

I know I just wrote about Ragen Chastain’s stalker-like trolls last week, but she continues to deal with issues so I’m going to keep talking. 

Yesterday she posted a picture to Facebook from outside one of her talks. She was outside because someone had pulled the fire alarm to prevent her from speaking. 

You read that right. The same thing annoying kids do to get out of taking tests. An adult did that to try and keep another adult from giving a speech. 

Of course, it didn’t stop her. The talk went on, just a bit later than planned. But let’s seriously think about what is happening here. People are so fixated on her that they obsessively follow and try to sabotage her events. They are threatened by this fat woman who loves herself teaching other fat people to love themselves. That’s it. They are disrupting events and following a person in her life because her message of self-love is just too much for them to bear. 

If someone is speaking and you don’t like them, don’t go to the talk. It’s that simple. Bill O’Reilly spoke at my school a couple of years ago and the most I did was gripe about it to people in my cohort (I happen to think someone who promotes racism, sexism, and homophobia should stay away from universities, but maybe that’s just me). 

I don’t know what else I can say about this that hasn’t been said already by me or someone else. But we need to pay attention to this. It’s approaching GamerGate-esque levels of harassment and stalking, and it needs to be addressed. Take this seriously. Don’t say to “ignore the trolls” because these are no longer just annoying haters in the comments sections; these are real people disrupting real lives and threatening real safety. They aren’t trolls; now they’re criminals. 

Fatphobia, Paintball, and Project Runway

Spoilers for season 14 of Project Runway

Ashley Nell Tipton has been written about by almost every fat blogger I read, and for good reason. She’s the first plus size designer to appear on Project Runway, and she is easily among the most talented of the season.

However, it seems she has been frequently underestimated by some of her competitors.

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Early in the season, there was an episode that stared with the designers splitting into two teams to play paintball and work together. Despite having won two challenges already, Ashley was the last picked. I have a pretty hard time believing this had anything to do with design, especially considering whichever team won was automatically safe from elimination. So you’d think you would want to pick someone who had an early winning streak and displayed immense talent. This had to be internalized fatphobia — the designers heard “physical activity” and saw “fat girl” and decided she couldn’t possibly be an asset. The irony here is that Ashley is not only a great designer, but the only experienced paintball player in the group.

I’m sure everyone watching who grew up fat, or in some other way awkward and ostracized, was feeling all kinds of secondhand shame watching her sit there, not being picked. I know I did.

Heidi (fortunately) called them all out — why would you leave someone who has displayed such talent out? And everyone blames the women for only picking their friends (the teams ended up almost perfectly men vs. women), but no one was stopping the men from choosing her either. I lost respect for almost everyone on stage during that episode, especially Candice, who was a team leader and had worked (and won!) with Ashley previously. Laurie was the only designer who showed her any kindness, when she revealed to Ashley she’d heard the rest of their team conspiring to throw her under the bus when they were called out for their lousy designs.

She had some ups and downs throughout the season, as most do, and sort of choked during their “real woman” challenge, which was disappointing because that was the week everyone expected her to rock hardest. Maybe knowing that weighed too hard on her. The dress she designed was cute, but the colors weren’t great and it really wasn’t anything unique.

But the good news is, she’s headed to fashion week! Most people had already speculated this was the case when photos came out of the first Project Runway show to use plus size models. But once again, during the final episode before the finale, when each designer was asked who they would like to see come with them to fashion week, Candice and Kelly both said everyone but Ashley. I don’t know if that was fatphobia or if they didn’t want her to come with because she’s too strong a competitor.

Nonetheless, it has been an interesting season watching her compete, and I can’t wait to see the finale. The collection that is assumed to be hers is fantastic, and one that could win, but I’ve been wrong before. I can only hope Project Runway continues to embrace plus size designers moving forward.