Headless “Fat People Pictures” are worth their weight in gold.

Headless “Fat People Pictures” are worth big bucks and that’s sad.

I’ve been wanting to do this post for some time.  As I researched the subject matter a little more in depth I came across a story about headless pictures of the obese. “Sources at the BDN said offering the photos for sale might have already resulted in enough revenue to subsidize the print version for another six months.” *Note* the story was from a satirical news site but still brings up the reality of this problem. 

One of my most vivid memories about these pictures came from a woman that said “God please don’t let me be one of those people they use for video in news or print publications”.  They are known in the industry as the headless fat people pictures.

Have you ever noticed they show a veritable smorgasbord of people allowed to be photographed due to the rules of  public domain but only one type seems to exclude the faces?    Murderers, rapists, poor people, scam artists, homeless people, literally people from all walks of life have their faces shown.  Is it because the image of being obese is so incredibly shameful and appalling that faces are not to be included?

Obesity is the last acceptable prejudice.  We have become so desensitized to seeing one of those headless “fat people” photographs we forget there is a real person carrying the shame for many.  Fortunately I escaped that walk of shame until I posted my own photograph for purposes of this blog.

Last week I posted a link to a story about a man that supposedly had to stand for a seven hour flight because he couldn’t sit next to an obese man.  The article used a Photo Shopped picture that surfaced in 2006 so not only did they use a “photograph” that had nothing to with the story but used a fake image to make the story more sensational.  I wrote the reporter and the editor and they agreed to include the truth about that photograph.  Never assume you can’t make a difference.  Unfortunately I couldn’t do anything about the brutal comments (and they were BRUTAL) but you can ask for truth.

Since writing this draft I have become even more aware of how many of these pictures are  printed every single day in nearly every single story about obesity….and it still makes me very sad.


38 inch Wide Casket

Today I read a story that I had to share so I asked Mark Dean if I could feature him as a guest blogger and he agreed.

38 inch Wide Casket

by Mark Dean

A few months ago a Facebook friend posted a link.  It was about an obese man and an incident she had with him. It is insightful reading at Bariatric Girl.com found here.

I was reminded of a similar experience that occurred with me several months earlier.

In my twenty-four years as a funeral director, I have seen drastic changes in the weight and size of the individuals that my wife and I care for at our family-owned funeral home. The interior width of an average casket is twenty-seven inches. In 1987, we may have used an over-sized casket once or twice a year but now casket manufacturers are creating entire lines specifically for the morbidly obese.

Earlier in the year we were honored to care for a family in their time of loss. One young man in his early 30’s asked if his mother could come to the funeral home before normal visitation hours to pay respect. He stated that his mother had a medical condition and that she became very anxious when she was around large groups. He further explained that she was obese and self-conscious about her appearance. Dressing and transportation would be difficult for her. I quickly agreed hoping to eliminate any further grief for this family.

Looking back, I regret that my thoughts of this lady were negative. Without meeting her I expected someone unkempt, unhappy and negative. I had made a note to myself to keep my eyes open for her. Surely she would be expecting some type of special treatment.

When I finally met her my initial opinions couldn’t have been more wrong. I heard a pleasant “good morning” coming from a bright smiling face! She was so grateful for getting special considerations. The red gown was clean, her hair neatly styled and her make-up flawless. Matching slippers and purse completed the outfit. After a short time she was ready to go back home but was anxious to talk with me before leaving. I found her entertaining, witty and funny. She was protective and crazy about her family. After she struggled back to her van with the aid of an over-sized walker, I wondered if she had friends or interest outside of her family. She was such a pleasure and joy to be around.

Six months later the same son walked back into the funeral home. He asked I if remembered him. After some reflection with the help of my wife, I did. Sadly, his mother had passed away. Could we help him? She had been diagnosed with cancer. Because there were no CAT scan machines large enough for further diagnostics her treatment was limited and death was quick.

There are many obstacles that a funeral director deals with when handling the remains of a morbidly obese person. The first is transporting to the funeral home. You are always afraid that your equipment will fail. Most mortuary cots have a 550 pound weight limit. Your embalming table is only twenty-nine inches wide. The physical demand for moving the individual is overwhelming. Thanks to some good friends in the business, we were finally able to begin our process.

Next there is the issue of a casket. Over-sized caskets can triple the cost. Then there is the issue of an over-sized vault. Because the vault is over-sized, the family is usually required to purchase two graves instead of one. There are only so many doorways in a building that can accommodate an over-sized casket.

Twelve pallbearers carried her to her final resting place. I found myself both grateful and sad. Grateful, because for twenty minutes, this lady poured sunshine into my world. Sad, because her obesity robbed most others from my same experience.


I cried for an obese man

Tear for ObesityA couple of weeks ago I was driving to an appointment and I saw a really large man walking down the street.  Because of his size and the near 100 degree temperature, I knew he had to be extremely uncomfortable.  As I pulled into my parking place I glanced in my rear view mirror and watched this man trip with a force that propelled him like a rocket to the concrete.  I bolted from my car and ran to him…his arm was already bloody.

“Let me help you up”.  He had salt and pepper hair and perhaps the kindest sky blue eyes I have ever seen.

With a perfect Texas drawl he said “Little lady you’re gonna have to pack a little more lead in the rear to help me up!”  My heart was breaking for him.  I grabbed him by his good arm and we rocked….1, 2, 3, and I pulled with everything I had.  No matter how much I wanted to help this man, I couldn’t get him off the ground.  He explained he was walking to work and I at first got the impression he was trying to get some exercise.  I asked him to stay put and I’d get some help and as I ran into the building, there were just a few tiny women and elderly people that could be of no help.  By the time I got back out, a man had stopped to help him up.  He was hurt….I told him there was a doctor inside, would he please come in? I know he was both surprised and ashamed that I would help him.  He chuckled and said he was alright (he wasn’t).  As he walked out of my sight he said “It’s time to go on that diet”.

Of course I knew he’d been on hundreds of diets, just like I had.  It was the perfect time to have shared my story but yet it wasn’t.  I wish I had at least gotten his contact information so that maybe my signature on my email would perhaps spark a conversation.

Maybe he didn’t have a car and had to go into work anyway for fear of losing his job because of his size.  Maybe he couldn’t afford to call for an ambulance.  So many maybes.  Every day since then I have considered waiting at that parking space to see if I could locate him again.  He felt so much embarrassment and I wanted to tell him that I knew there was a perfectly loving man inside trying to get out.  I wanted to tell him so many things but most of all that I didn’t see him as just a morbidly obese man….that he was just as valid and worthy as anybody and the shell he lived in did not make him “less than”.

I fell a few weeks before that and was in extreme pain so I could only imagine what he was dealing with.  Tears ran down my face for the rest of the day.  Call me silly for wanting to do this but I’m going back to try to find him.  I want him to know why I didn’t judge him that day.

And why I cried.


The Butterfly Circus

Butterfly Circus Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

Take a moment and watch this short film and understand that no matter where we came from, no matter what happened in the past….we can all be butterflies.


And if you have never heard of this remarkable man before that stars in this short film, his name is Nick Vujicic.  Here’s a short video about him.  Remember to be grateful for what you have.


Interview with Dr. Still and Tracy from Heart on my Sleeve blog

Dr. Stillman and Tracy

Dr. Still and Tracy

Patients and Primary Care Physicians Aren’t Having Candid Conversations About Obesity and Weight-loss Surgery, Survey Finds

On June 13th a survey found that Primary Care Physicians aren’t having those candid conversations needed about weight.  Dr. Christopher Still and Tracy (from Heart on my Sleeve blog) were kind enough to sit down with me and let me ask a few questions about the survey.  For those not familiar with Tracy, she has a blog called Heart on My Sleeve which is a new campaign sponsored by EES and the OAC.

It was such a pleasure chatting with them.  Dr. Still loves what he does and Tracy is on her journey and grateful for being chosen for this campaign.  My surgery was so long ago that I went around my doctor because he was totally against it.  I think Dr. Still was a bit surprised that I did that but I was super determined!

Did you bring it up to your doctor or did the doctor bring it up to you?