Monday, March 19, 2007

Is fat contagious?

I feel so strong right now. I want to shout from the mountaintops about my new found freedom. I want everyone to shed the chains of the diet dictators -- and live free to be who they are in whatever shape they find comfortable. In my little naive world, I'd think everyone would embrace this. Instead, I find a few people smile at me sweetly and offer a comforting pat on the shoulder. In their head, I think they're saying something like this: "Poor little fat girl. She thinks she can change the world. She is so very wrong, but I'll offer some support to the misguided thing." The other reaction I get-- in fact the reaction I get most often -- is one of fear. It's as if they're saying: "I'd like to join you on your crusade, but you're fat and I don't want to be fat. If I sign your Declaration of Independence then I might become fat like you."
The sad thing is, the people that react like this are most often the people that really need to declare independence from Ed and Vicki more than anyone else. Ed and Vicki have such a hold on them, they live in constant fear of being who they really are. That who they are will be unacceptable to the world around them -- even to those that truly love them for who they are.
I'm of a mind to take this show on the road, to write a book, go on tour and tell everyone they don't have to buy into the rhetoric. You don't have to look like a Barbie to have a successful and productive life. We no longer have to kill ourselves trying to fit a norm that is inhumane and unrealistic. We don't have to put our lives on hold -- we can experience joy at any time regardless of what the tag says in the back of your pants.
But in the back my mind I keep hearing a voice, it's probably Vicki's voice, the kill-joy that she is, saying: "No one will believe you. You're too fat. Once you lose a little weight and look healthier, then you'll have some credibility."
Now, intellectually I know that I speak well in public and that I can make my point no matter what. But, when someone looks at me in horror when I tell them about my crusade, I wonder. Am I insane? How can I make a point when I look the way I do?
I've had these thoughts floating around my head for about a month now. Then, my friend Nancy S. sent me a link to a wonderful site: There I read a story about another woman's frustration. Writer Kim Brittingham ( an incredible essay about her experience with fat phobia. To combat the horrid looks, stares and comments she got while riding the New York City bus system, she created a fake book cover that reads: "Fat is Contagious -- How sitting next to a fat person can make you fat." So instead of just idly sitting on a bus, she gets to watch idiots react in horror and supporters wink at her knowingly.
What a great idea! What courage and creativity! Kim Brittingham is my new hero.
She could have climbed inside herself and become depressed, even self destructive. But she didn't. She not only took the high road, she did so with a sense of humor ... and more importantly a sense of self.
You can read her essay at:
I've corresponded with her a couple of times. She sounds like a dynamic and intelligent woman. If I ever get back to New York City, I'll buy her a beverage. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my copy of "Fat is Contagious" ...