“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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