Fat Profiling and the Deconstruction of White Male Privilege

So I got fat profiled today at the gym. That was awesome. Not really. Could have gone forever without that happening. Pissed me off, honestly, but I’m trying to move past it. It’s just that it’s kind of messing with me.

Profiling is supposed to be for other people. Not me. I’m white, male, and heterosexual. I am supposed to have more white privilege than anyone. Modern media has preached endlessly for two decades that my assigned role in modern society is to be the most reviled demographic but also the most privileged. Which means no profiling. Of any kind. Ever. It’s like a rule.

And yet, I have now been profiled anyway. I was fat profiled.

I was like, WTF? Where is my immunity?

I watch the news. I know that if a black guy is fat, the cops won’t break from expectations and let him off. Fatness doesn’t change the rules for him. If his tail light is out, he’s still getting pulled over. Fat or not fat, there is no deviation from the profiling rules. “Listen, bro, I noticed your tail light is out. Get out of the car and don’t make me taze you. And sorry, but you are going to jail.” No, it’s not fair, but fair isn’t part of this. It’s just the rules, somehow.

And yet, there I was at the gym today, getting close to the end of my workout. It was 108 degrees outside, and my gym is cheap as shit so they don’t waste money on air conditioning despite California Family Fitness having the highest membership dues of any gym on the planet. The heat inside was awful, and I was freaking dying. Sweat ran off me in rivers. You could take a camel out of the Sahara desert, put him in a sauna wearing leather underpants and a ski parka, and after, like, 9 hours, his ballsack still wouldn’t be as sweaty as I was.

camel balls

But, upside, when my ordeal began, I was literally on my last exercise, the last set even, just one set to go. Frankly, that fact that I was closing in on completion was a real triumph, because I was going to leave half way through pretty much every single exercise I started the whole time. Honestly, I didn’t get five minutes into my opening 20 minutes of cardio before I was like, “Fuck this, I’m out of here in five more minutes. 10 minutes of cardio is way more than I need on a day like this.” But yet, I kept pushing for one more minute. “Don’t be a pussy,” I’d tell myself. “Don’t be a quitter. Hang in at least through the end of this. Then you can go.” So I finished my cardio. Then did the same thing on weights. “Just one weight routine—just do chest … and maybe lats. Just that. Then you can go.” So I did them. Then pushed again. “Curls won’t kill you. You got the gun show, bro. Then go.” And on and on. Somehow, not-quitting one moment at a time, I got all the way through the whole schedule for today. Every last exercise on the list. I was actually feeling pretty damn good about myself at that point despite the morbid humidity in my underpants, etc.

So there I am on my last set of shoulder press. I was using a machine, I admit, because I was too hot and too lazy to get to the free weights. But, I was still hitting that muscle group. I was still working, and I was going to “run through the tape,” as they say.

Here comes this chick. She’s got her California Family Fitness shirt on, so I know it’s not, you know, like an actual chick coming over to tell me that my biceps are sweet and that watching me work out is making her wet and not in a “it’s so hot today” kind of way. I knew it wasn’t going to be that. And it wasn’t. It was just, “Hi. My name is Becky.” Or whatever it was.

“Hi Becky, WTF do you want?” I don’t say.

My actual x-ray.

Instead, I say, “Hi.” Sort of gasped out between trying not to quit and trying not to die from dehydration (not even kidding … my colon dried out really bad by the time I got home, and now six hours later I have a block of cement in me that’s going to take about 12 gallons of Gatorade, two days of whining, and a crap-ton of false labor contractions to break up and push through … but it’s fine.)

“I’m a new trainer here,” she says all chipper and giddy. “I was wondering what your fitness goals are.”

“Really?” I don’t say. “You were wondering that? My big fat ass is over here draped over this machine like a bag of melted cheese, my face all bloated and red like Santa Claus after a six-day whiskey binger, and you are wondering what my goals are? Really? Fattest asshole on the whole upper floor here, and you don’t have a clue why I might be risking aneurism, stroke, and death by constipation to be here? Not even a guess?”

So instead of that, I think I actually said something like, “Blerg, ermf … er, huh?” Sweat was running into my eyes, and my heart was vomiting into my lungs just then, so my internal eloquence was not brought to bear as it might otherwise have been.

“Yeah,” she twittered all young and cheerful and shit. She repeated her question. “What are your fitness goals?”

“Well,” I didn’t say, “I want to get strong enough to break your happy little neck in a single, smooth combat move. I’d also like to be able to scoop your corpse off the floor in an easy motion and throw it up over the edge of a garbage truck.”

snap scoop and toss
Train me on these moves, Becky.

Instead I sort of gasped out this half-assed polite, “Strength training some. No weight loss.”

“Really?” She’s young, but not stupid, so she doesn’t make a face like she thinks I’m an idiot. Point in her favor, if we are being honest. She’s got potential as a sales chick. “So what are you working toward?” She does actually seem genuinely curious now, and even a bit surprised. Like, she had expected Shamoo to say he wanted off the beach and back into the water and instead discovered he’s working on his tan.

whale sunbathing

 

So we had this little chat about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how long I’ve been at it. Despite this chick being young, she’s not one of the bimbo-hottie trainers. She actually seems like she might have read some of her training books before getting her beginners training certificate two days ago (or whenever they took off her training wheels), so I chat with her for a couple of minutes. But, nice as she generally seemed, ultimately, she’s devoted to trying to get me to sign up for training sessions—because that’s how the gym makes extra profit that they can then go on to use for anything other than  paying to turn up the air conditioning.

So in the end I tell her, “Listen, kid, I’m not going to sign up for training right now. However, I might one day entertain the possibility if you are still around in a month or two and prove you have an actual interest in doing so.” Yep, actually said all of that. You might call it, me being a dick, but I call it, keeping it real.

So she said she surely would. She wanted to take me over to some other machine or something and show me some stuff for free. I told her that I was only one set away from leaving that hell hole, at which she actually laughed in a real way, and finally left, allowing me to finish.

So all of that would have been fine. I actually didn’t realize I’d been profiled yet. I just thought, you know, she was cruising the floor and hitting people up. I figured they make the new kids do it. Makes sense to drum up easy cash business, build up some clientele for them, and it’s good for them in developing people and sales skills, etc.

But then this goddamn profiler disguised as a nice kid turns from me and walks off, passing right by the next person working out nearby. Like,  as if she didn’t even see him. Which I know she did because he was obviously hot. And not because of the temperature. Even to me, an old, fat, white, male heterosexual, this guy was dreamy. Dude was ripped. I had spotted him a few minutes earlier in the mirror while Becky-the-Profiler was talking to me. He came in and started using the machine behind me. He was big—not fat. Ripped. But not like body-builder ripped, more like college-football-player ripped. Body chiseled, but also a good face, all masculine and square and crap like chicks are into. He was maybe twenty-two years old or so. So I know she saw him.

But fucking Becky ignored his ass.

Completely.

Now look, any chick in her right mind and of Becky’s age should have wanted to talk to that fucker. He was doing the whole tank top thing, shoulders all awesome and ropey with veins and shit. But nope, Becky just walks right the fuck past.

Okay, fine, you don’t like hot dudes your age. Fine. I don’t care. I’m not judging. But … uh … you are a goddamn trainer! So you should be offering training services to ALL customers. Not just the fat, wheezing ones. Why not stop and say, “Hey, Adonis, I notice you are only lifting 900 pounds on that machine there. I have some exercises that will get you to 1500 pounds and make your dreamy eyes sparkle even more than they are right now?” But nope, nothing. Right on by.

Again, fine. Maybe she’s too new. Maybe she doesn’t want to deal with a ripped fucker like that. Probably intimidating, really. Maybe figured he knows more than she does. Like, she skipped him for the same reason I wouldn’t offer writing advice to Stephen King or Salman Rushdie. So I’m still fine at this point.

But then Becky walks past this other chick. Maybe fortyish. Kinda fit, probably does aerobics and stuff because her thighs were shaped in that “I jump a lot” way, which matched her firm backside. I think her boobs were fake, but, I mean, just saying. And Becky walks right past her. Not even a glance.

Fine.

Then she walks past this freaking doughy-ass Asian dude who was at least my age if not older. Totally soft. I mean, his arms were like spaghetti. He wasn’t even benching triple digits … ON A MACHINE.

Right. On. By.

In fact, our girl walked by everyone else between me and the stairs … like literally every other person on the floor. She walked purposefully past them all, mounted the stairs and descended out of view. Like, she’d flown up to me on a goddamn mission, sent from below to take out the fat mass that was bending the beams downstairs that were holding up the second floor. A Luke Skywalker mission and I’m the Death Star. Only that. Only me. Not the round-armed house-fraus with the soft belly rolls, not the young boys on summer break from high school with their skinny arms and peach-fuzz beards. Not Mr. Spaghetti Arms. And damn sure not the aerobic chick with fake boobs or the college running back.

Only me. The corpulent one.

And that is called profiling.

beam bend
The profilers tracking my movements through the floor.

Being singled out because of some singular characteristic or another is the definition of being profiled.

Which I would normally be fine with. But I am supposed to be immune. I have white privilege. She should never have come and talked to me. That hot running back was a black dude. So was the aerobics chick … plus she was a chick. Spaghetti-man was Asian. They are supposed to be profiled. They get congressional caucuses and clubs in high school and college. Not me. Isn’t that the trade off or something? But she had nothing for them. The high school kids were white, but they were young—everyone knows young people are ruffians. Why not some age-discrimination on them at least? “Hey, young ruffians, you need discipline, let me teach you.” The house fraus … there were lots of those. Why not drop some misogynistic training offers on those broads? “Hey ladies, you are the lesser sex, let’s see if we can make you stronger so you can do more laundry and please your man.”

Seriously, like every person in there was a more qualified candidate for profiling than me. There are rules, damn it. Rules! And the main one is that I am supposed to be immune.

Bastards.

Stupid Becky.

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