Weighing in on weight
"Geezam! Nuh Patria-Kaye dat? But she nuh look suh fat". If I had a dollar for every time I heard that statement, I could buy bucket loads of KFC.
I have had the cruel fate of gaining weight on TV (which already adds pounds). I started out as a size five at 16 years old, hosting 'Rappin''. Sixteen years later, a lot has changed. My age has doubled (and so has my weight). And nobody allows me to forget it. The truth is Jamaicans have no qualms commenting on your weight whether in front of your face or behind your back.
Weight loss is perhaps the most popular New Year's resolution made the world over. That decision is motivated far too often by shame, not by a genuine desire to be healthier, but by one too many "lawks! Yu get fat, eee!" comment. In fact, why is it that the first verbal exchange between long-lost friends or acquaintances is weight related? "Yu get fat, eeeee!" or "Yu get mawga, eeeee!" are standard greetings, followed right after by the awkward inappropriate touching to verify the sited weight loss or gain. Folks, this is not OK. There's a diplomacy that should be exercised with regard to someone's weight. Know that they quite possibly are having struggles about it themselves and you must know you are pointing out the obvious.
I've gained weight. I know. And I remember the taste of every piece of fried chicken that got me here ... and I don't regret a single bite. And you pointing out my change in weight isn't going to guilt me into the gym. I'm particularly tickled by those who try to ferret out reasons, asking me, "Why yu put on suh much weight?" I'm often tempted to answer, "Because pizza and soda taste good. Now explain your ugly", but that would be unkind. Some things I'd never say out loud. Lord knows I'd think it, but to actually allow the words to leave the safe haven of my head, no way!
Something that also befuddles me is how entire conversations can be had about my weight between two people standing right next to me. It's as if they think the fat has rendered me deaf; that excess weight has collected around my eardrums and blocked my hearing. Or maybe they think I'm still on TV ... so I really can't hear.
The preoccupation with weight just seems shallow and superficial to me. It did even when I was 'String Bean', (yes that was my nickname). What ever happened to intellect and character? Anybody monitoring and discussing changes in those? I'm all for a healthy society, for people living longer and enjoying a better quality of life because of their food choices. But a verbal weight intervention is not the way to go about it. I can easily see how that kind of public shaming would drive someone to eat.
Persons who live on the plumper side of life aren't the only victims. Those who have shed pounds receive their fair share of uninvited comments as well, and they are always shaded with an undertone of pity. Equally as offensive. His or her weight loss is never truly an achievement. The cause is always first assumed to be sickness or 'fretration' that "draw them down". You just can't win.
Thank God I'm comfortable in my own skin - at whatever weight. I want to be healthy as much as the next guy, but I won't obsess over it. So while the rest of Jamaica makes their New Year's resolution to lose weight, I resign myself to the fact that they make cute clothes for fat people, and that the scale does not determine how attractive I am.