My Big Fat Family

The Butcher and my cousin A. were sitting around this weekend comparing the ways our bodies betray our heritage.  My brother, bless his heart, is going bald in almost exactly the same way that my dear Uncle B. went bald, which is very similar to the way that my cousin A.’s dad is balding.

A. sadly, did not get that fun family trait.  Instead, like most of the rest of us, she got fat.

She was telling the Butcher that a little bit of time had gone by since she saw her dad and the first thing he said to her was “Are you pregnant or just fat?”

Ha, maybe today is the day of men I would like to time travel back to kick in the nuts, because I tell you, I would love to time travel back and kick every single person in my family who ever dared sit there in all his 300 plus pound glory right in the nuts when ever he said something about how fat any of us girls had gotten.

Maybe you skinny people don’t quite get how cruel this is, because lord knows you’ve gotten whole cultural memes out of how being fat is so unhealthy and how fat people are disgusting and slothful and gross and deserve your pity when you’re not shaming us into trying to do better–perhaps you think our fathers are just being blunt because sometimes you have to be blunt in order to get through to the unhealthy.

Fuck you.

Trust me.  There is not a fat person alive who does not know she is fat, who doesn’t every day feel the pressure of a whole culture hell-bent on making her feel shitty for being fat.  And when you come from a large family of fat people, most of whom struggled their whole lives to lose weight and never did, at least not permanently, you kind of hope for at least a little respite.

But no, even in a family of big old fat people, we still dog on the girls for being fat while the men sit around and laugh about how big their bellies have gotten.

So, yeah, just like it is out there in greater America, in our family, “too fat” is very much gendered.  It just pisses me off, this big old mountain of a man mocking his own daughter for being too fat.

My family is fucked up.  The Butcher told her how much he thought that sucked and she was all like “What?  That’s just how he is.”

Because, of course, isn’t that the other fun little secret of how that dynamic works? 

The men do all the bossing and horde all the privilege for themselves and the price they pay is either the women who are supposed to love them really hate them or figure they’re too fucking stupid to act any differently*.

I don’t know.  Maybe other families where the men have a lot of privilege work differently, but in the “traditional” families in my extended family, the love the men get is mixed in equal parts with hatred and fear and an assumption of idiocy.

I just don’t believe that’s any way for a family to operate.  I mean they can work that way–mine does.

But it sucks for everyone involved.  We can treat each other better and we should.



*I keep hearing about how feminists are man-haters and I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, you have not heard man hating until you’ve sat in a kitchen full of good “traditional” women.  We feminists get called on the carpet for man-hating because we’re the only idiots who believe men can actually change and say so to your faces.  Most everyone else is just sitting in the kitchen complaining about what fucktards you are behind your backs and playing all nicey-nice to your face.

17 thoughts on “My Big Fat Family

  1. Thankfully??? the rhetoric around my family seems to be gender-neutral, perhaps because my uncle tops out at 400+. But my brother in law, at least 50lbs overweight in my book, did have the cajones to say that my niece was ‘fat’ when she was 12. That pissed me off, but thankfully, he (and everyone else) seems to have lightened up a bit over the years.Signed, a size 4 (sometimes 6) with a size 24 mom, so really, though I haven’t gone through it myself, I’ve seen enough to understand the frustration, pain, intolerance, and ignorance involved.

  2. "Most everyone else is just sitting in the kitchen complaining about what fucktards you are behind your backs and playing all nicey-nice to your face."You just described like 90% of the Sunday School parties I’ve been to in my life. This would be why I don’t go to Sunday School parties. On the other topic I have a whole litany of fat-people family stories, most of which sound like yours. My brother, all 280lbs of him actually makes sport of mocking me and my sister behind our backs. Like he’s NOT fat. And so on.But the kicker was when watching TV with my 320lb dad. It was back when those Gap Khaki ads were on with everyone swing dancing. He said one of the girl dancers looked "fat in those pants". Yeah, they’re regularly in the habit of putting fat girls in clothing commercials where men lift them off the ground and twirl them around.Good lord. If that lass was fat, what hope have I ever? I ask you.

  3. is it because when an individual (in this case the father or other male in the family) is confronted (even through a commercial) with his own size that he immediately resorts to putting down someone he sees as weaker – so if this is true – the real issue here is that he see his daughter/niece/wife/sister as weaker and therefore deserving of his scorn. because it can be any perceived deficiency – stupid, fat, gay, ugly, and my personal favorite…"bad" choices…this includes any choice one makes that doesn’t fall in line with the rest of the group – vegetarianism…and so on.p.s. Aunt B is my hero. and I only wish I was half as smart as she. :)

  4. The funny part about this is that if one of us fat girls does manage to lose weight down to a "healthy" point, these same assholes will probably look at you and say "Damn, girl, you’re gonna blow away in the wind– here eat some of this bacon…"And right on about traditional women and man-hating: my grandmother’s kitchen after dinner on Sunday is a veritable glut of "Bless his heart" comments. Right on.

  5. Oh, Sassy, the "here, eat this tactic." I don’t even know what to make of that, but the closest I’ve ever come in my adult life to punching my dad was on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago when I’d been out of town for work and managed to get so sick that I couldn’t even get out of bed while stuck in a city far away from things like my own toilet to barf in.And my mom and dad came to pick me up at the airport and I was just a drugged up travel-weary mess and my dad looked at me and said his usual "You’ve got to lose some weight or you’re going to be alone forever." and I said, "You say that all the god damn time. Did you think I didn’t hear you the first fifty times? I did. So just shut the fuck up about it. I don’t want to hear you talk about how fat I am any more."AndI shit you notHe was quiet for a second and then said, "Well, it’s good you’re not hung up on your weight because we bought you guys M&Ms."However, I will say that he hasn’t brought up the whole "You’re so fat no man will ever love you" bullshit since then. Still, a woman should not have to be reduced to cussing out her old minister father in order to get him to treat her right.It’s actually knowing what I know about what goes on in traditional kitchens that bolsters my feminism. I hate some individual men, but I like men in general. I find them to be kind and smart and funny and fun to be with. And I believe that, if they really understood how they hurt me when they hurt me, unless they’re psychopaths, they would find ways to not hurt me.I know sometimes we all need to blow off steam about the stupid things our partners have done or to touch base with someone who’s older and wiser. But my experience has been that there’s only a little of that kind of stuff and more "here’s how the men I know are flaming fucktards; let’s all have a good laugh and show how we actually feel because lord knows we’re never going to do that to their faces."That level of dishonesty, while I understand it, seems to me to be so unfair to men that I’m always baffled when men claim to want "traditional" relationships.

  6. One way our family is fucked up relates to this "women sitting in the kitchen" thing. Though it’s more like my sister, the Queen, says, that Plimco and I "baby" our dad. We don’t call him on his bullshit and we also don’t share anything about ourselves with him because he’s just so shitty at not being a fucktard. He, too, is dangerously overweight, and had the audacity to refer to one of my sisters as a "lard ass" when she was at the oh-so-vulnerable age of 13. It’s hard to forgive someone for that kind of fucktardedness. Fathers need to get some kind of flier or something when they have a daughter that says, "If you remember nothing else about raising a daughter, remember this: You must always, always, always let your daughter know that you think she is smart and beautiful."

  7. Oh, in my family it was always my mother, as in:Me, age 27: Mom, look at the great pants I got on sale!Her: Hmm, yeah, too bad they’re in such a big size.Me: Fuck you.Her: What’s the matter with YOU?Dad: LEAVE THE GIRL ALONE! YOU HURT HER FEELINGS!I don’t think of it as a male thing at all, that hung-up-on-weight and slinging-insults-about-it business, because my experience was it was a grandmother/mother thing.

  8. There is a general consensus among the women of my extended family that our uncles, brothers, and fathers are, with one or two exceptions, "useless." That’s different than "can’t behave themselves" or "too stupid to live." It connotes a sort of passive unambitiousness coupled with the inability to take care of themselves or anyone else predictably. One learns not to expect too much from or rely on male relatives because when something bad happens, the women will ultimately be the ones who will take care of the problem. We’ll take on the second job. We’ll cosign the loan. We’ll raise the kids mostly by ourselves, so we can later blame ourselves for raising the boys to be useless and the girls to take care of everything. We concede that we foolishly support our men them in their trifling habits by picking up the slack. It’s a problem generations in the making, but how does one undo it without being a seriously bad person? I mean, can you really allow your brothers to go to jail or do you learn to cover for them? Do you make your alcoholic uncles walk up the holler in the dark and puke by the side of the road or do you grudgingly run the drunk wagon and tuck them in so that they don’t hurt themselves? All I know is that the accrued contempt and pity can’t be good for a man’s self-respect and so the cycle of uselessness just intensifies as they age.

  9. I’ve heard my very overweight mother in law talk about how "fat" other people are now for years. I’ve never understood. 9 times out of 10, the "fat" people of which she speaks are not fat. One time, when I weighed about 140 lbs, my mother in law said she wanted to buy me something to wear for Christmas, but, "Not jeans" she said. "You don’t look good in jeans." WTF???? I still don’t understand why she said that. I was 21 years old at the time and thought for sure that I was the biggest heifer to ever live. I had this cute little figure I would give ANYTHING to still have and for whatever reason she wanted me to feel large.

  10. I don’t understand it either. Mrs Schwartz has an asshole for a father. She grew up with him calling her "thunderthighs" as a nickname. This was even when she was playing varsity basketball as a 7th grader. (you feminists will love this: the criteria was that the girls had to have had their period, before they were allowed on to play on the varsity team. How fucked up is that? Her parents had to lie to the school to say that she’s had it.)She also has several swimming records that haven’t been broken yet, and was the New York State MVP in basketball.Where I’m going with this, is that she was certainly not fat by any means, but I’m STILL dealing with the emotional baggage of her father calling her that all the time.Some people are just dicks. You should need a license to be a parent.

  11. One of my grandmothers used to tell me I was too fat. (I was definitely pudgy.) She used to rag on one of my sisters for being stupid. (She’d have to shed brain cells like dandruff just to get down to average intelligence.) I’ll take being called fat any day, thank you very much.

  12. Y’all, I just talked to my dad on the phone about this and he was all "How can a dad talk to his daughter like that? That’s completely fucked up."I was dumbfounded. I mean, I’m glad that he thinks that, I just wish I’d benefitted from it.

  13. my dad weighs at least 300 pounds. as a teenager he once asked if i’d like something to eat. i told him no, that i’d already had a giant cheeseburger.he said, "no wonder your ass is as big as a barn," then laughed himself silly. i still cry about that sometimes.

  14. This is really, really sad. I mean, I know I’m lucky in that I have a great and supporting immediate family, and most of my extended family is pretty nice, too. I come from a long line of "fat" and I’ve never heard anyone say to one another how fat so-and-so is or anything like that. I have heard my in-laws (also on the "fat" side) talk about how celebrities or other tv-types are "fat" when they’re not and I just can’t help but think, "Are you SERIOUS?!" but at least they’re not turning on each other.But the men thing? Yes… the women in-laws in my family constantly talk bad about the men in the family, as if they’re completely incapable of doing anything, like breathing on their own. It really makes me mad because my husband is from that family, and my husband is the greatest man I’ve ever known, and I know he gets that from his father, so that’s one thing I can’t stand about sitting (yes, in the kitchen) listening to them bitch.

  15. Been reading your blog for a few months and thought I’d finally comment. I was always one of those kids that had a mother (not a father) that commented on how fat I was – when I was a size 8!!! I had a beanpole sister, so I guess in comparison, she thought I was. I really wish parents understand how important it is to tell their kids how beautiful they are but also instill how smart and talented they are. It’s amazing how something that is said when you are young can affect you for life.

  16. In our family food=love,and I have said it before we will love you to death.My sister was always big, since childhood and I was not. My mom decided that we would go on a family diet all together so that my sister would not get picked on in high school. As a result, we all lost weight and my sister became anorexic. My dad freaked out at the dinner table one night and told my sister that she looked horrible and that she had to eat (she did look skeletal and awful). Everyone proceeded to have a huge scene and I pointed to my mother and told her squarely that it was all her fault. That went over real well.My sister’s weight has crept up and down most of her life. We did not get the genetic roll of the dice to be petite flower sized people. My weight is creeping up on me as I get older, but we are not huge people. Many of the images of people promoted as healthy or desirable by the media are just that-images and have nothing to do with reality.Love yourself as you are. You have a mental image of yourself, make sure it is positive and good for you. The mirror sometimes(OK often) shows me a different picture than my mental image of myself and I’m like whoa, who’s that? But my mental image stays the same. Like my sister said once, "I’m a big girl, I could change that, but I’m happy with who I am. Now don’t talk about it anymore because you’ll just piss off this big girl."

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