A Matter of Size: The Deserving of Obesity

(An obese psychiatrist analyzes an obese comedy, A Matter of Size, the heartwarming story of four obese Israeli men and one woman who decide to quit dieting and become Sumo wrestlers)

They had me from the opening scene. The obese little boy gingerly lifting his foot, hoping the scale will drop down a bit at the school weigh-in. Thirty years later, morbidly obese, single and living with his mother, taking off his watch at the diet club weigh-in wishing that an ounce will matter.

The loving, interfering, nagging, long-suffering, conflicted mother. Why are you eating that, she asks him as he unloads the refrigerator in the night. He argues until she begrudgingly gives in, if you want there’s rice to go with it.

The brand new pants in the used-to-be right size that fit like sausage casing.

The diet club. The misguided skinny diet director who thinks tough love and sarcasm will make fat people lose weight. That’s because we haven’t had enough bullying in our lives.

The looks, the nasty comments, the derisiveness, defensiveness, the loneliness, the rejection.

They had me back in my childhood, in my adulthood, in pain and embarrassment and agony. I felt so badly for the people in the movie. I felt so badly for me. Obesity is the heart of loneliness.

And then everything changed. These weren’t fat suffering people. These were resilient, strong, courageous people. People who took lemons and made lemonade. They fell down time and time again, and picked themselves up from the insults and the sneers and the disdain. Just in order to have a life and love and happiness. Out of obesity came sumo.

Obese people kissing on the screen. Fat people in love. In tears and fears. With hopes and dreams. Imagine that.

A film that depicts obese people the way we are… simply human beings, divine creations, with perfections and imperfections that allow us to stand out as individuals, and combine into relationship and community.

A film that depicts our struggles the way they actually exist.

In all of my pounds and all of my years, believing I deserve a good life has been my biggest struggle. Losing those pounds one at a time did not increase my feeling of worth.

What changed my life was accepting those pounds. One at a time. And allowing those same pounds to leave – one at a time – because they no longer represented who I was inside. The essence of me was not how my body looked or acted or felt. The essence of me was how I loved and cared and created. The essence of me was not fat. It was life.

And for that reason alone, obese people

Deserve love in our relationships

Deserve success in our endeavors

Deserve respect for our efforts at making a life.

“My heart is not a muscle.” My soul is not obesity.

The lesson of sumo, and of comedy, is acceptance and deserving…and seeing the divine romance of it all.

Dr. Stein will be facilitating a community discussion on obesity following the screening of A Matter of Size at the Cedar-Lee Theatre in Cleveland, OH on October 9, 2010 beginning at 9 pm. Please join us!

Comments

2 Responses to “A Matter of Size: The Deserving of Obesity”
  1. Jo-Ellen says:

    When comedian Margaret Cho was a child taking ballet classes, another child told her she was too fat to be a dancer, so she stopped taking ballet. Those words, spoken to hear as a child, followed her all the way to her adult life. This week she became the third star to be voted off of Dancing With the Stars, but she loved her experience, and she felt like a…well, a dancer. Talking about Cho’s painful childhood experience in ballet class today, her dancing partner Louis Van Amstel asked an audience, “Isn’t that too much power to give to one person?” At 56 years old, that simple question provided the proverbial lightbulb moment for me. And at 56 years old, I realized the simple answer is yes. Thank you Margaret and Louis, and thank you Dr. Stein.

  2. I cannot wait to see this movie! Thank you so much for telling me about it and as always your insight is invaluable. Such a strange coincidence regarding the other person’s comment. I am also 56 and it wasn’t a person in my ballet class, it was my teacher. In front of everyone my teacher would say “We’re going to eat dinner at Yvonne’s house because the food there is obviously really REALLY GOOD!”. I remember his name and his voice exactly and will remember forever… however I gave him entirely too much power.

    Might I suggest going to see the movie “Catfish”? I think there will be much made of this as well. I don’t want to give it away and hopefully you can see it before someone tells you about it. Go and see it as soon as possible. I don’t want to give anything away until you’ve seen it. There might be a tie to this movie about obesity and worth as well.

    Thank you so much for your post….I particularly LOVED:

    “In all of my pounds and all of my years, believing I deserve a good life has been my biggest struggle. Losing those pounds one at a time did not increase my feeling of worth.”

    Wow…do I understand that one.

    Your biggest fan, Yvonne

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