(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!