I’ve read a lot of blogs and books and heard a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have lost weight, especially a great deal of weight, talking about the radical difference in how they are treated when they’re fat versus when they’re thin. (You also hear this from celebrities who have put on and taken off fat suits.) The other day I was doing an informal interview and I was asked about this issue. I never know how to answer this inevitable question—it seems like people want to hear how horribly I am treated every day, on the street, by strangers, as a fat person. Not even isolated incidents of hate, but that general sense of “invisibility” that so many people talk about—invisibility that melts away once the fat is gone.
The truth is, I told the interviewer, I don’t see it. I’m an outgoing, friendly, confident person, and that might be part of it. I smile at people like a lunatic; I make eye contact; I flirt. And in return, people are basically nice to me. Is it because I put out a positive energy, and get positive energy back? Is it because I’ve always been overweight, and I have a different standard—that I don’t know what it’s like to be treated in this magically cool, non-invisible way that’s supposed to exist for thin people? I finally speculated that it’s because I live in the San Francisco area, a notoriously accepting place. The people who live here don’t care if you’re fat, thin, queer, transgendered, mentally ill, or even a hippie. So of course they’re nice to me. But is that even true?
So tell me… fat, thin, formerly fat, formerly thin, whatever, I’m dying to know. How do people treat you? Or have you observed this phenomenon in action? Do you think there’s a difference between how fat people and thin people are treated? And if so, what specifically does that mean? Because for whatever reason, I just can’t relate, and I just don’t understand.
Posted by mo pie