FatLand: The Early Days – 44b

The first thing Charla did was to divide the attendees into groups.

“We are going to do  a little writing now,” she said. “The first group is going to come up with adjectives describing fat people.  The second group is going to write down adjectives describing thin people.  The third group is going to come up with verbs describing fat people. And the fourth group is going to generate verbs describing thin people.” She looked at her watch. “Take five minutes.  Your group leaders will collect the results, which I will then read.”

As one of the group leaders, Angela went around answering questions from her group and encouraging them. What she saw as the lists took shape made her shudder.  My God, she thought. No wonder our kids felt so bad about themselves. People can move here and they can even pay lip service to fat rights, but what is inside them is a mental torture chamber.  The self-hate is so clear that it’s palpable.

When time was up, Angela, whose group’s task it was to describe fat people by adjectives, collected their lists and handed them to Charla to read, as did the other group leaders with their group’s lists.

Charla gathered the lists into a pile.  She started by reading those from Angela’s group. “Lazy, gluttonous, sad, boring, ugly,” she read. Then:  “Lazy, unaccomplished, uneducated, doughy, poor.” She reaced for the next one. “Unattractive, tired, unathletic, stupid, unrefined. ” The next one read:  “Unhealthy, unlovable, pushy, defensive, loud, ridiculous.”

As Charla finished reading her group’s lists, Angela tried very hard not to cry.  Not only do we have work to do among our kids, she thought, but among our adult population as well. It was like hearing a litany of all the traits her culture held in lowest esteem. The word “scapegoat” came to mind.

The classic other, Angela thought. With all the supposed ills of society projected onto us. We’ve got to find a new way of living.  The song came to her, and she thought, and perhaps a way of forgiving, as well. But that will come later.

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