Thursday, October 11, 2012

But is it ableism?

I've mentioned that I'm heavy on this blog more than once. I'm a healthy girl. I have DDD boobies and size 16 jeans. I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin for the most part, and I think I'm pretty.

Of course, lots of people tell you I'm not because I'm heavy.

I'm not going to act like I wouldn't like to be smaller. Not skinny or anything, just smaller and more fit. More solid, less flabby.

Now that I'm working nights, I feel like I mostly sit or sleep throughout the day. I walk at school, but I can't take walks during work any more because it's the middle of the night in the Downtown District (any district, really), and I can't do it.

Things I do do on my own, though, are yoga and jogging (on the treadmill), and I've signed up for the aerobic kick-punch class at the community center. It's a great class, and it's three days a week, though I can only attend two because of my schedule. I really like the class. The teacher is awesome and he seems to care about people. Not money or how big/small they are. He cares about you. If you have a fitness goal, he wants to help you achieve it. He does this job as a volunteer. I doubt he makes any money at all.

The part I don't like about the class are some of the people. Not all of them. Just some of them. There are two ladies there who have been going to this class since George Burns was a little boy, and they think they just know everything there is to know.

Obviously, I don't like them. I mean, I don't like much of anyone, but I really don't like them. They make class miserable for me, and they're a huge reason why I'm not sad to not be able to go Saturday mornings. If the instructor is talking to you, they get in the middle and start trying to separate you two because really, they're all he needs! No, really!

But they're neither here nor there. That up there is just venting. This down here is what I'm talking about.

So, when you're heavy and you decide on an exercise routine, you suddenly get people involved in what you're doing. My friend Susan is a stick figure, has a routine of her own, does one with me every now and then, no one ever bothers her. If I go to my mom's gym for an afternoon with her instead of using the one here at my apartment complex, I always get some jerk walking up to my treadmill to try and find out what it is I do. I get people who move to the treadmill exactly next to mine who try and keep up with my jogging, though they could just be rude because there are literally fifteen other treadmills that they could get on (no, really, there are), and these people all feel the need to comment on what I'm doing.

"Oh, I saw you running last week too! You're doing such a great job!"


A blogger who is curvy like me (are we curvy now? Is that what they're calling us? I like it better than BBW, but is it curvy?) say that this sort of thing is ableism. I have issues with that because that sort of intimates that being fat is a disability, but I think in a way, she's right.

There was a Little Person in our class for a while. She was pretty cool. She just wanted to work out, do her own thing and go home. When we would leave, people would do the same thing to her.

"You're doing such a great job in there!" they would gush to her.

"Uh..thanks?" she'd say in return.

On Saturday mornings, if we were practicing our kicks one at a time, they'd all clap when she was done. I started clapping for everyone else because I felt for her, being the only one who got clapped for. Well, besides me. They clapped for me too.

She started going first to kick across the floor, and then she'd stand by me and we'd both clap for everyone.

I never knew her name. She's not there any more. I hope it's just that her schedule couldn't permit it anymore, and not that she's tired of being singled out by people who think they're doing good.

The fact that people think they're doing good is really the only thing that makes it bearable for me. They really honestly believe that their comments to me are just going to inspire me and make me say, "Yeah! I need to do more!" when in reality, I feel awkward and singled-out. They aren't saying it to anyone else.

It's like when you meet someone who's never been clinically depressed and they feel like telling you, "Oh, we all get sad sometimes." They don't know what it's like to be born to this body. They don't know what it's like to see pictures of themselves, looking freakishly large next to normal-sized humans. I always wonder if these people who feel the need to comment, to offer suggestions, ever have that happen to them? What do they think of it?

The next time someone says, "Wow, you were doing so well in there!" to me, I'm going to say, "Yeah, you too! Can you believe it?" and see what happens.

So, one last thought: a part of ableism is focusing on the disability (or percieved disability) rather than on the person. When people tell me how "good" I'm doing and admonish me to "keep it up!" I feel like they are attempting to conform me to their ideals of what I should be. They see my body as being fixable despite the fact that there is no scientific or medical evidence to support a fat person losing and keeping weight off for any satisfactory amount of time. I'm "fixing" myself by being there, despite the fact that losing weight is not my goal. In that sense, I can see how this might be ableism.

This poster is on the wall at the Community Center.
I like to think that Thor and his manly biceps
are rooting me on. Also, I pretend his favorite
song is "If I Had a Hammer."


  1. I happen to be "curvy" too. That's the new label- I think it beats "plus size". I signed up for Krav Maga last year and the instructor treated me like a 5 year old with down syndrome, solely because I'm a big girl(I have triple D's too and I'm a size 18). And guess what, I run, do yoga, kickbox and I have a black belt in shotokan karate. Why do we have to be treated this way? The worst part is that I love having big ol' boobs and a big butt, but whenever i start feeling good about me, there is always someone reminding me that I'm all kinds of wrong. IT SUCKS.

    1. You sound gorgeous! It's so easy to let people bring us down...all it takes is a word or a glance. I just don't get why we can't just love each other and accept each other the way we are.