So yesterday, I began work on my traditional annual Offensive Mass-Produced Halloween Costume Research.
(Incidentally, there are no grants to fund this important effort, so if you have seen any costumes fitting this description already, let me know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org and I might include them in an upcoming post.)
But somehow, mixed in with the sexy mental patient and sexy “Indian princess” costumes, I ran across this product:
A replica of a one-pound blob of fat, affixed to a plate. It can be yours for the very reasonable price of $32.95, plus shipping.
I know these things exist -- I’ve seen them a few times before, usually in a gym or in some sort of medical environment, and thought they were kind of neat, but I’m the kind of person who is constantly fascinated by the bits of my innards that I never get to see, and who once eagerly asked my surgeon whether he could save my gallbladder after he took it out, so I could keep it (in a jar, I guess? I hadn’t thought that far ahead), and when he said no, who asked if they recorded the laparoscopy on a tape I could take home to watch later. Because I DON’T GET TO SEE MY INTERNAL ORGANS AND I AM INTERESTED. But apparently that’s weird, going by the look said surgeon gave me when I inquired. WhatEVER.
Anyhow, even having spotted similar synthetic fat blobs here and there over the years, it never really occurred to me that they might be sold to the public, because how many private individuals really need a medically-accurate fat model around, and what the hell would they USE it for?
I am really, really naïve sometimes.
The item description explains:
This grossly dramatic Life/Form replica of one pound of human fat is a shocking but strongly motivating attention-getter. Made of pliable, long-lasting vinyl plastic, the replica has a profound memorable effect when passed amongst an audience. It dramatically visualizes the important and motivating fact that ‘every extra pound of fat requires an additional mile of blood vessels.’
OK, first of all, why is that last bit in quotes? Is it actually true or is it like a colloquialism shared by people who -- I don’t even know who would use “every pound of fat requires an additional mile of blood vessels” as a colloquialism, although it does have a certain ring of upbeat positivity to it, like the fat version of “for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.”
And that’s nice, right? Like it’s saying, Hey, cheer up fatty, you might be covered in oozing yellow adipose but look at all the BLOOD VESSELS you’ve made. Optimism! The fat is HALF FULL!
I think I might be reading this wrong. Let’s go to the reviews for more ideas, shall we?
since i can't carry the five pound with me, i keep this one in my purse to remind myself not to eat out as often and whenever i go and buy groceries to pick out healthier food
Oh. Oh, I see. People use this as a gross-out guilt-inducing diet aid. Because fat is gross and that’s super motivatioZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I don’t know which is more gobsmacking to me -- the idea that someone out there carries this in her purse, or the idea that someone out there carries this in her purse because the five-pound version is too big to carry in her purse which means she actually owns TWO fat replicas.
I guess it works for some people:
I keep this fat model on my kitchen counter. It's a simple reminder of what happens when I eat too much, or simply eat unhealthy foods. It's ugly, gross and, for my purposes, it works well.
(Keep in mind that these aren't even the fake reviews.)
This reviewer bought their fat its own private display cabinet. Curio fat!
THIS IS LIKE THE GROSSEST, MOST EYE-POPPING WAKE-UP-CALL FAT MODEL YOU COULD POSSIBLY ASK FOR! IT IS SO DISGUSTING THAT I ACTUALLY BOUGHT A WOODEN & GLASS CASE TO DISPLAY IT IN MY KITCHEN, THE GYM & MY HOME GYM TO REMIND ME THAT FIVE POUNDS IS A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF WEIGHT THAT IS BEST NOT LEFT TO CREEP UP ON ME BECAUSE IT IS HARD TO GET RID OF!!!
Oooh, I love a wake-up call!!! And exclamation points!!! AND CAPS!!!
But some users find this blob of pretend fat to not be gross enough for the cost:
Sure ebough, looks gross, but i was hoping it would be more gross ,,,,its firm almost like muscle so its noe scary enough . still eating chocko from fridge and looking at it. not acually worth the money
And some folks with more extensive fat-replica experience fail to appreciate the plate feature:
Have bought similar items from other vendors. This version is cheap and is stuck to an even cheaper plastic plate. Doesn't look as real. I assume they have switched to a cheapr manufacturer and lost significant quality. Worth about $5.
All right, at this point it was sinking in that this isn’t just a product bought by dieticians so they might fling it at their clients and terrorize them with the horror of a natural bodily tissue. And to be fair? It’s actually pretty difficult to find an internal bodily tissue that you COULDN’T terrorize someone with -- I mean, muscle is pretty gross as well, but I’m assuming the muscle replicas they sell are not intended to make people think EW I NEED TO STOP LIFTING THINGS AND MOVING MY BODY AROUND EW EW EW.
Nevertheless, it makes sense that a lot of people would buy their own private fat blob to look to for dieting “motivation." (Indeed, I find myself wondering if the same people keep fake poop in the bathroom to compel them to more effectively evacuate their bowels? C'MON GET THAT POOP OUT! LOOK AT THE POOP REPLICA AND IMAGINE THE POOP INSIDE YOU RIGHT NOW! GET IT OUT!)
BUT it still strikes me as kind of bummer, simply because even the grossest parts of our bodies are miraculous and amazing, and I am made sad anytime a person really revels in self-loathing and self-disgust as a spur to action. I think self-improvement of any kind is better taken when inspired by positive thinking, rather than negative I'm-so-disgusting thinking, but I know not everyone is so inclined.
Another day, another diet. I've tried them all and nothing seemed to work. That is until I got my replica fat...so realistic! A big quivering shiny disgusting glob of the same kind of fatty cellulite that's rippling beneath the skin on my thighs and piled over my hips and backside. I put my lump of fat in the front of the fridge to discouraging snacking, set it in front of my plate at meals and even carry it with me to place on the table at restaurants to discourage going overboard when ordering. Believe me, I get lots of "envious" glances from other diners. A fabulous motivator for the hopeful skinny person in all of us.
Y’know, I try really hard not to judge individuals for their individual choices, because until I have walked a mile in their shoes, I really can’t speak to their unique experience.
But I am not always perfect. And if you sincerely (?) bring a lump of replica fat with you to a restaurant and plop it on the table to “discourage” the “wrong” menu choices, I’m probably judging you. (I’m also wondering why any of your friends are willing to go out to eat with you, ever. I suppose it’s possible that the fat replica is a scintillating conversationalist, although you’d think they would mention that in the description.)
Okay, maybe I’m not JUDGING you, but I am holding myself back from coming over and being all, "Yo, body negativity is no way to live, friend! Eat food that makes you feel well and energetic and happy, whatever that is for you! Satisfy hunger when you feel it, and stop when you’re full! Be active in ways that are pleasurable to you! Life is too precious to spend any of it staring at a blob of replica fat and obsessing over how gross you think you are. You’re not gross! You’re rad! Your body is rad! Now let’s put some glitter and maybe a jaunty hat on that replica fat blob and turn it into a fabulous mascot for your self-esteem!"
Because not all of us have a “hopeful skinny person” inside us. I have a fat person inside me. You can see her. She’s right in front of you. And she’s just a little weirded out that you’re walking around with a plastic trophy demonstrating how gross you think bodies like hers are. And she also thinks that even if you’re seeking weight loss for your own perfectly valid personal reasons, the moment we start thinking of our bodies as our enemies, we lose the ability to take care of ourselves with the respect, admiration and kindness that even the most difficult body deserves.
Not to mention glitter. And hats.