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fat bastards
(insert your favorite fat joke here)
by jeffrey d. walker

The disclaimer: this article has nothing to do with any character or characters portrayed by Mike Myers (the actor, nor the killer in the Halloween movie series). It's actually directed at those of you who are fat bastards.

What do you mean, what do I mean? I'm talking about your weight. I'm mainly addressing my fellow Americans, because according to a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, around 60% of us are overweight. I know that obesity was synonymous with wealth a couple of centuries ago (which, if it still were, would be evidence that 60% of our nation is well off, and would be a real thumb in the eye to Democrats advocating tax-funded programs to help "the less fortunate"). But today, obesity just means you're fat.

Would you just look at yourself in the mirror? I know people say beauty is on the inside, but I have to ask you: How do you go out in public? Are you not embarrassed?

Fine, have no shame. And don't look at me like that, because here it is: You're embarrassing yourself. Look at your pants. Do you see the size of your pants? And don't pretend this is a surprise. I know full well you didn't wake up one day suddenly fat. There was a series of new clothing sizes, a steady string of "well, these are getting a little snug, I'll have to get a bigger pair." Once, you could see your feet. What happened?

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you like what you see? In the back of your mind, when you close your eyes and imagine that place far, far away where you'd love to really be spending your time; where your job is perfect (or non-existent), where you don't worry about money; where your house is always clean, and everybody loves you; when you think about that perfect self you always wanted to be, is this what you looked like? Were your pants this big? Really?

[At this point in the argument, our hero Walker is verbally attacked because he's skinny. Downright scrawny. Has even been told he resembles an escapee from Auschwitz. Has heard insinuations of "having it so easy." Has been accused of "not knowing what it's like."]

What does this have to do with me? I have my own problems to deal with. And plenty of my problems, you don't have the capacity to understand, either. But here's the difference; I can clearly see that you have a problem. In fact, everyone can. Call me what you want, but people can see your problem from across the street as clear as day. I can keep mine a secret.

[Sometimes at this point in the argument, I hear the health excuse. "It's a compulsion." "It's a gland problem." "It's hereditary" (which is lame).]

Hiding behind the health issue? No. Do you know what people do when they have a health issue? They get help.

That's what I did. That's my secret. I was having some health trouble, so I went to a doctor. The doctor referred me to a nutritionist. Turns out I have an eating disorder. It wasn't obvious; I didn't even know. It happened because I wasn't aware that drinking carbonated beverages was harmful. It messed me up. So I stopped drinking them (most of the time).

I took what the nutritionist told me, and went home to do some research. I learned about food, and what things I should and shouldn't be eating. I learned the average calorie intake for a person of my height and gender, and then learned how many calories existed in what I ate. They didn't match. I learned what I should eat on a regular basis, and it didn't match what I liked to eat. I learned that the health food section of the store or the menu wasn't just for snooty intellectual types. It's really got food that's better for you.

Did I like it? No. I had to admit that things I liked to eat weren't the best alternatives. I had to eat things like fruits and vegetables much more often. Not that I ever disliked fruit, I just didn't believe the hype. Somewhere along the line, some ad agency tried to pass off fruit as "nature's candy." As a kid, I thought to myself, "Nature's candy? I know candy. I've tried candy. Nature needs to find a new line of work."

I had to change my entire eating schedule. Three meals a day like a regular person is impractical for someone with my condition. I have to eat smaller portions, and more frequent meals. It cuts up my time, and makes me irritable. People look at me funny when they see me eating such small portions. Waitresses ask questions like, "Was something wrong with it?" This on top of friends and family hounding me with questions like, "Why don't you eat?" And in my head I'm thinking, "How can you eat so much?"

As if I didn't have enough trouble feeling estranged in general.

It's a slow process. I can already tell that my overall health has increased immensely. I have more energy than ever before, despite all the caffeine I cut out. I haven't gained a lot of weight yet, but I'm starting a workout routine to stimulate my appetite, and experimenting with some calorie-rich alternatives. Like I said, it's a slow process. But what choice do I have? If I don't, it's years off my life.

Listen. I'm sorry I have to talk to you like this. It hurts me more than it hurts you. But the main reason I bring up the weight thing is because that same article in The New England Journal of Medicine said that the risk of developing heart failure increases with a person's weight: slightly higher for those who are slightly overweight, but eventually doubling for the obese. This coupled with the increased risk of diabetes and other ailments associated with excess weight (but the way you look should be reason enough, as far as I'm concerned).

This has nothing to do with the way others look at you, or the media creating impossibly perfect images; all of that has nothing to do with the facts. Excess weight exists no matter what anybody else thinks about it. And believe me, if you're overweight, someone is thinking about it while they look at you. You're hard to miss. But you'll be hard to miss if you let this problem kill you off faster than you should, too.


A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker


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matt morin
8.19.02 @ 12:15a

Bottom line is, Americans eat too much processed crap (Fast Food Nation: 90% of what we eat is processed), and don't exercise enough. We sit in front of the TV, we drive instead of walk - and why? Because we're too lazy.

People diet and wonder why it doesn't work. Because their activity level is so low, they still don't use all the calories they consume.

People exercise and wonder why they can't get those defined abs. Because they still eat Ben & Jerrys and Burger King every day.

tracey kelley
8.19.02 @ 12:24a

Yeah, that lawsuit against fast food companies has me totally pissed off right now.

I admit to my bad habits. I wish to hell I could sue Breyer's for making their chocolate and vanilla ice cream so good that I eat half a carton, so it's really not my fault.

That being said, it is extremely difficult to lose weight. It takes discipline and dedication, and if you're not in the right frame of mind, it's very difficult. But I love reading the success stories of those who do it.


matt morin
8.19.02 @ 12:43a

Well, that's exactly why people don't do it. It is hard to lose weight.

Yeah, that lawsuit pisses me off, too. I want to sue you because I'm lazy and have no willpower.

They actually want warning labels on burgers.

But what people fail to remember is that too much of anything can kill you - too much water, too much fruit, too much anything.

joe procopio
8.19.02 @ 8:46a

By the way, don't blame the plaintiff for the lawsuit. He's just a crackpot - and suits have been filed for sillier. Fingers need to be pointed at the lawyers who are propping the suit up for their own gain and at the media who - while incredulous - won't leave it alone to die its ridiculous death.

In my mind, that's really the question. When do we finally get to shoot the lawyers (my apologies to Walker, who, I believe, starts lawyering today)? Is it cool now, or do we wait until they file a lawsuit against God because our oxygen isn't pure?

adam kraemer
8.19.02 @ 11:16a

Wait a minute - our oxygen isn't pure? Actually, I think that would kill us, too.

I agree that people who are fat solely because they eat too much should get help with their willpower and diet. But my dad once pointed out to me that weight gain is not necessarily an easy thing to notice as it's happening - imagine if you only gained 2 lbs. per year - you'd never notice that, really. But what if you started gaining when you were 20, and you're not looking at yourself at 45 - that's an extra 50 lbs that you might not have noticed putting on. Doesn't mean it doesn't have to come off, but it's not as easy as "you're eating way too much. Stop doing that."


jael mchenry
8.19.02 @ 11:23a

Good point. As you admit, Jeff, changing your eating habits isn't having instantaneous results. I'm sure a lot of fat people are actively working to reduce their weight. They don't need to be pointed at and made fun of in the meantime. Doesn't make it easier.

d b
8.19.02 @ 5:23p

Somewhere in the middle of this piece, being fat went from an aesthetic issue ("I know people say beauty is on the inside, but I have to ask you: How do you go out in public?") to a health one. I gotta say I think that weakens the argument.

People in this country, particularly women, have been indoctrinated to think of weight first and foremost as a beauty issue - and so health comes second, if it comes at all (we all know some of the popular diets out there aren't anywhere close to being healthy). And the easy road for doctors is to treat the problems that result from obesity with drugs and surgeries, rather than struggle with convincing their patients to deal with the cause.

jeffrey walker
8.19.02 @ 5:56p

well, if it had been only about the aesthetic issue, fat people would have just turned their nose up. Many people say that their apperance shouldn't matter, when it really should (you no self respecting bastards).
I added my own stuff merely as encouragement that anyone wanting to change only has to do so. Most people who try "dieting" try so in quite half-assed ways, and then just complain a lot, like health is a burden or something. Get over it! It isn't a pill, or a shake - it's an overall way of life.
And the lawsuit thing - there wouldn't be lawsuits if stupid people didn't want to sue. Blame lawyers all you want; there would be no problem without stupid clients. Keep your mouth off the cheeseburger, chubby!

matt morin
8.19.02 @ 6:03p

Well, a lawyer can always turn down the case. It's not just stupid people.

You say appearance should matter, but by who's definition? Health concerns aside, what if someone has a 50 inch waist and is plenty happy with it?

Body types play a big role, too. I know 6' women whose body types are such that they'll never look like a 6' supermodel no matter how much they exercise and eat well. At what point does someone become acceptably skinny?

d b
8.19.02 @ 7:16p

What I meant to point out (and failed to) was the idea that weight loss needs to become much MORE of a health issue and much LESS of an aesthetic one. Body image in this country is sufficiently messed up that the fatter the average American becomes, the skinner the fashion-magazine ideal becomes. Thus the bodies we aspire to have are impossible for 99 percent of Americans to actually have. And how many of us will (or should be expected to) spend our valuable time striving for something that's impossible to achieve?

On the other hand, if weight loss were portrayed first and foremost as something that can help you live a longer and more comfortable life, and if popular culture held that you DON'T have to weigh 125 pounds or have a six-pack to be healthy, then I submit that more people would feel encouraged to take their diet and exercise seriously. (Unfortunately, I don't see it happening any time soon.)

jael mchenry
8.19.02 @ 7:24p

Good points, Donna. I think a lot of people throw up their hands and say, "Well, I'm not going to be thin, so I won't even try." It's a continuum, and even losing 10 pounds can make a big difference, depending on your size. The problem is that we all want instant gratification, and I gotta tell you, I work out several times a week and it is NOT as gratifying as a plate of fries. It's just not. It's great, it's wonderful, it's worth it, but it's not instantly gratifying.

jeffrey walker
8.19.02 @ 8:41p

Perhaps that's true. I notice that many of the exercise-at-home machines and tapes always have people in their advertisements that could never look the way they do solely using the item they are selling. Even something that could be good for you is not portrayed in a true light. I could see how that would be discouraging.
I started using a Pilates workout. My stomach, merely skinny before, now shows a six-pack (wheee!)

robert melos
8.19.02 @ 8:51p

So Joe, if Walker is now doing the lawyer thing, and you advocate shooting lawyers, does this mean...It's Walker season?

"shhh! Be wery quite, I'm hunting Walker."

Anyway, (oh, just kidding Walker), when it comes down to will power some people just don't have it. I know that isn't an excuse, but dieting is something which can be taught. I don't think will power can be taught.

When it comes to lawsuits there are legit reasons to file many suits, but suing for something which is your own fault, or stupidity (the McDonald's hot coffee suit) is where our legal system has to draw the line.

joe procopio
8.19.02 @ 9:46p

Actually, unless the plaintiff in this case has a buncha money, the lawyer is only taking the case because he thinks he can settle with the fast food companies. And that's true 99% of the time.

Show me a deadbeat plaintiff with a case they can't win and I'll show you a million laywers who won't touch it.

matt morin
8.19.02 @ 10:04p

Yeah, but "win" is a relative term. A lot of times they know they can't win, but are hoping the defendants will settle to avoid the cost and hassle of a trial.

adam kraemer
8.20.02 @ 12:00p

Still seems like a good way to avoid taking responsibility for one's own actions.

jael mchenry
8.20.02 @ 12:59p

Or to get quasi-semi-demi-famous.

adam kraemer
8.20.02 @ 2:48p

What's that - you sleep with Bruce Willis, but don't get to star in "GI Jane"?

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