…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

You’re Fat

By Rex Goode


Polar Bear BackstrokeI went to the Oregon Zoo on Wednesday and had a good time. The weather was only around 50 degrees fahrenheit, but for Oregon in February, that’s pleasant. There were intermittent showers but mostly sunny in the morning. I even got to see the otter and the sea lions doing tricks for the zoo keepers. Then, I went to watch the polar bears. I don’t often see them in the water, but one was out today. She was doing the backstroke across the viewing window, her head just a few inches from mine through the glass. Her tooth showed through her lips. While I stood there with  my cell phone open, ready to snap a picture like this one, I heard a little girl’s voice next to me. I looked down and there she was. She just said two words, “You’re fat!”

“Thank you,” I replied, not being ready with a more clever answer.

When her mother realized what she had just said to me, she insisted that the little girl apologize to me. The girl did so and I accepted it. I wasn’t really upset at the little girl. I wasn’t upset at her mother, either. In fact, I think that her mother handled it very well. Too often, I’ve seen rudeness treated as if it is cute by some mothers.

The little girl was right. I am definitely fat. I am about six feet tall and at my last doctor visit, I weighed 381 pounds. That’s obese by anyone’s reckoning.

I think that one of my problems with losing weight is that I don’t tend to think of myself as fat. It’s not that I’m in denial about it. I’m perfectly willing to admit it. That’s why the little girl’s comment didn’t really bother me. She was telling the truth. It was tactless, but what do you expect from a five-year-old?

What I mean by not thinking of myself as fat is that peering out from my eyes, I don’t really see my fatness. I have to pass by a mirror to notice it. OK, I also notice it when I go up stairs or try to pick something up off of the floor.

It’s not like I’m not trying to do something about it. I go to my gym four mornings a week and do some physical therapy exercise for my back, followed by a few laps in the pool. Then, for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, I run in place in about five feet of water. It gets my heart and lungs pumping, as well as being good exercise for my whole body. It protects my back and knees from the pounding I’d get on a treadmill.

The Oregon Zoo is hilly. There are lots of steep paved trails in it. In the not too distant past, I would call for the Zoomer, which looks like a long-body golf cart. It packs people who have mobility issues around so they don’t have to climb the trails. On that same day, I had been walking all over the zoo and did not once ask for the zoomer. I wasn’t breathing hard when I got to the top, even though my young companion half my age was huffing, puffing, and hurting.

I was proud of myself. I’m doing pretty well. It bothers me that the first thing people notice about me is that I’m obese. Nevertheless, I understand that it’s the first impression I give. It’s something I live with but am trying to change.

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2 Responses to “You’re Fat”

  1. urb0123 said:

    This is going to seem odd, but bear with me.

    I always considered the way some people complain about racism to be silly. Yes racism is a bad thing, but it just doesn’t exist anymore. I lived in Mississippi for about 4 months and found out how wrong I was. People would shut doors in each other’s faces, the disdain for each other was palpable. I was shocked. I’m not innocent, I am biased against hispanics. What I was seeing was a level of contempt that I didn’t know had ever existed, let alone existing now. It was like another world had been revealed to me.

    Much the same as the world of obesity was opened to me. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I found out there are people who hate fat people. They literally get angry when they see a fat person. I found out when a cousin of mine verbally spewed about it one day. It was odd that he had seemed like a far more socially adjusted person than I was, and there he was ranting like he was rabid.

    My wife struggles with a weight issue. It is suprising how much of her identity is wrapped up in her weight and appearance. I’m secure in how I look. At first her obssession with her weight and appearance seemed laughable to me. Eventually I connected how my cousin reacted to obese people, and my wife’s obssession. Suddenly, just like with racism, a new world I hadn’t noticed was opened to me. Like the racism world, I will never be able to fully appreciate the obesity world; I don’t live in it, how could I?

    I do live in the SA world. I feel the contempt of others that is directed at my kind and I cringe and try to hide. Unfortunately, the secrecy and hiding only strengthens my addiction, but I prefer it to the open scorn others would direct at me if my shame were known.

    What’s my point? My point is that I feel sorry for you Rex, and my wife. Not because you are obese, but because of the unfair way people treat you. Sure, it would be better if you lost the weight, but in the eternal scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I also wanted to let you know that I understand, to some degree, what you go through. That you wrote a blog says it bothers you, that you wrote it in the tone you did says you handle it well.


  2. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Ross. It is shocking sometimes how much racism and other -isms are still active in our modern society. We think we’ve come so far, but we really haven’t.

    I’m not so much ashamed of being fat as I am fearful of the health consequences, especially right now. I’m fighting a bad case of cellulitis in my leg from a fall. Because of my diabetes (which is related to my weight), I’m not healing as fast as I would like. It’s a little scary.


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