1. We like to exercise.
Fact: I am fat and I enjoy exercising. And so do other big-figured fellows. Invite us on walks, or to go out dancing, or have us be your buddy in a yoga class. We’re not marathon runners, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good workout or are without the capacity to survive a 5k. If you are athletic, consider joining in with your less fit friends by taking classes or making challenges. For example, I am fat and out of shape, but can totally join you for a 5k. I might cross the finish line 19m 32s later than you, but I’m there to cheer you on before you run and give you a high-five when I cross the finish line. Also, don’t assume that a fat person is not in as good of shape as a skinny person. When I hiked the Great Wall of China, I absolutely outpaced those who were “better fit” than I was. Shape doesn’t always indicate muscle, lung capacity, and sheer will power!
2. Emotions are calories.
We’re using the transitive property here ( if a=b and b=c, then a=c). For some fat people, emotional stress causes them to overeat or indulge in heavy foods that give the signal to our brains that everything is totally alright and just eat this, dammit. And what we eat has calories. Therefor, emotions are calories. For some, these emotional stresses result in anorexia, bulimia, binge eating… you name it. And guess what? Shaming and pointing out these behaviors does not fix it. Helping create a calm situation and healthy stress release habits is what wins this game. Remember, for some fat people, their weight is just the physical manifestation of the emotional baggage they’re carrying around. Be kind. Be encouraging.
3. It’s not a trip to McDonald’s.
Most fat people are not fat because they eat fast food. Quite the contrary, there are bigger buddies who have their shape because they’re just jolly, happy, and experiencing life. He is not fat from bad food, but rather full from the artisan bread, good wine, and homemade truffles. Or maybe she’s fat because she has health issues that limit her mobility and ease to burn calories. For years, I suffered from a severely messed up spine and out of place hips. A short jog or long walk would have me begging for a lie down with a heating pad and Advil. It wasn’t until I was fed up with useless muscle relaxants that I went to a chiropractor and discovered what a mess my lower back and right hip was. The intense pain that kept me from being active was my body saying to me, “Oh my gosh please stop moving you’re grinding your bones against your nerve endings!” After almost a year of weekly visits, my spine is slowly forming back to its normal curve, and I’m happy to say I can go for a jog or a walk without any pain.
4. Fat people come in all shapes and sizes.
Some people are top-heavy. Some people have a small waist and ample thighs. Some have a stomach that makes for an excellent bell curve in their portrait. Some are tall and big, and some are short and wide. It just seems that clothes designers don’t realize this. There is no one-size flatters all for plus size. There are women who have waistbands on jeans a size too big but are the perfect size for their thighs, or shirts that are too tight in the middle and loose on top. There are also plush women who are petites (which doesn’t mean skinny: it means smaller than average. My perfect dress was apetite, and I am far from skinny).
5. Fat people know they’re fat and they don’t let it stop them from living happy, active lives.
I’m fat. I’m not proud of it, but I’m totally OK admitting it. And as a fat person I can still wear pretty dresses, dance on the dance floor, flirt, fall in love, workout, have kids, be a part of the community, backpack the world, have a good job, and be who I am. I might not be always fat—in fact, I hope to someday join the running community and do crazy things like running 5 miles at 5:30 am before work.
I hope after reading this that when you next see a person who is, shall we say, larger than life, that you don’t scoff—or assume that person doesn’t like an active lifestyle—but rather look past the prejudices and see him or her as a happy and active person, who wants to go to the club or walking in the parking just as much as the next person.