It’s not easy being a person who carried more than his weight for his entire life.
We’ve all seen this, as we see ourselves thinking we can fit – or gracefully exit – a supercar. Its never easy for a larger body to get in, sit down, and exit a car with a very small cabin. Or, something that looks like we can fit in and find ourselves wedged in-between the steering wheel and the seat.
Rather, be surprised when a person of large stature drives something along the lines of a Geo/Chevrolet Metro/Suzuki Swift.
I bring this up for two reasons. One, you probably caught Bill Maher on his HBO political talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher" calling for the return of "fat-shaming" in our society. This drew the attention of CBS late-night talk show host James Corden. He called out Maher through humor, facts, some self-reflection, and a simple parting message: "while you're encouraging people to think about what goes into their mouths, just think a little harder about what comes out of yours."
Corden received plenty of support on his take on Maher's segment. Al Roker of NBC's "Today" show and Meghan McCain of ABC's "The View" – among others – chimed in on the conversation now brought up by both Maher and Corden. It is a conversation that has drawn all sides to discuss the fact that as a world who is mostly overweight, there is no need to add a level of "fat-shaming" – rather, a form of bullying about someone’s body type – into our world.
The second reason comes from a personal point of view. I’ve been overweight my entire life. I had a longer torso for my height. My body has always been wrong – according to what society deems as "healthy."
When I transitioned from junior high to high school my weight was around 250 pounds. That is unhealthy for someone pushing over six feet tall. In 1992, my weight reached over 340 pounds. It has gone down since. At the worst of my health issues earlier this year, I saw my weight drop down to below 235 pounds for the first time since the late 1970s.
During my childhood, I had my share of being "fat-shamed," or what we used to call “teasing.” I was sensitive about these comments and knew I was not as healthy as the majority of my classmates. To rise above it, I had to adjust and live accordingly. It may not have been the best coping method to employ, and, certainly, I could have done something about it – like exercise and diet.
This did not stop at high school. Being a homosexual cis male, I was keenly aware that people my kind were not welcomed into the "culture of desire." There were – and still exists – some subcultures that celebrate bigger people. And, yes, they were also considered fetishes, which is not a comfortable thing to be around unless you are into that sort of thing. Was I comfortable in those subcultures? Not exactly, despite helping to create new spaces within these groups. I was always seen as "too small," "too big," "too ugly," and some other exclusionary reason to keep me from being a part of a larger desire-driven community.
In terms of my interest and my subsequent work in the automotive field, I’ve always had issues fitting into some of the most desirable automobiles around. A majority of post-World War II British roadsters, small cars through the 1970s, and plenty of supercars were my kryptonite when it came to fitting behind the wheel. I found some modern cars to be short on space and comfort due to my torso height or lack of comfort and support for someone even my size/weight.
I know I’m not alone. Which is refreshing considering how many of us are a part of some aspect of the automotive industry and culture.
Yet, there are those who still think that, yes, we should "fat shame" our society. Let's be honest, this is not a constructive way to have a conversation about health, society, community, and diversity.
Any form of hate, bullying, fear, indifference, and other negative and destructive behaviors are not healthy ways to live your lives. We’re all guilty of these behaviors – myself, included. We say things at auto shows, media events, club meetings, board rooms, dealer showrooms, and other places where we – as car people – gather.
Perhaps the conversation should begin with us. The automotive community – industry, media, retail, and enthusiasts – know all full well how the challenge our bodies present to us. We should be the first to know that we should never be the butt of jokes or of some form of hatred against each other – even in private conversation.
We love our vehicles because we feel comfortable behind the wheel of them. If that is the case, why judge?
As James Corden said, "just think a little harder about what comes out of [your mouth]." Or, on social media.
Photos by Dewhurst Photography for Lexus