Reclaiming “Fat” on Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is here.

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Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

It think it’s time to reclaim the word “fat” this Fat Tuesday.  The “fat” of Fat Tuesday is happy.  It’s a last hurrah before a long fast.  It’s the celebration of bounty.  It’s excess and indulgence.  It’s happy.  In the case of “Fat Tuesday”  we are supposed to be happy.

I’m not defending obesity.  I’m not minimizing the diseases that obesity exacerbates.  I just want to complicate “fat” a bit.  Instead of saying “She (or) he is fat,” as if it’s an existential state, inherent to the person, like character or temperament, can we be more compassionate AND clinical?  “She (or) he is experiencing obesity.”

Indeed, obesity and the struggle with it is an experience.  If you’ve ever combed through a Ross rack at midnight trying to find a decent plus size dress, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever watched  plus-size loved ones yo-yo diet and cycle through success and failure, you’ve had the obesity experience.  If you’ve ever been starved for something in your life (love, attention, respect) and found a short-term substitute at the bottom of a pint of ice cream in the middle of the night, you’ve had part of the obesity experience.

I’ve been every size from a 6 to a 20W, and even when I was thin, I wasn’t happy.  I was panicked about regaining the weight.  It made shopping easier, sure, and I felt noticed.  However, keeping the weight off was my entire life.  It was a full-time job on top of the job I already had.  Thinness is not happiness.  Happiness is happiness.  We all struggle with happiness, thin or fat.

The word “fat” has bedeviled me my whole life.  “Pretty for a fat girl,” “too fat”, “too fat for the role,”–just a few of the many things I’ve heard.  Behind that “f” word “fat” is another “f” word, that often follows close by and is implied, “failure”.  Being “fat”, or more compassionately, experiencing “fatness” does not mean you are a failure.  It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or lack will power. We ALL experience failure.  The pitfall is making experiences into identities.

Many of those who have been conditioned to be ashamed of their fatness have also been conditioned to hide.  How many of us retreat to the back row of a group photo because we don’t care to be seen from the neck down?  Too many.

Fat tropes have been around for centuries.  I think of Shakespeare’s Falstaff, that repulsive, yet humorous fat Flemish drunkard (who’m I’ve actually auditioned to play).  How many times have I auditioned for characters destined to be the butt of a joke, just because I wear plus size clothes?  So many.  Too many.

It’s time to get past the fat tropes and complicate “fat”.  It’s not a state of being, a character defect or a joke.  It’s a medical condition that needs attention and also compassion.  My takeaway from all of this is that “fatness” doesn’t preclude happiness.  You have a right to be happy, fat or thin.  However, we each have to claim and create space for our happiness.  Part of happiness is treating ourselves well, no matter how others speak about us.  The word “fat” needs complicating and compassion at the same time.

I wish you a fun, happy Fat Tuesday–fat with joy, fat with happiness, fat with hope that the best is yet to come.   Celebrate you, who are you are now, today.

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A Tale of a Block & Other Musings

Who You Gonna  Call?  Blockbusters!

Seriously, the Ghost Busters jingle was echoing through my head all through our latest What Women Want Radio Show broadcast.  We’ve all had blocks.  We’ve all been stuck.  We’ve all had that same issue come back over and over again and smack us in the face (or rear).

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Listen to Dr. Colleen Mullen, celebrity therapist, and Jennifer Longmore, intuitive healer, discuss the many facets of being blocked, and most importantly, how to overcome it on this week’s installment What Women Want Talk Radio.

A Tale of a Block.

Once upon a time, in a summer stock theater troupe in a galaxy far far away,  I was assigned to play one of those obscure Shakespearean characters. This was one of those comedic relief characters in the heavy drama right before the king gets killed.  If you are an actor, you know these characters exist in the Bard’s work and they are hard to nail. Mine was the Duchess of York in Richard II.  In many productions of the play, this scene and this character are cut.

Shakespeare Quartos Project

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Weeks of rehearsal and the director’s input were more about purging the bad choices than discovering the good.  It was trial-and-error and both trial-by-fire AND error at the same time, almost all the weeks of working the scene on stage.   I couldn’t wrap my mind around this quirky character in this equally off-the-wall scene.  People wanted to get to the poetic and tragic death of the king, right?  I was frustrated.

It wasn’t until I owned the character’s block as my block that I did finally break through.

 

Here’s how.

The group I was working with paid special attention to the meter of the verse and had a process of using the verse as the momentum of the emotion.  My meter was irregular.  Great.  Irregular scene, quirky character with irregular meter.  Awesome.  So reading the scene for the umpteenth time, I decided to make her obstacles my obstacles and my thoughts about those obstacles hers.

What was her obstacle?

Getting in the door-literally.  In the scene, the character was locked out of a room.

I decided to improvise using a make-shift battering ram.  Using the sound effect value of the battering ram helped me focus my intentions, beat (literally) the pesky meters and own it.  I made a big, bold choice and it worked for me.

So, not of all of us are going to have to delve into weird characters in the Bard’s world, but we may get handed a sort of surreal set of circumstances.

Tips:

Own the block—cautiously.  Don’t make harsh judgments about yourself.  There’s a language difference between “I am blocked,” and “I am experiencing a block”.  Verbs move you through.  Adjectives might weigh you down.

Identify the most basic part of the obstacle.  What’s your basic objective or intention? Start there and get specific.  If it’s a conceptual block, try externalizing (mind-mapping, modeling). Perhaps it needs to get out of the head and into the body or on paper.

What is not working?  Keep discarding the things that are not yielding the results you want.  Keep at it.  Keep moving.  Don’t let the block weigh you down spiritually or emotionally.

Make a big, bold choice when it makes sense.  If it doesn’t work, discard.