One of the reasons that I get so excited about being distantly related to Lizzie Borden or Jonathan Moulton or whomever is that when I was growing up in these small towns where everyone was related to everyone, of course, we were related to no one. We had cousins, but they were all in Michigan. And this notion that there are a shit-ton of people out there, all vaguely distantly related to me is… I don’t quite know how to explain it. It makes me feel like, yeah, I am from here.
This rich tapestry of people spreading out across American from the early 1600s.
Which, yes, I guess, makes us the smallpox blanket of people.
So, that’s maybe not so cool for everyone.
But it brings me to the other thing that really upsets me about this whole doctor visit. I look like the people I come from. My body is shaped like my grandma’s. I have huge boobs like my other grandma. I have blue eyes like my favorite uncle. I am big and fat like a ton of the Phillipses (no pun intended) and their ancestors. I don’t just look like me.
So, when someone wants to suggest ways that I can dramatically be thinner? Sometimes, depending on how it’s delivered, I experience it as “these traits you share with the people you love, the things about you that remind you of them, are gross and should not exist.”
Which kind of feels like you, and the people like you, your family, should not exist.
Because, I have to tell you, I have watched the people in my family for generations struggle to be thinner. And I don’t know of a one who’s lost weight and kept it off. Believe me, while I am weak-willed and will eat cookies for dinner, I can tell you, the self-loathing about being fat that some of them have and the self-discipline they have especially about things that would allow them to lord over other Phillipses and prove how much better they were than the rest of us, if there was a way to be thinner and stay thinner that worked for my family, someone would have done it. And that person would be bragging about it every damn day.
So, it’s not as if we are people who have been saddled with fat and who can, if disciplined enough, remove the fat and keep it off and still be people. Not overall. It may work in individual cases, but I have not yet seen it. We are fat people. It’s an inherent trait. The same way that we’re grouchy assholes who abuse drugs and each other.
Yes, we can successfully take steps to mitigate those traits and not everyone is expressing those traits, but they’re there.
But here’s the crucial difference, I think. I do think that, when my family is not being grouchy assholes who abuse drugs and each other, they are happier. And I long, so much, for the people in my family to be happy. It’d be good to mitigate those things.
It’s not important to me that my family mitigate being fat. I don’t look at them and think “There are all the gross and disgusting fuckers who I love” the same way I look at them and think “God damn it, can we just try to be happy for like five seconds and not be assholes to each other?”
I don’t see them as gross and disgusting at all. That’s my family.
I don’t know. I had a point, but I just got caught up on the idea that someone could look at my grandpa and see him as round as a Christmas ornament, sitting in his chair at his game table, smoking his ubiquitous cigar and think that his biggest problem was his weight. I mean, lord almighty, if you had to make a list of all of the health concerns that should have been addressed at the Phillips household and you put “they’re fat” at the top or even in the top ten, you are either a fucker or a fool.
How incredibly short-sighted you’d have to be to gaze into the house on Riverview and see only a family that needed to diet and exercise.
So, that’s it. In short, I feel like I’m being asked to reject some fundamental part of my family as fucked up and disgusting, something that makes me a “problem.” And this is funny considering what my family is like and how “fat” is really, the most neutral thing about them.
And I love them.
And that’s that.