of fat-shaming

de-emphasizing outward appearance for inner-beauty!

Immediately after practicing law, I had to find someway of occupying myself and perhaps make a semblance of a living so I went into radio. I hosted a talk format which interviewed interesting guests. The name of the show was the same name as this column. 

I had some successes as a radio personality. The show ran between three to four years and it is something I didn’t pursue upon moving to Jackson, thought perhaps I should have. I would do another radio show if afforded the opportunity. 

I got a call once from a buddy and fraternity brother of mine named Robert Hassell.  Robert is a successful lawyer in Franklin, Tennessee having been with the office of the District Attorney before going into private practice.  

He, apparently, listened to my radio show one day and was quite effusive with his commentary regarding the show’s content and my ability to broadcast on radio, which really isn’t his style. You have to consider the source, compliments aren’t really his thing, but this is the message he texted me.

“Fletch, Robert.  Hey,  today I listened to nearly your whole show…you are a “natural” at this radio. Man, I mean a NATURAL!…I wish you hadn’t wasted so much time practicing law.  You should have been doing this instead. I am serious.  

I was truly grateful for his approval. I have always sought out his approval.  

I would never tell him but, I have always cared about what he thought. I am not sure about wasting time practicing law as I was pretty good at that too. I believe my practicing law, if it did nothing else for me, was a worthy endeavor for providing me an interesting back story which makes me more compelling and someone to whom one was more likely to listen and someone many of you are more likely to read. It sure has provided a bunch of material.

I grew up principally in the 80s and we despised fat people. You were better off being anything than fat. Funny, I have spent much of my life overweight.

Society had this perception of just how you should look and it was ubiquitous. Our movie stars were built alike, our Barbie dolls and action figures were built alike, our romantic interests all fit into a similar physical gambit.  

I have struggled with my weight and have committed untold hours trying to sculpt a body worthy of some girls’ admiration when young and felt and talked negatively about people not as committed to appearance their appearance as I was to mine.  

Oprah Winfrey, in a book entitled What I Know For Sure invites us to  “Step Away from the Mean Girls.” She continued to invite society to “…a call to arms.  A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says your too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face.”

She continued, “When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.” Of course, Oprah Winfrey has battled her weight as have I. Those of us traveling the same journey should be the most accepting of the other but often aren’t.

I remember a salient moment in college when Robert told me I had gotten too fat. Thankfully, word smith that I have always known him to be, he said something more profound than, Hey, you’re too fat.  

The crafty way in which he chose to convey the sentiment foreshadowed his becoming a fine trial lawyer, which he certainly has been. What he said was “Fletcher, you know I am a football player and I am around big guys all the time.”

“I don’t care what you weigh as long as you are happy with what you weigh. Truth is, you are unhappy when you believe you are too heavy. Look son, you need to find a weight which makes you happy and weigh that.”  

My entire life feels like it has been a search for the weight at which I can live happily. I don’t know that I will ever find it.

I weighed under 170-pounds when I graduated high school. If we are being honest, I have looked at old photographs from that time and my head is way too rotund for me to weigh that little. The disproportion is funny looking and, while I appreciate a good joke, my appearance is not a joke I relish telling.  

I have come to the time in my life where I care very little about whether some young girl finds me fetching. I will settle for low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and an athletic resting heart rate, thank you very much. 

Interestingly enough, I have found men and women to be quite different in regards to what constitutes attractive attributes. I was talking to a good friend named Steven Kelley, with whom I have remained close since our attending the same high school, and he remarked how much time we spent attempting to achieve what we believed to be an alluring appearance only to learn, as we got older, our appearance wasn’t as important to women as it was to us.  

We just assumed women were salaciously staring at us like we tended to do to them. According to an article published online by Robin Sutherns entitled How to Attract Women: 7 Things Women Find Very Attractive, the following are the seven things, from 1-7, women found most attractive in a man: 1. Kindness and Empathy; 2. Good Listening Skills; 3. Confidence; 4. A Sense of Style; 5. Passion and Ambition; 6. A Sense of Humor; and 7. Leadership and Initiative.  It would appear to me numbers 1-7 are all attributes accomplishable at any weight.

As I have gotten older, I find myself agreeing with Karen Quan in Write like no one is reading 2 when she asked, “[h]ow beautiful would it be if we could just see souls instead of bodies? To see love and compassion instead of curves.”  

Now I may agree with how laudable it would be for men to “see souls” like women are capable of doing, but unfortunately, most the men I know see curves. It is just another example of how further evolved women are than men.  

We men should strive to spend less time worrying about appearance and spend more time focusing on our souls. Maybe we will get there but we aren’t quite there yet. Of course the first step toward solving a problem is the recognition of its existence. 

Take it for what it is worth, because…THAT’S THE LONG VERSION! 

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