Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What If You Didn't Know You Were Fat?

One of the funniest and most controversial Dave Chappelle skits aired on the first episode of his comedy show in 2003 when he played a blind Ku Klux Klan member who didn't know he was black. If you haven't seen this profoundly funny bit, treat yourself later when you have seven minutes to relax with a cup of tea.

In a nutshell, the skit enacts the story of Clayton Bigsby, the only blind boy to attend the Wexler Home for the Blind. To make things simpler, the headmistress never informs Clayton or his classmates that he is the only black student, and he grows up thinking he is as white as milk. As an adult, he authors several racist books and becomes a white supremacist hero until one day he is asked to take off his hood at a rally and his blackness is revealed.

As the skit ends, the narrator of the faux documentary says, "In the past few weeks, Clayton Bigsby has finally accepted that he is a black man. And just three days ago, he filed for divorce from his wife. When asked why, after nineteen years of marriage, he replied, 'Because she's a nigger lover.'"

One of the takeaways of this skit for me -- aside from the obvious foolishness of hating anyone who doesn't look like you -- is how much our perceptions of ourselves inform our identity and behavior.

Had Chappelle known he was not white, he would not have identified so strongly with white people. Even after he found out he was black, his thought process was still that of a bigoted white man.

Though some people vow to eat less when they gain weight,
for me it was a license to eat more.
Which made me wonder if this same concept could be extended to weight. As with race, much of our self-perception and corresponding behavior hinges on a measurement -- whether it be pounds on a scale or inches around our hips.

I know that when I was 35 pounds overweight I typically didn't care if I over-indulged because -- inside my head -- I was already heavy. What difference would a few more calories make?

Now that I am at my ideal weight, however, I am far more conscious of the food choices I make. I view myself as a slender person and behave consistently with preserving that identity.

Which makes me wonder. Had I still considered myself a slender person when my weight first started going north, would I have eaten more healthy and not gained all those extra pounds?

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More from Diet Skeptic:

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