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Geographical Fat

Oh, how fat I am. Those knowing me in real life and who read me in other places know I struggle with my weight. It's especially humiliating because I had a gastric bypass 5 years ago. While I am still 100 pounds less than I was before surgery, I am 90 pounds heavier than 3 years ago. I hate it. My breathing is getting more labored. My feet are starting to hurt again. My knees can feel it. My clothes are tight. My bras don't fit right. I am just fat. Fat. Fat. Fat.

Where I live in Southern California, women are thin and blonde and beautiful. Whole communities of women look like sisters because they each have the same plastic surgeon. My fat is gross to them. I let my arm fat free in sleeveless dresses, but I am constantly conscious of my squishy, overflowing skin. Embarrassed, I feign non-chalant-ness and pretend not to see the rolling eyes and gasps of "how can she wear that?" I'm a freak in Stepford-land.

I've tried to develop my own midwifery style by wearing brilliant-colored tie-dyed dresses and gorgeous tie-dyed pant suits (I should show some here). One of my clients has been tie-dying my clothes for me. I've also bought white dresses and she's tie-dyed them; they are so beautiful! I am stopped constantly and told how beautiful my clothes are. I wear brightly colored Birkenstocks and have my toes pedicured shocking pinks and purples. I look like a not-so-poor hippie who loves her life!

If only I felt so.

Bald head, fat, fat arms, huge ass, jiggling thighs, pooching upper belly (I just upped the Glucophage, remember) and giant sagging pannus - I feel ugly much of the time - even if I pretend I don't.

Before I left home, I looked into my insurance plan's weight loss programs, including Optifast so's I could lose weight fast and furiously. I know how I am supposed to eat post-gastric bypass and can do it (I hope), but have to feel better before I feel motivated. De-toxed from sugar and Diet Coke (I'm sitting here with Krispy Kreme chocolate glaze on my lips and a Diet Coke sweating next to me). I am surely delusional, but it's what I think. I've pretty much decided to do the Optifast for 15 weeks to get my health and Self under some control. Who would have thought someone with a gastric bypass would need to do a liquid fast to lose weight? Isn't it just disgustingly humiliating?

And then I come to New Orleans. I've been here for a little over a week now and am here for less than a week more.

In stores, people are just rude to me. Specifically, black women are just rude to me.

(I use the term "black" instead of African-American because it is the standard language of the area. Not all blacks consider themselves, or are, of African decent. I mean no offense and hope none is taken by my using the term "black.")

I have had snotty tight-lipped women drop coins on the counter for me to pick up. I've had grocery clerks give me sour-faced glances as they shoved my money into my hand, but only if it was on top of the receipt (I have had that happen every single time - and watched as they did not do that to others of color). Women have wrinkled their noses at me as I walked on the street or by them in the stores. I've wondered if I forgot deoderant!

I grew up in the South, in racism, but cannot remember such overt meanness from any point in my life. When home last year, I experienced extreme rudeness from many Puerto Ricans, but that was generalized, not directed specifically to me as this racism has been. (And for those that think I am being terribly racist, I am Cuban and my children have a quarter African in them. sigh This is hard to write about, but I feel important and not often addressed. Just plow forward... just keep writing....)

When it comes to black men, however, I am a Goddess! Without one iota of any flirting at all, I have received 4 phone numbers of strange black men. One taxi driver wanted to take me for a beer and asked for me to mail him a picture of myself to his taxi work place (so his wife didn't see it). He scrawled his name and phone number on a scrap piece of paper (it took about 4 minutes for him to write 25 characters. I waited patiently.) Men have stood behind me and when I turned because I could feel their eyes on me, they were grinning wide-toothed with eyes gleaming.

I'm sexy to black men! They think my fat is yummy! I keep shaking my head at the extremes 1200 miles away. My jiggling fat arms, my huge thighs, my giant ass are all signs of health and plenty and oh how they seem to like it.

It is a grand feeling to be bathed in sexual vibes. My partner loves and cherishes me no matter what my size, but she has been "concerned" about my weight for a long time. In fact, my whole family is concerned and no one knew how to address it (I'm that intimidating, apparently - ha! it's because I'll cry). This admiration is delightful and a welcome respite from the constant feeling of abnormalcy in Southern California.

It took days and days before it finally dawned on me why black women seemed to hate me. It's because black me don't. sigh Isn't that the most interesting type of racism? Is it so, so difficult in the black community that black men are leaving in droves for white women? Is it so bad that all white women are suspect? Isn't this as bad as a white person assuming all black men are thugs?

I don't know what the answer is. I'm sure there isn't one. And in the aftermath of Katrina where the blacks in New Orleans seemed (were!) so abandoned by the white administration, perhaps all whites are The Enemy because of the pain in which they continue living.

The delight in feeling sexually appealing is darkened by the reality of the pain all in New Orleans continue experiencing.

I'll still be starting Optifast in a couple of weeks.

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Reader Comments (5)

Good Luck on the Optifast. I'm sure that you'll do it and be awesome and get back where you want to be.

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

I am cheered--not by your misery--but to know I am not the only one struggling with my weight.


Oh, and then on Entertainment Tonight was Carnie Wilson!! She had surgery at the same hospital (and practice, but different surgeon) almost one year to the day before I did. Carnie has re-gained a significant amount of her weight back, too.

Amusingly, she and I have walked similar paths all these post-gastric bypass years.

And here we are again.

She had a baby, though. I haven't. She said it took her 9 months to lose 15 pounds after the birth. I can relate to that so well! How depressing.

(She had a baby; I had a severe depressive episode that lasted 6 months. I just remembered why I have gained so much in the last 9 months. Damn that depression and those medications!)

She's on one of those celebrity weight loss shows now, working out, watching her diet, etc. Hmmm... I'll be on that track soon, too.

Nice to know I'm not alone.

Oh, not alone with you, either, Hannah. :) All in good company.

All in good company.

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Optifast, the way it is now compared to the way it was in the early 90s, is a great program. You are very carefully monitored, overall a lot of success.

I have a friend who attends support groups with other women who have had this surgery. It makes a big difference for her and might help you.

I haven't read much of your blog and maybe you already do that. In which case... Positive Intentions. Try to focus on reclaiming your beauty and reclaiming your health, not losing weight. Keep the terms you use to describe your manifestations positive and the universe will respond in kinds.

June 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

WOW! I had to scroll back up and look at your pic again (I assume that is you holding the baby and displaying a bald head). I know it is only a "head" shot, but my gosh woman you're beautiful! Obviously beautiful on the inside too.

You're also a special kind of woman if for no other reason than how many women have the nerve to have a "clean head" as we call 'em here in the South!?! Heck, I haven't worn a sleeveless top since I was 13 years old and you will rarely catch me in an outfit that does NOT include a two piece shirt set where I can pretend the outer shirt covers my fat.

Good luck to you in whatever you feel you need to do, but in the meantime do NOT forget you are a wonderful woman. Don't put her "on hold" until you "look better".

Jan in SC

June 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSurgeon in my dreams

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