Monday, August 25, 2008


So, my computer has been on the wonk. My video card (a little over a year old, so of course it's past the warranty, again...) got overheated. The bearings in the fan are just slightly not round any more, so the fan doesn't go 'round. So I'm using my on board video card, which sucks the likes of which makes my vacuum cleaner jealous. The worst part is, I don't know if it is, or is not, going to work at any particular moment. I could be tooling along writing a blog entry or surfing the web, or writing email or playing WoW, and all the sudden the screen flickers, goes dark, and then opens back up with the bastard love child of Georges-Pierre Seurat and Hermann Rorschach. Yesterday, for instance, I played several hours of Warcraft. Today, I can't get the damn thing to run for more than a minute before I'm making comparisons to Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Does that Look Like a Bat or Two Lesbians Kissing.

But, enough about my computer woes. Hopefully my new video card will be in on Wednesday and everything will be peachy.

On the recommendation of one of the blogs I read, I netflixed myself a copy of DisFIGURED.

With my computer being on the fritz, and knowing full well that my husband was entirely and completely uninterested in this movie, I tossed it in the DVD player and watched it. My daughter, who shares a name with the main character, watched it with me. (Honestly, it probably wasn't a kids' movie, with swearing and sex, but both were tastefully done and I decided not to make an issue about it. To be perfectly frank, there's nothing in the film she hasn't seen or heard before. God knows, I'm not modest, so she's seen naked fat chicks, and my husband and I are a little less discrete with our language than perhaps we'd like to be. Getting Darcy to stop saying "What the hell?" has been an interesting parental challenge.)

There movie opens up with a bitch session at the local Fat Acceptance Group. I don't think there's a single thing said in that first five minutes that I haven't said, or heard someone say. I spent a while with that half-smile, nod your chin, or just shake your head the tiniest bit... You know the whole "I've so been there, done that" look.

The movie covers a lot of topics, from sizeist issues such as airline and movie theater seats being too small to such wince-worthy moments like the guy who quits the Fat Acceptance walking group because he needs to gain weight in order to medically qualify for the gastric bypass surgery. There's a lot of yelling back and forth between Lydia - the obese girl - and her lover, who is going for the surgery, about whether or not it is cheating.

Bob: "If I got Lasik eye surgery because I needed glasses, would that be ok?"

Lydia: "Yes, but you can't correct your vision by eating right and exercising!"

Bob: "I can't lose weight by doing those things either. I'm weak, so be it. You don't expect a crippled man to go without his crutch, do you?"
or later:

Darcy: "So if you take an insecure woman and she gets the nose job and the boob lift and the tummy tuck, what do you have? An insecure woman in a mask. With scars."

I'm never sure how I feel about medical intervention as a solution. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of fat as a disease. The "obesity epidemic". No, people, please. The 1918 flu was an epidemic. I know, even if I had qualified for the gastric bypass surgery, I would have never done it. I don't feel comfortable with the whole idea of being cut open and having things stitched and stapled together. I wouldn't do plastic surgery, either. I may not always be comfortable with how I look, or how much I weigh, but I don't think... well, let me explain it this way:

After my car accident, I had to have two surgeries. One to set the bones and pins and brackets in place, and one to remove one screw. I still have several plates and screws in my leg. There is a C-curve scar along the inside of my right ankle and a long, straight scar, intersected regularly with horizontal slashes, starting at my ankle and running six inches up my leg.

The first time I saw my leg, after the car accident (the EMTs and Emergency Room Doctors would not let me look at my leg while it was broken...) I felt a strange detachment. That couldn't possibly be my leg. My leg didn't look like that. Whatever this was, I didn't own it anymore. It wasn't mine. It wasn't me.

I don't avoid looking at my leg as much as I used to, but I still have never quite felt the same about it. The scars and the injury became so much more and at the same time, so much less, of what I was.

I can't do that. My ankle won't allow it.

Like it has some sort of control over me, some external force of authority. I don't think of my other joints like that. I don't obsessively hate my elbow, for instance. It just does what it does. Sometimes it fails to perform the way I ask it to, and I don't worry about it too much.

Anyway, I could never, ever, volunteer to be cut open. Not so that I could look better, because no matter how I looked afterwards, I can't imagine that I wouldn't think I looked horrifying. I hate looking at my ankle, at the scars there. I wonder if other people think they're hideous. I couldn't imagine looking at my face and thinking the same thing.

I recognize that not everyone agrees with me. I have blog friends who have had gastric bypass and I have blog friends who have had plastic surgery. They're happy with their solutions, and I am happy for them. I certainly would never try to force my views on anyone about it. But it's not the approach for me. I just couldn't.

There were a lot of things to think about in that movie, and I haven't even sorted them all out.

Leader: "We are not a self-help group. We are here to get a screwed-up world to accept us"

Lydia: "What about accepting ourselves?"

Leader: "Well, if you’re having a hard time with that then you have internalized that prejudice. You are trying to change your body, Lydia, and that is self-hatred, pure and simple."

Lydia: "You’re trying to change the world. Does that mean you hate the world?"

Leader: "Yeah... I do. Very often. Don’t you?"

Do I hate the world?

Yeah, sometimes.

Do I hate myself?

Yeah, sometimes.


Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Wow! I think Im going to have to rent that movie. I've considered the lap bad surgury, breifly, then thought better of it. I would never subject myself to the gastric bypass. I know it has worked for many, and I applaud the strength and bravery it took to do that. But, like you, I know that personally, it's something I could never subject my body to. Im one of those "lucky" overweight people. Perfect Blood PRessure, perfect blood work, no sugar issues, no heart issues, nothing. Just fat. So I feel like the medical urgency to have surgery, for me, just isn't there. Besides, I tend to think that if I can't fix what's going on internally that triggers the overeating, then no amount of cutting or banding is going to help me.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the surgery... putting aside the whole issue of cutting (which squicks me out), bypass isn't a magic bullet, either. It does NOT give you your old body back. Once you lose all that weight, you generally need plastic surgery (yay, skin flaps). And then the "reduced" stomach often isn't large enough to let you eat normally. My old boss, who had the surgery, has to eat high-protein bars and vitamin supplements for the rest of her life, because her stomach isn't big enough to allow her to consume sufficient nutrition.

I read about the "Fat Acceptance" movement for the first time recently, and sort of boggled at it. On the one hand, yeah, the popular emphasis on model-skinny women is unhealthy. It *should* be acceptable for a woman to have curves.

On the other hand, "fat acceptance" is just as extreme. It denies the basic medical fact that being obese is a serious threat to one's longevity. To say, then, that any attempt at weight-loss is self-hating... excuse me? Wasn't putting on this weight in the first place self-hating? It was an act of self-neglect, at the least, of simply not bothering to spend the time and attention on myself that it would have taken to keep the weight off. And now these jokers want me to compound that neglect by keeping fat I never wanted in the first place? Since when is slow suicide an act of self-love?

I'm *proud* of my fight to lose weight. I'm proud of the fact that I've finally stepped up and made a conscious choice *for* myself and my own health.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very thought-provoking post. I'm going to have to check out the movie, too.


Unknown said...

I might have to check out the movie. I actually considered lap band surgery yesterday as my frustration level rises but then thought to myself I can't live like that and I don't want excess skin!

Oh, BTW my computer is on the wonk too. Shatt is killing me lately with the lag. I think it might be time to clean it off and format..yikes!