The Hidden Virtues of Superficial Lip Service

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Buffpuff, who doesn’t blog anywhere near often enough to suit me, the other day blogged the following regarding the infamous Gruen Transfer mock-ads:

I’m not trying to infer that fat discrimination is worse than racism, anti-Semitism, ableism or homophobia nor am I trying to say it’s exactly the same in nature. They’re all different, they’re all life blighting, they all still go on and they all stink. What I am saying is that here, in my experience, sizeism has yet to be acknowledged as a form of discrimination at all – by the media, the government, the medical profession or anybody else save a handful of those who experience it. There is no public discourse, no self-examination, no glimmer of change on the horizon, no protection enshrined in law which, given that we we make up half the UK population, is shameful. That doesn’t make tackling sizeism more important than tackling any other type of discrimination, but it does mean there’s an awful lot of work to be done before it’s taken as seriously.

I completely agree.

Now, before anyone starts yelling “Oppression Olympics!” at Buffpuff or at me, rest assured that neither of us confuses a social justice movement being taken seriously, or at least being given lip service, with actual lack of prejudice or hate. We’re well aware that none of those other prejudices are “over,” or can no longer be considered serious problems — of course that’s not the case, or all those social justice movements wouldn’t still exist. I haven’t changed my mind about fat hate being a repository for all kinds of prejudice people feel they need to talk in code about.

What I want to know is, when are people going to have to start talking in code about us? (And when I say “us,” I of course mean the part of “us” that’s fat, regardless of whatever other identities we inhabit.) When is being vocally against human rights and humanistic treatment for fat people going to cost anybody anything ever? Bear in mind that the mock-commercials in question were being created to “sell the unsellable.” Us. We’re what’s unsellable. Of course fat rights is a big fat joke! All you people have to do is eat less, and everyone will like you just fine! (That is, if you don’t belong to any other stigmatized groups, either.)

Almost everyone thinks this. Even most of our fellow fatties, who still imagine they’re just a few passed-up sodas and spurned candy bars away from the acceptance they crave way more than sugar. That’s how bad it is, folks; if you showed me a really naturally-skinny person and a really naturally-fat person side by side, and I knew nothing else about either one of them, and you asked me which of them would be more likely to be down with fat acceptance? I go with the naturally-skinny person. Every time. I’m really not kidding. Why? I have no clue (although it could have something to do with the fact that the really skinny people know they couldn’t attain anywhere close to my BMI if they tried). But when I try explaining this stuff to people, I’ve noticed over and over again that my odds are better with people with BMIs under 22 who don’t diet than with people with BMIs over 32 who do. If fat people were on their own damned side, fat acceptance wouldn’t feel like shoving an anvil off a five-mile cliff.

I’m in total agreement with those who say the Gruen Transfer presentation was appallingly sexist, smug, smarmy, and self-congratulatory (sssssss), and I continue to maintain that there is no such thing as someone who truly loves everyone but fatties. What’s happened is that fashion has changed so that people such as these telegenic young(ish) white men are now required to give their share of superficial lip service to being against other (although certainly not all other) forms of prejudice.

Look, I grew up in the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, at a time when American suburbia was all white-flight haven. In those suburbs, I was surrounded by white people, Jewish and not, who were visibly relieved they didn’t live next door to poor black people (although they were also visibly relieved when there was an affluent black family around who spoke the King’s English better than they did). These same people also despised George Wallace and Richard Nixon and everything they stood for, and voted for JFK and Lyndon Johnson and were outraged by things like segregated bathrooms and voter literacy tests, and were thrilled to see the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts passed. They may not have wanted to live next door to poor black people, but they were downright proud to vote for people who made it easier for those poor black people to vote too, and to move about in public without being dogged by Jim Crow.

Is that good enough? Does that prove lack of prejudice? Of course not, squared. But it was something. Superficial lip service in favor of black civil rights by whites, arguably, is what finally got the law changed, even if white people took their sweet time coming around to it. (And yes, I’m well aware that there were white people who were true believers and put their lives on the line for the civil rights movement in ways that totally put me to shame, also, including women who would later go on to spearhead second-wave feminism.)

Same went with the women’s movement, as we called it when I was a baby fatty. No, we couldn’t get the ERA passed, even with a majority of Americans in favor of it, because Schlafly et al managed to convince just enough people in the exact right places that it would require men to wear pantyhose and take their wives’ last names, and 7-year-old girls to use the men’s room and have to be exposed to strange men whipping out their willies to pee. Silly shit, but boy, it was effective. But a whole mess of other, smaller laws did pass and mores changed along with them (Daisy’s Thank a Second Wave Feminist post lays this out spectacularly) that allowed women to get medical care without their husbands’ or fathers’ permission, and wear pants to school and work, and have their own credit, and about a squillion other things that women nowadays take as givens. Is that because people forgot all about sexism all of a sudden? Need you ask? Nope, superficial lip service struck again. (The swelling chorus of millions of women who all seemed to realize simultaneously that they were getting the fuzzy end of the lolly for no good reason didn’t hurt, either.)

I don’t care if people like me or think I’m pretty or healthy or nice or that I smell of sandalwood soap (not elderberries!), or any of that shit. Okay, maybe I do (at least give me credit for my deodorant working), but that’s not the most important thing to me at the moment. Most of all, I want the fucking laws off my fat ass. I want it to be illegal for people to pull the kinds of shenanigans the airlines have pulled on us. I want it to be illegal for people to refuse to hire us or to fire us or to spurn us for promotions or to slap fines on us just because of our weight. I want it to be illegal for schools to refuse us admission or landlords to refuse to rent to us because we’re fat. I want it to be illegal for insurance companies to refuse to cover us, or doctors to refuse to treat us for the problem we came in for, no matter how potentially deadly, until we get thin. And if we can’t make it entirely illegal, I want it to be extremely painful and costly for them to do those things. I want it to be more than a few of us who have been labeled fringe goofballs saying it shouldn’t be. I don’t care why people protest on our behalf. I just want them to frigging do it.

Hell, I remember when things like same-sex marriage and trans rights were considered just as “unsellable” (says the woman who lost her job as a teenager in 1980 for saying she thought gay people should be allowed to get married to each other and adopt kids). There’s still untold miles to go in both of those battles, and plenty of hatebags to defeat, and millions of people who are way more prejudiced in either or both of those areas than they’d ever cop to. But would anyone who’s paying any attention at all claim those causes are “unsellable” to almost everyone now? Things can change, drastically and quickly, so I wouldn’t say there’s no hope that our rights will become “sellable” too. However, one thing I will say — and once again, I’m with my fellow Jew Buffpuff on this — I’m not among those offended that someone would compare the plight of the Jews to that of fat people. No, there haven’t been fat pogroms or concentration camps, and I’d like to keep it that way.

But I also know that when there have been violent uprisings against Jewish people (and not just in the last century), they didn’t come out of nowhere. It took decades of escalating scapegoating and hatemongering before those eruptions took place. Nazism was not a one-decade fluke where people temporarily lost their marbles; any Jew could tell you that. And as long as fat people are portrayed more and more often in popular and alternative media as the Awful Ugly Greedy People Whose Fault Everything Is, and with our rights actually becoming more curtailed than they were a decade ago, I’m not willing to say it couldn’t happen to our fat asses (Jewish or otherwise), too. (And yeah, I know all too well that “my” people have been some of the leading fetishizers of thinness, unfortunately, because stoutness has an unbreakable association with the dreaded shtetls and thinness has long been linked with fitting in with upper-caste WASPs.) I’m a lot more concerned that people won’t learn from what happened to the Jews than that they’ll think about it too much, frankly.

It’s tempting to say the “support” of people who (I think) are assholes is worse than no support at all. And I still don’t intend to allow diet or yay-weight-loss talk on this site, for the simple reason that I don’t get much of a safe haven from that stuff elsewhere and neither do most of my readers. But as far as whether or not you, yourself are actually dieting or hoping to become thin(ner), and want to know if you can still work for fat rights and say your own fat is no good? Or what if you think fat is unhealthy, but that all the things I mentioned should still be illegal? Let’s just say this. There’s a huge difference — I mean, the size of the Grand Canyon — between who I feel I can stand behind as a movement leader and who is “fit” to be a supporter. I hesitate even to type the latter part of that sentence, because it sounds as if I have some kind of Fit Supporter Rule Book and I really, really don’t.

But just because I don’t want to hear about your diet or applaud while you pull out the waistband of your fat pants doesn’t mean I hate you, or don’t want your support. (I think most people in fat acceptance have meatspace friends and relatives who diet and don’t hate their guts for it, even if we don’t want to hear their blow-by-blow weekly scale reports.) When it comes to getting the laws and the culture changed, we need all the support we can get, even from calorie counters, even from people who are decidedly not perfect in other ways. If only the pure of heart could effect any sort of change, we’d be in big-assed trouble.

NY Daily News “Fat-letes” Slide Show: Sports Entertainers of Size as Food/Eating Porn

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

I should have known. I never learn. So I’m poking around the NY Daily News sports pages for news about the Mets (speaking of never learning), and something on the sidebar catches my eye: a slide show called “Fat-letes: The Um, BIGGEST Sports Stars of All Time.” And I’m thinking, “Gee, that’s nice, they’re finally acknowledging that fat sports entertainers exist and have accomplished things! Let’s have a look!”

Oh yes. Let’s. (As per my flamebait rules, no direct link: here is the link to the photo gallery page, from which you can find it if you just can’t resist peeking.) There are 35 photos of fat current and former pro athletes, all men, from nearly every professional sport, plus one of A-Rod, who’s not at all fat but got a “dishonorable mention” regarding the “Bitch Tits” nickname allegedly given to him by his Yankee teammates for his roided-out pecs. If the latter gives you a big fat hint that this slide show is not meant to be the slightest bit complimentary or respectful, righty-o you are, Felix. Almost every picture in the series either shows the jock in question with food (e.g. ex-Met Mo Vaughn pictured with the mile-high sandwich the Carnegie Deli named after him), or references to him as something like “donut loving” (ex-MLB slugger Cecil Fielder), or having “eaten his awards instead of hanging them on the wall” (Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn) or, in the case of Cecil Fielder’s son Prince, who currently plays first base for the Milwaukee Brewers, marveling that a man of his dimensions could actually be a vegetarian. (Gasp.)

Yeah, most of those guys probably do eat a lot — or did when they were playing. Of course they did; in order to maintain the muscle mass necessary to perform at that level, you can’t exactly pick at dry salads, and I guarantee you their thin and buff counterparts put it away too, even if they’re health nuts. (Ever hear about Julio Franco and the 20 egg whites he used to have for breakfast — just breakfast — every day, as part of the 5000-calorie-a-day playing regime he employed to keep playing major-league ball until he was pushing 50? Now you have. You’re welcome.) But for some reason, thin and buff players (and, of course, thin and buff everybody else) who are big eaters never seem to have what’s on their plates lit up in neon like the fat folks do. People just really want to believe that we fatasses put it away like nobody else does, regardless of whether they actually have proof of such consumption or not.

I remember years ago going to a fat-positive spoken-word reading in San Francisco that Marilyn Wann put on, and one of the alt-weeklies advertising the event made the nudge-wink observation that there would probably be lots of great food there, you know, because fat acceptance means aaaalways eeeeeating. Even at a reading. A reading that TOOK PLACE WELL AFTER THE FUCKING DINNER HOUR. (There was no food there at all, in case you care.) I used to think this kind of thing kept happening because “non-obese” people were desperate to believe that our pariah status was completely voluntary, that if you took that away from them they’d whine about oh nooooes, yet another stigmatized group we have to try to be nice to and actually pretend to learn something about and come up with code words to mask our prejudices against — isn’t there anyone left we can pick on out loud anymore?

And maybe there’s something to that, but now I’m starting to believe that in many cases, the reason fat haters insist so loudly that every one of us fatasses must be constantly chewing and swallowing ALL THOZE CALORIEZ YAAARGH, even over our staunch denials, is because their insistence amounts to a form of food and eating porn. They need, right down to the fluid in their cells, to believe that somebody, somebody weaker of spirit and flesh than they, is consuming all that “sinful” food; since it can’t be them (because, of course, they could gain a hundred pounds if they do!), they can at least get to watch us, if only in their minds’ eyes, eat the mile-high sandwich and the (baby) donuts and the awards plaques and maybe even a few Daily News reporters for dessert. If we can demonstrate that our eating habits are nothing out of the ordinary, there goes that wank-target out the window.

Oh, I’m sure Matt Marrone, Andy Clayton and Matt Simonides, who put together this particular disrespect-fest, would deny my interpretation of it out their smug fratboy asses. OK, so here’s the thing. I don’t think fat jokes should necessarily be off limits per se, but for the luvva pastrami, why do they always have to be so witless? About 10 years ago, C.C. Sabathia, (yes, he’s in this slideshow too), then pitching for the Cleveland Indians, showed up in spring training weighing about 300 pounds, which led some media wiseass (whose name now escapes me) to dub him “CCC Sabathia.” See, now that’s funny. I laughed at that. I still giggle about it now. But what does it tell you that of all the fat jokes and japes I’ve heard, seen, and read since then — and good gravy Marie have there been dozens — not ONE has even so much as made me smile? If you people who are being paid six and seven figures to make funnies whiff every goddamn time you make jokes about subject X, if your “humor” about subject X never rises above the third-grade har-har-you-stuff-your-face level, shouldn’t it tell you that maybe you should lay off subject X already until you grow some wit? If you’re going to mock us, at least bring your A game to the field. The “fat-letes” you so disparage did exactly that, after all.

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I Caught a Troll! I Caught a Troll! I Caught My Very Own Troll!

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

OK, normally I send posts like this straight to spamville. (Not that I get very many, but still.) But just because I’m in a blasting-plastic-fish-in-a-barrel kinda mood, I thought I’d offer this particular one up for your moldy-pea shooters. Disputing my claim that choosing the fries over the salad was hardly going to make a difference of 100 pounds to anyone all by itself, our troll, thinking I’m fat just because nobody ever bothered to teach me calorie voodoo math before I hit junior high (thereby proving that sie has not read ANYTHING else I’ve posted here), schools me thusly:

-Choosing the fries over a salad CAN mean 100 pounds or more. If you consistently choose fries over salad thats a daily dose of grease, cholesterol, starch….fries provide very fattening calories…not to mention if you consistently chose salad you would be getting a daily dose of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and other nutrients with considerably less calories (that is if you are eating a salad with a modest amount of dressing, not a soup). Do a little experiment and purchase a couple of rats. Keep one of them on a regular diet of water, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Keep the other on a regular diet of processed foods (soda, chips, fries, burgers, cookies). It will not take long to see the physical differences that diet effects. You could probably even switch the diets of the rats and and see the effects follow the diets. You will quickly find it is within everyones genetic range to weigh a lot.

Sure, people have the genetic capacity to grow large, obviously or it wouldn’t happen. However, claiming that fat is not a matter of choice but a matter of genetics is absurd. Consider the following example:

There are x amount of cigarette smokers with lung cancer. They have developed lung cancer because it is within their genetic capacity to do so.

Wooookay. One of these days I’m gonna do a whole “why fat isn’t like smoking” post, but let’s take the lung cancer part first, just because it’s so tickly. Yes, it’s true, some people are genetically far more predisposed to forming metastatic cells in their bodies at a relatively young age than others, regardless of environmental factors. That’s probably why very few smokers actually die of primary lung cancer, even though the vast majority of people who get primary lung cancer were heavy smokers at one time. See the difference? It’s statistically impossible for 97% of smokers to die of lung cancer. Don’t some of them die in car wrecks or fighting wars or something? It’s far more common for smokers who continue to smoke heavily for decades and die of natural causes to contract COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which leads to respiratory failure and emphysema. In fact, it’s about, oh, eighty times more common than lung cancer, and other than in a few cases where there’s a congenital alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, is caused almost entirely by chronic exposure to serious pulmotoxins (of which cigarette smoke is one). And while you certainly need a genetic tendency to enjoy tobacco (or at least not have a complete aversion to it) to take up smoking, and genetics can certainly affect one’s ability to quit, starting smoking is completely voluntary (even figuring in that it usually happens in one’s teens, when feelings of immortality tend to peak). Becoming fat is not nearly so voluntary for most fat people. You can get really fucking fat doing everything your doctor tells you to do. I did.

Which brings me to They Who Have Come To Enlighten Me’s first point. Which is that if rats eat fries instead of salad, they’ll gain 100 pounds. Or something like that. Leaving aside that TWHCTEM obviously has never met anyone with a hummingbird metabolism, much less lived with someone like that and observed on a daily basis what they actually eat, let’s explore what “fries versus salad” actually means to most people. No, it doesn’t mean you eat a large order of fries (or hashbrowns, or the equivalent) with every meal, every single day, on top of everything else on your plate. I don’t know of anyone who has ever done that; even binge eaters usually want more variety than that. Maybe some movie star did that to (temporarily) gain weight to play a fat character, I don’t know.

But most of us who are not trying to gain weight, we don’t do that. What we do is, once, maybe twice a week when we eat fast food or go out, get fries on the side. (Yes, I know some people are much more frequent fast food consumers, but most people past college age don’t have fries 10 times a week.) How many more calories is that than a salad? Well, it depends. If your idea of a “salad” is all non-starchy vegetables and no (or the merest hint of) dressing, croutons, nuts, or anything else, and your idea of an order of fries is enough to build a hut with, probably a lot. Although still not enough to make a 100-pound difference in body weight without way more help from your metabolism than most of us get. But consider, if you will, that most of us are going to eat maybe 10 to 30 fries at a sitting, depending on size of said fries, and that ordering a plain, dull salad will almost certainly mean we will be hungrier later and crave a snack — come on, if you’ve ever dieted, you’ve been there. “I’m being soooo good! I’m eating a big bowl of veggies! Yay me! And boo all the fry-snarfing pigs!” And then — maybe not the same day, but surely someday very soon — appetite wins out over the dieter’s high, and before you know it you’re putting Chunky Monkey up your nose. (Ow.)

This is what happens when you give people plenty of food and free will to feed themselves how they choose. We value those things, do we not? You’re not really suggesting that we get put in…um…cages and have our captors feed us when they decide we’re hungry instead of us, right? And really, if the idea of people eating McDonald’s for lunch every day bothers you that much, if you really do think it’s any of your goddamn business, open a damn fruit stand in a poor neighborhood or some other produce desert and give them an alternative. But spare me the finger-rubbing smugness. Geez.

Okay, I’m done. Your turn.

Fat, Major Depression, Asperger’s: Where the Social Model Meets the Medical Model

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

This is my first-ever post for Blogging Against Disablism Day! Which actually was yesterday. But I did write it then and didn’t get a chance to post it until now, so hopefully it will make the list. If not, click the picture and go read the awesome posts there anyway!

Until very recently, I would have refused even the very idea of considering myself a “person with disabilities.” (And please note the plural, about which more later.) It’s not that I didn’t always have conditions which limited my ability to live the kind of life I thought I wanted to be living, or which caused me great pain. And it’s not as though I thought being thought of as “disabled” was icky to me or anything. It was more like, how dare I? How dare I call attention to myself when other people needed and deserved the attention more than I did? I have a job, albeit one where I telecommute. I can get up and down stairs, albeit more slowly than most people. I’ve used assistive devices only for short periods of time when I had an injury. I don’t have a degenerative or terminal physical condition or horrible, intractable physical pain. I can bend, stoop, twist, reach, cook meals, shop for groceries, drive a car once in a while, manage to get my cable modem bill paid before they switch it off, clean up cat vomit, read, write, wash my clothes without ruining them (usually), crochet, pick up a musical instrument once in a while…all kinds of things. If I take birth control pills, I can even avoid the five-alarm menstrual cramps and killer PMS and migraines I used to get when I was younger (and don’t get me started about the first GYN I saw, who refused to prescribe them because “there’s a death rate on the pill” and thus I couldn’t get them before my mid-20s…gah). By those standards, I am not a person with disabilities, to be sure.

But now that I know something about the social model of disability (i.e. disability is subjective and depends upon being able to complete the tasks society expects of you, which may or may not be reasonable) and the medical model (i.e. you, PWD, are deficient and something to be fixed), it’s interesting to compare the two models with all the medical records, thousands upon thousands, I’ve created over the years. People don’t just go to doctors or hospitals when they have serious, physically painful or life-threatening problems; often they wind up there because in America (and not just here, either, although that’s the part of the world I know) between the ages of 18 and 50, maybe later, you are expected to be a bundle of energy and accomplishment. And millions of people, gods know how many, can’t hack it. You are supposed to sleep only five or six hours a night, grab a cup of coffee, and go go go go go. You are supposed to be able to handle (most of) the following, and probably more, for those 32 years without a hitch:

– working and going to school at the same time, often “full-time” at both

– having a healthy, honest, loving monogamous relationship (and commencing said relationship young enough to “start a family”)

– raising a family of well-behaved, happy, safe, wonderfully nourished children (note plural!) who are thrilled to eat all their greens and run around the neighborhood with a group of equally wholesome friends who all remain so up until they go away to college (and of course your children must all go to college!)

– lifting heavy objects and hoisting them up and down stairs for hours at a time

– driving defensively but not overly so every single day without your head exploding from three hours of horn-honking traffic

– being able to keep jobs through multiple rounds of layoffs because of how completely cheerfully industrious and useful you are

– staying trim, lithe, and youthful-looking even if your family tree is going to fight you on that every step of the way

– always eating lots of veggies and whole grains

– always avoiding sugar and fried food, and having the presence of mind to feel guilty when you do cave in and eat them

– never smoking or overindulging in alcohol or drugs

– if you are pregnant, never ingesting anything “bad” or being too sick to work as hard as you always have right up until the moment of delivery, and being ready to pop right back to your desk undistracted the minute the episiotomy heals

– working out every day without your workout and diet program leaving you too injured or ill or stressed to continue

– having a mortgage, a reliable car, sparkling clean credit and lots of savings

– always being able to smile, smile, smile and act like you’re on top of things when you know the people around you can’t handle how you’re really feeling (and they usually can’t)

– having enough of a social life that people don’t become suspicious of you, but not picking the “wrong” people to associate with

– developing a career (or having a partner with one) that will impress people when you tell them what it is

– and never, ever be too sick, too tired, in too much pain, or too overwhelmed to beg off from your appointed duties for more than 48 hours (longer if you are more affluent and have people who can cover for you)

You’d think that those expectations existed because the vast majority of people aged 18 to 50-whatever could actually keep all this up. But really, it’s not true. The reams of medical records I’ve created is the proof in the pudding that what we expect of “healthy” people in this world is ridiculous. A lot of people can’t even think about living that way; a lot of people start out living that way until serious illness or injury arriving out of the blue throws them a curve; a lot of people try, try, try to live that way thinking they have to and break under the strain, sometimes for good. It’s not just that people are considered to have disabilities because they don’t live up to society’s standards, it’s also that society’s standards themselves often create disability — i.e. actual loss of ability and serious pain — where it otherwise might not exist if we weren’t so rough on each other.

I’m one of the ones who can’t even think about measuring up, and never could, although I felt plenty shitty about myself about it and spent untold energies clobbering myself for it.

For starters, I am fat. I started out being merely a bit heavier than average, thanks to polycystic ovarian syndrome; once I started on psychiatric medications in my late 20s, I gained more than half my body weight again. Being fat in and of itself does not impede my functionality, but it does more or less eliminate me from many people’s Good, Attractive, and Capable Person Lists. People thinking you can’t do stuff, and thus not getting the chance, often winds up materially identical to not actually being physically able to do it. Looking “healthy” is much more important in this world than actually being “healthy.”

Which brings me to major depression. When I say I had serious depression from the time I was 11 years old, I am not kidding around. I mean that I felt like I wanted to die, and came close to acting on that wish, enough times that it really did threaten my life, and the rest of the time felt like walking through rapidly hardening cement. Depression was like a pack of trolls living in my brain alternately spewing razorblades and ether, telling me I was complete garbage and deserved nothing but censure, then taking a vacuum hose and sucking up the last of my adrenaline so I couldn’t fight back. It cost me time from work, it cost me friends, it cost me fun, it cost me achievement, it cost me relationships, and most of all, it cost me ME. Being fat is a million, billion times better than that any day of the week, let me tell you.

And then we come to Asperger syndrome. I have gone back and forth on whether I consider this a “disability” or a “difference.” There are things I’ve come to love about being aspie; I like that my brain comes up with things a neurotypical person might not. Given my very late diagnosis, though (age 44), and all the years I had to struggle with this not knowing what the hell it was, it’s been suggested to me that the severity of my depression is linked strongly to having my reality denied for so long from such a young age. (I’ve seen studies that have put the rate of suicidal ideation among aspies at around 50%; I’m not surprised.) And since so much of success in life is connected to being able to decode and respond immediately to people’s unspoken wishes, and be physically graceful, and squelch what you are really thinking and feeling for the sake of propriety, of course we aspies are usually shut out of the rat race. We must find another way to live, and tell all those expectations to go stuff themselves, or we die.

Fat, major depression, Asperger’s: linking rings. Hard to separate one from the rest. You could, if you wanted, make the argument that my true disability is the depression — and really, if I could have one of those three things “cured,” without causing myself undue harm in another department, that would be the one I would choose. I am not one of these people who romanticizes this condition; it SUCKS. There is nothing romantic about not being able to sit down with your favorite musical instrument because you think every sound you make is the sound of horseshit. There is nothing romantic about thinking that anyone who claims they like you just feels sorry for you, even if they have chosen to co-own a bed and three cats with you. There is nothing romantic about being scared to fucking death you’re going to swallow every pill in the house or go have something dry cleaned just so you can have the bag to suffocate yourself with. There is nothing romantic about feeling terminally stuck in the driveway in neutral for decades upon decades. There is nothing romantic about having to miss work, and even lose jobs, because you can’t stop crying for days even though nothing bad actually happened. You can KEEP that shit. KEEP it. I’d gain 100 more pounds if it meant I’d be guaranteed never to feel like that again. You cannot possibly imagine the sweet relief of remission unless you’ve experienced it. This, because nothing else has ever worked for me no matter how hard I’ve tried, I need doctors and their evil annoying pills to keep under control. Maybe forever. If people think that’s something about me that actually needs fixing — a disability according to the medical model — I can’t in good conscience argue.

But would the depression have gotten that bad without the sheer hate heaped on fat people (especially fat female people) in this society, or without the thousand-tiny-cuts hostility that NT people demonstrate towards those of us on the autism spectrum? I’m sure it would still have existed — it’s not like I don’t have plenty of thin, neurotypical wet blankies in my family tree — but would it have been THAT bad? Kill-myself bad? Everybody-hates-me bad? Hard to fathom. When are we going to ask, as a society, “are we making people feel shitloads worse, both physically and mentally, than we really need to?”

I’d like to know, and so would my doctors.