In modern day urban lingo Phat means cool, hot and tempting – everything that fat doesn’t.
On our vacation to India last year, we had a glorious week in Goa with extended family. Goa, during the monsoon, like most places on the west coast of India, comes alive in a special way. Or maybe I’m just saying that because I am addicted to the warm monsoon rain. I love pretty much everything about it – so much so that I won’t even complain when the humidity makes my hair frizz to resemble a freaky bird’s generous nest.
I was fortunate enough to be there with an aunt of mine, who also doubles as one of my absolute most favourite people on the planet. She is gorgeous, round and awesomely roly poly, with a twinkle in her eye, a smart retort on her lips for badasses and a zesty attitude to life that is no-nonsensical, full of insights and belly laughs.
One day after our usual hour long breakfast, where we moved seamlessly from idli to uthappam to toast to masala dosa, we were ambling across the lawns of the resort when it began to rain.
“Lets go to the beach for a walk in the rain,” I say excitedly as everyone around me begins to run for cover and umbrellas.
“We’re in!” chorus the Viking and my aunt, and while the others worried about their clothes and potential colds, we walked towards the beach with our upturned faces welcoming the rain beating down on it. By the time we reached the beach, we were laughing out loud, loving the tingling of wet skin and tickled pink by the utterly unflattering way in which our clothes clung to us.
We ran into the rising tide, feeling the salt on our skin as keenly as the rain. We relished the strong pull of the current and way it tipped us into the water; the way it sent us hurling back to the beach. For the longest time we lay on the sand, we rolled about on the sand, rain beating down on us, laughing at the water dripping from our noses and chins and talking about the marvel, the beauty of it all.
Suddenly, my aunt was very quiet and feeling my eyes upon her, she said very quietly, “Its terrible to be a fat person in this place. Because people will choose to ONLY see the fat, only see what is unattractive and not the person beneath all that, who might still feel young and full of life. It is not socially acceptable for someone as big as me to roll about on a beach and enjoy myself on this beautiful day. Its not proper. Can you imagine the comments?” she says with a laugh, before she is quiet again.
“Sometimes you just get tired of always being a target for these jabs.”
Its saddens and angers me in equal parts that she has ever had to feel that way. That she has ever had to constrain her appetite for life to fit in.
You still think fat is not a feminist issue?
The truth of the matter is that certain people can never fit in (thin or fat) because they are larger than life – in more ways than one. Fat people are just fine as long as they are not happy, as long as they are NOT too vocal or loud, as long as they are apologetic about their body.
I begin to recall situations where I have seen this in action – and how much it has angered me even when I have not been the target.
The callous way in which certain people, very often just upon meeting someone, assess them from head to toe only to conclude with a disparaging remark.
You’ve put on even more weight than before!
Accompanied by a look of utter disgust rendering all further comments null and void.
“Ayyo, How fat you’ve become! And you used to look so good.”
This line is normally followed up with advice to drink cabbage soup for 10 days and take walks on the beach.
But the Oscar goes to:
You’re looking absolutely uncouth. Not nice at all. You MUST do something.
Well, maybe if I used your head a punching bag during boxing training, I’d be proud of my pecs.
Yeah, scumbag. Nice to see you after ages as well.
Its all very convenient. Fat should symbolise depression, unhappiness and lack of control. Within this framework, the social structure and hierarchy where fat people are on the lowest, most miserable rung, stays intact. People such as the commenters above can retain at least one notion of superiority. So what if they are totally disregarded by their own family. Shucks, at least they stayed thin! High Five.
Not every fat person is a cry for help and if they were, your unwarranted wisdom (I use the word loosely) is not the cure.
When I think about the Ably LoveHandled people I know and adore, those amazing LoveChunks of Hunky Mutton, its rarely the fat in itself so much as the way one is perceived, treated and commented upon that is upsetting. As if people assume that the adipose tissue will insulate your feelings as well.
Oh wait. Fat people should just be able to take it. They’re so jolly. UGH!
I honestly do not feel sorry for my aunt. She has spent well over 30 years of her life and youth with a man who adores her from her wobbly top to her jiggly toes. Who has fortunately always seen beyond the exterior to the star she truly is.
My pity is solely reserved for those people who really believe that they have to look a certain way to earn and retain love and respect and invoke desire.
For those people who are so miserable and mean-spirited that they can only get their kicks from gutting someone about their physical appearance the minute they meet. Way to go, shitface, getting the upper hand there.
I wish there were more people like my dear friend out there, who at the age of 10, in the face of a particularly unnecessary comment from a relative said, “Man, you are SUCH A MEAN PERSON.”
Just like that.
So obviously not the right thing to say at family gathering, yet music to many long-suffering ears.
Down with blowhards leaking the Milk of Human Meanness, wot?