The night I learned what it meant to be fat, I was 14 years old and 15 pounds overweight. I watched my best friend, the fattest person I ever saw, giving head to a 22 year-old man who was driving us home from a party. I had never seen anyone put so much of anything into a mouth. Gulp. I completely understood my future.Her fat made her look old enough to get served at the liquor store. And it made her bold. She'd call random men on the phone, lie about her age, promise oral sex and we'd go meet them. She'd do as many as eight a night.I already had full breasts and was only marginally fat. Men wanted more than oral sex from me. Each time I was date-raped...well, I didn't consider it rape to have sex with men who made me feel sick to my stomach. I was a fat chick. I had no right to say "no." Thin girls who never carried their own books, did. I was tortured in high school and quit as soon as legally possible. I was ripe to be a welfare mother.I found out I was pregnant in a drug rehab and went on to gain 75 pounds. I was officially fat and didn't care because I thought when people saw me with a baby, they wouldn't look at me like a whore anymore. I would be a mother.Boy was I wrong. A few years ago, I talked to the fat chick who had been in the car that night. I told her about how I ended up as an honor student at Carnegie Mellon University. But when I admitted that I was on welfare, she said, "Don't you have any pride?"I told her I didn't need pride, I was getting an education...THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE GIRTH After a nice, big dinner, why do people need dessert? And if sugar is a source of energy, why serve coffee with it? Oh, how refined America's tastes are...For centuries after sugar was brought to Europe, it was only sold in apothecaries. Average consumption in the eighteenth century was about four pounds a year per person. Now it's over 100 pounds, even close to 200 for many.Around 7000 B.C., Neolithic man began to cultivate grains and roots because they could be stored. Now we sacrifice nutrition for shelf-life. Wheat is de-germinated and bleached until it's so sterile even micro-organism can't live on it. Let alone human beings.Sugar and flour are staples because they're cheap to produce and store. When combined in donuts, pastries and cereals, the combination produces a narcotic effect. Sugar and white flour are the only things Overeater's Anonymous asks members to abstain from. They're the simplest carbohydrates refined starch, instantly converted into blood sugar (glucose) provides a short rush of energy, of good feelings.But for some, the spike of glucose causes a hyper-release of insulin, which is used to process it. So much insulin is released, gobbling up the glucose to store as fat, that there is less energy, less glucose available than before eating. The result: cravings for sugary carbohydrates.Vacillation between blood sugar levels may even trigger violence, a fight-or-feed response. The deluge of refined carbohydrates in this country could be the source of several behavioral problems and even mental illness; however, budget constraints force institutions such as schools, hospitals and jails to provide a diet of them.Poor people (single mothers) are also limited to buying cheap foods for their families. Poverty is a major source of anxiety which itself causes the pancreas to hyper-release insulin. The more common response to low blood sugar is weight gain and a low-level lethargy, depression, aggression, fatigue, intense hunger. Which describes the mood of America.A Native American tribe in Ohio was brought to ruin when corn was introduced into their diet. They did nothing except farm and eat corn. Their teeth rotted away, their life expectancy dropped. All artistic endeavors like mound building and pottery making disappeared. Their entire life revolved around the production of the corn that was killing them.Do you ever see a McDonald's go out of business? No, they're busy adding playplaces for children who will grow up and blame their moms for being fat.FAT CHANTSI wanted to go to one frat party before I graduated from Carnegie Mellon. I was really excited, started drinking early, met my friend and off we went. It was early; the first floor of the frat house was empty. We heard a band in the basement and went down, looking for some high-class fun.After only a few minutes, the band started a song that consisted of one line: "Hey fat chick, suck my dick." Two guitarists hesitated. They were fat. But I could see the exact moment that the group mentality kicked in. The fat boys jammed hardest, sang loudest.I had just lost 80 pounds and wasn't really fat. I was hidden among the elite. All the thin girls were doing the head-bobbing thing, the almost-dance of the perfect. I couldn't believe they didn't even wince. Don't you have to at least pretend you're a feminist until you're married? But it was like they were proud. They were thin. And they would never suck dick.I thought about bursting through the crowd and telling them how brutal they were. I imagined going in the middle of the dance floor and singing along, dancing and throwing karate kicks and punches I learned following my last almost-rape in 1985.I was a 32-year-old honor student and a tattooed welfare mother. At first, I stared at pictures of the same men, dressed in maroon ties and navy blue sportscoats, on the wall. All they had to do was be college students and they were treated with respect; and yet they still had to rip on fat chicks who they'd never have to fuck, anyway.Tracy, the girl I was with, stood frozen, her eyes huge and fixed on me, wondering what I was going to do, hoping it wouldn't be too embarrassing.I left without saying a word. THE FAT ROLLS FOR THEEObesity is now represented in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The statistics of how many of us are overweight varies: 3 out of 4 (tabloids); 33 percent (Pharmaceutical Information Associates, Ltd.); or 3 percent for women and 3.4 percent for men (New England Journal of Medicine, 1993). But the $33 billion spent on diet products over the past year suggests that large numbers of people are trying to lose weight. Ironically, since 1990, low-fat dieters have gained an average of 8 pounds.In 1993, at the First International Conference of Fats and Oils and Human Disease, Dr. Michael F. Oliver of the National Heart and Lung Institute in London presented evidence: Even when low-fat (30 percent) diets were followed, they had no effect on lowering rates of heart disease. Quoted in The New York Times, he said: "Two decades [of large, clinical trials] have failed to demonstrate that the national goal [of a low-fat diet] has any effect on heart disease rates." In one group, deaths from heart disease increased.Oliver also discussed new evidence suggesting that the body will convert carbohydrates into saturated fat (the worst for the heart) for its needs when there isn't enough in the diet. When it comes to fat, doctors are finding that what happens in Petri dishes may be irrelevant compared to what goes on inside a patient. Heart disease remains our number one killer and bathroom scales are spinning madly.Another obvious failure of low-fat diets is that people can't, don't, won't stay on them. "While it is possible to lose weight by eating less and exercising, consciously overriding one's homeostatic control mechanisms requires constant attention and vigilance, which takes time away from other duties," writes Dr. Robert Yeas, a physician who is obese.A nutrition exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center lists protein (low-carb) products as energy foods, good for breakfast, and high carbohydrate foods for the evening because they slow the metabolism down the exact opposite of the claim that high carbs are energy foods.On a low-fat diet, 6-8 servings of starch are recommended, the very foods that cause cravings in as many as 75 percent of the population who are thought to be hyperinsulemic (carbohydrate-sensitive). Expecting them to live on low-fat diets might be akin to screaming at someone in a wheelchair to just get up and walk.THE ROAD LESS SWALLOWED I slowly peeled back the cheap pantyhose slightly lifting my chaffed inner-thighs worn raw. I could see where each strand of nylon sliced my hot, puffy skin. I had been walking as part of my exercise program and wore pantyhose that were too small because they made me look thinner. By the time I realized what was happening, I was pretty far away. I had no choice but to walk home each step burning the nylon deeper into my skin.This was the late '80s. I was a clean and sober, born-again welfare mother and full-time student at a community college. After a year's sobriety, I decided to take control of my life again and went to Weight Watchers (one of many attempts since childhood). I exercised, drank the water and wouldn't even lick the back of measuring spoon. I followed my plan perfectly.After six weeks, I was having such intense food cravings that I'd cry hysterically, crawl on my hands and knees begging for strength, thinking it was Satan, screaming "I rebuke thee in the name of Jesus Christ." I knew my neighbors could hear.I'd tell myself "one day at a time," over and over, guzzle water and drink tea until bedtime. I thanked the Lord for getting me through the day, and then I'd spend the night dreaming about cakes and pastries and my teeth falling out. I'd wake-up starving, start crying and cursing God. I'd start eating fistfuls of Frosted Flakes, guzzling milk from the carton, thinking about a Cosmo cover model who said her main form of exercise was walking across the street to get a pastrami sandwich.I kept trying. I was either gaining or losing weight. At least the carbs calmed me down. But I smoked and drank coffee all day to stay awake. Donuts, cigarettes, coffee: the 12-step diet.I started eating in the middle of the night I once drank pancake syrup when it was the only sugar in the house. I didn't remember 'till I smelled it in my hair the next morning. I blew my diet even when I was unconscious. It challenged the psychological reasons I attributed for my overeating. In the middle of the night, I wasn't bored or feeling deprived or unloved or fat, I was asleep. I woke up because my body craved carbs. I complied and would slip right back into visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.There's more to than this than meets the thigh.CHINS UP!Humans are natural omnivores. Early hominids lived on the meat of lean animals and random berries and roots they'd gather. There were no refined starches so they lived a low-carbohydrate (about 15 grams/day.) existence. Nothing near the almost 300 grams recommended on food nutrition labels today.Low-carb diets' popularity suggests that they reduce appetite, renew energy, increase sexual potency, clear-headedness, strength, all the things that come from a general sense of well-being. Too good to be true?In Dr.'s Richard and Rachel Heller's book, Healthy for Life, "Syndrome X" is defined as the affliction that causes the over-production of insulin after eating starchy food. But the low-carb concept started in 1973 when Dr. Robert C. Atkins published his Diet Revolution that has sold over six million copies.Low-carb diets are treated like a dangerous fad. But the low-fat approach failed to do much except increase the ingestion of cheap carbs so people gained weight. The issue isn't what or how much one eats, but what the body does with it. And that will vary. Nothing is perfect for everyone.The Atkins plan was faulted for causing "starvation." After a few days, the metabolism is forced to burn fat for energy. Glucose levels stabilize and the appetite disappears. The experts call this a dangerous side effect. Think about it: a doctor discovers a diet that suppresses your appetite without drugs, and the medical community faults it.A spoonful of medicine helps the sugar go down.FED UPEating and sex, two basic and essential acts for sustaining life, have become the source of disease and misery to millions of people, including me.So why am I fat if I know so much? Why do I stand at the bus stop rubbing my round belly when an attractive man with a side part stares at me in lust and disgust? I feel like I'm rubbing a magic lamp thinking "this is all mine, bastard." Can't spank this.Am I really supposed to jog my fatness up and down public streets and starve until I'm in tears just so I can earn the privilege of being with the kind of men who hate fat chicks? Will someone please just tell me how much weight I have to gain to get men to leave me alone?Fat is supposed to mean that we're not doing what we're told, we're not working hard enough, we're fat and lazy. We have no self-control. We don't care about ourselves. So why should anyone else?I'm not hugely fat or unhealthy. People say I'm not fat enough to write about being fat (I wrote that so you wouldn't think I'm too fat). And of course I'm not fat on purpose. I didn't say "Hey God, make me fat so I can grow up and write about what a victim I am." I've always been "chubby." I prefer "chunky" because it's more accurate.Oh, enough. I'm exhausted with this rebellious fat business. I hate myself, okay? I wake up with swollen eyes, my mouth completely dry. I have to stop poisoning my body with refined starch. And someday, I will wake up thin the sun will peek into my window, loosening my eyelids but the warmth the warmth will hold my tiny body in perfect rapture. My eyes open in one smooth smile, no slamming back shut when seeing the first rays of a new day.But, in the meantime, pass me a Pepsi. Because fat is my way of saying I'd rather eat than date. It's a bold fashion statement that few women have the stomach for. As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again.