I remember a few months ago when I was going through some Twitter feeds, I saw a post about this particular lady, Susanne Eman. It led me to a small article concerning her diet and how she was gearing herself to gain a massive amount of weight in order to crown herself as the world’s fattest woman. In this goal, she also states that she wants to stay healthy during the whole process. This process will end with her weighing in at ~1,800lbs.
I sent the link to my beau’s email to take a look at later because he was on a road trip working at the time. After his return, I remember us both talking about her goal and the way she was going about getting there. We both believed from the little information we had read, that what she was doing to herself was absurd and almost suicidal. To willingly take in 22,000 calories a day and intentionally gain so much weight for something as paltry as a record was simply beyond us. Though some may compare and say that she’s taking just as much risk as anyone else that may be working toward world records. Such as the world’s longest fire walk, or the highest free-fall skydive before pulling their parachute.
Then yesterday, before we headed out to the park (and quite a few hours before I got to be a human pin-cushion), we all sat down and accidentally came upon the Dr. Phil show on daytime television. On this particular episode, he had Susanne as his guest and was basically trying to talk her down from this “ledge” she was standing on, and to help her lose this weight and this false ideal to which she so clings. Just a general note, I don’t necessarily like Dr. Phil or his show. Not that I’ve watched it all that much, but he comes off as a bully to me when I have seen him. But because Susanne was his guest and I was interested in hearing more of her story from her mouth, I was very interested in watching.
In her storyline on the show, she mentions a number of reasons why she was doing this and how she was “keeping herself healthy” through this process.
1. She wants to let all the other folks with weight issues know that it’s okay to be big. Alrighty, as a card-carrying member of a number of minorities who are continually being bullied or discriminated against, I feel I can be a voice for this concern. Let’s see: I’m gay, fit the nerd/geek profile, and am a tiny guy compared to all the “normal” studly guys around me. There are insecurities that go along with these particular societal descriptors, but they are who I am and there’s really not a whole lot I can do about it. I totally get that she wants to be a voice for bigger folks out there that you can be big and beautiful. I totally understand if you are truly happy with who you are and want to express that same strength to others who may be having doubts in their own esteem. And I really think that she believes she can be a strong role model for bigger folks out there, but I don’t think her actions are really telling that story. Instead of being comfortable with who she is and her body in the present, she still has decided that she needs to change. But instead of losing weight to “fit in,” she’s decided to gain weight to push boundaries and see just how far she can go. This isn’t a story of acceptance and acclimation, it’s a story of separation. To set herself apart even further by attempting this huge feat on her body.
2. She is eating like this and gaining weight, and still staying healthy. Thus, defying obesity health concerns. She provides us with the information that she does a daily exercise routine which consists of a “waddle,” sit-ups, a stretching routine, and monitors her oxygen levels and blood pressure. If there are any concerns, she mentions that she regularly sees her doctor about what she should do. Though through the articles and show, it really sounds like she’s playing by her own health rules and not the doctor’s. I gather that her doctor is doing the best he can with a patient who has blinders on. He openly declares that he doesn’t advise anyone to do what she’s doing, and that she’s basically playing “Russian roulette” with her life. That leads me to believe that she doesn’t take his health advisories too seriously as long as she’s not experiencing any exterior problems.
We found on the show that she’s not able to take many of the preventive monitoring measures because of her size. So the information that she’s working on is totally incomplete and skewed. Phil did some comparative health number crunching on her via blood-work and found her way out of the “healthy” zone in those areas as well. There’s quite a bit of delusion going on with her and what she considers healthy. There’s not a way she can eat like she does and still be healthy. There is way too much junk in her well publicized daily diet to say that. She might have an argument if she was eating clean throughout this mission of hers, but a pan of brownies and 3 liters of soda a day are definitely not healthy. You really just can’t get around that. She might be doing okay right now, but at 900, 1000, or 1200 lbs? Her body is going to give out at some point.
3. If her kids had concerns about her diet or her goal, she would make changes…but that hasn’t happened. I’m not one to usually pull the kid card on someone and their decisions, but this is a pretty big deal. The logic behind these statements are admirable but we all know how the core parent-kid relationship works. The parent is always right in what they are doing and the kid’s concerns are only really heard after something dramatic happens…a reality check as it were. Life just doesn’t work like a feel-good family movie where the kids say something intelligent and thought-provoking to magically change the parent’s course in life. There was even a visual testimony of concern giving by the kids on the show but it was met with her empty eyes and stalwart smile.
Now, I don’t want to make her into a villainous person by any means. I think at her very core she means well and believes herself to be doing something beneficial and important for society and her community. I just think that somewhere along the way she lost herself. I’m not really sure she loves her “personal situation” as much as she puts on. She’s just went from one side of unsuccessfully trying to lose the weight, to becoming comfortable with who she is and her current state, to making bad decisions in the process of trying to prove those people who hurt her wrong. These kind of stories always make me think long and hard about how I would work through that situation or mindset, and how they might be feeling in their shoes.
The beau mentioned it was like she was walking down railroad tracks blindly, knowing there’s a steep drop-off coming up but because it’s not in sight just yet she keeps on trucking toward it. And one day, she’ll reach that edge unexpectedly.
It’s very similar to how I thought about it. Like seeing how long you can free-fall before pulling the cord.