There’s a new dirty word in town, and it’s the S-Word. No, not that one. No, not that one either. Nope. Wow. You really know a lot of dirty words!
No, the new dirty word in town is….. SKINNY! Yes, ladies and gentlemen… skinny. The F-word is still naughty as well, and we don’t like to say it (fat).
Scan your local supermarket checkout and you will be greeted with several well researched reports about who’s too F-word, and who’s too S-word. You may remember several recent stories about skinny models endangering the public safety, should someone stumble and be impaled on one of their shoulder blades. There are entire magazines and websites devoted to covering celebrity fitness (or lack there of)
Skinny used to be a word that seemed like it was a compliment. It implied that you were healthy, or looking after yourself. I used to wonder what it would be like to be called skinny, how it would feel, how I would look.
So, let’s have a little recap, shall we?
This is Chad, conducting the choir circa Christmas, 2003.
2003 Chad is fat. Bad 2003 Chad, Bad.
This is Chad circa 10 minutes ago, courtesy of the handy-dandy built-in iChat camera.
Hey look Ma! A jaw! 2007 Chad, good.
For those of you who don’t keep tabs on my personal life and the blogging related to it, in January of 2006, after 29 1/2 years of total disregard for my health, I started exercising and dieting and have lost about 80 pounds and counting. I lost the majority of that weight between January and August of 2006, and I’ve been re-engaged in my hard-core training routine for about the past five weeks in an effort to go get the 30-40 unnecessary pounds still hanging on my frame.
America does like it’s rock stars S-word, as you know.
This blog is actually not about me, but I had to give a little background to get to the meat of what I wanted to say. As you might imagine, having been on such an extreme journey in the past 18 months in this area of my life, I have many thoughts about obesity, health, fitness, and all of the judgments made by other people in regards to these issues, both good and bad.
The thing that’s been irking me lately is about the S-Word, but not related to me. See, people generally approve of this journey that I’ve been on. Fitness freaks welcome me like a freshly baptized convert. Overweight folks take me aside and ask me for The Secret, and are generally disappointed that there’s not a miracle wheat germ concoction that melts the pounds clean off while bronzing skin and removing unwanted back hair. I do always try and be encouraging, telling them that I was one of them, Chief of Sinners, and that there is a way out, a way that’s actually fun and tastes good, and after an admittedly painful adjustment period, you actually start craving it. That’s right, everyone, you can indeed physically manipulate your taste buds and cravings. The secret to weight loss is making the decision that you want to stop being fat, no matter what it costs you. That’s it.
No, the place where the S-word has really been pissing me off lately is when used in regards to my wife, Erica.
For those of you who don’t know her in person, Erica has always been someone who valued health and fitness. She was training for, and then ran, the L.A. Marathon while we were dating. She genuinely loves fruits, veggies, and shies away from grease, fat, and red meat. But for 6 1/2 years of marriage, she loved me as I was. She made a decision that I was lovable, even with 120 or so extra pounds of flab on me.
She lovingly protested (and often acquiesced to) trips to Carl’s Jr., and no, she didn’t want to split an Awesome Blossom. Yes, she would enjoy it if I went to the gym with her, and no, I would not be punished if I elected to work on my PlayStation skills instead.
In January 2006, when my life seemed like it was in pieces, and I decided that I was sick and tired of being a lard ass, she had just given birth to our second child, Zion. For the next few months, as I got zealous about my diet and exercise, she experienced a halo effect, enjoying a healthy and purposeful loss of her baby weight. Her hubby had seen the light, and she finally got to eat the way she liked, all the time. By the time we got to our 30th birthday party in late June of 2006, I had a new lease on life and she was totally back to normal, i.e., looking like a zillion dollars.
I think last time I asked, and she may kill me for this, her 5’6 frame weighed about 125 pounds. She appears lean and toned. I find her… exquisite.
For some reason lately, even as I get regularly praised for my appearance, more and more people have been commenting to both of us that she appears, well… too… S-word. It seems to mostly be women, but just this past weekend at church, one well meaning but often embarrassingly blunt gentleman told her that she shouldn’t lose anymore weight, that she appeared gaunt. Gaunt. She rolled her eyes and informed him that she hadn’t lost a pound in 6 months (the truth). She did not add, but I wish she had, that it was absolutely none of his F-wording business (very much the truth.)
Folks, I’m gonna keep it really, really real. Some of you who may read the following words are overweight, and you may take offense. You need to know that what I have to say here is rooted in a deep, fresh understanding of what it means to be overweight, with all the seat belts that are too tight at Disneyland, and the airline seats that seem to be made to mock just you. I understand the pain of looking for that one pair of jeans that might fit you in the bottom of the pile, and still having to wrestle them onto your body. I know exactly what it’s like to look in the mirror and see someone staring back at you who wears one of their biggest failures and weaknesses like a Scarlet “F” on their chest.
I understand. I empathize. I love and value you. God loves you. You are more then your body shape.
With that said, back the hell off of my wife. She is not your problem. She is not too skinny. She does not starve herself. She loves ice-cream and Weinerschnitzel. She makes egg burritos with bacon and cheese in them. And you know what? She doesn’t have a “Perfect” body. She has body fat, just an appropriate amount. You’re starting to give her a complex, and guess what? It’s your problem. You’re projecting your own issues on her, and it’s not fair to her, and not even remotely helpful to you.
You just keep right on believing that “normal” people don’t look that way. You just keep right on believing that all fit people won the genetic lottery and are shallow, and obsessed with their looks. You just keep on believing that, but keep it to your-damn-self. In the meantime, you might see us running up Erbes Road, staying healthy and spending time together. It’s called moderation, ok?
You know why you’re threatened by her? Because she has self control and you don’t. Because you’re judgmental, and she’s not. Yeah, I know that some skinny people are judgmental, but not her. I know this for a fact. Erica loved me when I was fat. She really loved me. She’ll love me if I get fat again. She’s not judging you, either. You’re judging you, and your putting it on her, because you don’t want to deal with reality, which is why you’re in this situation in the first place.
I’m offended by your double standards, people. You tell me how great I look, and yet I have forty pounds to go. You wait about a second, and then, in hushed tones, ask me if Erica’s all right, and that you’ve been just a little worried about her. Some of you use words like “Gaunt.”
Have a little look here, shall we? This is a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator. If you enter 6’2 (my height) and 240 (my weight as of this morning), you’ll see that I am just now, after 17 months of busting my ass, finally about to be not considered medically obese, just overweight.
Go ahead and re-enter a height of 5’6, and a weight of 125. You’ll find that places her squarely in the “Normal” category.
Reality isn’t fun, sometimes. But it is real.
Look, mean kids who make fun of fat kids should be tarred and feathered in the public square. People who are fit and callously judge the overweight should realize that they are only revealing that their beauty is solely external, and therefore have no grasp of the fact that beauty and value are not measured in the number of inches around our waists.
Women starving themselves to look like Nichole Richie is a bad thing. Yech! Hollywood does project unreasonable and unattainable (photoshop anyone?) images of beauty, sexuality, and desirability, and they deserve to get the collective crap kicked out of them for it (do so with your dollars, if you want it to really hurt.) They want you to feel inadequate and ugly so that you’ll buy their skin creme and lame exercise gear, when all you really need is a pair of good shoes and a desire to change your life.
The price of not obeying our bodies, which are equipped with endless sensors and signals to tell us all about how we are treating it, is high indeed. I know. You do, too.
Just leave my wife alone. She’s not part of the problem, she’s part of the solution.