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Fat Warrior —

July 5, 2012

Trigger warning: Review of a book that discusses weight loss and eating disorders.

Sumo is a sport based in the martial arts. In feudal Japan, members of the samurai class were regarded as elite soliders, capable of great feats in battle. Within the samurai class were the sumo, men of great weight and height who were essentially  marines of the samurai. They were the first to fight in combat. Like the linemen in American football, the sumo’s job was to push the combat line back and open spaces for their comrades to move through.

The sumo warrior was considered among the bravest of soldiers. They were afforded servants who ensured they were given enough food to maintain their size and strength. They trained for long hours.

In the War on Fat we have been forced to fight, Dr. Pattie Thomas is a sumo warrior, possessing the traits described above, a direct quote from her book, Taking Up Space: How Eating Well & Exercising Regularly Changed My Life (available on paperback and Kindle).

Not to be confused with Garfield Takes Up Space (also available on paperback).

Pattie is a whirling dervish of activism, like a not-for-profit Wonder Woman.

For example, right now Pattie and Carl, her husband/partner/co-author/smoocher(!) are preparing to expose the lack of accessibility for disabled Americans, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Since Las Vegas has the most new buildings built since the ADA passed, Pattie and Carl will use Las Vegas as a case study of accessability in their documentary “User Friendly Vegas.”

Pattie’s writing has the power to shake the sociological foundation of discrimination, stigma and human rights, and I can’t wait to see what she has to say in documentary form about the lack of ADA compliance. And this issue is central to our humanity as a nation. The ADA was passed to protect right of the disabled to access public buildings, but throughout this country the ADA continues to be ignored.

In order to raise money for pre-production of “User Friendly Vegas,” Pattie and Carl are hosting a Kiss-A-Thon!

Send in photos of you smoochin’, be it honey, baby, pet, stuffed animal, mirror, or poster of Leif Garrett. Then ask your family and friends to vote for your photo by donating 99 cents to “User Friendly Vegas.”

The three people who raise the most money (multiple pictures from same person will be pooled together) win the top three prizes:

  1. $50 gift card for More of Me to Love Store
  2. $25 gift card for More of Me to Love Store
  3. Autographed copy of Fat Sex: The Naked Truth by Rebecca Weinstein,author and founder of People of Size

The deadline for participation is next Wednesday, July 11. So get ta smoochin’, ya smoochers!

Now, for all those philematophobics out there, you can still get your Pattie Thomas fix while waiting for “User Friendly Vegas” to premiere. If you haven’t read Taking Up Space yet, you’re going to want to get yourself a copy.

Pattie’s sociological memoir leads us through her long and troubled history with eating disorders and yo-yo dieting and drug abuse and developing lupus and fibromyalgia. But she also shares how she got her life back together and gradually accepted her body and herself; how she found her Divine Complement in Carl; and how she has become a sumo warrior, capable of pushing back against the noise and the nonsense that distracts us from achieving our true and honest potential regardless of body size. Pattie’s work gives us all room to breath.

Taking Up Space is filled with essays, poems, narratives, photos and drawings, as a way of illustrating the life story of just one fat woman. But as Pattie writes, society can be awfully picky with regards to who can talk about fatness:

The only people with the authority to talk about their fatness are those who have lost their fatness… A fat woman willing to talk about fat is a powerful thing.

By using examples from her life, Pattie exposes the medical bias against fat people, such as the time she was hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia and had to endure a weight loss lecture from a doctor, while enfeebled by the illness. But during the lecture, her doctor said something that changed her perspective on being fat: “Yes, it is true that some people can carry their weight well, but this pneumonia shows that you are not one of those people.”

That moment altered Pattie’s perception on weight forever.

As I lay in the hospital bed contemplating his words, it occured to me that a second option was open. What if I trained my body to carry my weight well?

But Pattie shares an even more disturbing instance of medical negligence that had deadly consequences. When her father complained to his doctor that he had been gaining weight despite not eating much, the doctor dismissed his complaints as another patient underreporting his caloric intake. One month later, he was diagnosed with liver disease. In a world where weight isn’t the end all be all of health, his doctor might have taken him at his word and investigated unexplained weight gain as a symptom of disease, rather than noncompliance. When her father succumbed to his failing liver, Pattie was left wondering what might have been.

Pattie’s on a mission to change the way society treats fat people so that doctors might, for once, treat their patients equally. And she has begun by reconfiguring her own healthcare journey. Along the way she has developed some awesome advice on how to overcome society’s fat hatred that prevents us from being as healthy as we can be in the bodies we have today. In Taking Up Space, Pattie shares that wisdom with us, whether it’s busting the top 10 fat myths, sharing the 5 easy steps to a beautiful you, or her 3 steps to building strength.

Relying on her vast knowledge of sociological principles, Pattie deconstructs the culture that makes the hate possible, including the claims of social problems, the economic arguments in favor of stigma, and the spoiled identity theory that justifies the worst behavior that we have seen accelerate in the past few decades.

These are are difficult issues that require a fierce and committed team of activists who can speak to the experiences of the many intersecting populations that comprise the victims of the War on Fat. Dr. Pattie Thomas has the unique ability to reach the greatest number of fatties with her words. Her wisdom and experience make her a pioneer in helping us all to understand the implications of this war and how we can finally win it.

Reading Taking Up Space helped me understand the true danger of waging a war on fat people, and if you’re hoping to understand what we’re all fighting for, Dr. Pattie Thomas is the plea to start.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2012 2:56 pm

    Leif Garret. OMG I’m showing my age by acknowledging that I had a HUGE crush on him back in the day! 😀 Nice little walk down Nostalgia Lane there!

  2. July 5, 2012 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the review. I’m humbled. If your readers want a copy of the book, they should ttay tuned for July 9th when we launch our GoFundMe campaign for the film. A $10+ donation will get you a special .pdf edition of our book published just for the campaign. So you can read the book and help with the film. Thanks!

  3. July 5, 2012 6:09 pm

    Pattie, You are just amazing I’ll keep an eye for the go fund me xx

  4. July 5, 2012 8:28 pm

    Just downloaded the book on Kindle!

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