I’ve been thin my whole life, and I don’t understand fatness. I was well-trained in vanity at a young age by a mother constantly on one 90s fad diet or another, and I’ve always been terrified of how my life might change if I were to gain significant weight.
I just assumed everyone felt that way. So what’s with so many people being fat?
Fatness can’t be as horrifying as I’ve imagined if some 30 percent of Americans prefer it to a sensible diet and moderate exercise.
What would be the best thing about being fat? What about the worst?
What is it like to eat when you’re fat? Do you like the way you look? Do you like the way other people look?
What is life like when you’re fat?
“You’ll never know how much fun it is to cannonball into a pool as a fat guy,” said John Conroy, a fat man and a comedian in New York.
I got him on the phone to teach me what it’s like to be fat. Honest to god, I told him that’s why I was calling, and he was kind enough to answer.
“My favorite thing to do as a fat guy is be shirtless around a pool,” he told me. “If it makes other people uncomfortable, I love it.” He likes to survey the uncomfortable masses with an air like, “Yeah, I look like this, and I’m about to cause some waves in this thing.”
I’m quite the opposite: quiet and easily unnoticed. I’m certain I’ve never caused waves like Conroy has.
I did ask permission to call him “fat,” in case you’re uncomfortable with how many times I’ve said it to this point. I’ve heard him say it a ton about himself, but I wanted to be sure this wasn’t like the “N” word — fine for him to use it, but as a skinny girl, I can only say it if I’m quoting rap lyrics.
He said it’s “not even close. There is no word like that,” in his mind, for fat people.
Contrary to what TV and movies have taught me, not all fat people are ashamed of themselves all the time. Conroy said he has no hangups about his body, and he doesn’t indulge other people’s.
“If me being fat’s a problem for you, you’ve got bigger problems than me.”
He takes full responsibility for his weight. He did acknowledge, “Food was restricted when I was a kid, so when I was old enough, that was my first way to rebel, to eat whatever I wanted,” but he didn’t lean on it as an excuse.
“Eventually it’ll kill me, but something’s gonna get all of us,” he pointed out, in regards to how his weight affects his health. “If we all die in nuclear explosions, and you’re 110 pounds, and I’m 300 pounds, that means I got 190 pounds of ice cream that you didn’t get.”
He told me he eats about a pint of ice cream a day. Now, that I understand; ice cream is incredible. My greatest motivation to leave my apartment is to walk to the ice cream shop across the street.
Do you want to lose weight?
Confidence isn’t a problem for Conroy, nor is vanity.
I asked if he would prefer to be thinner, and he said losing weight just isn’t a priority. “I would love to get down to … movie fat. But I don’t want to go further than that. It’s never going to get to the point where … you catch me in a gym lobby looking at my abs.”
When I pressed as to whether it’s lazy to let yourself get fat, Conroy said, “I don’t see it as laziness as much as (that) I enjoy relaxing.” Touché.
He said he’d like to lose 60 pounds, maybe, to improve his health. He wants to be around in 30 years to tell jokes about the next Donald Trump — but I wouldn’t wish that on him, even for the material. A heart attack can’t be worse.
For now, he feels relatively healthy, and he’s happy with the way he looks.
“I feel good about the amount of attention I get from girls,” he told me as his guage. “My girlfriend might even say I get too much. As long as your girlfriend is still jealous, you must be doing something right.”
Do you think fat people are more attractive?
I asked — for a friend — if he finds skinny girls attractive, and he explained, sometimes, but, “I’m more attracted to personality, and — not always — but on average, skinnier girls, there’s not much depth there.”
How does he feel about other fat people?
“I definitely notice when people are fat when they walk on an airplane and I have an empty seat next to me,” he pointed out. “If you don’t think I’d be just as shitty to a fat person as anyone would be shitty to me in that situation, you’re crazy. I’d be in danger of hurting that person’s feelings, for sure, so that we didn’t sit next to one another.”
So, I guess fat people don’t harbor the kind of brotherhood you see among other stereotyped or marginalized groups, at least not in confined spaces. But he did echo the same grievance I’ve heard from every fat man when I asked what’s the worst thing about being fat: It’s pretty much always too hot.
“There’s no real way to control how much you’re gonna sweat once it gets to a certain temperature. … (At some point), I’m going to stink,” he said with resignation. “I need a shower about every six hours.”
That does sound miserable, especially running around New York. I guess that’s why he needs so much “relaxing”?
Either way, he was able to convince me life as a fat man isn’t all scales and support groups. He’s just enjoying himself and not letting vanity take the wheel. There’s probably a lesson in there for me somewhere.
After all, as he said, “You’ll know once I’m gone, I didn’t lack for ice cream.”