Fat people, and the language of oppression…

The language of the anti-fat brigade is, at heart, the time-worn and despicable  language of oppression. If “Jew” or “Black” was substituted for fat or obese in their all too frequent attacks, these people would probably be arrested. The Evening Standard, below, for example, should surely have been busted for inciting public disorder, but it wasn’t, because even the government sees fat people as a legitimate target, unworthy of the protection extended to other minority groups. Indeed, they’re not slow, themselves, to join in the persecution, as Jonathan Porritt, the government’s chief fuckwit green advisor, has even, bizarrely, accused fat people of causing global warming, which rather makes me wonder if he actually has both oars in the water. Odd, really, since our PM isn’t exactly a paragon of slenderness. Rather, a portly, jowly, sod with a butt like a taxi with both doors open. It’s worth noting, too, that the lad Porritt is not exactly lacking in the chins department.

Nuffield Health has, today, launched yet another attack, in a study claiming that we’re not taking obesity seriously enough (they certainly are – the buggers make a fortune from gastric-band surgery), and that fat celebrities, such as Beth Ditto, James Corden and his Gavin & Tracey co-star Ruth Jones, not to mention Jo Brand or Eamon Holmes, make obesity look acceptable.

Susie Orbach, writing in The Guardian, says that she can’t find the research that Nuffield cites, which is interesting – not to mention sinister – did they make the whole thing up?  (I can’t find Nuffield’s press release anywhere, either, though 60 newspapers and online sources cite it.)

Well, it should be acceptable, insofar as fat people, including celebs, should not be persecuted by the media, nor should fat kids be bullied by their peers. In most other ways, though, it shouldn’t be blindly accepted. Most fat people are capable of losing weight, but many lack the discipline or incentive to diet (and, no, not being fat is often not sufficient incentive). And some find it hard – or impossible – to lose weight no matter how hard they try. And this is the group I want to talk about – disabled people whose levels of enforced inactivity makes losing weight, in any meaningful way, almost impossible.

I’m fat. It’s for reasons mostly beyond my control (prescribed steroids), but I’m still fat. So, for the past month I’ve lived on little but salads, with a bit of fish for protein – a piscatarian diet. Against all expectations, I’ve actually enjoyed it .

I’ve come up with a salad that doesn’t make me feel as is I’ve just downed a pint of nitric acid – as a normal leafy salad does. Nothing dramatic, just shredding leaves, slicing red onions thinly (don’t like spring onions), and grating carrots, or beetroots, and dressing it with a mustardy vinaigrette. Served with a bit of fish, lightly fried in a little oil and butter or, the healthier option, baked, and maybe a thin slice or two of home-made bread to mop up the juices, and I’m in business. Maximum flavour, minimum calories.

Often, too, that’s the only meal I have. I don’t snack, either, most of the time, though I do have a snack at bedtime – it helps me sleep.

So now you’re anticipating the look-at-how-much-weight-I’ve-lost smugness. Well, you’re not going to get it because overall, despite a few fluctuations, I have not lost a bloody ounce.

How the hell does that work? I mean, I’ve eaten only one meal a day for sodding years now (since 2003, at least), to no avail, but, even so, the recent change represented a dramatic reduction in calorie intake. I’ve even thrown away my deep-fat fryer, and fattening foods like sausages, stews and pies have been eliminated though, to be fair, my stews were often more vegetables than meat anyway.

Exercise is the crux of the matter. Essentially, I can’t exercise in any meaningful, calorie-consuming, way. It’s simply not possible. Most days walking around my flat is a challenge (damned small flat, too). Previously, when I’ve needed to lose weight, just pulling on my boots and walking everywhere was the major weight-loss and keep-fit aid, but that’s no longer possible.

I’m not sure – because I’m not that obsessive (though I have been in the past) – exactly what my calorie intake is on any specific day, but on average I estimate it’s below 1,000 calories per day, and that takes into account  two visits to the pub per week. So even though I can’t exercise I think I should be losing weight, even if only slowly, but I’m not. At all.

I’m probably not alone, as disabled people often find losing weight difficult or impossible, and this blanket demonization of fat people is entirely wrong – we are not all over-indulgent, pie-guzzling, losers, who could lose weight if only we’d make the effort. Life isn’t that simple.

American hack Morton Kondracke, recently said that being fat, never mind obese, should be as socially unacceptable as smoking. Which is poisonous bullshit. Smoking kills not only smokers, but, potentially, anyone close to them, too. I’m as disabled as I am primarily as a result of a lifetime spent in enforced proximity to smokers – being close to fat people, on the other hand, would have done me no harm at all. The London Evening Standard, a few months back, even suggested that fat people eating chocolate should be publicly ridiculed. Hell, why stop there? Let’s stone the greedy buggers!

Where the fuck does this end? How long before fat people actually are stoned in the street? Not too long, I suspect, if fascist crap like this becomes the norm. Watch for the “Fat person beaten to death” headlines – I doubt they’re far away. Especially if this campaign of vituperation and calumny continues unabated…

5 thoughts on “Fat people, and the language of oppression…

  1. I’ve already had one witless tosser saying the only reason people are fat is because they eat too much! No it’s not, numbnuts – did you actually read anything here?

    Let’s get one thing straight. Eating too much isn’t the problem. If your body expends fewer calories than it takes in, the result will be fat. That’s a given. That is not the same as eating too much! Christ, I had 600 kcals yesterday, and that was higher than the norm. That doesn’t stop me being fat, though, because my level of activity is, of necessity, very low.

    The same is true of many disabled people. Before I developed ME I was extremely active, and walked or cycled everywhere. I was a leisure walker, too, spending all my weekends and holidays backpacking or just rambling .

    This was serious stuff. In 78 I walked from Cologne to Vienna (which turned out to be Graz, as I went down with a stress fracture , but close enough), and in 1982 I cycled from the channel coast of France to the Med, taking in Paris en route. And in 1983 I was struck by lightning in the hills of North Wales.

    In October 1985 that sort of activity stopped dead, when I went down with a mystery illness that, exactly a decade later would be diagnosed as ME/CFS. I had a remission in 1986, when I headed for the hills again, but by midsummer I’d crashed. From 1991, wheelchairs of various sorts – currently a powerchair – have featured largely in my life, and my weight, inevitably, started to climb.

    In 2002, I managed, by dint of sheer bloodymindedness, and buckets of pain meds, to abandon my chair and launch into a get fit campaign, as I was, once again, in remission. I did get fit, and lost a lot of weight, but eventually overdid things, and tipped over into a massive relapse which, to date, hasn’t let up, apart from one or two very brief periods.

    Now, in the summer of 2009, I am almost entirely housebound, and it’s a major effort just to walk round my flat. And I have a power chair again, as I’m too weak to drive.

    I have severe ME/CFS, severe COPD (don’t start – I’ve never smoked, OK), the long-term effects of the lightning strike, and widespread osteo-arthritis.

    So, let us be perfectly clear, I am not fat through over-eating, I am fat – like many disabled people, as I said – because of enforced inactivity, so don’t you fucking DARE tell me I eat too much! No-one knows better than me what I need to do to lose weight. I can’t eat any less. One small meal a day – and that for 6 years – is as low as any sane person can go.

    So, look, I’ll be happy to get comments from sensible people, but if you’re such a narrow-minded, ill-informed retard that you think fatness is ALWAYS and ONLY caused by over-eating, then don’t bother me. Your comment will be binned and will never see the light of day.

  2. Interesting that you mentioned Susie Orbach.
    I have her book Fat is a Feminist Issue.

    Tonight I was looking for my calves. This is not
    on topic except that my missing calf muscles are
    a testament to lost muscle.

    Many ME and FMS sufferers are overweight. Apart
    from the lack of exercise there obviously
    are other metabolic reasons.

    My research suggests that calorie restriction can actually
    worsen metabolic probs.

    For me…I gotta eat. Even half dead and not feeling
    very hungry my body insists on food.

    BTW after a recent increase in weight I have remained
    on the small side. Partly this is the way I eat and partly

    • Hmm… Still got my calf muscles, but my quads are history. That means that if I fall, or even kneel, there’s no prospect of getting up again unless there’s something to grab hold of and haul myself up.

      As I think I mentioned, ME/CFS is said to amplify a body’s natural tendency to gain or lose weight and, despite being massively under-weight when I was young (3 stone at 14), once I turned 20 my body decided that it’d had enough, and started piling on the pounds. As I was very active until ME/CFS came along it was never a real problem, and it was fairly easy to control my weight. Not any more, though.

      Despite external appearances, my appetite is minimal at best, though my home-made pickled egs are looking very attractive right now. Sadly, they’re not ready yet, and will have to wait a while.

      “My research suggests that calorie restriction can actually worsen metabolic probs.”

      My understanding is that if you constantly diet, your body goes into “famine mode” and hangs on grimly to every calorie it gets. Result, minimal food intake can still cause weight gain when you add in enforced inactivity.

  3. Very supportive and interesting article. Thank you. 🙂
    My 17 year old daughter and I are both obese and have disabilities. We weren’t always this way, but it happened. We can’t change it. We do what we can. There are many times we feel like outcasts from the whole world. We are ridiculed, even by family. We don’t eat any more than thin people. I live in almost constant pain. If only my doctor could understand and increase my pain med (fiorinal) I could be more active. (sigh) Being this way can be very lonely and depressing, knowing people think you don’t even deserve to exist.

    • Hi,

      Yep, I’ve had the better pain meds equals more exercise argument with my doc too – might as well have saved my breath. To be honest, I’ve given up worrying – not least because a few days ago I was hauled off to A&E with a gastric bleed, which I’m certain was caused, at least in part, by not eating enough (and partly by steroids and NSAIDS – but if I’d eaten enough to buffer them, I might not have had a problem). So now I’m eating more normally, in self defence, and I’ll probably balloon. Sod it – I’ll buy bigger trousers. 😉

      My advice would be stop worrying, live your life the best way you can, and to hell with what others think. Especially your family!


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