Heavy Mettle

Naomi Boak makes a movie about America's new pariahs

"Nobody was fat there," she says. "Everyone was active and lean, and I had lots of male friends and no boyfriends. I found myself attractive and sexy, but no one else did. So I lost weight and had boyfriends, and when I gained it back, I didn't. It hurt. I was ashamed to go out and do things. I used to go out to the tennis courts and hit balls in the morning by myself so no one would see me. There are all sorts of complex things about feeling like a failure.

"Being fat is not a moral crime. If you just put on a fat hat for a while, and let your ears open up to things that are said in the media, or things that people say day-to-day, you'll hear that moral tone about being fat. And fat people get used to that. They almost don't hear it. It's terrible. It's an unforgiving condition; it's with you all the time. The stigma is horrible."

Then Naomi Boak, fat kid-turned normal young adult-turned fat adult-turned spokesperson for the obese, stands up from her nonfat-milk cappuccino. With a slight hitch in her hip, she moseys over to the ice cream tubs and pastry counter to have her photograph taken in an unapologetic full-body portrait—not the way society's scolds want her to be but the way she is.

"Being fat is not a moral crime"
Jim Walsh
"Being fat is not a moral crime"

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or jwalsh@citypages.com

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