Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The flip side of how your fat friend might be feeling
See, when I was 494 lbs not one person ever expressed concern for my health. No one. I felt like the woman in the article should be so lucky that so many people care about her to want her around for a long time. Now perfect strangers or teachers commenting on it...no, they can take a flying friggin' leap because they don't know her. (If someone as callous and mean as that old man said to me what he said to her, I'm pretty sure I would've quickly said "yeah, I am going to die. We all are...you first." He deserved a response like that given what he said.)
As someone who has lost over 200 lbs and worked hard to keep that off, I am still fat. I am still the o word...obese. Someone could easily look at me on the street and think I'm a lazy slug and not know I workout 6 days a week and make better food choices in one week than they may make all month. I accept that and if someone had the audacity to say something to me now, I'd say "lost 225 lbs and kept it off" and drop the mic. From the flip side, I am deathly afraid that my mom who had WLS over 10 years ago and has regained most of the weight is going to die or stroke out. She has high blood pressure to the point she has fainted at work, she's had blood clots, her knees are to the point she's bone on bone and needs a scooter or cane for mobility. She says she's too fat to exercise yet has access to a pool all summer/fall long and 20 lbs could take so much pressure off of her knees. She eats like utter crap all the time. I have gone to great lengths to help her but don't bring it up unless she does because I know how touchy the subject can be. I've gone as far as buying her groceries, cooked meals up and froze them and a year later they were still in there. She takes some kind of pride in the fact that she doesn't have diabetes in a family with history but eats salt like it's a food group with high blood pressure and meds she refuses to take regularly. You can't expect people who love you to sit back and let you kill yourself without saying something at least once. I'd do anything to help her but I can't do it for her.
When I was 19, I remember a specific incident where the Mr and I were out to dinner at Ponderosa (remember those?) with my mom. The subject of weight loss came up and we all needed to lose weight. They were gung ho and in the mindset and given what I knew of diets and such, I just wasn't mentally ready. That was the time of low fat diet fads where you were encouraged to eat 15g of fat per day. Per DAY. I got super defensive and super bitchy. On the way home when I ran an orange light, a cop pulled me over and as he approached the window and tried to give me his crap, I just burst into tears from all of the emotion of the talk and the screaming that had just ensued from my mom asking what the hell my problem was. The cop shrunk away and let me go after looking at the Mr and my mom like "what the hell is wrong with her??" I think my mom learned never to broach the subject with me again. At that point, I still had 150+ lbs to gain so I wasn't even at my heaviest. But when I got to the point where I was turning down invites because I couldn't fit into places or getting out of breath 10 minutes into a grocery visit, it would've been nice for someone to say "hey, I love you and I want you around for a long time. Is there anything I can do to help you?" Yes, it may not have felt so hot in the moment but once your rational brain is finally developed and you're 25 or older, you should be able to tell when it is said out of love and true concern...not judgment. The only time anything was ever said to me about my weight is when I began losing it. Once I had 150 lbs off (and was still considered morbidly obese by medical standards) several people mentioned they were getting "worried about me." I smiled and said "I'm sorry but no one was worried about me when I was almost 500 lbs pounds and a ticking time bomb. So unless I have bones poking through and sunken eyes, you don't get to comment on my weight now."
The other reason I was irritated is because the woman in the article may have been ignoring the only important lesson I've ever gleaned from Dr. Phil:
My two best friends were tortured and I mean tortured in middle school by a bully who got off on making fat girls his target. Because I was a good 6" or so taller than him, he never really targeted me. He did walk by once when I was with one of them and he said "what's up fat asses?" and I immediately shot back "f*ck off, @sshole!" He never said anything to me again in middle school. I will always remember the fear in my friend's eyes, the way her body caved in and shrunk and the feeling of wanting to make herself as small as possible. I get that but that is exactly what he wanted.
In my first month of high school, I was internally horrified to see I would be sharing homeroom aka the first 15 minutes of each school day for the next 4 years with said bully due to last name. One day it happened. As I was talking to my friend in class, he slid into the table behind us and said "what's up, fat f*ck?!" and the whole class just stopped. I laughed at him and said "Oooooh fat f*ck, that's the best you could do? How ORIGINAL!" Everyone busted out laughing at him and I never had another issue with him ever again. Standing up to him told him I wasn't going to take his crap and everyone else seeing that likely told their friends and so my reputation for being an "ass kicker" from middle school on (without a single ass ever having been kicked) stayed well intact.
I was consistently the new student in school the first 5 years of my school years so I was always the one having to make friends hoping someone would want to take the tall, fat girl into their fold. I didn't judge people because I didn't have that luxury. I was the outsider. I was the one that needed to prove themselves. So while I am a highly sensitive person, I developed a defense mechanism of self deprecation that pretty much any fat person adapts that doesn't decide to shrink into themselves. It's a 'make fun of yourself before they can make fun of you' mentality and honestly, that doesn't serve you well either. It may keep others from commenting but playing that tape in your own head makes you start to believe it and when you say that in front of people who love or care about you, it makes them uncomfortable. When you're a grown ass woman, it just makes you sound desperate for validation and that ain't sexy. I've worked very hard not to do that anymore out loud because I don't like to hear other people say that about themselves. I don't want to put someone else in that uncomfortable position to reassure me that I'm still worthy even if my body isn't perfect.
However, I do believe in walking with confidence, head held high and if faced with a potentially threatening situation where there is the possibility things could be said about my weight, I put on my resting bitch face letting them know 'I don't tolerate chit...think again.' I know it can be hard to armor up especially if giving a 'victim like vibe' is what you're used to. I know some people will be offended by that term but I don't care. Offense is typically taken when there's at least a grain of truth to it. If you identify with that, have enough respect for the awesome person you are to project that to the world...don't give haters the in to disrespect you. Trust me, they're looking for it. They're looking at how you walk, where you're looking and if they think they can verbally take you.
You can't stop people from saying things but you can walk with an air about you that conveys how you expect to be treated. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and that starts with respecting the person staring back at you in the mirror. See the beautiful things in yourself that the people who love you see unconditionally and teach people how to treat you.
Do you armor up or shrink up when your weight is addressed in any form?
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