My Big Fat Life by Richard Gray
Have you ever been to Slimming World? I have. I had to. Here’s what happened: I ate biscuits. Then I got immense. Then I wanted to kill myself. But instead I lost weight.
I said to my friend Barry: “What do you think about me as Dead Evita for next Halloween?”
Barry: “You’re too fat, gorge.”
Barry: “You’re too, y’know, fat. Evita was thin. Thinner than you. She was too busy saving Argentina and singing on balconies to eat. Why don’t you go as somebody else, such as Dawn French in Vicar of Dibley?”
Me: “I think you’re fucking rude! I’ve gained – I know I’ve gained. But I’m not *that* fat.”
Barry: “You’re not massive, but you’re definitely bigger than you were.”
Me: “I’ll tell you what, Barry, why don’t I just put a white sheet over my head and go as fucking Alaska, shall I? How about that?”
But Barry was right. Barry is always right. If this were Paris Is Burning I’d have gone from “legendary thin child high up in pumps” to “Miss Fucking Cheesecake”. And all this in just six months.
Something had to be done. Something drastic. Something that involved actually doing some work and not drinking 16 pints every Saturday in the Kings Arms, Poland Street, London’s Soho. So I went to Slimming World.
“My tits are so big they call me a hunchfront”
Day 1: Leanne, my formerly fat-now-thin “weight consultant” said the most efficient way to lose weight was “calorie control. It’s quicker and more efficient than exercise”. Leanne lost a whopping 8st in, like, a week or something back in 1983 and has “never put a pound back on”. She showed me her “fat picture” – she was in front of a caravan. “That can’t be you,” I said.
“Blimey, it is you. Where do I sign?”
“Fat? I’m so fat I was born on the 8th, 9th and 10th of July”
Weekly con-FLAB: every Monday night at 7 o’clock you have to go to the Slimming World weigh-in. Mine’s in a local church hall that smells of cat wee. It’s your chance to meet like-minded fatties, who, just like me, are far too friendly with the likes of Sara Lee, Captain Birdseye, Aunt Bessie and Dr Oetker – the four horsemen of the freezer-burn apocalypse.
Everyone is really nice and, y’know, fat, except for this one really awful gayer I refuse to look at. You know the kind. He probably calls himself “lil emo-bear” on Grindr and has one of those “my first beard” beards, all patchy and sparse. Up close, he’s quite W-to-M pre-op – the kind of bear me and my fella Teddy call trans-bears or, better still, t-bears. They normally wear trucker caps. And always, always work in IT. Dreadful.
“If you get in an elevator with me, by God you better be going down”
The women at weigh-in are hilarious, though. One of them, called Dawn, works in “customer liaison” and has a perm that you can only buy in a box. She’s my favourite because when you’ve weighed in and they tell you if you’ve “gained” or “lost” or “maintained”, you have to sit round in a circle and talk about your food habits that week. Well, this is when Dawn comes into her own. We had this the other day when she was told she’d put on 3lb.
“And I know why!” Dawn told the circle. “My friend who works with me went and broke her arm. Well, she lives on her own, y’see. So I have to go round her house and help her clean and then we watch telly together. The thing is, we can easily go through a half-moon cake from the corner shop in 10 minutes flat and there are so many cups of tea. But what am I to do? She lives on her own, y’see… ”
I love all this bollocks. Basically, Dawn’s been wolfing corner-shop cake every single day for the past week just because her friend has broken her arm. You couldn’t make it up. Dawn is really quite fabulous, though, and wears her leggings *really* high. I mean, I don’t like to look, but when she bends over, you can see her pud.
There’s one woman who takes your money at weigh-in and she’s got a moustache. Honest to God. It’s like an eyebrow come down for a drink. Ooh, and she’s big. I said to Dawn I’d pay to see her in the bath – bet it’s like a day out at SeaWorld. Even fat people laugh at other fat people.
“You know what it says on my bra? Wide load”
What to eat: Dawn told me that Iceland freezer shop is full of low-fat Slimming World ready meals and they’re “gorgeous”. And do you know what? They are. I’m hooked on the singapore noodles. Mind you, the wind is something else. Lunch at work can be difficult. It’s best to take stuff in and microwave it. You look a bit, you know, poor, but I think fat people look poor anyway. Even when they’re wearing Undercover. And that’s another thing: the fashions. Nothing fits!
“When I was a kid I was so fat I could only play seek”
Big-lady boutiques… The “big lads with beards” look has been successfully owned by bears for decades. But big lads with beards who want to wear the fashions, well, that’s a whole lot harder. There is a subset of bears – let’s call them “fashion bears” – who try to do the fashions, but I’m sorry, there are only so many Supreme T-shirts and Yeezy Boosts I can take. No, doing proper fashions properly and being a fatty is a whole other level of shopping.
I found Undercover size 4 tees fit well, just wear them tight. Then, for the shows, or when you need a fashion look, try anything boxy by Craig Green. Plus, always and forever, Junya coats, but watch the arms – they can come up tight. T-shirts from ace LA skate label Noah are a fat lad’s dream (Dover Street Market are now selling them online if you’re not in London). And I’m giving all my secrets away here, but mix Japanese brands such as Neighborhood, WTaps and Head Porter with wide camel chinos and you won’t go wrong.
“When this stomach growls you better pick up a chair and a whip!”
Dawn also told me to download the Slimming World app – “it’s got recipes on”. It also has a calorie counter, so should you be out food shopping and think, “I fancy that,” you can check the naughty factor. Chips are right up there, whereas ice lollies are generally quite low, so I normally eat about 47 of them while watching back-to- back Cadfael and/or Judge Rinder. By the way, I’ve lost 11⁄2st on my diet and I only need to lose another 6lb before I reach target weight. I think tonight I’ll try my hand at a low-cal trifle.
* Plenty of jokes courtesy of Phyllis Diller
Illustration by Charles Jeffrey
Taken from Issue 45 of 10 Men, FLUID UNIQUE BRAVE, on newsstands now…