Thursday, August 30, 2007

You're Looking Mighty 'Fluffy' There Big Guy!

Brian Cormier has grown tired of the subtle fat man niceties

Have you noticed that it's against the law to make fun of just about every group of people in the United States these days--EXCEPT FOR THE OBESE?! When it comes to people carrying around a few more extra pounds than they need, all too often people are more than willing to offer "advice" (unsolicited, mind you!) and "suggestions" (which are usually so far off base we won't even go there!) about how to deal with the, um, er, you know.

Leave it to a friend and fan of this blog named Brian Cormier to address this issue directly in his humorous and quirky "Hump Day" weekly feature story in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada-based Moncton Times & Transcript yesterday. The column is entitled "Those who are 'fluffy' don't need reminding" and should be a real eye-opener to those who engage in such discriminatory behavior towards fat people. It kinda reminded me of this heavy, but revealing thoughts straight from an obese woman.

Although he is currently working on his weight by implementing the principles of livin' la vida low-carb into his lifestyle, Brian shares about the pain he has felt over his many years of being "fluffy" (as he calls it)--a light-sounding euphemism for being fat. The humiliation he shares in this column is a painful reminder of some bygone days in my own life.

The public ridicule and scorn that comes from being obese can make you numb to it. I don't know what purpose people have when they hurl such insults towards those who are 100+ pounds overweight other than to make themselves feel superior in some sick and perverted way. I've never been able to fully grasp this in all my years of observing it.

Oh sure, some will say that fat people need to be reminded early and often about their "problem" so they'll do something about it. You know, that's about the stupidest way to get somebody to change their ways about anything, especially when there will be work involved in getting there. It's the "extreme" opposite position held by the "fat acceptance" movement.

Weight loss and getting healthy is difficult enough without the added pressure of society wagging their finger emphatically at you for doing it all wrong while gazing down their pointy noses scoffing at your attempts that they say are just gonna fail anyway. Why even bother fatso?!

Brian NAILS this point in his column and I'm so glad he addressed this issue. He knows it's too important to ignore anymore which is why he wrote about it. But he's also LIVING it himself and admits it hurts. And it HURTS A LOT more than you'll ever know if you've never dealt with being fat yourself.

There was one issue he discussed in this column that hit home with me: Why do people always have to refer to you as "big guy" when you're fat? GREAT QUESTION, Brian! I would also like to add another question: Why do people want to playfully punch me in the gut when I'm fat? Have you noticed these in your life as a fat person?

What's funny is that despite my nearly 200-pound weight loss, I STILL have people who insist on calling me "big guy." Now, I am 6'3" tall, so I suppose they could be referring to my height. But the painful reality of that phrase as Brian so wonderfully points out is that it comes across as derogatory and demeaning. I'm sorry, but it does.

My response to the "big guy" comment is usually something like--"Watch it now, who are you calling 'big'?" LOL! Usually shuts 'em up or makes 'em stammer for the right words to backtrack what they just said. Yes, it's personal when you say "big guy" so don't pretend you didn't know it was gonna hurt me. Like I said, IT DOES!

The same goes with touching my stomach. Sometimes my wife Christine's grandmother will grab at my tummy in a loving manner joking around with me, but I still feel so self-conscious about my "loose skin" from my humongous weight loss that it's very uncomfortable when she does that. And to those people who feel compelled to punch me in the kisser--STOP IT! I didn't like it when I was fat and I DEFINITELY don't like it now. Got it?!

Like I said, this column by Brian Cormier has conjured up some feelings I haven't thought about in great detail in a long time. It's a reminder that no matter how much weight you lose off your body, your mind will always think, feel, and respond exactly the same way it did when you were overweight.

For that, I will always be thankful because I'll NEVER forget from whence I came. It's why I keep old "fat boy" photos of myself around to look at so I'll never go back there again. By the grace of God, I've been able to keep the weight off ever since 2004!

At the end of his column, Brian shared his rather revealing, innermost thoughts about a kid who gawked at him about his weight at the grocery store recently and it reminded me of my own experience with a little, I mean, kid just months before I started livin' la vida low-carb.

In late 2003, I was a substitute teacher in an middle-school English class writing the instructions for the lesson that day on the chalkboard when a pudgy little sixth-grade boy yelled out, "Mr. Moore is fffffffaat!" Two seconds of silence and then the loudest roar of laughter you've ever heard ensued.

Ever so slowly I turned around in the direction of the boy who said it and nervously joined in the utter pleasure of ridiculing the substitute teacher's rotund figure (that would be ME!) by laughing too--mostly to keep from crying! Needless to say, that was the beginning of what led me to seriously find a way to get my weight under control for good.

Some would argue that experience proves people should keep talking about fat people so they'll get their butt in gear. I disagree. A negative, shame-inflicting response mechanism is not nearly as reinforcing and effective as a positive, reinforcing one. Give people a reason to WANT to lose weight in a way that's fun, engaging, and likely to work and you've empowered them to succeed. That's what livin' la vida low-carb did for me and I'm STILL doing it to this day!

As for Brian, he's getting there. I am confident that he'll not soon forget that little boy from the grocery store who incidentally was made to apologize to Brian by his parents for his cruel and insensitive remarks. Use that experience, Brian, to propel you to reach your goal and make it happen in your life.

It's NOT impossible and I can only encourage you to follow the example that people like me and Kent Altena have shown with the Atkins diet. YOU CAN DO IT!!! As for the snide comments, let them simply remind you of the amazing journey you are embarking upon to take care of your health and weight sooner rather than later. You're getting there--despite the naysayers!

Send encouragement for Brian Cormier via e-mail at

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Blogger Brian Cormier said...

Wow! Thanks for this, Jimmy. I wasn't expecting this at all! Thank you so much. A very nice thing for you to do. By the way, am -39 lb and counting in 10 weeks on low carb. My own philosophy is "NO EXCUSES!" and it's helped me through many a craving. Thanks again for mentioning the column.

8/30/2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

You are VERY welcome, Brian! I admire your courage and tenacity in spite of the long odds and antagonism. Keep that NO EXCUSES attitude and it will get you far in this journey. Congratulations on your progress--I'm proud of you!

8/30/2007 9:59 PM  
Blogger renegadediabetic said...

Great Job Brian!!!! I know the frustration of being fat and enduring ridicule. It more harmful than helpful. Fat people need understanding, especially since the standard dietary advice is just keeping them fat. They need encouragement and a message of hope that there is a better way. I tried low fat for several years and it just ended in total failure, dispair, and type 2 diabetes. Now low-carb is turning things around.

Keep up the good work!!!

8/31/2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger Big Daddy D said...

Try not to feel bad about being called "big guy". People still do it to me all of the time. At 5'10", I'm not nearly as tall as you and no longer very fat (about 24% body fat).

On a similar note, the other day, I was dining at a Japanese hibachi grill and the cook kept calling me "Big Daddy". It bothered me a little because I don't feel like I'm all that big anymore. And it's a bit weird because it's been my blog alias for over a year now.

8/31/2007 1:35 PM  
Blogger cartbabe said...

I find it very interesting that this ridiculing and prejudice continues to occur when there are over 1.6 BILLION overweight people in the world. Instead of ridiculing, we should be joining together to help solve the problem. If this continues to grow over time, there will be VERY few healthy sized people. It blows my mind that we continue to live longer when so many of us are unhealthy weights! The only way to arrest the quickly spreading epidemic of overweight, is to reveal the truth regarding diet and weight loss.

8/31/2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger Breadless MrsB said...

Wow, thanks for this post, Jimmy & Brian. I THANKFULLY have never had to deal with overt comments when I was obese. I think it may be different for women, I just don't think people make too many in-your-face comments to overweight women like that. Instead, it's much more subtle comments and digs, but it still hurts. I'll never forget going grocery shopping in college with my best friend who's slim and great-looking. While paying at the register, I asked a question to the male clerk, and he then answered MY question to my friend, as if she was the one who had asked. He never even made eye contact with me, just talked to my friend like I wasn't even there. I felt so humiliated. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. That's what I remember about being morbidly obese: in an ironic way, I felt invisible. People (especially men) would ignore me and not give me the time of day. It felt so discriminatory. Today, men are literally going out of their way to open doors for me (and women, too), and sometimes I'll think back to what it used to be like, and it upsets me that people treat me SO DIFFERENTLY now that I'm thinner. And NO ONE in America realizes the degree to which this discrimination occurs except those of us who have been BOTH obese AND thin. The difference in the way I'm treated is staggering. Sad, really.

8/31/2007 10:17 PM  

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