“Fluffy FAQ”: Everything you wanted to know about fat girls, but are afraid to ask

   Given the “epidemic” of obesity in the United States, chances are pretty good you have a friend or family member that has struggles with their weight. And, rightfully so, you have concerns about their health (or their fashion sense, hygiene, whatever), but you might not know how to voice them. Well, that’s where I come in. In these next few paragraphs I am going to announce some realizations about those of us in “club chub”, as well as answer the questions you secretly want to ask.

“What you Need to Know”

1. Yes, we are aware of our “fat-ass-edness”.  We have mirrors in our homes, and  closets full of clothes in fluctuating sizes, there isn’t some warped  body issue at work here where we think we look better than we do (maybe  for a few, but taking a picture often takes care of that).  And we have the doctor who grazes over the issue so not to nag you about it, but is concerned about it. And if the mirror didn’t tell is there was a problem, our bodies do as well. The aching knees, ankles and back, the swollen feet, the winded lungs after a longer or steeper than usual walk, all reminders that the number on the scale is too damn high!

2. We want to do something about it, and have tried. Remember how I mentioned the fluctuating sizes of clothes in #1? They are no doubt from diet attempts that fared better than others, because they are smaller (and probably cuter) than the other clothes in our closets.  But, instead of everything in said closets being that size it’s only a few things because SOMETHING derailed us on the journey. Some bad news, an injury, hitting the wall of healthy food, whatever it is. We stopped. And you gained. And if thinner people feel bad about gaining 15-20 pounds after a baby, think of disheartening it is to lose 30, 50, or even 75 pounds, only to gain 50, 75, or even 100 back. Plus, for some people, the thought of losing 100+ pounds is a daunting task.  You’re not trying to drop “vanity pounds”, you are losing a PERSON. That’s a huge undertaking no matter how much willpower  you claim to have. Plus, because we’re heavier. It’ll take more weight loss before it’s noticed in clothing or by other people, and you need that motivation to keep you going. Everyone does, but that’s coming later

Now that you have the background facts, here are some of the questions you’ve probably wanted to ask, or statements you wanted to make

1.   “Why don’t we all go on a diet together? I’ll help you”-This always starts well, but again, if the person offering the help has totally different goals, it usually doesn’t last long, or the heavy person bows out. Not because they’re weren’t motivated, but it just feels a little discouraging when one person is going for a “six-pack” bikini body, and the other “just wants to feel less like a beached whale in her bathing suit”. Now, if you just want to get healthier and offer support that’s fine, they could use it. But chances are, getting reinforcements from others in the plush crew will help.

2.” We’ve started a workout club here at work, why don’t you join us?”-  This again could go well, but it seems like lately people are doing more intense workouts like P90X, insanity, or some other hard-core fitness regime. And you expect a person who gets short of breath going up a flight of stairs and probably has joint issues already to pick up 75 pound truck tires and do pull ups in front of her colleagues so they can all see how HORRIBLY out of shape she is? We got our fill of public fat kid humiliation during PE in middle and high school, and rather not add to that file as adults.

3. “Have you thought about going on the biggest loser?”-And make the humiliation weekly on a coast to coast hook up? See my response to question 2.

4. “Well why don’t you just stop overeating/snacking and just start walking?”-And why doesn’t the 20 year crystal meth addict put down the pipe? For some overweight people, food is an emotional outlet, or even an addiction. They eat to cope with the problems of life, or to deal with stress, like any other addiction. However, unlike other addictions, the substance can’t be abstained from, and a change in behavior is required (Alcoholics can stop drinking, crackheads can stop smoking crack, you can’t stop eating). So it’s more than just putting down the Oreos. It’s finding out what are they avoiding dealing with by eating the Oreos. And exercise requires energy, something a heavy person is already lacking or they wouldn’t be so heavy.

5. Have you considered having surgery? It worked for *insert celebrity’s name* You mean a person who had the money to get it done in the first place, could afford a personal trainer, chef to cook for them, and a plastic surgeon to cut all the extra flab off? Every overweight person has contemplated this one. We’ve gotten the pamphlets, visited the websites and seen the testimonials, some may have even  consulted with a doctor. But, for many, the issue of finance, or lack of medical insurance stops them. Plus, there are a lot of things those glowing testimonials don’t tell you. Like the hair loss, the “dumping syndrome” that sends your body into insulin shock if you eat too much, the risk of malnutrition if the pouch is too small, the pregnancy complications. Or the story of the person who went into the hospital,happy and ready to make a change in their lives and they never came out because people tend to forget this is still MAJOR SURGERY and you could DIE ON THE TABLE. Lap-band is a little better, less invasive, and the loss is slower, but again, it’s still surgery and it has its drawbacks. Plus, these methods aren’t foolproof guarantees you will stay thin forever. Don’t believe me? Ask Carnie Wilson.

 “Well Ebony, you’ve answered my questions, and that’s great. But I really care about this person, and I am concerned/worried/scared. I just want them to be healthy. What can I do to help them?”   If you want to help them lose weight, the simple answer is: nothing. It’s their life. But, if you want to just be supportive, here are a few suggestions.

1. Be their friend, not their dietician. Like I said they have Doctors on their case already about things like that, so if you’re hanging out with a heavy friend, and they get a burger and fries, don’t give them the “are you sure you don’t want a salad?”  speech. If they did, they would have gotten one. 

2. Compliment their success, don’t bring up the setbacks. If you notice that they’re eating better, or parking further away or taking the stairs. Let them know you’re proud of the steps they’re making to get healthy. They need that. But, if they’re in a slump, DON’T say things like “remember how much weight you loss *insert time frame* ago, and how good you looked?”. Comments like that are a one-way trip to the drive-thru, so don’t say them.

     Hopefully this journey into the brain of a plushy girl gave you a little insight on what your friends are going through, and gave you some things to think about. But at the end of the day, an overweight person is still a person, and what they really need is respect, kindness, and love.

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UnAshamedly Ebony-(Almost) 3 Decades of reflections

  So, in 5 months I will have spent thirty years on this earth and I have been thinking about my life, how I have lived it, and coming to terms with some things about myself. And that all these things, good, bad, and ugly make up the tapestry of Ebony Lorraine Thornton. In a recent conversation with my mother, she had mentioned the goals she hoped I would have achieved by my 30th birthday, and it bothered me.  So, I think I will make the decision to enter my 30’s making goals that I WANT TO ACHIEVE, on MY SCHEDULE, in MY OWN TIME. I started a vision book a few weeks ago of how I would like to see my future pan out, but I made sure to preface it with the addendum that the dates are simply guidelines, not actual dates set in stone, and that they are ALWAYS up for revision. But it’s good to have them to keep me focused. So, what have I learned about myself in these 29 years, 6 months and 28 days? Take a peek below

1.  I am a sinner saved by Jesus’ blood, and God’s grace, officially (by traditional definitions) on August 26, 1987, but unofficially, every day I wake up

2. It leaves me dumbfounded to think that God really does love me…NO MATTER WHAT. Granted, I do things he doesn’t always understand, or dislike, but he loves me nonetheless. WOW!!

3. I know there are people in this world who will take my kindness as a sign of weakness, and take advantage of it, and yet I still continue to be kind. It’s just easier that way. Anger and cynicism are just feelings too difficult to manifest ALL THE TIME.

4.  Being “tender-hearted” (as my mother calls it) or a “softee”, can feel like a burden at times, considering that the oddest things will move me to tears or touch me, or when the cruelty of some people stuns me, and that goes double when you “love the unlovable”, but, again, it beats the alternative.

5. I am a maddening series of contradictions. A sports fanatic and girly girl, a Sunday Driver with a lead foot and tendencies for road rage. A girl who one moment relishes in her life as a single, professional woman in a quiet child-free apartment with no one to answer to, only to cry when the silence feels deafening, and her bed feels empty

6.  Despite a tender heart and kind nature, I am FULL of PASSION, and am starting to make no apologies for it.  How else can a person kill with kindness?

7.   My struggles with my weight have been, and probably will be lifelong.  But in the past, I was losing weight to seek the approval of others. But, the amount of weight I will eventually need to lose is a large number that it seems daunting. But, this time, I want to do it for me, and just go one pound at a time.

8.  While I am learning to be more cost-effective and fashionable at the same time, I am still somewhat high maintenance, and see no problem in purchasing high-end clothing, cosmetics, and footwear (when it’s in my size).  I’m not a label slut, but I think you get what you pay for, and for certain things, a higher price tag is a small price to pay for good quality.

9. I like to cook and I like to eat (what chubby girl doesn’t, that’s why we’re chubby).  Healthy stuff as well as bad stuff. 

10.  I am a romantic at heart, a lover of fairy tales and happy endings, and believe that I will have my cinderella church wedding, honeymoon in some exotic locale, and home in the suburbs with a loving husband and beautiful kids. 

11. Family is very important to me, and always will be. I am an awesome aunt, pretty good sister and (depending on what day you catch the ‘rents) a good daughter, one day, “wife and mother” will be a part of my title as well

     So there you have it. This is me: Christian, daughter, sister, aunt, teacher, American, friend, lover, girly girl, sports fan. Human being. I’m a complex girl, loved by some, envied (possibly hated) by others. But, I am indisputably, and unashamedly Ebony