I am sure most all of you have heard the Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin is at the end of her battle with cancer. I am just as sure most of you are familiar with her song, “Respect”. For those of you following us on Facebook, recently, a member posted a video entitled “The Fat Joke”. If you haven’t seen it, click here. It really is worth watching! The premise of this video is that everything that is “wrong” with an overweight person is directly correlated to their weight. You are probably asking yourself, “WTH does this have to do with Aretha Franklin?” Am I right? Stay with me, I am getting to it!
I 100% agree, society, specifically the medical community, is quick to blame absolutely EVERYTHING on obesity. We all know that being overweight is a risk factor for several diseases and ailments not excluding death. When I was 8 ½ months pregnant with my third son, I went to my OB for a checkup. The doctor I normally saw wasn’t in that day so one of his partners did my exam. Due to the fact I was in the final weeks of my pregnancy, my exam was pelvic. I knew immediately that this physician was not a fan of overweight people. He was incredibly rough during my exam, so much so, that it was painful. Clearly, in his estimation, my size prevented me from feeling pain. At the end of my exam, he took ahold of one of the rolls on my side, squeezed it and said, “I don’t think you are as far along as he (my doctor) thought. This is YOU, not baby.” Needless to say, I was humiliated. Four days later, I went into labor with my son and delivered him that afternoon. As the nurse wheeled me from labor and delivery to the recovery ward, we passed the nurses station. And there sat the physician from a few days earlier. He looked up from the chart he was working on and said, “Oh, you had the baby? I guess you were further along than I thought”. I literally just shook my head reliving that moment. My point is, I have seen, I have lived it and I feel your pain. Fat is a diagnosis. A “disease” more damning than any other in the eyes of many.
This is where we cross over….stay with me…
When Aretha croons to her man about wanting his respect, she is saying, I am giving you my all and all I want in return is for you to respect me. Seems simple enough, right? Here’s the thing about respect…you have to act in a respectable manner to receive that respect. Mmmmmhmmm, I said it and I will say it again for the folks in the back because I don’t think they heard me. You have to act in a RESPECTABLE manner to receive respect.
How does this relate to the video and the fat shaming that takes place in society? We as big men and women often hide our limitations or ailments in fear they will be judged and labeled a “fat thing”. I have literally climbed a flight of stairs and waited for a few minutes to catch my breath before rounding the corner to my destination or entering the room. My friends and I have joked that should we die, be sure that our obituary reads from what we perished so that those mourning our death don’t assume it was a “fat thing”. We are ashamed of ourselves…we are embarrassed by our size…we hide our shortcomings all because we too shame ourselves. This is the total opposite of self-respect. I have known men and women to tolerate scraps of attention from their significant other all because they feel that their size prevents them from being loved “normally”. I know men and women who have set their morals to the side all in an effort to secure love and devotion from someone who makes them feel as if all they have to offer is a fetish fantasy.
The respect you deserve, the respect you should DEMAND from others, starts with you! You teach others how to treat you by how you treat yourself and by what you tolerate. Stop putting your feelings, your morals and your needs to the side. Stop compromising yourself. The message is this, YOU ARE WORTHY!!!! Stop cowering and being victimized by the narrow-minded opinions of society and stand tall in the knowledge that your worth is not defined by your shirt, dress or pant size! You are big, and you are beautiful! You are fat and you are fierce!
Since this writing, the Queen of Soul has passed on. We will forever keep her music in our hearts.