Kate

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<b>Kate Campbell<br>Resource Coordinator, York University, Toronto<br>Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903</b>

People think fatness is a choice, something you can change. They think if you're fat you lack willpower. My mom was fat. But she kept struggling with it. So I guess she projected a lot of her ambivalence onto me. When she was small, she'd yell at me about my weight. She'd try to control my diet. But her own weight was fluctuating a lot, so she could relate to how difficult it was to change.When you're overweight people often look at you as if you're invisible. They make a lot of really, really condescending presumptions about who you are. I've told people about my partner and they've asked me to my face if she really exists. They figure you've got to be making it up.My parents split up then got back together again. I don't really like my dad. He's okay, I guess. But he was very hard on my mom. They stayed together until she died. He's a standard small-town red-neck. Can't see other people's point of view.My brother's the same way. He's pretty conservative politically. He's a graduate student here at York. For a long time he used to berate me about my weight. He was pretty thin until his late twenties. Then he started to put on weight himself. It's in the family gene pool. He's stopped bugging me about dieting.I liked boys when I was in school, but also had fantasies about what it'd be like to sleep with women. So I'm not so unhappy. I used to think that once I left home and the town I grew up in my life would get better. And it has. But still.There's a lot of competitiveness in the lesbian community. It's not homogenous. There's a dividing line between lipstick lesbians and the other ones. You can see how that plays itself out at bars. I don't get asked out there. People ignore me at those places too.Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to be in love with a guy. I've had crushes on guys. But nothing's ever happened.In the media you see a lot of stuff about weight issues, but it tends to get couched as being about "health." People think if you're overweight you're not healthy. But who's healthy? Someone who's worrying about every calorie and starving him/herself and going bananas?My mom had cancer of the lungs and the brain when she was dying. She started to lose a lot of weight. People would come up to her and say, "You look great!" They didn't realize how insensitive they were being. But the really troubling thing is she liked it. It made her feel good. She was dying but she "looked good." It gave her a kind of satisfaction. It was sick. That's when I decided I wasn't going to worry about my weight any longer.

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