• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • February 13, 2014 in Columnists

    When is fat too fat?

    It’s okay to be a fat man. It’s prestige and power and all of that. But fat women are seen as just lazy and stupid and having no self-control.
    Camryn Manheim

    I want to say upfront that I stand in solidarity with those people who feel fine as they are and feel they have no need for or interest in losing weight.  Yes, you are fine.  And yes, you are beautiful – as is, where is.

    About the size I was when I was a powerlifter

    About the size I was when I was a powerlifter

    I have as an adult (or nearly so) run the weight gamut from 135 lbs at age 15 and a street kid getting very little nourishment, to 420 at about 28, to the 300 or so where I settled from age 30 until my gastric bypass on May 28, 2013.  I am now 206 lbs down from that highest weight and, after having given it some thought, have figured out when I was too fat and when I was okay as I was.

    Also, keep in mind, 214 is still plus sized.  According to some, even if I lose the 40 more lbs I hope to lose before this year ends (you get about 12 magic months where it comes off with little effort – after that, you’re either done or you’re slogging, like everybody else), I will still be plus sized.

    • I was too fat when I bent over and felt like my skin was going to split open.
    • I was too fat when I would climb two steps, stop, gasp for breath, take two more steps…
    • I was too fat when walking a city block exhausted me.
    • I was too fat when personal hygiene was a crisis Every Single Time.
    • I was too fat when I couldn’t get up off the floor without a team of helpers.
    • I was too fat when my blood sugars kept going up.

    Not everybody is too fat, but some of us are.  We need to lose weight, but not for anybody else.  Only for ourselves, because quality of life counts and we deserve it.

    • I was not too fat to do a five hour, full body workout every other day with weights that would have staggered an average man.  I was 38 years old and I weighed 340.
    • I was not too fat to get a red belt (one short of black) in mixed martial arts at the age of 56 weighing 290 or so.
    • I was not too fat to learn to speak five more languages.
    • I was not too fat to get two college degrees.

      Getting my first martial arts belt...I went all the way to red.

      Getting my first martial arts belt…I went all the way to red.

    • I was not too fat to find a beautiful man and get married.
    • I was not too fat to raise marvelous children.
    • I was not too fat to be a good friend, a contemplative and philosophical human being and to have a loving heart.

    I was never too fat for any of that.  Nobody is.

    • I was not too fat when people were cruel.
    • I was not too fat when I was treated as if I was stupid.
    • I was not too fat when people refused to hire me.
    • I was not too fat when people wouldn’t rent housing to me.
    • I was not too fat when men barked out of car windows or tried to hit me with their cars while I was out walking.
    • I was not too fat when groups of little boys ran after me in stores, pointing and laughing.
    • I was not too fat when small girls stood in front of me and shouted “Fatty fatty fatty!” at the tops of their lungs as their poor parents looked like they were dying.
    • I was not too fat when my anthro professor sat beside me during a scene in a movie where the fat woman has a refrigerator fall on her and she takes that opportunity to gorge herself on the contents and commented “See, that’s what it looks like to us.”

    I was never that fat.  Nobody is.

    Still plus sized -- so what, then, is normal?

    Still plus sized — so what, then, is normal?

    One of my favorite movies lines was from Men in Black 2:  “The person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals.”  Indeed.  While people are also amazing, wise, perceptive and profound – we are also shallow and heartless and cruel.  We will throw out a whole, wonderful, marvelous individual for nothing more than skin color, the gender of the one we love, missing parts and pieces, especially teeth, accents, religious beliefs and body size.  It’s not just stupid, it’s stoooooopid (add another O for every degree of stupidity that applies).

    I’m not too fat now.  I can do the full ballerina bendover, legs pressed together, and tuck my fingers under my toes.  People are nicer.  I’m suddenly smarter and less irritating – even charming.  As I’ve said before, my human being card has been returned to me.  I’m an accepted member of the species once more.

    But then, I was never fat enough to have had it removed in the first place.  Nobody is.


    • Beautifully written Maya.

      • cathy olten

      • February 13, 2014 at 11:41 am
      • Reply


      • Maya North

      • February 13, 2014 at 11:44 am
      • Reply

      Thank you, Madge. I don’t think I’ll ever stop caring passionately about this issue even if I am not plus sized ever again. <3

      • Maya North

      • February 13, 2014 at 11:45 am
      • Reply

      Oh, Cathy. <3 <3 <3

    • I felt wonderful as I read this. I have struggled with being overweight much of my adult life. I have dieted and lost weight, I have dieted and not lost weight. I have struggled with my self image and how people want to define me. It’s like standing in the wind. There are greater struggles people have fought and I know I have been blessed. However, I am 57 and still feel the sting and lack of confidence. Thanks.

      • Maya North

      • February 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm
      • Reply

      Oh, Ann, you gladden my heart. It took so long for me to learn that my value was intrinsic and had nothing to do with body size — and that body size was part of my value. When my granddaughter sank into my strong, cushy embrace, how could I regret that? But yes, it’s a tremendous uphill battle to stand against the tidal wave of social approbation and based on what? Nothing important enough to devalue us in any way. Big hugs!!!

    • I am so happy to know you. You are powerful. You are beautiful. And it has NOTHING to do with your weight.

        • Maya North

        • February 13, 2014 at 10:36 pm
        • Reply

        Marla, you are a heart’s delight and a blessing. (And beautiful.) <3

      • Terri Connett

      • February 14, 2014 at 7:18 am
      • Reply

      OH MY YA! Beautifully written. So honest and very real. You knocked this one out of the park. I’m very proud to know you.

        • Maya North

        • February 14, 2014 at 10:26 am
        • Reply

        Oh, Terri, thank you. That’s an entire lifetime talking…mine and too many others’ lifetimes. We just have to refuse to cave. We also need to do what we have to so we can live and live well (which is the best revenge, anyway 😉 ). <3

    • A fantastic post, the clarity great and thoughtful. It challenged stereotypes I had and I didn’t think I had many on that score. G-D impressive, oh, the 5 languages and the long list of other stuff, not too shabby but then as you pointed out, they had nothing to do with fat or not.

        • Maya North

        • February 17, 2014 at 3:58 am
        • Reply

        Even people who don’t think they have prejudices about size often do — sadly, so do big people and I’ve had to monitor myself for it as I’ve lost weight, which is interesting. I was a cussed stubborn kid and that’s only increased over time — I refuse to be stopped by anything other than my legitimate limitations and I’m always finding there are fewer of those than I ever expected. Thank you so very much… 🙂

    • You are a beautifully bright, talented, gem of a human being. I’m honored to know you.

        • Maya North

        • February 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm
        • Reply

        The honor is mine. XXXOOO

    Leave a Comment