Petersburg woman takes on obesity stigma

Scott tackles cookbook, clothing line

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2001

Pepper Hickman Scott is a big woman with bigger goals.

The Petersburg woman is developing a recipe for nonfattening cheesecake that tastes delicious. She's designing a line of flattering clothes for large women. And she wants people to learn to love themselves, no matter what their size.

"There's too much sadness involved with obesity and I'm just not a sad person," said Scott, who has published a humorous book on being overweight - "Fat Women Don't Jog, But They Do Climb Trees."

"People view obesity as a handicap and I just never realized obesity was a handicap. I come from a long line of big women," she said.

Scott was an unapologetic 400 pounds when she drafted her book. The slim volume is full of literally seam-splitting humor, mostly true stories told at her own expense. She spares no embarrassing detail, from a day spent squeezing into jeans two sizes too small to the Valentine's date who gave her an undersized lace negligee.

"I figured if I could take myself way out to the edge of the limb and let them laugh at me, then they'll realize they're not as bad off as they think they are," Scott said.

Now comfortable at 200 pounds, Scott is more concerned about a healthy attitude than a healthy weight.

"I've talked to two or three girls locally who were just bawling their eyes out; they wouldn't go to their prom because they thought they were too big," said Scott, who lives in Petersburg. "I went to my prom and I was a chubby thing. I danced all night."

The book's point, that we all need to look in the mirror and love who we see, is not isolated to overweight people, Scott said. In fact, much of the book makes fun of thin people.

"This is not about being heavy either. It's thin people too. There are just as many very thin people that focus on the bad things in life," Scott said.

Thin or fat, depression can lead to eating the wrong foods, Scott said, admitting she'd done damage on a box of almond roca the day before her interview.

"If I start to feel myself feeling blue or sorry for myself I'll start eating things I don't normally eat," she said.

The exercise industry doesn't make it any easier for obese people to lose weight, Scott said. Bicycles seats are too small for her large frame and she can't reach the handle on a rowing machine because her stomach is in the way. One of her goals is to create a line of exercise equipment and furniture that can comfortably accommodate obese people.

At the same time she's foster-parenting five children, working as an aviation weather observer and pursuing a master of science degree in natural health, specializing in herbology.

"I just don't stop. I get up early in the morning, 7 o'clock, and I don't go to bed until 3 a.m.," Scott said.

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