From your fat friend: What I hear when you say you're not 'that fat.'

My heart sunk in such a familiar way when I first learned about "Fat Chance."

The TLC show explores the weight loss journeys of people looking to fall in love. “Why would someone love me, looking like this?” one contestant asks, staring at her soft body in a full-length mirror.

Wherever we go, someone is constantly asserting the life of loneliness, isolation, and lovelessness to which fat people are doomed. It is heartbreaking and it is false.


I think about the technicolor loves I have had, the partners who have loved and wanted me. I think about the fat people I have fallen for and the fat friends and family who are happily married, hooking up, falling in love, and calling affection into their lives.

Unlovable is ubiquitous and deeply untrue. After all, if fat people were truly impossible to love, two-thirds of the country would be condemned to a life of solitude and longing. But unlovable has gained so much momentum that it has taken on a life of its own, a self-fulfilling prophecy that shapes the thinking of my friends and family, showing up jagged and sharp in their tender mouths.

Even friends who are critical about popular depictions of fat people have a hard time. When we talk about "Fat Chance," their answers are startlingly similar. One after another, upon seeing the contestants: "I mean, look at her, she’s not even that fat."

There it is, unlovable, its toothy serrated blade cutting as deep as ever.

I know that’s not what they intend to say. They mean the world has gone haywire if this woman is considered fat. They mean an impossible standard has been set if a handsome, broad-shouldered man feels like he’s too fat. They are startled seeing bodies that look so much like theirs being discussed as irredeemably, unlovably fat.

It’s a common response to seeing fat-shaming of all kinds.

She’s not that fat. Because if she is, they might be too. They are awakened to a new level of self-consciousness, wondering if maybe they should’ve felt even more ashamed all this time. In that moment, they disappear into themselves, consumed by a new depth of surprise and shame.

She’s not even that fat.

But I am always that fat. When strangers bring up cartoonish numbers — I mean, would being fat be OK if she was 300 pounds? — I am their exaggerated example. I am the person they dread sitting next to on the plane, the one who avoids eye contact with strangers for fear of the slurs that follow, the one who orders salads in public in hope of being spared judgment, comment, or shaming. I have always been that fat. I have always been fair game.

She’s not even that fat. But they’d understand if they were saying it about me. She’s not deserving of such scorn, but there’s someone who is. There’s someone who’s that fat. There’s me.

“I mean, I know you think you know what you’re seeing, but I’m pretty fat,” you said, fixing your lipstick and adjusting your size-10 dress in a department store bathroom mirror. Behind you, my soft body, size 26, is a sharp contrast.

I furrow my brow and again, my heart sinks. You, willowy and lithe. You, cheekbones and clavicle. You, pretty fat. But, dear friend, you are never that fat.

I turn this moment over in my head, examining it carefully. It leaves me with such a dull ache of grief. Later that night, I finally find the words for what I wanted to say to you.

I wanted to tell you that your identity is important.

I believe that you see yourself as pretty fat, and I know that your identity matters to you just as much as mine matters to me. The way you see yourself shapes how you engage with the world around you. It determines when and how you feel seen, when and how you feel erased. You describe it precisely, with words you cradle close to your heart. It is a locket that warms with your body, a keepsake to remind you who you are and where you stand in the world.

Your identity matters deeply. So do perception and experience — how others see you and how they treat you as a result. Your identity shapes how you engage with the world; perception determines how the world reacts to you. This, dear friend, is where our experiences differ. You feel pretty fat. I am seen as that fat.

Image from iStock.

Because I’m seen as that fat, I’m treated with all the dismissal and contempt that people who are that fat deserve. People who are that fat get turned away from job interviews, promotions, even doctor offices. Because I am that fat, a nurse takes my blood pressure four times before telling me that my low blood pressure “can’t be right — not for an obese patient.” You know you feel pretty fat, but cashiers don’t gawk when you walk into a buffet restaurant, and acquaintances don’t joke about ending up on a blind date with someone like you.

You see yourself as fat, and that matters. But the world around you doesn’t know how you see yourself. They only see the body in front of them, and that body isn’t even that fat.

I see your identity. And I need you to see my experience.

Both of these moments, with good friends whom I love and trust, have stayed with me. These friends are thoughtful, incisive, committed to doing better by fat people. And in both cases, their values were betrayed, caught in an undertow of dismissing fat people.

They never meant to, but both of them made it clear that some bodies are acceptable, and others aren’t.

Many of us are comfortable saying that some fat bodies are OK. Those fat bodies are almost always exceptional star athletes or stunning models. The kind of bodies you see alongside their accomplishments and, astonished, utter, "I never would’ve guessed." The kind of bodies that check every other box: staggering beauty, visible markers of health, physical ability, youth. Women must have hourglass figures; men must have broad shoulders and barrel chests. No one can “look obese.” Yes, fat bodies are OK, but only if they are immaculate in every other way and only if we can see their perfection. Fat bodies are best when they don’t look fat at all.

She’s not even that fat and I’m pretty fat are harsh reminders of that line. I never know just where it is, but I know I am always on the outside of it. I have never been an acceptable kind of fat. Those who are acceptable, those who are embraced, are precious few and far between. Most of us fail at being the right kind of fat.

That’s why any acceptance of fat people that expands our standards to a point is unacceptable. I do not want to be accepted into a beauty standard that has betrayed me. I do not want my acceptance to rely on someone else’s rejection.

Everyone — yes, everyone — deserves respect in the world. No one — not one person — deserves to be harassed, discriminated against, disrespected, or hurt just because of the size or shape of their body. It doesn’t matter if you think they could change their body. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. All of us deserve safety and all of us deserve love.

There will be bodies that you find difficult to embrace.

The fattest person in the movie theater, daring to eat popcorn. The person you clock as transgender at the grocery store. The person with a visible disability, who needs you to give up your seat on the bus. There will be me, a person who is that fat. This is where the work gets tough.

In order to make room for all of us, you will have to believe to your bones that they deserve everything you have. Not some of them. Not the most beautiful ones or the most athletic ones. Not up to a certain size or just if they’re nice to you or just the ones you think are cute.

Dignity is not earned. Safety is not a reward. None of us should have to overcome our bodies just to be safe, to be loved, to be treated like anyone else. Safety, acceptance, and love are for all of us. Not just the ones we’re comfortable with. Not just the ones who aren’t that fat.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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