For the past week or so I’ve been working on a project for my documentary film class all about my fat. The premise of the assignment is to do a “personal video essay” that discusses something specific about yourself. My friend Lisa, for instance, is talking about how she hates talking about art (and the fact that she’s an art major) and incorporating it with her dislake of playdough (that was funnn for me to film!).
Anyway, my project is a video that (I hope) will talk back to the word FAT. I feel like we’ve given it so much power in our world…I know I have.
For the project though, I’ve done two things that were pretty difficult. Firstly, I stood up on a platform in our TV studio and had Lisa lable the parts of my body as in, “Arm Fat,” “Big Butt,” etc. Actually doing it wasn’t hard, but watching it afterwards was. I mean, I generally don’t see myself so close up, nor so far away, and it is hard to watch. I kept saying “ewwww!” when I was watching it, and Lisa turned to me and asked, “isn’t this film all about your self acceptance?” I guess no matter how much I think I’ve changed, I’m really still hit by the way I look. That’s what I get for letting the media get to me, eh?
Second thing I did was go out on the street and ask people “questions about body image.” Really, it was one big social experiment. I asked two easy questions to start: if you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? and do you consider yourself to be fat or overweight? Both of these got a variety of answers, it was what I asked next that was the fun part.
“Do you consider me fat?”
Some people looked me up and down, and then said “No.” or “Yeah, you’re a little overweight.” Some people immediately said, “No!” even if they’d already identified themselves as fat (and I was definitely bigger). Only one set of women said, “I don’t know! I don’t like to put that on people!”
I think more people had a problem with telling me why they felt that way. One guy admitted, “Yeah, you’re a little overweight.” and when I asked him why he said that, he said, “…I…I don’t know! You just look a little overweight!” all flustered-like. One guy told me that I wasn’t fat, and when I asked why he said that he said, “You’re proportioned! You’re not, you know, lumping out anywhere!” That was pretty funny. I wanted to ask what “lumping out” really meant, but I didn’t.
But overall it just goes to show exactly how taboo the word fat is. One woman told me that it depended on my BMI. Only one or two people said that yes, I was indeed fat. They were honest with me. And I appreciated that.
I’m trying to put the documentary together now (takiing a quick break) and I’ll put it up when I’m done (hopefully on Tuesday when it’s due). Thus far, it’s been an interesting ride. We’ll see where it takes me…