Dear Mr. Sean Patrick Flanery, Sincerely, A Fattie

I was on twitter recently where someone had shared a tweet that had a video attached to it. The video was of Sean Patrick Flaney, known for his role in the Boondock Saints movies as well as others. He’s also known for his practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, part of the Shen Wu Martial Arts. In the video, he reads part three of an ongoing fiction piece that he periodically publishes on his blog, Shine until Tomorrow.

After watching the video, and laughing hysterically, I went to his blog where I caught up on the first two parts and read the rest, up to part five. I was thoroughly entertained and laughed uproariously many times.  After reading all there was of this story, I decided to see what else he shared on his site. I read his latest post called ‘Somewhere… In the Congo, with Love”. It was a haunting short piece that tugs at the heart. It’s short on details but has just enough that the reader can fill them in for themselves and take away from it what they need to. It was very well-written and I was impressed. I saw that there was a navigation menu and began clicking on the links. Under the title link, ‘blog’, there were two choices: ‘elvis’ and ‘martial arts’.  Now this interested me and I wanted a closer look. I first clicked on ‘martial arts’ because I used to practice martial arts. Specifically, I used to practice Shotokan Karate (Red Sun).  There was one post for this category and it was a “welcome to my blog” type of post. Thought to myself, “Thanks for the welcome and now moving on…”

Elvis is of interest to me because I grew up watching his movies all day on my birthdays, January 8th, the same as his (different years, of course) and my mom was a fan because Elvis and my Grandmother (mom’s mom) grew up in the same town. There was only album art of Elvis on the right side of the page—no posts. I scrolled down a bit and there was a ticker labeled “Popular Posts” with titles like “The world doesn’t have a weight problem” and so on. As I posted not too long ago, I am on a weight loss journey. I used to be a very active person prior to being in a car accident, and almost 20 years later, I’m still fighting to get back to doing what I ‘usedtocould”.  I’m never going to give up.  I didn’t give up when doctors said I wouldn’t walk again. I didn’t give up when they said anything. I don’t believe anything is impossible. Given the right conditions, anything is possible, even if improbable. Just have to find out what the solution to any problem is, right? Right. When I read one of the post, this paragraph jumped out at me.

“If you care about your kids or loved ones, how about giving them an extra couple of years to spend with you?  And if you just wish someone would love you for who you are??  Step in front of a mirror, because that’s EXACTLY who you are.  The care that you take of your own person speaks VOLUMES about your own personal value for life.  There is simply no way around this.” ~Sean Patrick Flanery

This is the second time he’s said this. Different-ish words but it all boils down to the same “Step in front of a mirror”.  When I read the first post about making goals, writing them down, and sticking to them, I was inspired.  Losing weight isn’t easy for many people and I’m no different. I may have different challenges than the next person… but again, nothing’s impossible. Right? Right!

First time I read that line about looking in the mirror if you want love… it didn’t hit me the same way reading the above did. It was troubling me after I read it the first time but I couldn’t put my finger on WHY. I read it out loud to my sister. She nodded her head like “Yes, this is good wisdom.” She didn’t seem perturbed by it.
Why I was perturbed would come when I read the second time he used it (as quoted above).  So… he’s saying to those, like me, as he has referred to as “fatties”, that we are unlovable.  He quotes us, “We want to be loved” and his reply is, “Well, look at you! Who would love you when you LOOK like that?”
THAT bothers me greatly. But more on that in a minute.  There’s a post with a list of what he calls “excuses” he’s heard us fatties use over the years when talking about our weight problem.  One blog post titled “The world doesn’t have a weight problem” has the subtitle, that we “have an overeating problem.”
And oh yeah, he has the cure! Nope, he’s not selling it or anything. Just put down the ding dongs and get off your fat ass and move. There. Problem solved. Here’s a sampling of the excuses and his snide remarks about them:

“Here’s a list of some of the excuses I’ve heard through the years of why people “can’t” get healthy.  …Enjoy.

“I can’t lose weight because of genetics.”        (in-between bites of a chili cheese dog)

“But my thyroid!!”           (said while driving down the mall in a power chair)

“Just wait until YOU have kids!!”      (has 2 nannies)”

Link to his post

Those were just the first three and I’m not enjoying this post. I’m pissed off. But I walk away from the rest of the related posts because I wanted to figure out if I was pissed because this man is offering a truth I just didn’t want to hear (a common occurrence among humans) or if it was actually offensive. I did go back and read the rest of his offerings. Yeah, I was still mad. I waited to write this for two or three days. Lots of “food for thought”. Well, let’s start with his first “excuse”. I don’t know if the person who said this to him was actually eating chili cheese dog or not. But yes, I’ve seen those who’ve made this excuse. I’ve said similar “Well, I’m a typical Polish woman with a large frame… “ But is it only bullspit?

According to this study, “Science shows that genetics plays a role in obesity. Genes can directly cause obesity in disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. However genes do not always predict future health. Genes and behavior may both be needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases multiple genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors; such as abundant food supply or little physical activity.

We don’t know if this chili cheese dog consumer also has one of the above-mentioned genetic conditions. So, we have to ASSUME like Mr. Flanery did. I choose not to assume anything and therefore refuse to judge this person’s food choice as I don’t know his or her story.

The second “excuse” is about a person’s thyroid. I do know a bit about bad thyroids. They can affect energy levels which would make that “fattie” need the wheelchair in the mall. The person could have eaten at the mall, thyroid does its thing after a meal, and the person’s energy level drops to the point of near lethargy and the person wants to finish their plans. Maybe he or she is tired of missing out on life and is being determined to stay out of the house for just a little while. We don’t know because Mr. Flanery doesn’t offer those details. So, I cannot judge properly as I don’t know this person’s story, either. Really, though, I don’t expect Mr. Flanery to “get it” because he’s not a woman and this most commonly occurs in females with hypoactive thyroids. (re: Thyroid Facts). It makes it more challenging to lose weight because of its connection to metabolism. It’s a real thing. No, it doesn’t make it impossible but it does make it harder

The third “excuse” in his list is about a person (gender unknown) who says, “Wait until you have kids!” but then says this person has two nannies. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing! The two don’t connect for me. Most people mention their kids in connection with obesity because they put on weight during pregnancy. Having a nanny or two does not promote or inhibit weight gain during pregnancy. However, perhaps he meant this person is not as active because he or she does not have to chase after the little ones. Or because the person is claiming not to have “time” to exercise? I don’t know and really, Mr. Flanery doesn’t know either. We NEVER know someone else’s story.

And that’s my point here. I don’t know these people at all and it sounds like these are people Mr. Flanery has come into contact with but he doesn’t share any other details so we don’t know if these are really excuses or are reasons. There is a difference between the two and yes, people can use reasons as excuses. Again, nothing is impossible and anyone can find a solution to their weight problem or health problem given the right circumstances.

If one has a hypothyroid, for instance, she can take medication to fix it. If that doesn’t work, she can have it surgically removed. If she doesn’t have health insurance, she can save up money to visit the doctor and/or have surgery. She can visit a doctor who has a sliding fee scale, a free clinic, and the like. She can write directly to the medication’s manufacturers and see about getting the medication free or at a reduced price. The doctor could give her free samples he receives from the pharmaceutical representatives. But not knowing this person Mr. Flanery speaks of, it’s hard to know if she’s tried any of these or not. We don’t know where she is in her journey of life.

There are many contributing factors to obesity BESIDES the one Mr. Flanery mentions, ya know, simply overeating. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent resource for looking this type of stuff up and you can find a whole list of reasons. Yes, they include overeating, eating the wrong types of food and not enough activity. Behavior is just part of the problem but not always the only problem. If only it were that easy!

(Contributing factors by Mayo Clinic)

I wrote a blog post which touched upon SOME of the contributing factors in my obesity.

Instead of talking about hypothetical people and their hypothetical situations of which I know nothing about, let’s talk about mine, shall we? I don’t know about Mr. Flanery but I’d feel more comfortable talking about what I know.

I have medical conditions that contribute to my weight gain over the page 19 years, since being thrown through a windshield. My problem has really been an inability to LOSE weight more than it has been gaining it. I gained my weight with long periods of time of maintaining the weight. I mean years-long time periods. Almost a decade for each weight gain. Having a medical condition that prevents activity sucks. Having multiple conditions sucks big time. I’ve struggled with my physicians for YEARS trying to lose this weight. On April 15th, I posted a public blog post about my commitment to making this next step in my journey. I never give up. I may LOOK like I have given up on myself. I may LOOK like I don’t love myself. I may LOOK like a lazy slob…but that is NOT who I am. There is MORE to me than what can be seen in the mirror, Mr. Flanery. There is always the “more”.

When fatties like me talk about wanting to be loved for who we are, we want someone to go beyond skin deep. Or scale. After all, when you speak about obesity, I’m sure your intent is for folks to “get healthy” and being overweight certainly is NOT healthy. The scale is just ONE measure of health though. Your never having had a BMI of over 35 before, I’m sure, contributes to your lack of understanding these “excuses” you keep hearing. Some of them could be  actually reasons and rather than offering your judgment, maybe you should ask them more questions. Maybe they found their hypoactive thyroid difficult to overcome and they’ve given up for that snapshot of time you met them… and your words may indeed have the power to inspire. Or they may have the power to harm. Use them wisely, Sir.

There’s tough love and then there’s being an asshole. You don’t know me and you don’t know my story.

How about instead of jeering in judgment at these faulty folks, you share your own setbacks. Surely, you’ve had some according to that picture you posted of your own goals. I mean, you crossed out “Give up alcohol” and made it “drink less.” Why? Alcohol offers no health benefits that you cannot get through a more healthful option. You’re a human. You’ve faltered somewhere. Share more of those stories if you want to but don’t share other people’s stories with your snap judgements. That helps no one.

I went looking for inspiration and instead found a trigger for my oppositional side. Oh yeah, I wanted to go into my pantry and kitchen and bake a cake and eat the whole damn thing because who are YOU to tell me I have an overeating problem? I’ll show you it’s okay to be a fattie and still be loveable… Worthy of love. I didn’t. I didn’t do it because despite what people think of me when they look at me, I do NOT want to be fat.

See, that’s the thing. People see me out and about in public and assume I’m disabled because I’m fat. They (like Mr. Flanery) assume I over eat. Before I started the diet on April 15th, I ate once a day. Those that live with me will tell you. They don’t know why I’m so fat. I don’t buy snacks and junk food. I haven’t in years. I even think it is part of the reason my husband and I split—he missed the snacks! No, it wasn’t a problem of how much I ate in that I ate too much. I didn’t eat enough according to more than one doctor. I’m nutritionally starving and so my body stores everything.

It is about WHAT I eat. While I don’t eat much, and I don’t eat much junk food or snacks, I do eat a lot of grains. Bread, rice, and pasta. And that is bad for MY health. Since I made the commitment in April, I’ve lost four pounds. It may not sound like much… but it’s more than I’ve lost in the eight years before that.

When you have a hiatal hernia, a bad gall bladder, arthritis, no cartilage in your joints so any time you move, it’s bone on bone crunching, fibromyalgia, and other contributing medical conditions, physical activity may be damn near impossible. It may seem impossible. But it’s not. It all starts with the commitment. I have to remind myself constantly, it’s not about what I can’t do… it’s about what I can and doing that. I may not be able to stand up and do the Zumba dance videos. But I can chair dance. It’s a start. And it’s been working for me. It can work for you. You just have to find your own right solution.

My point is this: Mr. Flanery does not seem to understand that some people like me aren’t disabled because they’re fat—they’re fat because they’re disabled. It does happen. It’s not an excuse; it’s a reason.

It’s a reason to try harder. So, when you see me waddling through a store, Mr. Flanery, I hope you don’t judge me or the next “fattie” you come into contact with. While you may not find us attractive, or worthy of love, there’s good news. You don’t have to. We don’t need it. I’m going to file your “advice” under the category of “Just another celebrity talking about a subject of which he knows nothing about.”

I know you’ve inspired millions to “get healthy”—whatever that means for them—and that is commendable. I’m proud of those individuals, too. Just don’t judge what you don’t know. For all you know, I may be half the size I used to be, half way down my weight loss journey, and your look of disgust and judgement on your face may be what brings me down instead of lifting me up and carrying me on my journey. Normally, I don’t say anything about celebrities being a role model because really, you’re just a dude who gets paid to play pretend… but you put yourself up as a role model.

I also know that these posts of his are “old”… published in 2014. I don’t follow celebrity news much about their personal lives. Usually doesn’t interest me in the slightest. It’s “new” to me, though. And I know one doesn’t have to be fat to understand that it’s unhealthy. But I think if one is going to judge another’s attempts at getting healthy, etc. one should have at least had to face the struggles he or she is dismissing as “bullshit”.

And these are my words…

1 Response to “Dear Mr. Sean Patrick Flanery, Sincerely, A Fattie”

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