Friday, October 26, 2012

"That's Not A Beer Belly, It's a Fuel Tank For A Sex Machine"

I have a Buddha-belly.

It doesn't bother me in and of itself. I have never once looked in a mirror and thought Jesus, buddy, you're fat. The only thing that bothers me about my general body shape is that any pant without an elasticized waist will tend to slowly slip off me, unless I cinch a belt tight enough to deprive my legs of blood. That's annoying. It makes me wonder what, exactly, the working world has against jogging pants--which are supremely comfortable and STAY WHERE THEY'RE PUT.

I'm overweight. I'm not obese.

My wife is. Obese, I mean.

She is completely honest and upfront about this in a way that really disconcerts many women. Yesterday, she was striding towards her car after work when someone called to her, "you look like you're in a hurry. Trying to get out of here?"
Eva responded " fast as my fat little body will carry me." This caused the other woman to laugh like a loon.
This is far from the first time that my darling has referred to herself as fat. Every time she does, she provokes reactions from laughter to awkwardness. It's like she's violating some ancient feminine taboo. You can't refer to yourself as fat, even if you are. ESPECIALLY if you are.

My male mind finds this utterly bizarre. I mean, it's perfectly obvious that Eva is a big girl. Just look at her, you'll see. I think it's very healthy of her that she acknowledges this weighty truth. There are many fat women who refuse to. And, more critically as far as I'm concerned, there are an unbelievable number of average-sized women, or even skinny-Minnie skeletons, who think they are whales. I don't know whether to cry or scream, confronted by these women.

Of course it's the culture, right? The stereotype is that women have to be skinny to attract men, while fat men are okay so long as they have fat wallets. This stereotype, needless to say, offends me to my core.

Many years ago, I was almost fired for saying I found larger women attractive. This was a nonchalant remark, expressed a little more crudely in the presence of two women with whom I had traded much cruder jokes in the past. One of the women who overheard this offhanded remark considered herself larger (I didn't) and therefore felt I was propositioning her, or outright harassing her, or something (I most certainly was not.) That was my first real lesson in female misperception of their own bodies, something I have had confirmed over and over again since. Skeletons think they're oozing fat; average-sized women think they are aircraft carriers. And actually fat women? They're not allowed to mention their weight at all. No wonder so many women of all shapes and sizes think they're fat. Their self-esteem is weighted down to the point of being crushed.

My heart weeps for these women. Especially the really fat ones. I mean, consider. Nearly every person you meet looks at you and dismisses you as Fatty McTubbo. There may be a human being under all that cellulite, but who wants to find out? Yet you yourself can't even acknowledge your weight out loud without provoking discomfort. or hilarity that you'll probably interpret as discomfort.

Men don't usually have this problem unless they are grossly obese. If I may invoke a gender stereotype to explain a gender stereotype, I think it's because women tend to have a little more empathy, a little more of an ability to get inside heads. Many men, for whatever reason, don't.

Much as I love, and in many cases embody, the "female" way of looking at the world, I really wish in this one case that women were more like men. I wish women didn't spare so much as a passing thought about their weight...or if they did, that their only motivation for losing weight was to feel better physically, not mentally, about themselves. I wish women shared men's comfort in their own skins.


If I could, I would swing a merciless fat-stick at anyone telling fat jokes. You can tell me racist jokes, disgusting sex jokes, nearly any kind of joke at all. But tell me a fat joke and I can assure you I will not laugh. I won't so much as crack a grin. This has been with me all the way back to second grade, when I first heard the taunt "fatty, fatty two-by-four". I observed all the way back then that the girl (always a girl) so taunted would invariably burst into tears. Fat jokes aren't jokes. They're missiles. Guided missiles.

I really respect John Pinette".  He tells fat jokes, directed at himself, but self-deprecating rather than self-shredding. Wouldn't it be great if there was a female version of him?

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