Society's judgment of fat people is only skin deep.
So says Concord resident Avery Colter, so he and his wife Teresa created the Fat And Terrific newsletter in April 1996, which serves overweight people from Vallejo down to the Silicon Valley.
Avery Colter described the newsletter as a means of letting his readers know of various social functions with people like themselves, from dinner and movie get-togethers to dances and parties.
The goal of the newsletter is to provide opportunities for heavy people to socialize and meet others, particularly those who are going through the same isolation and trepidation of going out in public.
"It's important for everybody to come out and be comfortable, " said reader Joni.
But it's not that easy.
Addie, another newsletter reader, said that corpulence is just not accepted in our society. Latricia added that people react as though obesity is a contagious disease.
"I went to Boston Market with Latricia, and this man shook his head, like how dare I be so fat," said Teresa Colter.
"When I was working at a school, I would try to do things with people who had common interests, but all I got was a lot of excuses."
Readers of Fat And Terrific make no excuses for their girth and accept who they are, even if many people don't. They explained that they do try to lose weight, but at their own speed, not through fad diets tht they blame for causing people to gain weight.
"If I had never gone on any of those diets, I would be half the weight I am now," said Latricia. "When you eat less, you lower your metabolism, so it takes less food to gain weight."
Health issues are also addressed in the newsletter. Articles on diabetes, scientific research of fat genes, and the dangers of surgery and fad diets are squeezed into the bimonthly newsletter along with social event announcements, news on friends and readers, resource information and "fat-friendly businesses."
Teresa Colter said that although news reports claim that more and more Americans are overweight, businesses still fail to reflect that. Businesses with small chairs with arms, aisles that are not wide enough, and tables that cannot be moved are shunned by large people because they cannot visit these establishments comfortably. Then there are the stares, finger pointing, and occasional jeer.
"For some reason in this P.C. society, fat is the thing you can make fun of and not have people tell you it's mean or cruel," said Latricia. "If there was a magic pill to lose weight, I'm sure we would all take it. But until we lose our weight in a healthy manner, just leave us alone.
"For years I used to sit at home watching television. I think all of us have been there. I don't want to be emabarrased for who I am. We want to reach out to those people still at home."
Thanks to such groups, said Joni, she and her friends can now go swimming, play miniature golf, and just goi out for dinner and not feel self-conscious about who they are.
The meetings and gatherings are not only open to overweight people, but their friends and families. Avery Colter, who is quite thin, said that he is attracted to heavy women, which is one reason he married Teresa.
But Teresa pointed out that many families reject their heavy kin, which can create emotional problems and may lead the person to seek solace in food or unhealthy activities.
"Anyone who will treat us as human beings is more than welcome to join us.," said Latricia.
Although there are many people who are supportive and accepting of people with weight problems, there are just as many who make light of it.
Avery Colter suggested that people just don't want to open their eyes and ears and learn about this problem, but would rather stick with their stares and cruel jokes. And to overcome their preconceptions, those people will have to learn to be bigger than that. Call 671-8024, or visit the Fat And Terrific Internet site, at http://members.macconnect.com/~avery/FAT.html.