Phat Like That

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?



Filed under Things That Make Me Go Grrrr!

28 responses to “Phat Like That

  1. So true, what you say, each and every word of it. Even though I’m pretty fat myself, I do get distressed on seeing my even fatter sister, largely for her heath issues.
    Sadly, increase or decrease in size seems to be the first thing we notice:(

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Concern for health can be expressed without prefacing with a mean comment, right? of course, we should all be concerned for our health. Nothing is really more important than that.

      But the meanness, short of deflating people, does nothing good for them methinks.

  2. Good post. Can’t stand any kind of comments on appearance myself…wish I had the guts of that 10 year old you mentioned. It seems to be a norm to comment on weight/colour/hair, especially at social functions. Even men pass these comments on women…just imagine how creeped out it feels to have some guy assessing your measurements and loudly commenting on your weight gain/loss.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Especially funny/bizarre when these people have pot-bellies and thinning hair themselves and are far from any epitome of physical glory.

      Honestly, we all have our preferences,a type, whatever. We can think that people look good, bad, ugly, unhappy…I just don’t get the constant compulsion to put people down for it and air it in public.

  3. Dee

    Arrgh, story of my life. Everyone in my family are overweight and all the starving makes us look haggard. When I started becoming crazy of the weight I put in, my mother just told me to make sure I was healthy, thats all.

    Now, I eat right, walk around a lot and NEVER fall sick. I think I am ok 🙂

  4. CRD

    I get teased a lot too. And they expect me to laugh at myself. I play along, but there’s a limit that they’re simply not ready to see.

    Doesn’t help if you’re bald as well 😛


  5. maidinmalaysia

    you are a shining knight you know. fight our battles with your words MGM

  6. wow, were you reading my mind? i come from society where people have no qualms about commenting on other people’s weight. and i have heard people say some of the stuff in your posts. i know its insanely uncouth but that’s what has become an acceptable norm. i am guilty too -have commented on my siblings/cousins weight in the past-not insentivily but more so from a worry perspective. but over the years have learned to use caution… CRD says, you play along but how long can you do so….

  7. very true. And of course it is a feminist issue as well!

    I think more than people being insensitive ( like they always are), its also how people ( fat or otherwise) perceive themselves.

    I just give it back as good. And that’s a good mantra to live life by 😉

  8. Deepa

    Oh yeah you got it right babe! Fat is so not “Phat” in society.
    I have “slinky thin” moms at my son’s school and all they do at parties is sniff the air around the buffet. The first time I threw a dinner for them my lovely food went untouched and I sobbed. Then my ever observant “Bitter”(ha!) half observed that all they’d done was stand around and titter about their weight and bashed some absentee moms up on theirs!! Heaven help me from the “hungry” bitches. Well, next time if I’m forced to invite them over guess what they’re getting for dinner?
    Fresh air , thats what!!!

    what sucks is my son adore playing with their kids and the playdates are excruciating.

  9. Ha! I know exactly what you’re saying. The incessant comments on my weight have spurred me into many blog posts and now a changed lifestyle, which is probably a good thing. But man, it’s a horrible thing to hear day in and day out.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Perakath! Welcome:-)

      hey, I am all for changing to a more healthy lifestyle. Seriously, we shouldn’t be taking health for granted. But man, how much shitting upon do you need to tolerate en route?

  10. Anjali

    This is so true. Usually the mean commenters don’t have the person’s good health in mind. They just like being mean, I guess.

  11. Hey, my first time here. Came here from Parul’s blog.

    Absolutely true.. I’ve thought about this too, but could not have put it in words better than this. It gets especially nasty when some aunty-likes start thinking that because they’re on the other side of 40 or 50 or whatever, their jiggly bellies are somewhat “acceptable” and it’s now ok to unleash their cabbage-soup advice on hapless 20 or 30 somethings.

  12. MGM, I love you. For writing this post (and probably for many other reasons too) you’re an absolutely wonderful person.

  13. I hurt for your aunt. But I am little puzzled about you too. It may be my perception but I sensed a lot of anger here and I am wondering why. No amount of telling people that it is rude to comment on someone’s physical change is going to help. It’s something that people can’t help but do so as to feel good about themselves. OR it could be that they are so bound by habit and ignorance that they don’t know any better.
    OR it could be that they really have no other way to start conversations.
    The other thing that I think is if you don’t hesitate to say good things about someone’s appearance — glowing skin, great hair, fantastic new tits — why should it be a bad thing to say something that’s not considered positive? Mind you I am not condoning meanness; I am just thinking aloud about this pressure of constantly having to be nice and say only nice things to people.
    If commenting on people’s appearance were a bad thing, then compliments about how lovely one looks should be done away with as well. If not, the message is it’s okay to say nice things about someone’s looks but not okay to say not so nice things. Why should one be allowed and the other condemned? Again, I am not challenging you or anyone here; just looking for answers.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      RQ; I can’t believe I did not reply earlier to this thoughtful comment.

      I think its all in the tone and the attitude. What angers me is people who are only out to offend. To put someone down. And fair enough, if you complement the same people at other times, you win the right to come with the odd critical comment I suppose.

      But I cannot stand all out meanness. And when there is no concern at all- no benevolence in their attitude to this person and its all malicious intent – I think that is just awful. But that is just me.

  14. Mom Gone Mad

    RQ: I also think it has to do with the tone of voice and delivery. Huge difference between, “I think a deeper shade of red would have looked better on you” contra “God, you look awful in that red.” No?

    • Tone of voice and delivery — big part of the insult. And you’re right you know, outright meanness, like i said, is unforgivable. YOu know, I am one of those people who doesn’t quite realise when someone is being mean and when saying it out of kindness. And we are all programmed to think the best of people so it usually goes unnoticed by me. But recently, after I posted this comment, I came across someone who was mean for the sake of meanness and your post sort of came back to me. And don’t worry about replying late — you were away on vacation, yeah? 🙂

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