Fat Dogs and Fat Women

My mom's "fat" dog, Katie.

Whenever people encounter my mom’s one dog, Katie, it seems they cannot help but comment on her weight.

“Wow, she’s a little butterball, isn’t she?”

“What a beautiful dog!  She’d be gorgeous if she lost a few pounds.”

“Your dog is fat!  Why is she so fat?” (That’s my favorite tactless statement.)

Sure, Katie is a bit tubby, but why do close friends and even perfect strangers mention it when they encounter her (and of course, my mom, since Katie doesn’t wander the streets alone)?  It just doesn’t seem to be good etiquette to comment on a new acquaintance’s fat dog.

My mom's "fat" daughter (me) . Yes, my family loves dogs.

Not only that, but for people like my mom and me, it drives our suspicions about our own struggles with weight deeper—that when people look at us all they see is a big ball of fat.  They don’t see a person with a name and a history and a personality and a love of books and the outdoors, just fat.  Each of the statements people make about Katie can easily be said to me.  In fact, they have been said to me.

“You have such a pretty face.  If you lose some weight, you would be beautiful.”  (Because apparently I can only date the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man right now.  I mean, he doesn’t seem to be much for conversation, but I guess he’ll do.)

“Do you really need two cookies?”  (No, I don’t.  But I had a bad day and I’m cramming the extra cookie down my throat to make myself feel better.)

“Lose weight and you’ll find a husband. (Uhhh…who says I want a husband?  Maybe that’s just not part of God’s plan for me.  I am painfully aware of how many guys view fat chicks, especially those who sport “No Fat Chicks” t-shirts.  I am told that confidence is sexy to guys, but haven’t actually found that to be the case.)

And I know people are just dying to say, “You’re fat!  Why are you so fat?”  I don’t know!  Because I ate two cookies?  Because I don’t exercise enough?  Because I’ve only been able to effectively lose weight by eating grass (it was salad, but it tasted like grass) and chicken noodle soup?

I know I need to lose weight, not so I can nab a husband, but so I can feel better and be healthier person.  But I do not need to be reminded of the fact I need to lose weight by well-meaning friends and family members.  It’s not like I woke up one morning and “forgot” I’m fat.  I am aware of it all the time—when I don’t sit on flimsy lawn furniture for fear my girth will break it, when a store doesn’t have clothes in my size, when I look in the mirror (or avoid looking in the mirror), when I don’t pretend it bothers me.  Believe me, I know better than anyone that I’m fat.

Then why don’t you do something about it?  (Another fun question.)

It takes time, lots of time.  It took a lifetime to get like this, but it won’t take a lifetime to undo it.  There are physiological, psychological, physical, mental, and personal issues at play.  Sadly, eating salad and exercising isn’t as easy as it sounds due to financial limitations (healthy foods cost more), emotional issues (food is comforting), mental health issues (depression and anxiety suck the energy right out of you.  Plus, my fear of open spaces and crowds doesn’t help at all), and medical issues (my medications make it hard to lose weight.)

But I know this woman/man/horse/what who (fill in the blank with weight loss tip) and lost 80-100 pounds!

Everyone knows someone who lost a massive amount of weight and that’s great for that person.  I am not getting weight loss surgery (as it could *kill* me), trying a fad diet, joining Weight Watchers (can’t afford it), signing up for Jenny Craig (can’t afford it and their commercials are incredibly annoying.  Their commercials alone make me want to stay fat.  Sometimes people who have successfully lose weight are most annoying) or Curves (can’t afford that either). 

I am going to do this thing my own way—slowly as I learn to enjoy food, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.   I am not going to trade one problem for another.  I am going to trust my therapist and my doctor to treat my eating disorder, those close to me (who someone don’t even see my fat), and my God to make it through.

So, instead of focusing on whether or not I take one or two cookies, how my fat has ruined my chances at love, and why I’m fat, maybe you should take a look at that plank of condemnation in your own eye.  Hear that rattle?  The skeletons in your closet are calling.  You just don’t wear them on your physique for all to see and judge.

And while you’re at it, stop calling my mom’s dog “fat”!  Animals don’t like it either.

(Note:  All thoughtless remarks, insulting comments, and diet tips will be deleted.  Remember, I am Backseat Writer’s benevolent dictator.)

What is something you wish you could hide? (It doesn’t have to be physical.)  What thoughtless remarks are repeated to you by people “just trying to help”? (And how are you dying to respond?)  Do you think my mom’s dog is *that* fat? (I think she’s cute. By the way, I groomed her myself.)  Do you have a fat pet?  Do people comment on your fat pet?

11 thoughts on “Fat Dogs and Fat Women

  1. My cats have been “chunky” in the past and that actually came in handy when they had a medical crisis with some topical flea medicine back in 2002. They were healthy and not waify and thin. Yes, when people tell you, you’re too thin it makes you feel weak and helpless. Being sick and in the hospital doesn’t help – fearing you might waste away.

  2. You know what? I am tired of people giving me advice about eating tofu (can’t stand the thought) and vegetables. If you want to, okay. I have gained and lost and then gained weight my entire life. As a young teen my parents took me to the doc to lose weight. I tried unhealthy diet pills, Weight Watchers, Curves, exercise programs and aquarobics (which I loved!). I had gastric by-pass 10 years ago. I lost 85 pounds and gained half back. Now, as a result of the surgery, I have nutritional deficiencies for which I need to see specialists and take expensive meds. I have bought many wardrobes of clothes in many sizes. Think how much money that has cost. Do I wish I were thin? Oh yes, but wishing doesn’t make it so, believe me, It takes hard work and a daily calorie plan of about 600-800 calories. I’m tired already. Just love me and embrace me for me. please, PLEASE! Oh, that fat dog Katie – she’s mine and she is the sweetest and kindest dog you would ever want to meet. I love her and she is devoted to me. What more could a person ask for in a dog or another person!

  3. My grandma has the biggest miniature dachshund you’ve ever seen. Her name’s Sophie, she’s about 25 pounds, which is 10 overweight, and people do comment on it all the time. They actually seem to think it’s cute usually though. My grandma loves her to death, and feeds her everytime the bowl is empty. & Sophie has learned to get into the treat cabinet. 🙂

  4. I cannot STAND when people tie the dating/husband thing into concern over someone’s weight. Why does it matter to mom’s friend at church whether you’re married? People think it’s because they want others to be settled and happy, but look deeper and you might find people’s need to “fix” others is more an indication they don’t want to deal with their own issues. The battle then is do you, or rather HOW do you show them grace despite their tactlessness. It’s so hard.

    As for food, I personally love vegetables and incorporate them into most of my meals (even breakfast sometimes! but more likely fruit). However, to LOSE weight, I have to be active, diet alone does not work for me. Everyone is different and it’s insulting when people make blanket statements about food choices. Also, just because someone is thin does not mean they are healthy. I know someone who is obsessed with food that she binges and purges. Yes, she’s thin, but she has medical problems because of her eating disorder. You never know what people are struggling with, and rude comments about not eating another cookie NEVER help.

    You can replace the weight thing with “having kids” and that’s my personal #1 annoyance from nosy people. As if I’m not a functioning adult contributing to society unless I have a baby. Again, why does the lady at work I barely know care if I have a kid? It’s not like she’s ever going to provide daycare or assist with raising the child.

  5. Thanks for all your comments. I was listening to a Christian radio talk show in my mom’s car yesterday. Some single guy in his 30’s named “Joe” called in and said he didn’t want to have kids of his own. He said that people think he’s horrible and he doesn’t know how to broach the topic when dating women. Joe, I’m single and I don’t want kids either!!! (Though I am open to adoption!) Love kids and I love when they go home, too. 🙂

  6. I think this post was well put. I remember once I was wearing my favorite dress, and some older woman I knew asked if I was pregnant- I wasn’t. I had to give the dress to Goodwill the next day. I was younger then. Now I think I would keep wearing it, knowing I liked it.

    My dog’s not fat, but my bearded dragon is a little chubby.

    And losing weight is hard, especially for those of us who honestly don’t like vegetables, I hide my broccoli under tomato sauce, and hate to exercise (I haven’t worked out a solution to that yet).

  7. I just want to make a correction. I actually love most vegetables and fruits. However, I like meat, chicken and eggs, too. Oh yeah, and of course, bread products. But tofu makes me want to barf. Sorry to be graphic, but that is the absolute truth!

  8. Hi Amy,
    I am fat and have always been fat, I too have lost and gained and have heard the comments you have – I’d be beautiful if I lost weight and why don’t I do something about it (mainly from my mother) But it’s very rare I even consider it as a defining factor of who I am and I have found that since I don’t, others don’t. Confidence is sexy if it’s genuine, though it’s not only confidence – its acceptance of yourself and knowing that you offer something special to those who take the time to see it. That’s not an easy equilibrium to find but you can. Oh and by the way, despite being fat – I’m married to a loving and handsome husband, I have four wonderful children, great friends and I am happy.
    I hope you find happiness too.
    Being a decent person is important, being healthy is a worthy goal, being thin isn’t.

  9. Carol, I grew up with lots of reptiles (mostly turtles/tortoises), but my dad had (and still has to my knowledge) a bearded dragon. Nice reptiles. 🙂 I started walking every day to get exercise…but since I have anxiety, I’d rather not go out into the world. It feels unsafe sometimes.

    Shelley, thank you for your wonderful comment. 🙂 You are an inspiration.

  10. Yeah, I’ve heard the pretty face remark more than once. No fat pets, but my cat could be considered mildly pudgy. I’ve been obese for about 15 years now so I haven’t been overweight my whole life, but once it’s on, it sure is a pain to get off. I hate to say I’ve been on a diet since May…I like to say that I’ve changed my eating habits (drastically), which I have. I’ve dropped 40 lbs since May. I still have a LONG way to go. And I still haven’t incorporated exercise. Like Carol said, I still haven’t worked out a solution to my hating to exercise.

    What I really hate is when people stare and judge. Like I said, I haven’t always been this big and I’d like to say to those people, “It can happen to anyone…it could happen to you too.” It’s the old, “walk a mile in my shoes” deal. All I know is that when I was average size (size 12 or 14) around 15 years ago, I thought I was fat. Boy, was I dumb. When I get back down there again, you can bet I will never think that of myself again.

    It all boils down to the fact that it’s what is inside a person that really matters. Yeah, sure, many of those people who say stuff may try to say that they are really just concerned about our health (and the ones who really are concerned are usually family), but most of them are really just uncomfortable with fat people…or just plain mean. And those people are the ones that we should not concern ourselves with because THEY are ugly on the inside.

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