Fat Folk and Food

Published March 13, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

The lovely Twistie dropped by my post asking for what you would like me to talk about, and suggested that perhaps talking more about food and cooking is something that I could do.  I think that’s a fantastic idea!  So I’m going to start thinking about topics around food and cooking and fat acceptance that I can blog about.  If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best.

To start with, I think I would like to talk about the false perceptions that many people have about fat people and food.  Mostly that we’re all gluttonous pigs that can’t control ourselves.

One thing I know most fat women deal with is the double standard of judgement.  If you’re out in public, and you’re either eating or shopping for food, you’re being judged.  If you buy high calorie foods like sweets, chips, ice-cream etc, well you’re just proving what a disgusting pig you are right?  But if you are buying a salad, then you’re kidding yourself fatty.  That shit isn’t going to help you.  So  you’re damned whichever way you go.

A couple of years ago I was out for dinner with a guy I was seeing at the time.  Most of you know, I’m a mega fatty, up in the morbidly obese range.  My date was a tall, lean man, with nary an ounce of fat on him.  Picture us sitting for dinner in a cafe.  I had a fairly simple meal, a chicken filo parcel with a garden salad on the side, and a coffee.  He had a steak burger, a full serve of chips, potato salad and coleslaw, and a large milkshake.  He was just asking me if I was going to finish my salad so he could eat the rest of my meal, when a couple walked past and I heard the woman say to the man “She clearly likes her tucker.”

Excuse me?  I’m sitting here with a normal meal, but because I’m a fatty I must be a glutton.  Yet my date is lean, but has a metric shitload of food… but I’m still the glutton.  Nobody was judging him because of the food in front of him, but I was being judged because of the size of my body.

Even through the years that I was starving myself and purging, but still fat, I was being judged.  I would hide that I wasn’t eating from everyone in my life, yet on the rare occasions when I did have food anywhere near me, someone would almost always comment on my eating.  Is it any wonder I had a fucked up relationship with food?

As Twistie mentioned in her comment, it has got so that eating or shopping for food in public as a fat person has become a political statement.

I used to hate grocery shopping.  In fact I did most of it online many years ago, back when online grocery shopping was pretty new.  Because I got sick of the comments in supermarkets, no matter what I put in my trolley.  Because I didn’t have the confidence to hold my head up and look the bitchy people in the eye and say “Mind your own bloody business.”

That’s what it really all boils down to.  It’s nobody’s business but YOURS what you eat, buy/put in your shopping trolley.  If anyone makes a comment, hold your head up and tell them to mind their own business.  Or a new one I’ve been trying is to ask them “What does it matter to you what I have in my shopping trolley?”  It’s amazing how many turn beet red and scurry away.

I’ll be posting some more on the subject of food and cooking in the not too distant future.  I’m in the process of trying lots of organic and direct from the farm produce lately (it tastes WAY better!) so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about.

What are your experiences with food?  Do you think that the stigma around fat people eating anything at all has contributed to unhealthy eating habits for you?


20 comments on “Fat Folk and Food

  • I had the most issues in high school just going through the lunch line and then sitting at lunch with everyone. I never really got what I wanted because I was always hyper aware of people looking at me.

    • Oh God yes! Most of the time I didn’t have lunch at school, we were flat broke and I had an eating disorder. But if I dared go anywhere near food, some smart arse always had to make a comment.

      • I made the fatal error of buying an ice cream sandwich in 8th grade in the lunchroom – I never bought another one. I had so many comments on the way back to the table that I thought I would pass out from the humiliation.

        Now, I buy whatever I want in the grocery store. I really haven’t had too many people say anything to me. Frankly, I just don’t give a damn what they think and it sure does feel good! Maybe they can sense that by looking at me cause they don’t bother with the comments.

        • Yes, I remember that feeling too. For me it was a chocolate milk. It was humiliating.

          But like you, nowdays I don’t give a shit and I sling it back at them if someone makes a comment.

  • Once upon a time I feared how I would be perceived buying food or consuming it in public. I would have a small salad when I really wanted a plate of pasta, or take fifteen minutes to work up the nerve to order a damn ice cream cone. Then I would go home and scarf up an entire box of crackers or a family sized bag of Cheetos just to prove I could eat if I really wanted to.

    The damn thing was, I wasn’t proving anything to anybody. I was just screwing up my body out of a combination of fear and spite.

    It was a shock to friends – and to Mr. Twistie – when I started just ordering what I actually wanted in the first place, be it a salad or a steak. The thing is, I’m happier and eating in a more healthful manner just because I’m no longer afraid to order dessert if I want it.

    As Fat Heffalump says, it’s nobody else’s business what’s in my shopping cart or on my restaurant plate.

    Funnily enough, I find that now that I’m buying food with confidence, I’m not noticing as much judgment. While I know for certain I was being judged by some, I wonder how much of the judge was in my own mind. In fact, the last time someone commented on the contents of my shopping cart, it was a friendly checker at my friendly neighborhood grocery store. Her comment? “Wow! those lemons smell amazingly good.” She’s also been known to suggest really great cheeses for me.

    I’m an adult. I get to choose what I eat. It’s my business, not anyone else’s. If someone chooses to make it their business, that doesn’t mean I have to play along. I will not give them that power. It’s mine, and I’m not handing it away for free to anyone else.

    • You know what I’ve discovered Twistie? Since I’ve started shopping at the farmers markets, the people I buy from are SO much more friendly and less judgemental. They’re not there because they’re collecting a pay cheque, they’re there because they’re passionate about the product that they grow and sell. They love whatever it is they’re selling, so they’re just thrilled to see someone else who loves their stuff too. They’ll talk to you about their meat or cheeses or bread or whatever with passion, regardless of what you look like. It’s made shopping for food such a pleasurable experience.

  • Doesn’t it seem like the people who make these comments have no idea that we are thinking people who can speak? Unfortunately, if like me we just freeze up in horror and say nothing, then we can’t disabuse them of that idea. It must be much harder to be judgy if they were forced to think of us as human beings.

    • That’s just it. They think of us as “other”. We’re sub human to them. The media and beauty industry, diet industry, medical industry and various other haters in the public eye *cough-Meme Roth-cough* sell our “other” status to the world all the time. Thus the headless fatty shots. We’re not people, we’re just fat, to them.

  • I remember for a while I only ate salads. And not because I liked salads but because they were a ‘good’ food to eat. And peanuts because they were high in protein, low in carbs. But then I got sick of it and said screw it.

    Until recently I kinda did care about what others thought about what I put in my shopping cart, but then one day I looked around and saw that those people had things more things they considered ‘bad’ in their carts than I did. So I stopped caring for the most part. I still get that ichy feeling on the back of my neck from time to time like I’m getting a dirty look, and it makes me flinch, but I still get what I want to go in my cupboards and fridge. I’ve never actually had someone make a snide comment about what I have in my cart though.

    • It’s funny how you can feel that isn’t it? A lot of people try to tell me I’m imagining it, but I know when someone is beaming some hate or judgement in my direction, I’ve been dealing with it my whole life so I’m pretty finely tuned to it now!

  • I am right there with you all- but I have to admit I have never had a “comment” made to me. But I am 6’1, so they are prolly afraid I will hurt them:) Anyway, I was at the movies with a friend and I was holding her large popcorn cuz her hands were full. I had the thought for an instant that people are prolly looking at me and thinking “yes, the fatty is going to eat all of that and gain even more weight.” I had to mentally spank myself and stop that thought. I was at least glad I recognized the thought and put a stop to it! Then I stood up straight and proudly held the popcorn!
    But on the note of seeing what other so called “healthy” people eat…I happen to work with dermatologists. We were at a meeting which offered water and soda along with cookies, brownies and fruit. I looked around the table and 9 out of 10 docs had soda and cookie/brownie crumbs in front of them! So, don’t buy into that lie that we are all so disgustingly unhealthy and they are so superior. It ain’t true! And, not one of them have ever given me a second look or comment when I choose soda over water.
    Lastly, what does “tucker” mean. I am from the states and I can’t figure out from context what the douchebag meant when she said that word.

  • I spent years feeling intensely self-consious about eating in public. Mostly feeling, mind you. I’d rarely-if-never-ever-ever actually change what I was doing, because my anxiety was just a tiny bump beneath a big topcoat of WHATEVER, SCREW YOU, I DO WHAT I WANT. (The caps are totally necessary, here.) I would eat “bad” things en mass because I ‘could’, because my mom or my babysitter wouldn’t stop me, because I had lots of money now, because I might very well get hit by a bus tomorrow and I might as well have a good last meal.

    Not all of those reasons are terribly good ones.

    My inner thought processes have… inverted, somewhat. I eat differently than I used to, because I’ve started listening to my gut (and various related organs) and I operate better by doing X, Y, and Z thing which is not particularly relevant to the discussion. I don’t restrict. I just don’t indulge needlessly. So I find myself occasionally blurting, like a doofus, “Yes I want skim milk in my latte! 😀 Ha ha! Fat girl wants skim milk, yeah yeah, I’m NOT ON A DIET, NO SIR no seriously I’m not” which is a different kind of not terribly good. I mean… no one CARES. Really.

    Fat Acceptance is a journey. And on this journey, I remain centered and sane by telling myself that ‘no one really cares’. No one is judging me or my food. If they’re doing it quietly? Well, they’re douchebags, and I’ll never hear them, so whatever. If they’re doing it outloud? They’re still douchebags, but they’re douchebags that I can TOTALLY have it out with. There will be FISTICUFFS, if need be! I’m NOT putting up with that sort of crap.

    I have not yet run into an out-loud fat-hating douchebag. This is probably good. Violence is wrong.

    • Mate I’ve run in to dozens of out-loud fat-hating douchebags. I’ve had them spit on me, push me, swear at me, you name it. I have wanted to get physically violent with them for sure. But I’m better than that. Plus I might break a nail, I have nice nails.

      Since I’ve been mending all the disordered eating I have found I prefer skim milk too. Give me full cream cheese, yoghurt, cream, ice-cream when I have those, but when it comes to milk in coffee or on my cereal, I much prefer skim. It just seems to be kinder to my tum!

      • I will totally come and visit you, and follow you around, and unleash my terror upon all the people that dare be mean to you!! For serious. My nails are short and strong and can take the abuse. 😀

        I prefer 1% milk, given my druthers. Still a bit creamy, but not too much so. (Do they have that in places other than Canada? I’m in Canada.) And there’s nothing better than a good yogurt! Screw diet yogurt! Screw it in the ear!

  • Lampdevil some years ago I would have taken you up on your offer. But these days I’m strong enough that I have got it covered.

    I don’t know what all the percentages of milk are anymore. They don’t really sell them under their percentages here, there is trim, skim, and a bunch of other things.

    Skim is the old style “not full cream” that has been around for ages, so that’s what I stick to. Trim I think is white water!

    Diet yoghurt is nasty, nasty stuff. I like my good thick Greek probiotic yoghurt I buy from the farmers markets. Damn it’s good!

    • Oh yeah, Farmer’s Markets are the best. I love talking about food to producers and cooks, they appreciate my knowledge and don’t judge me other than to comment I seem to know a bit of what I’m talking about (from hating food to loving it and discovering a whole new world in these last 15yrs. I’m a dyed in the wool foodie -food tosser too I guess 😀 )
      I thought I was the only weird chick who drinks skim but likes full cream yoghurt/cheese etc. Great to know we’re out there. Drinking full cream makes my tummy feel evil but when it’s cultured as in cheese and yoghurt, it doesn’t have the same effect.
      Cheers 😀

  • I never ate a thing at high school. I’d pack some stuff so my mother wouldn’t comment then when I’d open up by lunch box, I’d say out loud “Aah, not hungry today ” and offer the contents around. They’d be happily scarfed up by my pals. I was so hypo by the time I got home I’d “drink” a carton of custard straight from the fridge. I got out and out hateful comments about being a pig, or a buddha, elephant. I had a severe eating disorder in my 20’s. One small serve of vegetables a day and about 5 hours of exercise. Was I skinny?…hell, no, just not as fat, despite denying myself. I totally effed up my metabolism during those gawd awful school yrs and it’s never recovered. Now I eat because I like to, I love to cook for my family, they all have healthy respect for themselves and enjoy eating as a pleasure not a chore or something to hide. I’m still fat. It’s all a bit “meh” now. I am what I am.

    • Oh I remember those hypos when I was a starver. Always trying to stave them off, eat just enough to bring myself around and then puke it back up again.

      It’s no wonder our metabolism is completely screwed.

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