Tuesday, 18 March 2008

i think you know what i mean

This morning I woke up with a pain in my chest. After four hours of constant pain, I gave in, and spoke to my boss, who took me to the emergency room. They checked me out, described all my heart readings as "perfect", and concluded that I have pericarditis as a result of a virus I had a week ago.

On the way back, my boss, a man I generally get on very well with, said, "sometimes it can be a wake up call. I think you know what I mean."

I did. I didn't pursue it, though, and neither did he, and that's a good thing, because the last thing I want to do is explain to him the kind of relationship I have with food and with my body.

But I keep thinking about the remark. I think you know what I mean.

Yes, boss, I do know what you mean. You mean I'm a fatass, and that you think you know how that happened, you think you understand its value, and you think you know how I could change it. But this is why the good/bad fatty argument has to die: because you don't know. You don't know how much exercise I get. You don't know what I eat. You don't know what I don't eat. You don't know what vitamins I take or how much meditation I do, what my blood pressure is, what my cholesterol level is, what my family history is.

You know two things, boss: that I'm fat, and that I had a pain in my chest which the doctor has examined and found to be something unrelated to my fat.

I believe that he meant well. He lost a bunch of weight himself a couple of years back, before I started working for him, and maybe he had gained it through eating and drinking too much. Maybe I have too. But he doesn't know that. He knows nothing about my health except that I'm fat, which he assumes to be bad, and that I've currently got an infection in the outer part of my heart due to a nasty virus.

The truth is, most of the anti-fat feeling I experience comes from myself. I've never had a doctor try to tell me to lose weight – the only time we've had a bollocks up in that department was when I asked for some help (assuming that losing weight=being healthy), and she referred me to the practice nurse, who, despite being told that I had massive eating problems, gave me a long list of dos and don'ts, which promptly sent me insane. No one ever teased me about it as a kid (though this was probably because I wasn't actually fat at the time, even though I thought I was). I've had things shouted at me in the street, but that's a side effect of being female as well as being fat. I don't get hassled about this too often, except by myself.

But here's my boss, who knows almost nothing about my health, concluding that he has the answer to what ails me – even though what ails me has been determined to be something else entirely, over which my fat or lack thereof has no control – and suggesting, albeit in a fairly low key way, that I should get on fixing that. Because, in his eyes, there's something wrong with me, and therefore anything that is actually wrong with me must be connected to the primary thing that's wrong with me.

Even when it isn't.

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