My Big Fat Attitude

A Heavy Debate
Dr. Phil talks to a 400 pound woman who thinks that society should change to accommodate her size, a 95 pound woman who says that fat people disgust her, and other opinionated guests.

Sally and Maryanne
Sally, who weighs 375 pounds, and Maryanne, who weighs more than 400 pounds, have been waiting for three years to "set Dr. Phil straight about weight."

"I think you have a huge opportunity to change society's perception of fat people," says Maryanne. "Instead, you fall back on old myths that being fat is a choice ... My authentic self is fat!"

"There's this notion that we're fat because we want to be," Maryanne continues. "I don't wake up in the morning thinking I want to be harassed or ridiculed. On a whole, fat people are treated almost like children. People don't hesitate to come up to me and say, 'What are you eating that for?' I've had waitresses in restaurants admonish me for what I'm ordering."

"There is a huge difference between body image and self-image," explains Dr. Phil. "But the two can impact each other. Your authentic self doesn't have a weight on it — and I never said it did. You can have a self-image that is fully functioning and healthy, but have a body image that is not. Marilyn is in that place where she has accepted her body image."

Laurel used to weigh more than 300 pounds. To date, she has lost more than 150 pounds and says, "When I was fat, I ate too much and didn't move. I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I chose to be that fat. When will fat people get it?"

Melissa and Matthew
Melissa, who weighs more 300 pounds, says she's embarrassed by her brother, who weighs more than 400 pounds.

"Sometimes, I feel that Melissa doesn't have the right to pick on me," says Matthew. "Her weight is out of control as well."

"I've been on every diet program," Matthew tells Dr. Phil. "I eat too much. I was a chubby child and just grew. I've gained weight steadily through life."

When asked how he feels when other people judge him for his weight, Matthew says, "I'm very embarrassed. I'm quite ashamed of it. I smile and pretend it's not happening."

"Do you think it helps or motivates Matthew when you are critical of him?" Dr. Phil asks Melissa.

"No," she says. "I try not to do that. I tell him I'm worried about him. My older brother died three years ago, and I don't want to bury another brother."

"There seems to be a consensus in our society that being overweight is a character flaw," says Sally.

"I buy two airline seats when I fly although I don't think I should have to. I see the look of horror on peoples faces when they think they might have to sit next to me. Then a flight a attendant will come by and ask, 'Where's the second passenger?' and I yell, 'I'm fat! Both seats are for me!'"

"I think I'm fat because of a genetic predisposition and yo-yo dieting," says Sally. "If I put time, energy and money into changing my body, I could lose weight temporarily, but then I'd rebound. I finally decided that I'd spent enough time, money and energy trying to make my body fit society. It's time for me to try to change society to fit my body."

"You want to be who you are size-wise?" asks Dr. Phil.

Sally responds, "Absolutely."

"So you are fat because you want to be," says Dr. Phil.

"No," says Sally. "I'm fat because I don't choose to put myself through the hell of trying to be thin."

"You weigh the two and say it costs you this much to be a different weight, and this much to stay overweight — and you decided you'd rather endure this than change?" Dr. Phil asks.

"When I look at you, I see danger for you. Almost my entire family is obese. My father was obese and died prematurely of a heart defect ... I've grown up with this and know it's a struggle ... but I also know for many people it's a disease of choice."

Dr. Phil continues, "You say you've chosen not to go through this hell because it doesn't work for you. If you could responsibly change your weight, would you do it or want to do it?"

"That's so far out there," answers Sally. "I don't think I can answer that."

Cindy, who weighs 95 pounds, says that fat people disgust her. "I think they've got nobody to blame other than themselves," she says. "When I'm in a buffet-style restaurant and I see really overweight people, I feel sorry for management because they can clean them out. When I sit in a restaurant in close proximity to someone who looks and sounds like an animal, I want to say, 'Why don't you just pour that grease down your throat?'"

"I think you are just rude!" exclaims Dr. Phil. "Those comments were judgmental and condescending. You are dismissing these human beings because they weigh more than you do. That seems to be incredibly mean-spirited."

"I have a lot of overweight friends," Cindy says in her own defense.

"I bet you don't anymore!" says Dr. Phil.

Marilyn weighs more 400 pounds and says she is perfectly happy. "I turned 40 and decided not to spend all my energy thinking about what I was going to eat, and started exercising," she explains. "I've actually lost some weight now that I'm not worried about my weight."