Fitting In – Hating the Simpsons and Loving the Kindness of Strangers

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I take a moment to reflect on the beauty of the day and how lucky I feel to be on this ride. I don’t take my mobility or the weather for granted.

Holy F Even Cartoons Are Creating Body Shame These Days!

Just before Mark and I left to drive up to Ventura for another few days of R and R riding the beach, I killed time by watching the Simpsons, a long running cartoon that skewers American culture, family stereotypes , fads and every other thing you can think of. It centers around Homer, a beer-guzzling, donut bingeing, somewhat good-hearted, somewhat clueless idiot, his long-suffering blue-haired wife Marge, and his three kids. I usually enjoy the Simpsons, and since I’ve been studying voice acting, I watch as many cartoons as possible to mimic the voices and study the line delivery.

But imagine my chagrin, when this episode centered around Homer’s fat ass being stuck in an auditorium chair and his ripping the entire row up as he tried to rise for a standing ovation for a performance of his kids. He then went on to exclaim about “Don’t fear me”, inferring he, and his fat-assedness were indeed monstrous. Homer then was persuaded by Marge to go to Fattie’s Anonymous to get help losing weight, and instead, comically landed in a support group for being proud of your size. This group glorified gaining weight as wonderful, were shown as blubberous idiots in denial of their health, and even as Homer has the wondrous realization that for once he could be PROUD of who he actually was, the group is arrested for protesting, can’t fit in the cell, the leader dies at 23 from heart failure as he attempts to rise from his scooter chair, and the funeral gag showed about 25 urns of ashes being needed for this big fatties’ cremation. The end result? Homer says to Marge, “I’m sorry Marge, I’ll never try to be proud of myself again. I’ll yoyo diet until I get it right”. Then we see the years flash by as Homer balloons and shrinks, becomes buff and big and small and flabby, until finally he is buff and his now adult kids are proud of him when Homer is about 65 years old. Yes, I admit the Simpsons had good jokes in this episode, and this show skewers every group eventually. But I couldn’t believe how depressed I was by it. For the underlying societal expectations could not be more clear.

  1. You are a sloppy monster (not one of us) if you can’t fit in a seat
  2. You should be ashamed of yourself if you are not trying all you can to get thin
  3. Large size equals ill health and death

Sigh.

This really bugged the hell out of me and I am struggling to let it go. Now, it is NO surprise to me that in my culture, body fat is considered bad in every way. It is no surprise that fat people are considered “less than” and somewhat stupid – after all, ONLY an idiot would not address this BURNING HEALTH ISSUE. So what if there are eating disorders blooming all across the nation based on these ideas? After all, isn’t it BETTER to be THIN at ANY COST? I say no, but then again, I am not thin.

I am putting my energy into living my life outside of the focus and compulsion of trying to change my body. Unlike Homer, for the the last year, I have not yo-yoed “Trying to get it right”. I have instead accepted my body, even while I WISH I could fit in seats better.

The only positive I can see from this cartoon episode is that I identify anger at these ideas and portrayals vs. at myself for being one of the skewered group. This is huge. I don’t feel compelled to change so as not to be laughed at by a cartoon stereotype. I don’t accept the stereotype. I don’t dispute some of what the stereotype is based upon. I can also take a joke. But what this episode represents makes me very sad. Not for me, but that I live in a society that cannot accept size as an actual usual difference among humans.

Love you K from the Pantages

This damned Simpsons episode could not have come at a worse time. As I have ranted during my show, my pair-shaped butt and large thighs do NOT fit into coach seats on airplanes OR in the small, historical seats of the Pantages Theater in Hollywood where Mark and I have season tickets. Note that Mark weighs much more than I do, AND he’s about 7 inches taller. And HE can fit because his weight is in his tummy, not his ass. I really DO feel like a monster when I try to shoehorn myself into these seats and it’s even worse when I have a left-hand neighbor giving me the “Oh my god you are fat” glare. To be fair, this has only happened once – but that was enough.

Now It’s time to consider re-upping for next season or not. Not thinking that anything could be done (outside of me losing about 40+ pounds), I called the theater to explore possibilities. I was lucky enough to speak with a friendly, compassionate, and cool dude who I’ll call K. According to K there is a small chance that I can at least purchase the seat to my immediate left as well, later on when the season tickets are all re-purchased or not. There are some seats in the theater that have armrests that come up (but these would not work with Mark’s need to be on an aisle). So bottom line, I need to decide if the thrill of seeing the shows are worth the physical and emotional discomfort of the theater’s seats.

I loved speaking with K as he was so funny and compassionate. I told him, “I just don’t have an historic Hollywood body. I’m much more a midwest kind of lady”. We also talked about Kinky Boots and diversity and other topics. K never made me feel badly and followed up with compassion. In his email outlining my options, he added a PS,

“Remember, you are PERFECT as you are.”

Off to Ventura


Let’s leave rant-ville and focus on the fun possibilities in life. Fat ass or not, my strong legs can peddle me all over the place! I love to see the coast line, and given the weather many are suffering with Winter Storm Marcus, I am glad to be riding with MY Mark instead.

Laurie and Mark in bike gear on a sunny day on the bike trail near the coast.

Some of the times we feel closest as a couple is bike riding at the beach.

Sunny day, train tracks in foreground coastal waves beyond

You can see the waves break along the shore in Ventura. The tracks the Coast Starlight follows are seen here.

Sunset into the sea

Another melting sunset as we finish our bike ride.

Body Balance


Since I’m blogging, I’m combining my status here:

BB (Body Balance) number 9 Sleep: 9 hours divided (good first 4, good next 4, good last 1) Tummy/Gut: balanced. Hungry after 1 hour of waking. Small breakfast satisfied. Will eat again before our ride. Energy: High. Mood: Happy and grateful (except for the seat fitting rage)

BB is my personal criteria, and I don’t think too hard about it. I ask myself at the keyboard, what is my BB? A number between 1-10, including halves, pops into my head. I write it in my post Then I figure out why it is higher or lower and gently make note.

If you are interested these are my measures.

  1. Sleep. Quality and Amount.
  2. Tummy/Gut – If I ate what my body asked for, usually above and below the belly button feel balanced. Ate too much, below the belly button feels more full. Ate too little, the reverse.
  3. Am I hungry within 1 hour of waking? I have found that I feel best if I am hungry within 1 hour of waking. This tends to make my eating day even and not heavy on food in the evening. But I don’t eat if not hungry unless I’m about to ride or hike. I’ve learned I need to fuel these morning activities, or I’ll bonk.
  4. What is my energy level? Subjective, but telling.
  5. A quick look at my mood.

The Bravery Coach

TheBraveryCoach daily tweet is a morning mediation on how I either did, or can incorporate an aspect of bravery into my day. It is cheerful. It is esteem building. Those who want to follow these on Twitter may, by searching for the hashtag #bravery or by seeing my profile:

Daily Bravery Tweets via TheBraveryCoach on Twitter

Comments box:

12 thoughts on “Fitting In – Hating the Simpsons and Loving the Kindness of Strangers

  1. Cheryl

    Hm… Things like this seem to be in the air. I, too, just posted a blog about weight and self-esteem. It’s interesting to me that your perspective of being angry at the message of the cartoon is similar to what I was feeling posting this blog (which is 3 parts as I thought it a bit too long for 1). I think that means we’ve taken a huge step forward in our mental health.

    I’m glad you got to see that cartoon and gauge your reaction to it. I hope it encouraged you. And I’m glad you’re out riding along that beautiful ocean.

    Jealous, but happy for you!

    Hugs,
    C~

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Yes, I saw that. I think I read and featured that story before when you were doing Wellsprings and Dragonfly Wings, but it is still powerful reminder of how we are “shaped” by events – especially during formative years, eh? (There’s my growing up close to the Canadian border coming out). It is interesting too, I’d just had a conversation with my therapist, that if could magically make every chair in the planet fit me, would I still want to loose weight at this point. Answer, not really. My health is good, my blood work improved, I can do all I want, and I don’t really give a rat’s ass about what people think I look like any longer, and *I* feel I look fine. I look like 90% of ALL my female relatives as far back as photos existed. So it is really giving me pause. My size is at times, inconvenient, but is THAT worth the amount of angst and focus it takes me to change it? I’m struggling with denial vs. acceptance. xoxoxox

      Reply
  2. Suzanne

    Oh yes. I have been there many times. And seemingly never voluntarily! I hate those moments when something like that comes and slaps you in the face and reminds you that you are in the “out” group and as far as the “in group” is concerned, there is something wrong with you that is worthy not of compassion or inclusion or education, but of derision, mockery and disgust. It seems like these little “reminders” pop up when we least expect it, when we’re feeling vulnerable. Like we needed so many reminders that we’re not acceptable. That people feel they have the right to judge our intelligence, our morality, or our work ethic just by looking at our bodies. It sucks.
    I’ve been thinking about the media lately, and even of old TV shows and television commercials I saw as a kid, and as a young adult. The messages really haven’t changed in the weight dept. They haven’t even gotten more sophisticated or subtle. The message is like an automated mallet pounding away on our heads. And yeah, I know I’m supposed to take it with a grain of salt (definitely not sugar) and I’m supposed to be able to laugh at myself, but it’s a LOT harder to have a sense of humor when your weight has drawn negative attention and abuse from others for pretty much your whole life. I swear a lot of us have fat-shaming PTSD. I am so well self-trained in the art of avoiding the fat-shaming sucker punch that I learned to make it clear early and often that I am well aware of my weight and even poke fun at myself about it, just in case any jackass out there was thinking of putting me in my place. A fat peg in a fat hole. But there’s always that surprise jackass who comes out of nowhere, when you were just minding your own business.
    Some of the old TV things that came to mind recently were the obvious sorts of things, like Happy Days where they set up Richie on a blind date, and he asks “Is she fat? She better not be fat!” Har har, so funny, the laugh track came in on cue. Well the joke was, the girl turned out to be quite tall, and a few inches taller than Richie, and they went to a costume party with her dressed as the Statue of Liberty. And Richie learned his lesson that she was a sweet girl and he had a great time even though at the end of the night he had to stand up on the stoop in order to give her a good-night kiss. Could he have learned the same lesson with an overweight or even obese girl?
    And commercials. I’ve been thinking about weight and gender.
    Remember that old Stove Top Stuffing commercial, where this boy is over at a friend’s house and they invite him to stay for dinner. “We’re having Stove Top Stuffing!” The boy calls home to clear it with his mom, and finds out they’re having dinner an hour later than at his friend’s house. And, what luck, his own mom is also making stove top stuffing. And he thinks to himself, hey, I can get Stove Top Stuffing twice in one night! What a clever little lad. Except he wasn’t that little. He was probably about 11 and as I recall not what you could call thin.
    Can you even imagine them using a GIRL instead of a boy in that commercial? Having a girl scheming to get twice the food in one evening than she would normally get? Only boys are supposed to be hungry, we only make jokes to boys about having a hollow leg, or getting big and strong. Girls are not congratulated for a hearty appetite much long after infancy. It’s dangerous for a girl to have a big appetite, because if she gets fat, she loses her social currency.
    There was a Disney family cruise commercial not long ago too, where different members of a white family are shown doing some of the activities available in the cruise package. Kids splashing in the pool, Dad snoring in a hammock. Mom doing aerobics, shuffleboard, etc…Dad snoring in the hammock.
    Can you imagine if the parents roles were reversed? Would they want a mom snoozing in a hammock while the husband and kids go off and do active things? What kind of mother would that be? She would be judged harshly immediately and it wouldn’t be any good for the commercial. The stereotype isn’t exactly kind to men, either. Poor old lazy Dad, haha, Mom has to be the one to get everything organized and keep everyone going.
    I have more on my mind, but I better get to bed.
    Hope you are having a safe journey and a great time!
    Oh, by the way, I started off calling myself “Suz” on here, because only a very few people call me that in real life. And they are usually the people closest to me who like me. Also, back in school, there was a Sue, a Susan, and a Suzanne in my class, so it was too confusing to shorten my name. And we have a Sue on this site, too, so I know it’s easier to hear the difference in the podcast between “Sue” and “Suzanne”. So I am just fine with being called Suzanne. I never meant to make things confusing by using 2 names. I’m called both around home anyway, and I answer to both!

    Reply
    1. Suzanne

      P.S. I’m glad you got to deal with a K instead of a J (jackass). One nice person and a few kind words make such a difference! We have to reserve a special place in our memories for those kindnesses and when we replay them, turn up the volume.

      Reply
      1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

        Yep, it was due to K’s kind PS, that we decided to move forward with the next season. I can tell when someone is selling me, and he was being empathetic about my feelings. We can’t expect all of society to change its physical structure for us. Even folk who are wheelchair bound have limited access to public areas – let alone private areas, even though accessibility has been the law and the value for quite awhile. (I discovered that when I had a broken foot a few years back – boy you value accessibility when you need it). But respect and empathy cost no money. It won’t help me fit into the seat any better, but it helps me know that it is the SEAT size that gives me trouble, not my worth as a person based on my genetic body type.

        Reply
    2. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Hi Suz, don’t worry about confusing, many have had different names or changed their names, or started using their real names after an alias. Also, Sue has always been Sue from the UK (not that there were two, I was just so dang proud to HAVE someone from the UK participating. Sue was my first international (from my perspective) BC. If you prefer Suzanne, I will try and remember to call you that. But since I ‘met you’ as Suz, that tends to be how I think and speak of you. I mention both names so other BCs know it is you.

      Also, I remember all the examples of Size-ism you give here. The difference for me now, is when they happened, I was brainwashed into going along with them. I felt bad that *I* was the dreaded possible fat chick vs. angry as hell that they treated people like me so disrespectfully. Our society has always been disrespectful to outsiders of all kinds. The only good thing is that society does seem to slowly be able to change. Females are treated with much more respect in the workplace than was true in my growing up years (longs ways to go, but today’s girls have no clue what it was like before). In race tolerance and sexual orientation acceptance – come a long way. How we treat kids and adults with special needs due to genetic reasons, much better. So I have hope. It just feels like size is the last bastion of total societal disrespect. I’m hoping this Simpsons episode shows that there ARE glimmers of pride and standing up for ourselves happening enough now to get the writer’s attention – and that’s why size pride was skewered in this fashion. I also believe that being proud of who you are doesn’t mean you give up on yourself. If for health or other reasons we WANT to change our size, God bless us. I just disagree with the universal thought that we ALL need to be a certain size. xoxoxox

      Reply
  3. Stéfanie

    I am hopeful. One day, in 50, or 100 years, scientists will explain more thoroully the complexity involving body size, obesity, genetics, and societal tendencies surrounding this issue. One day, we, as a human race, will evolve in our views of this epidemic problem of body image. One day, people judging and fat shaming will be viewed as ancient and outdated, and our generation will be viewed as the firsts to have led humanity in this evolution. Like you said…. someone, someday, started condemning racism and homophobia, and look where we are at now! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Some day, Mon Amie, some day. It is terrible to spend so much mental angst and energy on one physical attribute. It is eye opening to pay attention to the sheer amount of bad press larger sizes get. No wonder we are all crazy focused on wanting to change ourselves to not be judged so harshly. In some ways, it is worse that we CAN change our body size with effort. If I was gay, I could hide it, wish it away, or embrace it. No changing it. So at least, even if due to society’s obnoxious pressures, I wished to be different, I wouldn’t have to spend time berating myself for being who I am. We are held SO responsible for our size. We are morally considered wrong, and lazy, and stupid and not valued. It infuriates me! Hmmm maybe I’m getting MORE clues on the volcanoe of rage that smolders inside and longed for bags and bags of harsh crunching on chips….

      Reply
  4. Dawny

    It’s thursday!! And I’ve lost something!!!
    like.. time.. LOL…

    Happy Thursday, the BEST thing in the world in my head right now is that means TOMORROW.. is FRRRIIDDAAAYYY lol..

    my weigh in was good, down 2.4 at ww weird cuz at home it wasn’t down that much I think only 1.8.. LOL but who’s to argue with ww right? lmao.. i saw a good scale number so there’s that.. made my heart ring with a wee bit of glee, maybe my mindful-ness and less foraging, and night snacks are catching up and paying off LOL

    Ive been a bit MIA, things are crazy busy with life, and work and lol

    hopefully this weekend i’ll tie up some loose ‘mental’ ends, get things all situated and going ahead right, and starting Monday I return to a normal ‘for me’ work week/schedule, that will help tremendously..

    I just have to work on re-calibrating my brain, that it would be COMPLETELY ridiculous to continue working out BEFORE work, Im adopting the mind-set that working out AFTER work is MUCH MUCH better then I can ‘work-out’ any/all flustering ‘work-stuff’ BEFORE I even go home hee hee.. I think I can I think I can. LOL

    I didn’t sleep well last night, not sure why, thinking about stuff, but ‘nothing’ if that makes ANY sense at all.. *sigh* I probably barely logged 3 hours, but woke up ready to go.. weird.. I was SOOOO tired last night too.. wth?!?! then couldn’t fall asleep, then I did for a wee bit, but woke up, then tossed and turned and turned and tossed, finally got back to sleep, and woke up at like 3:30, tried hard to convince myself to sleep more, it didn’t work out, finally resolved to getting up.. it’s soooo weird, how ive been on auto-wake-up at around 4:30 for until EVER, and then magically a week or so ago, my body adjusted itself to 4a.m. the WEIRDEST creepy-ness is that, starting next week I’ll NEED to get up around that time.. is that odd? maybe im more in-tune with my body than I think?!?!?! LOL< or wait, my body is more in tune with my mind?? ha ha..

    Im hoping all is GREAT in your land.. healthy and all..

    Reply
    1. Laurie@CompulsiveOvereatingDiary Post author

      Glad you are doing well with our old nemesis the scale Dawny, and sorry about the insomnia. It is my waterloo too for sure. Cheryl even did a Foolish Fun for day 101 about hers. Hope your new role evens out and you continue to fine tune ways to make your life fun and workable for you! xoxoxoxox

      Reply

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