A long post about prejudice, weight loss surgery, my acupuncturist, and Robert Zemeckis. Read it, I promise it'll be worth it.
Oh yeay, my acupuncturist called and I found the courage to tell him what had and hadn't worked about our first session together.
This is going to be super personal and hard to talk about, but I'm just going to forge ahead. KBO, keep buggering on. I'm very overweight, or fat, as most of you know. I'm ticking off the weeks till my appointment with a bariatric surgeon. It took six months to get in to see this guy, just to get an appointment, that's how many people there are out there who are suffering and want to be "fixed" with this painful, risky, surgery.
I have nothing but love and respect for my fellow fat folks. I've read all the books, been to all of the meetings, subscribed to all of the magazines, and I feel love and acceptance for myself as I am. Truly I do. As a big woman I've had a terrific life, I've done things that the accepted stereotype says big gals won't get to do. I've never once been without a lover. I had a marriage that lasted for sixteen years before it went down in flames. I have a wonderful partner and a child, I've had several careers, I have friends and a beautiful home. I travel, I scuba dive, I go naked in public, I go to Burning Man.
I stand beside you, I want the world to be kinder, more open-armed and accepting. I abhor fat prejudice. But this isn't an issue of size acceptance anymore, I've been struggling with this since my twenties and I really can't stand it anymore. Not the obsession with wanting to be more beautiful, or wanting to look like other women, because I really do think big women are beautiful, truly, outrageously beautiful, but the health part of it, all the myriad health complications that have piled one on top of the other in the years since I put on this serious amount of weight. To put it very simply, I hurt, and I just don't want to hurt any more. Being thin for once after twenty years of being fat, would be the icing on my cake, so to speak.
There is a big part of me that is attached to my identity as a large sized woman. I feel a camaraderie with other zaftig people. We glance at each other in hallways, Hey how you doing there fellow fatty, wink, wink. It's certainly made it easier for me as an actor, contrary to what my parents always told me, (and hat's off to Kathy, Roseanne, Conchata and Camrhyn), it narrowed the field. Suddenly I wasn't just one more pretty actress who wasn't thin enough, I was the most talented out of a group of about twenty overweight gals, and I always got called back. I like being different, even if it means people stare at me, or give me a hard time because of it.
On the other hand I don't like worrying about things like whether I'll fit into a booth at a restaurant, in a movie theatre seat, need an extension belt on the airplane, whether people are watching to see what I've put into my cart at the market, so they can be sure to stay away from those things, or what someone might think when I get a scoop of ice cream and eat it in public, oh horrors, why isn't that woman on a diet. I worry that when I eat fattening things at the mall, the other women will think, Oh my God! I'd better not have any, or I'll wind up looking like her! It'll be nice not to have to waste my time worrying about any of that anymore, and it is a complete waste of time, and of my life force, it sucks the joy out of everyday living, and I'm sick of it.
Usually I don't notice it, I mean not like I used to, when people are reacting to my being fat. I'm generally a pretty chirpy, friendly kind of gal, and people respond to that, but there are always people who are just plain mean, and blind, who can't get beyond their size prejudice. In an arrogant, without meaning to be way, I've often thought of my overweightness as a burdensome gift, one that I was given to carry, because God doesn't give anyone more than they can handle, that kind of thing. I think it's taught me tolerance and empathy and given me, a privileged white girl, the chance to experience, in a small way, what it must feel like to be Black, Mexican, or gay, anyone who is oppressed and judged merely because they're different in some way. It hurts to be defined by people for something they see on the outside of me, before they know anything about what's on the inside, but I guess we all suffer with that, it's just that some of us get it worse than others.
There was a time when I used to look around me whenever I was out somewhere and find comfort in not being the fattest person in any situation. Oh phew, there's someone fatter, at least I'm not the fattest person in this room, office, restaurant, whatever. Then as I continued to gain weight, despite my best efforts, and through the whole familiar diet/lose/gain-it-back-and-more cycle, I began to realize that someone had to be the fattest person in the room, and that that person was actually doing everyone else a favor by helping them all relax about it. So it's fallen to me, it's my own personal beast of burden kind of thing, and now that I'm the donkey or ass, literally, I don't mind it as much, because I've reframed it in this loving way. Now I'll look at other nervous uncomfortable overweight people sitting in some crowded waiting room smile and beam, Relax I'm fatter than you and I'm not worried about it, energy at them.
There are times though, and there have been plenty of them, when humiliating things happen, and I have to face them and deal with them in a brave way, when I'd rather run away and hide, in my bed, in front of the TV, with a bag full of Pirate's Booty and a cold Peach Iced Tea Snapple. Dealing with my acupuncturist this morning was one of them, and this is where the, uncomfortable to talk about part, comes in.
A few weeks ago, because I've been hurting so much, I finally worked up the courage to go to an acupuncturist for the very first time. His office was in Santa Monica and was kind of dark and funky, I took Beau with me because I was a little leery of the whole thing and he thought it all sounded kind of interesting and wanted to watch. Everything went great until the end when he was taking all of the needles out. He had put one at the top of my, umm, pubis, or love triangle, I don't know what to call it, and I could still feel it there. I was laying on my back at the time and I told him that I thought he had missed it.
When I got up Beau noticed this needle and I pulled it out. He thought it was cool and carried it out to the guy to tell him that, yes, there had been a needle left there. His answer is what hurt. Instead of saying a simple, Oh wow, sorry about that, he said, "Oh well, it must have been covered by one of your folds." Folds. Even though it may be the correct term technically, the word offends and horrifies me. It's not a fold, it's me, a part of me, and even if it does fold over, I don't want my stomach or any part of my body referred to in that way. It doesn't excuse someone missing a needle that they stuck into my body. I mean, despite my overinflated sense of self, it's not like I'm some enormous mountain of human fat, and it's just so incredibly easy to lose needles all over my body. Hey buddy, if you put them in, and forget about them, you'd better be able to find them again or at least say, sorry, and not blame me for it.
The whole fold thing brings up another weird painful experience I had. There was this film that my agent sent me out for. It was called Bordello of Blood and Robert Zemeckis was the executive producer. He was just hot off of Forrest Gump so even though it was just a schlocky vampire send up, it was this supposedly hot property, and they were very interested in me for the role of a fat porn star, who the lead, I think it turned out to be Dennis Miller, (who now talks about this film as if it were a blemish on his career), is having an affair with. There was this horrible scene, and by that I mean truly horrible, (I'm sure I still have it around here somewhere), where Dennis, or possibly Corey Feldman, is fucking this big gal, while watching one of her porn videos on TV. All thoughts of playing a fat naked porn star, and how my Mom would feel about something like that aside, it was the script that really put the nail in the coffin, (it was a vampire film, does it get any schlockier?) for me. In this scene where we're screwing to an image of me screwing someone else, woohoo, yeah, that'd be easy to do, among some of the many choice lines of dialogue is this gem, Dennis' character says to my character, "Oh Baby am I in you yet, or am I just fucking one of your folds." Can you IMAGINE???
Of course I told my agent that I couldn't do it, but the casting director was really persistent, they kept calling and begging me to come in. They said, "We really, really, want her for this, please can you get her to come back in and see us." In the end, the film proved to be as big of a piece of trash on screen as it was on paper. It starred Angie Everhart, who at that time was mostly famous for dating Sylvester Stalone, and Dennis Miller who is so ashamed of it that he's made fun of it on his show. I went to see it when it came out but there wasn't anything that resembled the character I was auditioning for. I guess they couldn't get anyone to play the role, or maybe they finally realized how offensive it was. Anyway you can see why the whole fold thing is upsetting to me.
Back to my acupuncturist and his phone call today. I had been dreading confronting him about this but I picked up the phone and there he was, I didn't have much choice but to tell him the truth, and to his credit he was really kind and took responsibility for his insensitivity. That's another point for the good guys, in case you're keeping score.