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Embracing Failure with My Feet in the Stirrups

When I am at my heaviest, I become insecure, self-critical, embarrassed and generally depressed. That’s not to say that I think being overweight is bad. Whatever you’re happy with that doesn’t hurt anyone else is fine with me.

It’s totally uncool to discriminate against people with disabilities. You’re an absolute jerk if you are racist, homophobic or xenophobic. Not hiring someone because of their age or religion is against the law. Yet, somehow people still think it’s ok to judge and demean others because of their size.

Let’s be honest, we all have prejudices of some sort, even if they’re subconscious. If you say that you don’t, you are either a bold-faced liar or totally lacking in self-awareness. Certain things are just hard wired into our brain and become part of our human fiber. Everyone has past experiences that trigger physiological responses that are innate.

Maybe you get nervous around people with blonde hair because you got jumped in an alley by a blonde thug when you were 12. Or you subconsciously mistrust short women because of the diminutive home-wrecker who destroyed your parents' marriage. Even so, I believe that when we become aware of and acknowledge these triggers, we can actively minimize them. These prejudices are not an excuse to be a deplorable human being.

My point is, if what you believe, who you love, how you worship or why you’re overweight is different from me, I don’t care. I care if you are an arrogant, ignorant, rude, dick wad whose behavior hurts others (physically, emotionally, financially, socially, professionally, or in any other way). #Live&LetLive

I'm stating this clearly because I don’t want comments from people accusing me of hating fat people. What I’m saying is I hate myself when I gain weight because I know I’m not being the best me I can be. I’m just very critical of myself and often times my own worst enemy. It’s not any different from my feelings when I embarrass myself. Or screw up at work. Or bounce a check. (If you're reading this and don't know what that means, ask your parents about banking back in the old days.)

Anyhow, while people may think being “jolly” (the new, PC word for fat) is all negative, I would like to educate you on the myriad benefits of being in a state of overweight which you may never have considered. I often overlooked these benefits because I was so focused on the many disadvantages of being chunky. However, when I started trying to incorporate some of Brene Brown’s inspirations into my life, I took the step of “embracing” my failure to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

To be honest, when I heard Brene telling people to go out and embrace their failures, my first thought was, "But they all have restraining orders against me!" Then, I stepped back and considered more than just relationship failures and one glaring area of discontent was my body. #BigFatHotMess

The first abdominous advantage I remember occurred during a trip to New York for a professional conference. I was situated in my economy window seat as the gentleman next to me fussed and looked particularly perturbed.

Once the plane was loaded and the flight attendants closed the door, the gentleman signaled an attendant and requested to be moved to the only other empty seat on the plane, a request that would generally be normal if someone wanted to upgrade their position and comfort level.

However, this man was requesting to move from a middle seat to another middle seat. The particularly perky redhead explained to the man that people were supposed to stay in the seat they had been assigned for identification reasons.

Translation: If we all crash and die, the airline wants to know who was killed so they can begin preparing their legal defense against your family. And we can do that much more easily if your carcass is still strapped into seat F2.

The man leaned over and whispered something to Red and she nodded understandingly. I imagine he explained that he’d rather be found dead and be unidentified, than to have to sit next to me for the three hour trip to the connecting flight. So, viola! I got to sit next to the only empty seat on the plane!

Another overlooked benefit of blubber is extra storage space. As a woman, when I gain weight I naturally gain boobage as well. I have been known to pull things from my cleavage much like Mary Poppins procured items from her magical bag.

Now, I’ve never pulled out a coatrack, as Julie Andrews did in the classic Disney movie. But, to be fair, I’ve never tried and I’m not completely convinced it isn’t possible. I have, however, successfully carried money, my keys and my cell phone on countless occasions. My cleavage has also been used to smuggle a box of Milk Duds and an Abbazabba into the movies, a deflated 32-inch beachball into a graduation ceremony and 4 pieces of bacon in a Mickey Mouse bandana for reasons known only by an EMT somewhere in the mid-west.

But that's a story for another day.

Another impressive benefit I’ve discovered is the invisible barrier that protects me from sexual harassment. When I have been at my best physically I have been grabbed, howled at, stalked and ambush-kissed at concerts, clubs, school and just walking to the train.

During periods of particular girth, I have not once been peeped at, accosted, aggressively brushed up against or told that I look like I’d give a good blow job.

Now, you may argue that it’s because I’m older, and wrinkles and gray hairs put me strictly in the “unwanted” category. But I prefer to think that it’s my weight (something I have control over) as opposed to general repulsion, which would mean there’s no hope without significant cosmetic work.

I've discovered that there are also financial benefits to fat. The amount of money I have saved on ugly, one-time-use bridesmaids' dresses alone would probably pay for a small, above ground spa.

And let’s not forget the health benefits! Many people would argue that there are absolutely no physical benefits to being an economy sized woman. But they have clearly not considered that many of us don’t like to be seen in swimsuits when we are at a BMI that’s greater than our age (or IQ). The result? Fair skin with fewer age spots and a reduced risk of melanoma. (Hard to argue with that, isn’t it, Jillian Michaels?)

But, of all of the benefits listed here and the many others I’m not bothering to itemize, the most exciting is the magical movie theater seat. As most now do, the theater that’s nearest our house has adjustable, reclining seats for viewer comfort. I fit snugly into the seats there, but it's not like I need to slather myself in Crisco. However, sometimes I move slightly or take a deep breath and without knowing it, one of my lumps, bumps or rolls activates the button causing my chair to suddenly begin rising or reclining under me.

The first time it happened I let out a scream and thought someone behind me had broken the chair and I was about to do a backflip. After I realized what had happened I did my best to keep my butt, gut, and any associated rolls to the left side of the chair, in an attempt to avoid the ejector button of death.

After about five minutes my heart rate and blood pressure had returned to normal and I had forgotten about the incident. I took a relaxing breath and let out another yelp as I was pitched forward.

This continued randomly throughout the movie. I was convinced it was the seat doing its best to get rid of me with moves as smooth as a jackhammer, because the ghostly assaults were happening without me making any noticeable movements.

The unexpected scares continued occurring every 5-10 minutes, despite all efforts to the contrary. My daughter kept looking at me like I was a child flipping a light switch on and off for fun. I whispered what was happening and she burst out laughing every time I would begin to lurch forward or fall back with my legs up.

I was half expecting the guy in front of me to turn around and say, "Ok, now scoot to the end of the table. Just relax. This is going to feel a little cold." #PelvicExam

So where’s the benefit in a sporadically convulsing, reclining movie theater seat? I’m glad you asked, because previously I would have seen this story as horrible embarrassment with no possible up side to be found.

However, I think we can all agree that movies are overpriced, right? Right. But, now when I go to the movies, not only do I get 1 ½-2 hours of cinematic entertainment. But I get the joy of a death defying county fair ride and the chance to perform my own comedic stunts for the benefit of my friends and a select group of strangers.

It’s a trifecta of entertainment. An interactive adventure that one could argue rivaled an escape room! So, the next time you’re beating yourself up over a failure…embrace it. That cloud just may have a magical-movie-theater-seat lining after all.

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