14 February 2014

The Offense of Being Overweight in America

I had a little trouble with the title of this post. At first it was "The Crime of Being Overweight in America". I thought about that and realized that being a person with a larger than average height-weight ratio was worse than a crime in our society. So, I retitled it "The Mortal Sin of Being Overweight in America". That didn't seem quite right either. It goes deeper than that. The prejudice and enmity that overweight people in this country face on a daily basis is so ingrained in our cultural consciousness that innumerable slights go unnoticed by both sides, even when it occurs right in front of their faces. Our society seems to take it as a personal affront that there exist people who tip the scales more than the diet industry says they should. Obesity is treated like a character flaw, offensive to the general consensus on the strict parameters of beauty.

I have been on both sides of the coin. I was slightly overweight as a child, and obese as a teen and young adult. Throughout my school career I endured the endless taunts and teasing, bullying we'd call it today, of my peers and even members of my immediate family. I was conditioned to believe that I was always "less than" because of my weight. If I got good grades, it didn't matter. Told I had a beautiful singing voice. It wasn't enough. No matter what I did or who I was with, I was just off-center of fitting in, of being worthy of a place in mainstream society.

In 2004, at age 32, I had gastric bypass surgery. A year and a half later I was 113 pounds lighter and seeing the world around me in a whole new light.  It was as if a door opened up into a place so much better and brighter than the one I had been trapped in when I was overweight. Clerks in shops seemed friendlier and more eager to help me. People on the street seemed more inclined to smile at me and make eye contact. Everywhere I went, it was like people had morphed overnight from cold, guarded, generally leery and distrustful to receptive, neighborly, and ready to welcome me into the mainstream with open arms. Remember the R.E.M. song, "Shiny Happy People" ? It was kind of like that. Liberating, uplifting, and just a teensy bit creepy.

Within 2 years, the weight had returned thanks to a combination of meds, a severe depression, and slipping back into bad eating habits. I'm currently about 90 - 100 pounds overweight and struggling to lose it all again. The main difference between now and before the surgery is that I'm much quicker to notice slights, prejudices, and thinly veiled discrimination. Once again I am treated like a blight on a society where "thin is in". By having seen what it's like, having experienced first hand the preferential treatment afforded to the height-weight proportionate, I am now quicker to recognize when I'm being treated like a second-class citizen.

I'll be completely honest. I seriously liked the how it felt to be part of  the average-sized world and not only for the way I was being treated, but for the way I felt, physically and mentally.  I admit that I couldn't help but get caught up in all the hoopla about being thin. Still, in the back of my mind I knew something was not right. I felt a little guilty enjoying the perks not available to me when I was heavy. I knew it stemmed from a foundation built solely on my physical appearance. I was the same person on the inside, just in a smaller package.  Only the wrapping had changed. I knew overweight people were still being treated like pariah all around me and it triggered my "champion of the underdog" mode. Though I'm currently trying to lose the weight again (for health reasons), I know that once I'm successful I will continue to be a defender of the overweight. No one should have to feel like they are second-best to someone else simply because of their size. Judge me and others like me by our character and our actions, not by the numbers on the scale and not because we are outside of what our society considers beautiful.

19 June 2011

5 Minutes Can Mean So Much to So Many

I'm still working on that Nietzsche post while mulling over other topics I want to write about. Until I'm ready to do that (in other words, until I muscle my way through my title as "Procrastination Queen"), I thought I would share a few ways to help out some very worthy causes. And it takes less than 5 minutes each day to visit every single page and click to support their causes.

  • - click to support breast cancer awareness, ending violence toward women, literacy, and more; also offers free eCards for any occasion.
  • - This one is actually fun. Answer the world's easiest vocabulary questions and for each correct answer, they will donate 10 grains of rice to feed the world's hungry. If you want to stick with the 5 minute plan, simply choose to answer only 10 or 20 questions per day.
  • - As the name suggests, this site helps to feed hungry cats and dogs. There is a new trivia question for both dogs and cats every day. They will donate on your behalf whether you get the correct answer or not.
  • - Basically the same as You can click on the buttons for causes such as Autism Awareness, Child Health, the Rainforest, and more.
  • - Got old electronics gathering dust around the house or stuffed inside the junk drawer? This site will give you points for recycling those items through their program. They even foot the bill for shipping.
  • - These folks support a vast array of causes. Simply pick the one (or more) closest to your heart to get started.
  • - The Foundation for a Better Life offers uplifting quotes, motivational posters, eCards, and lots more.
  • - Find all kinds of ideas on practicing random acts of kindness, as well as personal stories submitted by readers, and resources for educators who want to incorporate these ideas into their lesson plans.

It really is amazing how much the click of a mouse can do.

27 May 2011

Likes/Disliks: Music

Likes:                                                        Dislikes:

  1. Daughtry                                            1. Gangsta rap
  2. Evanescence                                      2. Old country & western
  3. Nickelback                                         3. Lawrence Welk, et al
  4. 3 Days Grace                                     4.  Opera
  5. Matchbox 20
  6. Fuel
  7. Buckcherry
  8. Heart
  9. Eagles/Don Henley
  10. Gin Blossoms
  11. Stevie Nicks/ Fleetwood Mac
  12. Def Leppard
  13. Kenny Wayne Shephard
  14. Cusco
  15. Loreena McKennitt
  16. Crossfade
  17. Trans Siberian Orchestra
  18. Smash Mouth
  19. Jellyfish
  20. Goo Goo Dolls

Blogging Newbie

Welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by! This is my first foray into the world of blogging, so do be gentle in at least your initial comments. To be perfectly honest, I haven't even really decided what direction I want to take this blog. Until I make up my mind - which could be a while - posts will veer off in any number of directions. Sort of the anti-Seinfeld. It's a blog about everything, for now at least. About a hundred post ideas are swirling around my ADHD brain, most of which are wholly unrelated save for one factor - they all involve my perspective, my particular and sometimes novel way of seeing them. I'll try to offer a glimpse of the criss-crossed tangle of ideas that will eventually make up my little nook within the internet universe.

Initial posts will be lists of my likes and dislikes, each with an invitation to the reader to reply with their comments on the items I've listed or a list of their own favorites and fails - everything from movies to foods to bumper sticker quotes. Another idea that's been occupying the forefront of my brain for the past few weeks is a defense of one of my favorite and often unfairly maligned philosophers - Friedrich Nietzsche. Many of my posts will likely involve clearing up commonly held misconceptions, like those regarding Nietzsche, that I feel are important to rectify for one reason or another. Religion, politics and social commentary will make up several posts, if not the majority. I'll also write about personal experiences that I hope will inspire or, at the very least, entertain. And so, without further ado, I will take my first tentative steps on the path to blogging glory.