They're talking about New Jersey governor Chris Christie's weight on Morning Joe. The governor was on The Dave Letterman Show last night, joining in some supposedly good natured fun about his weight. Now, as the men on Morning Joe try to extend the joke, Mika Brzezinski is basically telling them to cut it out. She says she's interviewed Chris Christie. She quotes him as saying, "Do you really think my weight is a matter of discipline? Do you really think I want to look like this, to be mocked at every turn?" Mika points out that the man works out with a trainer four times a week and monitors his eating. The men around her look skeptical. One of them, the trim handsome ex politico Harold Ford Jr., offers that he just stays active all the time, and that's how he stays lean. In my mind, I'm talking back: Buddy, you never had a weight issue in your life. You hit the gene pool jackpot so the truth is, you don't know what you're talking about. You think your good looks are something you did, but really the fates decided to gift you so be a little fucking grateful. He really strikes a nerve.
Some, not all, people who've always been skinny tell fat people like me, "Just exercise a little discipline." My own mother, slender and elegant her whole life, used to do the same until the day I shot back, "If losing weight were so damn easy don't you think I'd have already done it? Why do you think I would choose to walk around like this?" To her credit, she changed her tack after that. She quit making me feel as if being fat was a moral failing and instead communicated her wish that I live a long and vigorous life. But most skinny people will never ever be able to imagine what it feels like to walk through he world as a fat person. If they did, they would no longer offer platitudes like, "It's just will power." "You just need to eat less." "You just need to exercise more." It is of course all those things, but it's never just anything. And another thing. Sleekly thin people enjoy vigorously moving their bodies. To them, exercise is a graceful and pleasurably activity. Their bodies do what is asked with no protest, no pain. For me, exercise is work, yo. It feels virtuous but it doesn't feel good. So I have to find other motivations, mantras like, I will see my children's children.
I feel like crap today. Lonely. Fat. Lost.
Ironic update: Months ago, a thin, magnificently toned woman I work with who is evangelical about exercise and who seems to have decided I am her "project," gave me a book that she thought would help me break through my penchant for seeing exercise as something other people prescribe for me from a place of judgment. I took the book from her well-meaning hands, thanked her, and put it aside, face down on a pile of books on the shelf behind me. I forgot about it promptly.
This morning, everything stirred by that Chris Christie segment on Morning Joe, and by your comments here, I reached for the book and started reading. I was immediately transfixed. The book is The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise And Other Incendiary Acts by Hanne Blank. The author has an irreverent, defiant, hand-on-hip voice that I find myself completely engaged by. So here's a more sincere thank you to my friend who handed me this book all those months ago and never asked me another question about it, though I did notice her eyes find it on top of the pile of books behind me on more than one occasion.