Laziness and Discipline (with some help from our animal friends)

Given that my little friend Moxie is the new face of The Obesity Epidemic, as soon as I saw the following video, I knew I had to post it here. After all, this is clearly what people like Sally Ann Voak, assorted douchehounds, and self-righteous temporarily thin people imagine happening when 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost.

They’re just not trying hard enough!

In reality, of course, fat people, unlike adorable kitties, can and do exercise. [ETA: adorable kitties, too! — Kate] I can definitively say that my co-bloggers Kate and Fillyjonk, both of whom are fatter than me, exercise about a bajillion times more than I do (hey, I’m in grad school — it’s all I can do to finish my reading and consume my required weekly dose of alcohol). When I had more time to exercise? I was fatter. You might be starting to sense a pattern.

On the Douchehounds thread, Roughmagic left a comment that broke my heart.

I’m a teacher who’s written a book, I have a beautiful son, and I cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 friends and family every year, but I don’t consider myself hard working or disciplined in the least because I’m fat.

Roughmagic, despite strong evidence to the contrary, has been convinced by all the fatphobic strains of our culture that she is more like that lazy cat than like the accomplished person she is.

Take a minute and remind yourself, even if you know it already: your body is not a sign of failure. Your body is not a punishment for your moral character. You are not lazy because you are fat. (And if you are lazy, that’s nobody’s business but your own!) You have just as much right to control of, and happiness in, your own body as my cat does in hers.
I was going to end this entry with another cat, but in fact a different and more sublime animal image keeps coming to mind: Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese.”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Go read the whole thing (it’s short). And then be good to the soft animal of your body, whether it’s soaring at the moment or, like mine, just trying to catch a nap on the treadmill.

33 thoughts on “Laziness and Discipline (with some help from our animal friends)

  1. Yes, not only am I responsible for my own obesity (and any future children seeing as fat women have a greater risk for fat kids), I am also responsible for my cat’s obesity. According to magazines and news websites, I am “loving my pet to death.” The vet felt the need to point it to me at Teddy’s last vet exam, which coincidentally was about a food allergy and not Teddy’s weight in the slightest, and lectured me on the risks associated with Teddy’s obesity, which include the dreaded diabetes.

    On an off topic, what is your grad school research area?

  2. I have to say, when I read FGoaB saying “…trying to discover my physical limits” it makes me a little sad. I discovered mine just trying to finish high school.

    But sad in that happy way, because you really do marvel at her accomplishments and are happy for the happiness she’s found in it, you know?

    Goes to show…

    I still don’t have to do anything to stay relatively skinny (“normal” range, although I’ve estimated before and because of my underdeveloped body muscle, I probably should be just tipping overweight). And seriously, I don’t do anything. Vacuuming is a serious physical expidenture. Taking the 27 steps up to my apartment has become an ordinary struggle. Excepting work (where I basically just stand most of the time, when I’m not sitting) I’m sitting in front of this computer all day. Except when I sleep. Which is a minimum of 10 hours.

    Yeah.

    There’s a reason I’ve been drawn to the FA community, and I’ve loved keeping up with y’all once I found ya.

  3. I LOVE that Mary Oliver poem. And love that you posted it, because Mary Oliver is so deeply uncool among my other poet friends.

    But deeply uncool is what we’re all about here at Shapely Prose. Deeply uncool and awesome.

  4. This may be off topic, but interactions with vets about my two fat cats have been very bewildering to me. Twice when I’ve taken the cats in for vaccinations, I’ve had vets lecture me about how I was seriously harming them by “letting” them get so fat. They were both strays that were starving when I found them (or they found me). I thought I was being a good citizen by taking them off the streets and getting them neutered, but noooooo, apparently my primary responsibility is to underfeed them. It’s crazy! They are CATS!

    The obsession that people have with fat is just so very strange. I’ve read “The Obesity Myth” and “Fat Politics” and I sort of understand the political,cultural, and industrial forces that have driven the development of fear and hatred of fat and fat people, but it’s just so delusional. How did it come to this? And, I don’t know why, but it really struck me when it started being applied to my cats who are morbidly obese and adorable and, except for hating each other, very happy.

  5. I wish I weren’t so fat and lazy, because maybe then I’d have the energy to stop laughing at that video.

  6. Pingback: Big BMI’ed girls they make the rockin’ world go round « The Oyster’s Garter

  7. Kate:

    First of all, I enjoy reading your blog, which I just discovered. If I could bottle the energy in your posts (and create a cure for caffeine addiction), coffee would be wiped off the face of the world.

    Secondly, I think you raise very valid questions and criticisms on the stereotyping of “fat” people.

    Third: you mention that “fat” people do exercise, sometimes more than “thin” people. Now, when you say “fat”, I’m assuming you mean “excess” fatty tissues in the body. However, these same “fat” people who exercise could be carrying around extra muscle mass and/or connective tissues which adds to their weight (although I’ve also heard that muscle generally weighs less than fat…). Is your definition of “fat” based more on body weight or the amount of fatty tissues in the body?

  8. Now, when you say “fat”, I’m assuming you mean “excess” fatty tissues in the body. However, these same “fat” people who exercise could be carrying around extra muscle mass and/or connective tissues which adds to their weight (although I’ve also heard that muscle generally weighs less than fat…)

    Um, how in god’s name does this matter?

    Kate and I are fat. Sarah the triathlete is fat. Nobody would call us not fat.

    All three of us are probably denser than other people our size because we are muscley.

    What’s it to you?

  9. Actually I take this back: I think there are people who would call Kate not fat because she has a small waist. People have this weird mental block about the small waist.

    I am clearly fat though. The fact that I’m also carrying around muscle mass doesn’t change this one bit.

    And muscle weighs much more than fat, which I thought everybody knew.

  10. fillyjonk:

    I’m interested in getting a better idea of what this blog means when it talks about “fat”. If your definition is “fat people are people who look fat or weigh more than society thinks they should”, i.e. a common-sense definition, then that’s cool with me. If that’s not it, that’s fine, too. I just want to understand the context better.

    Point taken about muscle.

    For what it is worth, the central message of this blog, which I think is that people need to accept themselves for who they are rather than trying to fit into some preconceived, potentially flawed box that society is trying to place them in, is a worthwhile message, in my opinion. If this blog is also a place for your blogging family to express your thoughts and opinions about this subject area, I can appreciate that.

  11. Peg, try try try not to take your vet’s comments to heart. You did a wonderful thing by rescuing those kitties. I don’t believe anyone in their right mind would say those cats would have been better off, on the street, starving, in lieu of being lovey fatties. It’s bullshit.

    As to how this happened….. how fear of teh fat has become so endemic in this culture? It’s the boogeyman of this century. And it’s a wonderful distraction, isn’t it? We could be protesting about a pointless war that’s wasting money, which could otherwise be spent on the broken health care, education, immigration systems in this country. Instead, we’re mesmerized by THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC! it comes at us in all forms – whether from the tv, the newspaper, or our pet’s doctors. It’s a rather clever ruse, don’t you think? We all need to step out of the matrix. It’s a vortex that sucks you in and distracts your thoughts, making you think FAT is the real enemy, FAT is the real problem with this country. Once you step out, it’s like breathing clean air for the first time.. and you look around at all of these people, from your local news person who shows clips of headless fat people, to Walter Willett, and you think, jesus these people ARE crazy.

  12. For what it is worth, the central message of this blog, which I think is that people need to accept themselves for who they are rather than trying to fit into some preconceived, potentially flawed box that society is trying to place them in, is a worthwhile message, in my opinion.

    Self-esteem support-groupism, while useful enough on its own terms, only goes so far. This blog also works solidly (and intelligently, and hilariously) at critical thinking, dispensing hard information, consciousness-raising on a broader level, and convincing people to accept other people for who they are.

    You can’t fix bigotry just by telling the opressed group to stop oppressing themselves. At some point, the oppressors are going to find out that they aren’t going to get off scot-free by that sort of blame-shifting.

  13. I just noticed that I have accredited the wrong person with the post here. I see that sweetmachine (Sarah?) was the person who actually wrote the post, not Kate.

    My compliments to the entire Shapely Prose team.

    lauredhel: thanks for the insight

  14. Mark, it’s not that difficult. Fat means fat. We mean by fat what other people mean by fat. This blog is not a research experiment; hence, we are not constrained to defining “fat” according to a specific BMI.

    More information about this blog can be found in the tabs along the top.

  15. Fillyjonk: you answered my original question 3 – thanks. Between your replies and the others, I get it.

    I’ll be reading this blog in more detail. The ideas within this blog are some that I haven’t encountered very often and thus I’m finding it, well, fascinating and a bit applicable to my own life.

  16. Mark: click “FJ & SM” to read more about Kate’s co-bloggers.

    The idea of “fat” is used to terrorize people, especially women, of all sizes. If you haven’t already looked the the BMI slideshow (click the tab on the top of this page), please do so. You’ll see that anti-fat scaremongering gets applied to just about every person you see walking down the street, whatever their body fat composition.

    Rachel: I’m in English lit (20th-century poetry, specifically). I’m still in coursework, so I can’t get much more specific than that. Ask me again in a year. ;-)

  17. Kate: I know Mary Oliver is supposed to be sooooo uncool, but damn the woman can write a good poem! “Wild Geese” is just untouchable. She may not be the most innovative poet in America or whatever, but I don’t think that’s terribly important when it comes to enjoying a poem. She also gave one of the best readings I’ve ever seen.

    FJ: Too lazy for OK Go, too old for Fatboy Slim–poor kitty!

  18. Re Fat Cats:
    If your cat is spayed or neutered they often loose their natural ability to not eat everything they see. (And I think animals that were once starved are also prone to overeating.) While you can make sure you don’t overfeed them, there is really no way for you to know (beyond following feeding guidelines) if your cat is stuffing itself. And spayed or neutered cats will do just that if given the chance.

    Some people DO seriously overfeed their pets, but I doubt it is the norm.

    Also, feeding higher quality food cuts down on the byproduct and excess calories, carbs etc in their food. (You can’t get high quality food at the grocery store, and the science diet that your vet reccomends is actually very middle of the road in terms of ingredients.) Theoretically this is not that expensive because your cat will eat less of the really nice food than they would of whiskas, in actuality if your cat is spayed or neutered they may eat everything you feed them. I still think it is worth the extra money though, it makes their coats much nicer and their poop smell less.

    /cat geek out

  19. Yeah on the starvation thing with animals. We adopted our dog, full grown, from the pound. They found her on the street, scrawny but with a bloated belly, head down, tail between her legs. It’s pretty obvious that she was not taken care of and might not have ever lived in a house (she was also full grown and 100% NOT housebroken – oy). Even after being with us for 3 years (and completely perking up) she still wolfs down her food like she’s not ever getting any more. Anyway, once my daughter (6 at the time?) thought she was being nice and gave the dog a huge mountain of food. The dog just ate and ate and ate. By the time I found out, the dog’s stomach was huge and HARD because there was so much food in it. She just didn’t know to stop. There was food, she was gonna eat it. She ate so much she lay on her side on the floor all day, just farting and not moving except to go out and pee (the vet just said to wait it out).

    Hmmm, wonder how that relates to when I was dieting and would finally end up eating so much that my stomach would hurt. Then back to dieting. Yeah, well, it seemed to make sense at the time (uh, no, it didn’t, LOL!)

  20. Gotta disagree, Shinobi. The fancier, by-product-free foods are great, but the poop smells far worse! And I’m sure plenty of fat cats are perfectly fine and healthy, though I figure it doesn’t hurt them to actually be a little hungry by mealtime, either. I’m certainly not going to feed them grain-filled ‘diet’ cat foods, what bullshit. Also, when I saw that video on cute overload I almost snarfed my coffee the other day!

    Addressing the actual subject at hand, most of my [fatter] friends exercise a lot, and I’m a lazy ass who has managed to bike to work a handful of times since the spring (and I’m “underweight”). I am sooo not in shape, and I feel very guilty about it, too!

  21. My cat was once one of those fat kitties. She’d been on the street and when I first got her, she would eat so much at once that she’d yack it up right after. I got yelled at by my vet all the time about how she was going to get diabetes. Well, she never did get diabetes.

    Now, fourteen years later, all that weight is gone. She was sixteen pounds. Now we struggle to keep her up to seven pounds. Between the hyperthyroid and the irritable bowel disease, she can’t put weight on. Honestly, I’m just glad she had the extra weight to spare before she got ill.

  22. I put my fat cat on a gluten free, low carb diet. I can’t tell if he’s lost any weight but he hasn’t thrown up in over a month, except that one time that he got into some kibble. He used to throw up every fucking day

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