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February 6, 2011
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               I have no face. There was a time when I may have owned one, but this is a fuzzy half-memory. In fact, it may be entirely an invention of fantasy. These days, regardless of my history, I know for a fact that I have no face. However, I have been granted a name: The American Obesity Problem. And I am growing in the United States. You may have seen me on television. You may have been witness to my disconcerting back cleavage and mystified by the seamless transition my legs make from my calves into my ankles. You probably saw my unsettlingly large, shelf-like behind as it strained against my tight Capri pants that I swore I would fit into someday and, when I didn't lose the weight, decided to wear anyway because, "If I spend more than $30 on pants I better damn well find a way to squeeze into them." You may have caught a glance of ponytail resting on my back, or a peek at several of my lower chins. But, if you've seen me at all, you can say with confidence that I do not have a face. I have a plethora of everything else, but that is one thing I do not have.



                There was a time when I thought I may be a woman—but I am not. I am The American Obesity Problem. Women are not obese. Women are creatures with perfectly smooth hair, smooth skin, smooth voices…but, most importantly, women have faces. Faces with large, engaging eyes that hide behind long, fluttering eyelashes. Faces that are graced with petite, feminine noses. Faces with plump, red, moist lips. Faces that smile and laugh and contort to emote coyness. Have you ever attempted to be coy without owning a face? One time, in 2009, I attempted such an endeavor and it left spectators believing that my hip was out of joint. I was so upset that I wanted to cry but, without a face, I wasn't properly equipped with the tear ducts that are required.



                I have been told by close friends, in confidence, that women have sex. I'm still not completely convinced of this rumor's validity, but my sources are fairly reliable. I do have several friends who are women themselves. In all honesty, I remain skeptical. For nearly two decades I have believed that women, like The American Obesity Problem, spawn at random. I spawn, you see—I appear as if by magic. One night I am an unsuspecting human being with hopes and dreams, full of love and ambition, and then, the next morning, I am mystically transformed into The American Obesity Problem. I was never born. I will never procreate. I have no gender. I've looked—I've set out on expeditions, you see. It takes planning and provisions to search for any sign of gender on The American Obesity Problem. There's quite a bit of ground to cover. Quite a bit of flesh to explore. I returned sadly from each journey only gleaning knowledge of endless rolls of fat. They extend for eternity into some great abyss I have yet to fully understand. There is nothing else there, no sign of any kind of life or vitality or feeling. On one occasion I brought a Sherpa with me, but he got lost somewhere—enveloped, rather. I wonder if I'll ever see him again…  

  

                It is quite interesting to be an asexual blob living in a world whose axis spins on the idea of sex. I press my fleshy, faceless cranium against the thick pane of glass that separates me from everyone and everything else, and I attempt to observe. Which is quite difficult without eyes, I admit, but you develop other sorts of senses as part of The American Obesity Problem. Fatty perceptions that the rest of society is not privy to. You watch women struggle into tight, low-cut shirts and hear them claim they enjoy cutting off the circulation in their breasts and that they are not—definitely NOT—trying to grab anyone's attention. You watch men lift weights up and down in endless repetition in the hope that they will lose their insecurities like you lost that pen you swear you just had five minutes ago. Then there are the instances when both genders pound down drink after drink after drink so that their stark biological differences are made inconsequential. At this point, they are able to converse freely and—according to rumor—copulate. Or, perhaps, they simply meditate on the idea.



                I have been witness to such things because I am in a peculiarly rare situation. Most members of The American Obesity Problem are not college students like I am. Education is not terribly important to many of us. Typically, food is the priority. And lack of exercise. We love not exercising. If we could not exercise all week, we would—and quite frequently do. But a college education is about binge drinking and spring break bikini contests and sleeping through class and loveless sex and pregnancy scares. Clearly this excludes The American Obesity Problem, as most of us would much rather read a book or write an essay. There has to be activity between food and not exercising to break up the monotony, and I find that reading books or writing essays helps pass the time. Yet, without one solitary pregnancy scare, I've somehow managed to maintain a decent GPA. If I had parents, I'm sure they'd feel a slight tinge of pride that might, momentarily, outweigh the guilt and shame of having The American Obesity Problem as a child.



                I have vague recollections of being a child—which is strange, because they can't possibly be true. They must be fabrications; illusions of the mind. Perhaps these memories are dreams. I recall one such dream, and it included an ice cream party. I was, allegedly, in the sixth grade. A boy, mindlessly licking his frozen treat, approached me with an incredulous look on his face. "Why are you eating that?" he asked, pointing to the vanilla ice cream cone melting in my hand. "Aren't you already fat enough?" I stared at him for a moment, blinking with eyes I couldn't have possibly had, yet distinctly remember. After this brief moment, I responded. "No. No, I am not fat enough. I must continue to eat and gorge myself; shovel in the ice cream. I am not nearly as fat as I could be. There's so much potential! I will grow to be part of The American Obesity Problem, and you can't stop me!" At which point I consumed the entire cone in one gigantic bite. "I am America's future!" I proclaimed. I jumped onto one of the desks, commanding the attention of all the other sixth grade children in the room, and proceeded to give a speech to the captive audience:



           "I am America's future! I will be the consumer of super-sized value meals and, simultaneously, diet pills that have not been approved by the FDA. One of the two—or both in tandem—will lead to cardiac arrest. And that, my friends, is my ultimate goal. There is comfort in knowing that I have planned to end my life via heart attack. I may settle for a severe case of diabetes to tide me over, but heart failure is the only victory that will satiate this appetite! Until then, until success, I will perpetuate industry. I will consume. I will spin the cogs of this great nation. And when I say 'great' I don't mean 'good,' I mean 'LARGE'—large in capital letters. It is my duty to make sure America remains the greatest country in the world! My cause is just, my religion is Consumerism, and my fuel is ice cream. If you have any iota of patriotism, you will give up your ice cream right now! You will hand your cones to me! You will witness as, one after another, I shove them down my throat. And I will grow, my friends. I will grow into The American Obesity Problem!" My cries were suddenly muted by rapturous applause.



             Then, as effortlessly as it weaved itself into my psyche, the dream unhinges and recoils into some dark corner of the mind. There is a strange, backwards relief in this fantasy that plays itself out on the stage of my subconscious. The dream implies choice. That I had a decision to make—a desire, even—to become part of The American Obesity Problem. I can't claim full knowledge of how I properly spawned, but that is the dream that always springs to mind when I struggle to remember. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but I do love the dreams in which I appear to be human.



            The American Obesity Problem is not human. Our species is something modern science is still trying to comprehend and classify. But, as a virtually undefined genus, we don't have many of the rights that most human beings take for granted. Like dignity, for example. Or respect. We are frequent fodder for comedians and pedestrians alike. Why not? There is, after all, nothing worse than being part of The American Obesity Problem. In a "Most Disgusting" contest, our flabby folds will beat out any challenger, any day of the week. Our asexual spawning confuses and alienates humans. Our apparent lack of self-awareness and disdain for proper bodily upkeep is inexplicable. Our desire to be hated and loathed is unfathomable. We are a misunderstood group, though there are many of us. We make vain attempts to become human, to be accepted into a foreign culture, to forge a path between worlds.



            I know. I've tried.



           At the end of the day, all that's left to me are those wonderful dreams. Under the quiet blanket of endless stars, I feel the impossible could be possible. I am inspired to imagine myself in a woman's body. I grant myself the ability to dream of a time and a place in which I am human. The folds of endless fat lift up and over my head like a poorly fitting costume I can now freely discard on the floor. I feel the ability to breathe fully. I drift and float and feel light. I sometimes drift right into someone else's arms by accident. Sometimes they are arms that belong to a man. He smiles, and kisses my forehead, and reaches his arms around me with ease. He doesn't have to stretch and strain, but simply embraces as if it were wholly natural. And that makes me smile. I smile a big smile with coy lips and engaging eyes that ask him not to let go. My entire face lights up—and suddenly I'm aware that I have a face. I have a face. And, if I'm lucky, I imagine I have a name. And even luckier still, I have all of these things, and…



        …and I am loved.
I have no idea how to categorize this piece. I couldn't find a section for satire, which is where I would put it if I had the option.

It is an essay I wrote for a Women and Writing class. The class assumes everyone has a gender or identity or gender identity. I often feel like I do not. So this is what I wrote in response to the material we had to read about being female.

The preview image was taken of me by my friend, Lauren DeCicca, for her senior thesis project in photography / "This Changes Everything" exhibit in downtown Ithaca, NY. Check her out: [link]

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EDIT:

WOW. Just...wow. I woke up to hundreds of messages in my inbox this morning and thought DA broke! THANK YOU FOR THE DD! I've been part of this community for years and never dreamed I'd ever receive such an honor!

I've been wading through the comments and have two things to generally respond to:

1) I am not trying to argue that obesity is an inherently healthy thing. It may be for some people, perhaps. My goal in writing this was never to advocate obesity, but to advocate for the HUMANITY of obese people. Do not assume everyone has control over their weight. Nevertheless, I feel like comments in opposition of obesity have created interesting dialogue. This is important. People have passion enough to debate the topic--and that is better than remaining silent. For those of you with only hostility for overweight people (rather than genuine concern) I have sincere concern for YOU and hope that you are able to heal whatever inside of you may be broken.

2) I saw a lot of comments left by people who were clearly moved by the subject matter / can truly identify with it. Your words have meant so much to me. Thank you for sharing your own experiences and why this meant something to you. Connecting with others, communicating, exchanging, expression: This is what art is. To have created something that MEANS something to others is the highest accomplishment, and I cannot begin to articulate how honored by that and grateful for that I am. So many beautiful words from so many beautiful people. What a humbling experience...

Much love to you all! Change of any kind must start with love and support. <3
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-02-17
"I have no face," writes ~LightningRodOfHate in The American Obesity Problem. This satirical piece of creative nonfiction explores the faceless through their ultimate goal of heart failure, "the only victory that will satiate this appetite!" ( Suggested by DailyLitDeviations and Featured by GwenavhyeurAnastasia )
:iconwonderlandrevisited:
WonderlandRevisited Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014
This is one of the most subversively funny things I have seen on DeviantArt. The first couple sentences of the third paragraph seemed to be channeling a female Bob Hope.

How to find a boyfriend if you're not a bikini model: learn how to play chess well, go to the university chess club, figure out which of the geeks are not having sex with their computers, and take a chance. Stick to public places. Never ever make fun of Star Wars action figures in a chess player's dorm. Beats finding a Japanese sex doll in the closet.
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:iconsampea:
sampea Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014
Interesting.
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:iconsiragravaine:
SirAgravaine Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014
Have any of you tried consistent and routine 24 hour water fasts to give your digestive systems a break so your body can enter into ketosis? I highly discourage from going over 24 hours, but it certainly has helped me in the past with weight control. This coupled with regular--high intensity (read: heart rate between 150-180)--exercise and proper dieting (taking into account your basal metabolic rate or similarly your resting metabolic rate) will secure your victory in losing weight. It is achievable! 

On this note, I highly discourage any attempt at suggesting that being overweight is something an individual should just accept and go on living the rest of their lives that way. I discourage this primarily because of the health and psychological implications. Yes, it is difficult, no I cannot relate, which makes me the 'dark side', but I can encourage and high five you (even electronically) for making progress. Set larger goals and milestones, share your goals with someone that has equal values as yourself and get motivated. If it doesn't work, seek help from a dietician or other clinical expert. People genetically aren't meant to be overweight, but it does happen that some are more susceptible to it for a variety of reasons to include seemingly insurmountable health reasons. Just keep having faith and you will find a means to become a healthier you even if it doesn't look precisely like the doctored cover of a magazine!
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:icondrippingwords:
DrippingWords Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2014  Student Writer
This is really compelling. Congratulations on the DD! You managed to keep my attention the whole time. :heart:
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:iconscr1b3:
Scr1b3 Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
.___. ..................... I'm scared now.. I dont' wanna be fat.
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:iconlonelyzoner:
LonelyZoner Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is absolutely a wonderful, unique, and deeply expressed piece of work. Your way of writing kept me drawn in, along with your vocabulary and metaphors/similies/etc. I'm very glad that I found this: For the longest time I have heard so many people talk ABOUT overweight people, but, even though I really wanted to, I could never bring myself to ask someone how they feel about the situation (whether they are obese or not). This piece really showed me a whole new perspective, and I appreciate you sharing it with everyone. =) I'm sure you've taught and connected with a lot of people on this matter.
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:iconcursedfreak:
CursedFreak Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I can hardly express how moved I was by this, I'm even feeling tears starting to appear in my eyes even as I type.

I've never been what you could call fat, nowhere near, the maximum I've ever weighed was 56kg (123 pounds) when I was about 13-14 years old, nowadays I weigh 50-51kg (around 110 pounds). I'm one of the laziest people you can find (in the "doing sport" sense) and yet I've had no problems to keep my weight so far (eating habits and my metabolism I guess). But despite all of this, I still feel a part of me in this essay. Why? I may have the socially accepted body type, I'm even told that I'm pretty, and yet... I'm also faceless.

You can at least name the reason of why you and so many others are faceless, you are "The American Obesity Problem" but what am I? I always feel like most people just don't care who I am nor want to know. I'm a little shy but I always try to be nice to everyone, however I always feel like I'm always being cast aside, it's like most people I've always met forget my existence in a matter of minutes. I mostly get this idea from little details of passing conversations, in which I usually feel more like a listener than an actual participant of it, but after years all these little details are forming a huge whole inside my mind.

At this time of the year, it's the birthday of many people, I've been waiting for 21 years for these very same people that ask me to help with their birthday parties to wish me a happy birthday but I know it's a lost cause because my birthday is in the middle of August (when everyone is out enjoying their holidays). Whenever I go out with my friends from college, I ask my 3 best friends if they'd like to come along, but in the last four years since we left highschool (I'm not counting one of them, though because she just graduated from highschool and she had a bad experience in general there) I've never heard them say "hey, I'm going out to dance/drink/whatever with the people from my class, why don't you come along?" We still hang out just the 4 of us whenever we have a chance but why don't they want to see us all thogether with more people? Is it my fault or theirs?

"I have been told by close friends, in confidence, that women have sex. I'm still not completely convinced of this rumor's validity, but my sources are fairly reliable." So I've heard, for I have not yet been able to prove this myself. I must be like a shadow for men who, unless drunk, hardly notice that I'm a female of their own species. Like I said, I'm too shy, I don't know how to flirt and I'm certainly not interested in a one-night-relationship (unlike some of my friends, or at least they used to be, that have suggested I should and even almost forced me to make out with a guy they barely knew themselves). The few guys, friends of mine, I've ever had some sort of crush on have destroyed my hopes without even noticing. How would they know? I'm just a shadow anyway.


While I don't like being a shadow, I feel it is probably better than being "The American Obesity Problem", I'm just ignored while you have to deal with people giving you weird looks, pointing and laughing at you. We still share one thing in common at least, people don't care about who we really are.


But you know what? I don't think any of you, the people that form "The American Obesity Problem" are physically disgusting. As a matter of fact, I just realized last year that I'm a FFA, I don't have any strange feeding fantasies but I just love the body type of a man with "The American Obesity Problem". And with every passing day and seeing "men (hypothetically) lift weights up and down in endless repetition in the hope that they will lose their insecurities like you lost that pen you swear you just had five minutes ago." I feel more and more proud of my attraction to larger men.
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:iconjirachichick:
JirachiChick Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I love this, especially the part about college. My college experience has been pretty awful because I don't fit the skinny upper-middle class white girl prototype, Freshman year I was going home as often as I could to get away from people in my building that teased me.
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:iconmay-flower-smile:
may-flower-smile Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
:glomp:
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:iconjorrus:
jorrus Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012
This is a pleasure to read, and comes at a time of great change!
Traditional notions are being swept aside; and there is a proliferation of appearance modifying technologies!
This piece captures the emotive side of the times! =)
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