Monday, November 26, 2007

When I Can No Longer Hide...

Watching Joy Nash's Fat Rant videos, the one segment that hit closest to home was where she looked around and went through the litany of excuses that has hovered in the back of my own mind since fourth grade.

I can't talk to that guy, why would he be interested? I'm fat. If he's not interested, it's because he thinks I'm hideous. Because I'm fat. That has to be the reason, right?

But wait, she says, there are so many other reasons. I'm a bitch! I can be selfish. I can be mean...But what does all that matter when I can just say, that person won't like me because I'm fat?

When you let a physical characteristic define you, there's always the danger of it so overshadowing every non-physical characteristic that it becomes a shield, a weapon and a hiding place. If I assume that people will only react to my fatness, then it gives me no motivation to work on those parts of my personality that might stand out if I were thin. It gives me my own personal whipping boy to hide behind and justify my many actual flaws.

Personally? I can be both mean and petty. I've always been self-absorbed to some degree. I'm a terrible housekeeper. I often fall into the annoying habit (I know, because it annoys me so much when others do it) of acting like a "know-it-all", and pointing out even pointless errors of fact in any conversation in order to refute them. I smoke too much (since "at all" is really too much). So?

This isn't an exercise in "woe is me" or a moment of self-flagellation. In fact I know of many other "quirks" in my personality that may or may not be something that needs fixing...which is the real point. Fat isn't something I can fix, so by buying into the social illusion that it can, I am provided with a handy occupation that takes a lot of time and worry. Everything else is put on the back burner while I consider my fatness, because it is, in some ways, easier than tackling problems that actually CAN be fixed if I devoted head space to it.

So, fast forward to 2007 and strip away the definition of fat as a fault in need of a solution. Could it be that the guy didn't want to talk to me because I was a cringing mess of self-abuse who wouldn't even make eye contact? How attractive could that be? If I just walked up and smiled, would I have been stripped of my own excuses?

So the fortune cookie of the week: Let a definition become an excuse, and that excuse will become a stumbling block.

(Did you know the fortune cookie was actually invented at the beginning of the 20th century in California, and is pretty much a phenomenon of the U.S. and Canada? ...Ok, so no, I really can't help it. But I can work on it :-) )


Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I've been working on that myself, especially when it comes to guys. I always feel like, "Yeah sure I'll just go up and talk to him, and he'll say "Yeah like I'd EVER date a fatty like YOU!" I doubt anyone would say that in public, but it's like that anxiety causing demon in your head says he'll say that, so you don't bother meeting any guys.

I also did know alot of guys in high school who were enough jerks, to say something similar to that. Kind of tweaks your impression of people.

JoGeek said...

Guys (and many gals!) in High School can be absolute monsters...I find I have an almost Pavlovian negative reaction to women dressed and made-up with a certain level of "perfect" yuppie trendiness, probably a psychological remnant of HS when that was what the cruel chicks looked like. The problem is, many of those girls might have turned into really nice people away from the social pressures of HS, but it's still going to take a bit for me to venture to find out.