I could and I should and I DID

Numbers first. 218, so I'm up about a pound.

OK, so get this. I'm at a conference this week for work, it's a conference about web content management. Overall it was pretty good. There were more marketing people there than IT people, and since I'm being assigned to a lot of marketing projects, it was a good exercise in my learning about their world. There were a few dud sessions, and there were a lot that spoke to me more as an individual web denizen rather than the corporate project manager I was sent there to be.

I know, I know, I'm talking about work in my fat blog. But there's a point coming up -- and that is, can I NOT go anywhere where I'm reminded about fat in this world? At least the last time I hit a conference and fat was brought up, it was by a speaker who used her diet as an example of project management and it was positive. This time around, I had to deal with some speaker's fat hatred.

This Howard Tullman guy had an impressive enough resume -- apparently he pretty much saved Kendall College from dying by eliminating some programs and beefing up others -- namely their culinary program. His speech topic for us was pretty broad (in that it didn't address web content management) "Managing Radical Change in Turbulent Times." He may be a good administrator, he might have some radical management ideas, but he has tired, cliché ways of making a point. Really, his powerpoint presentation was basically a series of (as he admitted) "fortune cookie sayings" that frankly, if I needed to see that, I would have simply sent for my free "Successories" catalog.

Can you tell he lost me early in his speech, and I therefore spent the rest of the speech nit-picking all the things about him I didn't like?

Here it was: he mentioned early on that one of the programs they eliminated from Kendall College was the athletic programs. Was it because they weren't bringing in revenue? Was it because they weren't cost-effective? No, according to Tullman's speech, 400-pound culinary students don't really care about volleyball!

Huh? I was left wondering, well, do 127-pound culinary students have an interest in volleyball? Were/Are Kendall's culinary student body made up of entirely obese students? Are all culinary students therefore obese? Of course! Only fat people know how to cook food, right? And thin people don't eat that much, therefore they must not not cook well, because why? Why would they actually enjoy making excellent food prepared well? They certainly don't eat it! They're too busy playing volleyball!

I'm going off on this because Tullman made reference to his 400-pound students several times in his vulgar language spewn speech. (Granted, I cuss with the saltiest of sailors myself, especially when I'm fronting my punk band. But I don't do it in a ballroom full of business professionals. To coin a cliché fortune cookie phrase, the type of which Tullman is so fond, "Vulgarity is the vernacular of the inarticulate." But remember, he already lost me early on, so I'm nit-picking.) At least four times he dropped little digs about his 400-pound culinary students, their lack of athleticism, their propensity to eat. You could tell he was disgusted by them -- disgusted by his own student body, the very people who paid his salary with their tuition dollars. But still, I stayed in that room until the final groaner, when he was rattling off yet another cliché: "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should." And what image did he use to make this point? Was it a picture of the Homermobile, that atrocious car Homer Simpson designed for his brother's car company?. That would have been an effective, humorous way to make his point.

No, it was a photograph of a very large woman in a string bikini, drawing groans and moans from the audience (I'm sure some in shock, some in disgust), so much so that even Tullman knew it was tasteless and quickly clicked to the next slide full of "You Can't Have Value If You Don't Have Values" type cliches.

Howard, was this absolutely necessary? You've already established your distaste for fat people. Did you have to nail it home, with a tired, everybody-knows-that-fat-people-shouldn't-show-their-cellulite-in-public sentiment? You couldn't make your point without resorting to this? But why should I be surprised? You couldn't make your point without resorting to cliches and foul language, either. I complained to one of the event organizers, and I was going to email Tullman himself, but I decided to put into practice one of the things I learned in this conference: the best way to get your name out there is to get blogged about it! (Try it, fellow bloggers! Google up some topics you've written about. Don't be surprised if blogs, especially your own blog, turns up early on the Google hit list! I'm not even that popular a blogger -- I'm no Wendy McClure and yet my regular blog turned up above the fold on a bunch of topics I wrote about!) So I decided to write about Howard Tullman here, where I can do some damage. Woo Hoo! Be careful what you wish for, dude, you just might get it!

Anyway, here's a picture of me the next morning. I was in Chicago, and believe it or not, while I grew up in the Chicago 'burbs, I have not yet seen "the bean" at Millenium Park, but I still wanted to get a run in. After all, whether Tullman believes it or not, this 218-pound fat person who shouldn't be wearing a swimsuit in public (but I can and I do, so put that in your culinary school menu and eat it!) has a triathalon in two weeks to be in condition for. So I got up early, grabbed my camera, and ran from my hotel in the Loop to Millenium Park to do some shooting while simultaneously getting a cardio workout in. It felt great. I was actually amazed that by 6:00 a.m., the Loop was still fairly dead, nobody to point at my flabby abdomen jiggling as I thawumped down Randolph Street to Millenium/Grant Park, snapping off shots. And there was "the Bean," the local nickname for Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" -- a beautiful sculpture, which like Milwaukee's Santiago Calatrava-designed Art Museum wing, screams to be photographed. Actually, it screams "Take a Self Portrait That Looks Like You Just Bought a Funky Wide Angle Lens" because of the lovely curves. And so I did, the photo that accompanies this post. Like other photos I've posted here, it's not the most flattering of me ever, but I like it anyway. It was a ridiculously humid morning, so I'm even sweatier than I usually get after running an hour. My face is clean and makeup free, my heart has quickly (I'm proud of this) returned to its resting rate, and I'm wonderfully spent and enjoying this amazingly interactive piece of public art. I actually felt accomplished, beautiful, athletic, working toward a goal that had nothing to do with weight, with whether I should be doing this or not. I like this picture of me not because I should (I shouldn't, for the sweat the you can probably smell off this web page) but because I think it captures a bit of my own surprise and pleased-with-myselfness that I think it radiates. A year ago, I would have never thought I could, much less should, run through the Loop to Millenium Park at six in the morning to get a workout in. Less than a year ago, I never took a self portrait because of Tullman's attitude that overweight people shouldn't show themselves, that we are too ugly to be seen. Now I take them all the time, examining my own beauty in unliklely settings, despite the fact that some people don't think I should. I ran to Millenium Park with my camera, I took this picture of myself sweaty and un-made up, I published it and posted this on my blog simply because I could. Because, Howard, you blowhard, just because you can do something is very often good enough reason to do it.


Swellanor said…
Awesome post, V'ron! I read the preview in the BFD comments and I'm so glad you blogged the full story (with Howard Tullman's full name)!

I just wanted to add that I've been reading about the bad reputations of many culinary schools (high fees, big promises, no payoff). There's some links and discussion here.

I don't know anything about Kendall College in particular, but it sounds like many culinary programs can be very exploitative , and it sounds like Howard Tullman adds disdain and disgust to the mix.
fatfu said…
The worst thing about being in a situation like that is having to sit there quietly seething. But you brought us along to feel it with you and you did something beautiful with it.

I went to Tullman's site and he comes off as a spectacular jackass. Which makes me feel all the more for Kendall College - not only does he go around ridiculing their students but now anyone can see that their past president is possibly the shallowest man alive.
Lady Rose said…
You rock!! ***applauds*** I think fighting against this sort of negative stuff is so important and we here in the blogging world can perhaps start a grass movement to bring it to people's awareness and hopefully make some changes.

Have you seen the negative ads that fit & light yogurt have in Brazil - I just posted about them. I am boycotting them!

I hope you don't mind I am adding you to my blogroll.

Health and Happiness, Lady Rose
Lori said…
Way to go, V'ron! What a jerk. What does he tell people when he's soliciting for the college (and most presidents do)?

By the way, you look fabulous in your photo.

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