My Story & Why Lbs. the Movie is So Important to Me
This is gonna be a long one folks, so please bear with me….
I’ve written a lot about “Lbs.” over the past several weeks (do you think that could qualify for understatement of the year?). I’ve expressed how much I love it, how excited I am about it being released, how great I think Carmine Famiglietti’s acting and writing are, how great the other cast members are, and how much I loved the directing by Matthew Bonifacio.
But I don’t think I ever really put into words just what it means to me, and the reason why I’ve watched the screener copy I have three times now (contemplating a fourth-okay, confession, I started it a fourth while editing this AND working out on the treadmill! Multitasking, people!), am intending to see it in the theater at least once if it ever makes it’s way to the Kansas City area, and am already planning on buying the DVD the day it is released. And no, I’m not just some psycho-crazy fan. 😛 I realized that I never quite explained why it touches my heart so much.
Sure, I mentioned several aspects of it in my other review, but it basically was a quick gloss-over of the main issues and my main thoughts. When I think of the movie, “Lbs.,” right now, tears come to my eyes. I feel it is that important. At least to me, and I’m quite sure that I will not be the only one.
I feel that there is no way to truly understand why it is so important to me, without knowing a bit more about my story.
Most of you know that I have been overweight since the 3rd grade. I don’t know why I got fat (one of the whys Jack asked us to consider recently). I haven’t the faintest, foggiest notion. So many people feel that understanding the origin of the problem and the “why” of it all is crucial to beating the problem. I fear (and truly believe) that this will never be an option for me. I believe (hope, pray) that I will one day be able to beat this problem (before it completely beats me down – somewhat in Carmine’s words), but I truly don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure out the “why.” I have over the years stumbled across many possibilities, but no single one of them can be considered the origin. I think my weight problem, as with most other people, can’t be pinpointed down to one cause. I’m sure a lot of it was emotional, mental. I’m sure part of it was physical. I also just like to eat. I can’t help it! Food tastes good. I enjoy eating. But nevertheless, for my own sanity and health, I am pursuing this crazy thing called weight loss.
When I was making room for the treadmill over the weekend, I came across a practically empty diary from my elementary school/middle school years. Between high school and graduating from college, I was an avid spokesperson for the power of keeping a journal (I even gave a speech on it in college. Yes! I gave a speech! (and got an A, thank you very much)). Before that, I was a journal-writing flake. I only did it once in a while. So I flipped through the pages, reading each entry as it came along. So many of them broke my heart.
- “No one likes me.”
- “I’m a fat slob.”
- “XXXXX and YYYYY keep calling me a beach ball.”
And those were just a few. Tears came to my eyes and I wished desperately that I could go back and give that young girl a hug. I wish she could know and understand what I know now. But unfortunately, you don’t get over those kinds of emotions easily, and they’ve hidden in the deep recesses of my mind over the years. There are quite a few extremely confident overweight people, and oh how I’ve envied them over the years.
I remember sneaking food from the kitchen growing up. I remember getting caught, getting yelled at. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, so eating a lot made it harder to keep food on the table. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of my family had weight problems, too, but none of them gained weight as quickly as I did. My mom talked to me about my weight, and was never mean about it, but to be honest, anytime weight was mentioned, it just made me feel worse, shut down internally, and run to the fridge again. What a vicious, vicious cycle.
Through it all, I was the most overweight person I knew. While that may or may not be true, it is my perception. I know that in elementary school, I was the most overweight student by far. So growing up, even though I had a few close friends (though there were a few rocky years-see above), I felt about as alone as you could possibly imagine. I felt like I was the only fat person in the universe. Being painfully shy didn’t help.
I’m going to admit something here which I’ve never admitted (much like the rest of this post), but when the general public started getting heavier, I was glad. It was like “FINALLY!” I’m not going to be alone anymore. I won’t be the freak standing out from all of these skinny people! Of course, that was a completely f*cked up response, but to use a phrase that drives me a bit nuts, “it is what it is.” Of course, I seriously would never wish this kind of life on anyone – not even my worst enemy.
When I joined Weight Watchers online (after reaching a high weight of 342.9, which was probably actually higher, but this was my first “official” weigh in weight) and found the “200+ pounds to lose” message board in the summer of 2006, I finally, for the first time in my life realized that I wasn’t crazy (well, at least not in this arena). I wasn’t completely alone. I wasn’t the only person struggling with this problem. So many of my thoughts were not unique, and in this case, that was an amazingly wonderful discovery for me. Again, it broke my heart to imagine others struggling with the same thoughts and experiences that I did, but I finally felt like there was somewhere I fit in – for an overweight girl, not always easily found. I felt a kinship with these people, and the people that I’ve met through my blog, even though I’ve never met most of you.
Over the years, I’ve seen movies come and go – and you all know how much I LOVE movies – some with overweight characters. Most of them absolutely horrible in their portrayal of overweight people as these lazy, disgusting, willpower-less freaks of nature put on this earth solely for the amusement of the thin beautiful people in the world (let me tell you how I really feel, why don’t I? 😉 ). They were the joke, the sidekick; never the protagonist portrayed as a human being with feelings and problems just like anyone else.
And that’s where this movie comes into play. This movie was written by someone that gets it. Neil (the main character) is a real, living, breathing person to me. Nowhere in this film is he ridiculed for the audience’s amusement. Yes, he struggles. Yes, his weight impacts his loved ones and his own health. Yes, people say cruel things to him. But it’s all realistic. There’s no making fun of the size of his underwear or other stupid movie tricks. There’s no making fun of him just for a laugh. There’s no skinny actor or actress in a truly horrible fat suit (i.e. Gwyneth Paltrow).
I see my journey in Neil’s. Neil likes to eat, no loves to eat. So do I. Neil sneaks food. So did I. I never had a heart attack, yet, but have felt that desperation of “I’ve got to do something” and “this can’t continue.” I’ve believed that food can be an addiction. I don’t believe it’s harder to kick than drugs (in the making you physically ill aspect), but I believe it can be as powerful in its pull (ask me how I felt when gazing adoringly at the pizza my parents bought last weekend). I’ve felt like I’ve missed out on some pretty great moments in life because of my weight – held back on things I’ve wanted to do because of my weight. I’ve seen the way people look at me when I’m overweight. I’ve fought to lose weight and lost a lot of it. I’ve seen the reactions of people to my weight loss (fantastic and uncomfortable all at once). I’ve seen how people respond to overweight people from both sides of the spectrum now. And I understand now that there is never a finish line.
My journey, like Neil’s, is not over and will probably never be over. I love food, I love to eat. I always will. There will always be that pull, that intense need, that intense desire. But I’m here. I’m fighting. I’ll slip and fall (again), I know I will, but I will pull myself back up again. I will never be completely alone again. And neither will you. We are brothers and sisters in this battle.
My journey may seem pathetic to many who have never struggled with their weight, and many who have, but it is my journey and my story. And one thing I’ve learned over the course of the past few years is how to slowly have more confidence in who I am and how to find enjoyment in the woman that that little beach ball of a girl became. Each of our stories are unique, but this movie tells them all without stereotype. I am almost jealous of those teens and young adults who get to grow up with this movie in their lives.
All of these things, this movie gets. I recommend it with my whole heart. Thank you, Carmine and Matthew, and the others who worked so relentlessly to get it released.
Everyone has different tastes in movies and different opinions on movies, so not everyone will like this movie as much as I did (so don’t hate me if you end up not liking it!). But I also bet that a bunch of you do.
Lbs. the Movie:
An older interview with Carmine Famiglietti (a repost):
Note: Many thanks go to Skye for being my sounding board and for the encouragement to bring this post to the light of day.
**For more “Lbs.” related info, you can click here to see the page I’ve created for “Lbs.” or click on the link on the toolbar above.