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Forgive Me, Lord, For I Have Eaten

Earlier this week we were delayed at the vet's office while taking Frankie and Junior in for their annual checkups, and thus I found myself thumbing through a copy of People magazine. The cover story was about how actress Kirstie Alley had gained 83 pounds. Inside, I saw photos of a beautiful, healthy-looking fat woman and read an interview about how "ashamed" she was to be so "ugly" and "disgusting" because she had "slipped" and eaten the foods she loved. She didn't binge on gallons of Haagen Dazs and pounds of Oreos; she just ate things other than Jenny Craig and didn't starve herself. She mentioned having enjoyed Chinese food as she might speak of consuming aborted fetuses. I lost track of the number of times both she and the interviewer used words like hideous, hate, disgusting, lazy, shame.

And shame seemed to be at the core of it. The article read as a public shaming whose victim took enthusiastic part in it, Kirstie Alley's apology to America for being fat. Her confession, even; People was her confessional and its millions of readers her priests, deciding whether to absolve her or not (and never mind how many of them are also fat; she's famous, so it is a much graver sin for her).

I think this is fucked. People are not all designed to be the same size. People in real life are not attracted exclusively to thin lovers. A woman gaining weight should not be so newsworthy that it is featured on a magazine cover.

I am not fat, but I've been called fat (online, natch, not in person) simply because that's one of the ways you insult someone you perceive to be female. In 2007-2008 I lost my appetite and became quite thin, and I know how free people felt to comment on that (half thought I had cancer; the other half told me how great I was looking). I can only imagine how much freer they feel to comment on something that's more widely perceived as unhealthy, unattractive, and "bad." Chris is fat, but he never gets abused for it because New Orleans is a pretty fat-tolerant city (though I'm still amused by the dining-board poster who pointed out that he probably would have been shunned at the Delachaise if he hadn't been the chef there). I gather, though, from things I read and reports from fat friends in other places, that many fat people take an incredible amount of public shit, and all I can say is, you aren't helping, Ms. Kirstie Alley.

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