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Living while fat

So I'm planning this trip to Costa Rica, looking at possible activities I can do when I'm there, and I come upon parasailing. Now I've never given parasailing a second thought, but the moment I click on this webpage and see the pictures of people soaring above the beach, I know it is something I really really want to do. Even better, the parasailing company's website says something about 'all shapes and sizes' of people being able to participate in parasailing. Heck yes, I'm psyched! That is, until I read their FAQ a little closer and see that, to them, 'all sizes' means up to 250 pounds.

I know, I'm larger than most and I should be used to being excluded or not considered by now, but it felt like such a dirty trick for them to proclaim how accessible parasailing is when they really only mean it's accessible to non-fat people. It's as if they're saying. "not only can you not participate, we're going to pretend folks your size don't even exist."

That rejection of my very existence really pushed my buttons. In fact, if I hadn't booked my plane ticket already I probably would have decided to skip Costa Rica altogether. That's how much I hate being ignored and marginalized. But that's a whole lot of power to hand over to some employee of a Costa Rican parasailing company. Sure, fat travel has always been a challenge and I will probably encounter numerous occasions where I don't exactly fit and feel awkward and slightly uncomfortable, but that's no reason to not go.

Contestants on The Biggest Loser are always going on and on about how they have 'gotten their life back' by losing weight, and I kind of get what they mean. Spending your life safely on your sofa can be a really compelling idea when the alternative means always being uncomfortable or unsure, encountering messages at every turn that your body is wrong or invalid, or worse, dealing with outright discrimination and vitriol because of your size. So yeah, one way to deal with that is to hide in your house and wait for the day that your body looks like everyone else's. Or you could just choose to live now.

Luckily I've never been very good at waiting.


What are some of the exciting things you are doing with your life instead of hiding in the house? (Also, anyone know where a 370 pound girl can get her parasail on?) :)

PCA/ACA Fat Studies: Day 1 Recap | I wish I was joking...

TigerHawk310 April 30th, 2010 | Link | I and my girlfriend (both

I and my girlfriend (both fat, in the high 200s range) just got back from a fun Bermuda cruise. Lots of annoying weight restrictions in the various excursions, some of them just weird (one Catamaran trip requires under 250 lbs; another has no weight restrictions at all...) I'm sure there are parasailing trips that'll take you, because there are plenty of parasailing trips that will take up multiple people. Look for one that handles doubles; if they can handle two people up to 450 lbs. (a common weight limit), they can handle one.

I went parasailing back in my high school days when I was around 250-260, in Turkey; I don't think they had any restrictions at all. Or notable safety precautions, for that matter...

DeeLeigh's picture
April 30th, 2010 | Link | I've always weighed around

I've always weighed around 200 pounds at average height, so I'm not all that big. I can't say that my size has stopped me from doing anything that I wanted to do (except organized school sports when I was a kid and a teenager. Does marching band count?). On the other hand, I don't really do the type of vacations where equipment-oriented activities are a big part of the experience. I'm low-tech. I take trips where I'm either exploring a city or a wilderness, preferably on foot. I like to immerse myself in new places. Sometimes I plan weekend trips to towns that aren't tourist destinations, just to see what they're like.

I used to go on backpacking trips, and I love to dance. In fact, I've done some meditative dance improv-type stuff and taken a quite a few dance classes where I was the largest participant. I go out to dance clubs every so often and pubs more regularly. I go to a lot of concerts and the occasional play or dance performance. I enjoy canoeing. I occasionally ski; downhill and cross country. I enjoy skating. I love to hike. I've done a few bicycle winery tours (in Ontario and the Napa Valley). I like to swim in lakes and oceans.

I've gone horseback riding a few times, but I have to admit that I've never liked it and wouldn't mind at all if I never do it again.

Hum. I think I'm kind of boring - but I don't usually hide in the house.

richie79's picture
May 1st, 2010 | Link | "Hum. I think I'm kind of

"Hum. I think I'm kind of boring - but I don't usually hide in the house."

I think there's a lot of middle ground between us 'hiding in the house' out of sight and crying into our fast food as the mass meeja seem to desire, and being an all-out adrenaline junkie throwing themselves off the scenery every weekend (personally I'd rather admire a snow-capped mountain from the comfort of a warm car parked in the rest area than launch myself off of it with a kite attached to my back, but I do find myself curiously offended by the idea that my weight would be a barrier should I suddenly experience a Bucket List-style change of heart).

I think part of the problem is that in our litigious culture it's often far easier for a company providing bungee jumping, kayaking, rock-climbing or whatever (or the equipment for the above, since frequently I suspect the weight limit is manufacturer-imposed) to just slap a blanket weight limit on without bothering to investigate whether allowing people above that cutoff to partake, or acquiring uprated equipment that would extend access, would actually be possible. And then there's the question of the fairly beefy public liability insurance policies such outfits must no doubt take out (in 'developed' countries at least). If nothing else, it provides them with a convenient excuse.

Apparently things are slowly starting to change; for instance the Alton Towers theme park in the UK, having provided seats for smaller fat folk in its new rides for the last few years, has now retrofitted some of its older coasters with larger seats 'as a result of customer feedback'. However I suspect that whilst ignorance is undoubtedly a factor (as TigerHawk310 points out, if parasail equipment can hold two or three 200lb people why not a 400lb solo rider?) most leisure companies will still weigh up the cost of accommodating us against the business lost by failing to do so. With none of the sort of legal sanctions that in some areas might improve access for disabled people, they take the latter option to avoid spending money on new equipment or training, possibly convinced that the numbers of fat people potentially wishing to access their service are insufficient to justify making adjustments.

"When people fear the government, there is tyranny; when government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

worrier May 2nd, 2010 | Link | I applaud your determination

I applaud your determination to grab life with both hands and your "screw 'em" attitude. I think that's the best defence against a lot of the fat prejudice.

Two of the things I continue to do is to take walks along the street despite the periodic nasty comments that get shouted at me, and continue to swim despite there being no swim suits to fit me, and despite still feeling a little vulnerable to possible stares and comments. The good and interesting thing about swimming is that I don't recall any obvious staring or nasty comments. Though I'm partially deaf and wear hearing aids, and I suppose there may be comments that I miss with my hearing aids out.

The whole comments thing is weird. Sometimes you don't get them when you expect to get them, and other times they come out of the blue. I do get them when walking along the streets, I've never got them when walking along walking tracks.

P.S. I don't swim naked, I wear a cheap t-shirt and trousers.

vesta44's picture
May 2nd, 2010 | Link | worrier - I don't know what

worrier - I don't know what size swimsuit you wear, but I'm 5' 8" and weigh 385 lbs - I found a swimsuit that fits at Junonia (it's a 6X and fits my 52H rack of doom, with support, no less, and my 62" hips). It was rather spendy, at $110.00, but well worth the money for as well as it fits. I actually got to wear it swimming for the first time this weekend, and I'll never buy another swimsuit from anyone else. As long as Junonia continues to make swimsuits in my size, I'll buy from them.
In case you're interested, it's this one.
And as y'all can see, I don't let my size stop me from swimming. As my husband says, if anyone doesn't like looking at me in my swimsuit, they can look somewhere else, who cares what they think.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

Sarahbear May 3rd, 2010 | Link | I've actually been quite

I've actually been quite busy! I know I don't post a whole lot. I lurk, more than anything. But this past month I really have been busy, because I moved out of my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, drove cross-country, and am working in Juneau, Alaska! I got a job as a tour van driver for HAP Alaska - Yukon, a company that provides ground transportation to cruise ship guests while they're off the boat in Juneau. So that's what I've been up to instead of sitting on the couch!

"A diet counselor once told me that all overweight people are angry with their mothers and channel their frustrations into overeating. So I guess that means all thin people are happy, calm, and have resolved their Oedipal entanglements."

worrier May 3rd, 2010 | Link | Wow, 52H sure is a big rack.

Wow, 52H sure is a big rack. Finding adequate affordable clothes is always difficult. It's somewhat harder for me because I live in New Zealand and because of our small population we often don't get the range of choice other countries get. Some women in New Zealand (those with a bit of money) take periodic trips to Australia to do big clothes buying sessions. We do have a few "big chick" shops but they're very expensive and sales time buying only for me. We have a couple of shops with reasonable big sections at reasonable prices, mostly buy from there, but none of the swim suits I've tried anywhere have fitted. Buying online is difficult, I don't have a credit card and don't want to get one. And what if the things I buy don't fit, sending them back overseas would be expensive I imagine. Thanks for the info, though, it's nice to know that swim suits do exist for big chicks like us.

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
May 3rd, 2010 | Link | However I suspect that

However I suspect that whilst ignorance is undoubtedly a factor (as TigerHawk310 points out, if parasail equipment can hold two or three 200lb people why not a 400lb solo rider?) most leisure companies will still weigh up the cost of accommodating us against the business lost by failing to do so. With none of the sort of legal sanctions that in some areas might improve access for disabled people, they take the latter option to avoid spending money on new equipment or training, possibly convinced that the numbers of fat people potentially wishing to access their service are insufficient to justify making adjustments.

I'm afraid I'd have to agree with you on this one Richie. BUT I can't help wondering; In some magical place where Rhinos feel no need to pretend that their unicorns, how many of those standing on the sidelines wistfully (or sadly) watching as others adventure, would actually be out there adventuring themselves if the opportunity presented?

I just finished reading a post over at The Rotund, regarding the purely mental restrictions we sometimes put on ourselves when considering what we can or cannot do.

If it were as safe as it is for anyone else? If accommodations were as readily available as they are for anyone else? If there were no thought of stigmatizing others for the weight, shape, or size of their bodies and thus no possibility of shame or feeling embarrassment?

In this Perfect World who / how many would be willingly, eagerly, diving right in?
I'd bet many, if not most, would.

Which, I guess, is probably why the 'stigma motivates' philosophy that SO many weight loss advocates seem so fond of, makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. People who are happier have more of an interest in keeping themselves healthy. Wether that results in weight loss or not, it's bound to be healthier for everyone, which is supposed to be the goal, yes? So. . . . . . . . .?

"Some people who exist sparingly on the mean side of the hill are threatened by those who also live in the shadows but celebrate the light."
-Maya Angelou

richie79's picture
May 4th, 2010 | Link | I think you're right about

I think you're right about the self-imposed restrictions non-FA fatties are told to place upon themselves by a society that doesn't want to see or interact with them. And one of the things that scares me is how early this process of socialisation begins and how downright *efficient* it is. This study from the University of Crete is the latest in a long line to not only completely disprove the 'stigma motivates' theory (if fat hate has increased 66% since 2004, why are there allegedly more fat people than ever?) but to uncover strong evidence that negativity toward fat people begins as soon as they begin mixing with peers, if not before. For me the line that stood out was "Obese children also followed the trend, choosing to invite thinner classmates than their overweight peers". It's times like this when you realise just how deeply ingrained fat hate is into the very social fabric of the way we relate to one another, and that the couple of hundred (at most) of us who see it otherwise really are trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

"When people fear the government, there is tyranny; when government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

Carolyn May 4th, 2010 | Link | I love your ability to just

I love your ability to just go do the things you want to do, and find a way to make it work. Bravo!

The best advice I ever got was to make a list of the top 3 things I had always dreamed of doing (when I got thin) - then pick the top one and do it now. This was about 1990. My top thing was to learn to fly. So I did. I found an airport that gave lessons. It took me 50 hours (quite expensive) but I got my pilot's license. The biggest thrill of my life was passing the FAA check-ride, woeee! It was for small Cessna planes. The only restriction was that I couldn't take as much luggage with me as a skinnier person, since some of the weight capacity of the plane was taken up by me.

My husband lost his job for a while so I'm not current. He is now employed again and we are talking about getting current. What a rush it is - being the pilot of a small plane!

DeeLeigh's picture
May 5th, 2010 | Link | That's awesome!

That's awesome!

Keechypeachy May 7th, 2010 | Link | I posted a while back ago

I posted a while back ago about being worried to keep horse riding at my size. But, i live to ride, so instead I retired my perfectly adequate horse that still made me feel too heavy even if i wasn't, then went out and found myself the biggest, strongest most amazing horse ever who can carry me like I am a feather. It is so good to be back riding guilt-free and if anyone says a word, I am going to just think to myself, "Look at me riding my beautiful horse. I am so lucky to be riding this amazing horse that is all mine. I don't care what you think because I am riding my Bee-oot-ee-full horse!" just as a kind fellow Shapely Prose person suggested I do. Smiling

I hope you find a para-sailing company that will take you up. No -one says we have to be super-fatties and do these things just to prove we can, but we certainly should be able to do them if we want to.

Tobysgirl May 9th, 2010 | Link | How big is your horse,

How big is your horse, Keechypeachy? My Toby is 1700+ pounds and has no trouble carrying me, but I've not been riding due to ill health. A miserable, skinny neighbor once snorted when I went past her house on him because he's a Belgian, and then I found out that Belgian sporthorses are all the rage in Europe.

I'd love to hear more about your Bee-oot-ee-full horse! How can I give you my email?

And I'm so glad to hear someone found a swimsuit that fit at Junonia. We should all feel FREE to pursue fun and pleasure to the degree we are able, and I pray that no one has to suffer ignorant comments from vulgar people. Maybe it's where I live (fat women are fairly well accepted, in other words not an urban area), but I can't imagine anyone daring to comment to me on my size. Maybe the glint in my eye suggests to them they'd quickly regret it!

Keechypeachy May 11th, 2010 | Link | Hi Tobysgirl, I would kill

Hi Tobysgirl, I would kill for a Belgian or cross, but they are very rare here in Oz. My girl is a clydesdale crossed with a quarter horse so not as heavy as your boy, but we are a lovely match and look good together. The dreadful fatigue I get from pernicious anaemia makes me pay too high a price for doing other forms of exercise these days, but when I ride I can still fly.

I've contacted you privately so we can chat more and not bore everyone with our horsey addiction. Smiling

Ps. I get that glint in my eye some days too. Smiling

CarrieP's picture
May 12th, 2010 | Link | Horseback riding

Oh yay! You guys have given me hope about something else I wanted to do, which is ride horseback from Monteverde to Volcano Arenal. The one company I looked at will only let you do it if you weigh less than 200 lbs, but I'm going to keep looking until I find one that'll let me go. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tobysgirl May 15th, 2010 | Link | A horse can carry 20 percent

A horse can carry 20 percent of his or her own weight. In other words, my Toby can carry 340 pounds. You need to find an outfitter who has some big horses on staff. I've seen photos of Irish rides, and they definitely have some big boys and girls, and I wouldn't be surprised if other outfitters do as well. I rode comfortably when I weighed 240 pounds, but have found at my bigger size (about 266) that my balance is not as good.

Horses, like all healthy social creatures, LIVE for relationship, and I would want to go with an outfitter who really cared for her/his horses. My heart bleeds when I see horses who are treated like machines.

FatSavage's picture
May 12th, 2010 | Link | I recently started taking

I recently started taking boxing lessons. I was worried, at first, that I would be only the only female there (I am) and that I would be the fattest person training there (I am) but you know what? None of it matters. What matters is the sense of accomplishment I get and how much I enjoy the sport. I can feel my skills improving in the short time I've been there. It's a rush.

A few years ago I never would have dared this. I would stay at home most of the time. It was easier and I wouldn't have to deal with the societal slings and arrows. But you know what? I felt worse...about me. It was only after accepting myself as I stand, in the moment, that I found a kind of power I have never felt before.

And no one can take that away from me without my permission. And I'm not giving out permission slips today or any other day.

Oh...and if someone knows a place that does horseback riding in Ventura County, California for people over 235 pounds (I'm about 255), please let me know. I would really like to go riding again.

Oh, I SCUBA dive and motorcycle ride too.

A word after a word after a word is power.
~Margaret Atwood

sjwilde May 18th, 2010 | Link | I parasailed at 220 Hawaii

I was a little self-conscious but really wanted to do it, and the people were very nice. I bet you can find a company that could take you. I think the only concerns might be safety and whether they would need a larger harness. The one thing that was a little scary for me was that I needed some upper-body strength to hold myself upright in the harness and was afraid I'd have to let go - I think the only risk would have been dangling upside-down, though, not falling out. I'd really recommend the experience.

GenXer's picture
July 12th, 2010 | Link | I go swimming and I went on

I go swimming and I went on a glider plane ride. I weigh 240. I also want to go horseback riding again but it's difficult finding a place that will take anyone over 225.


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