Wednesday, July 10, 2013
All my life, I've been a fat girl. Well, my parents used to say when I was in kindergarten, I was pretty lean, but that was so long ago, I don't even remember it. Fact is, I've been fat most of my life and have been burdened with the stigma of being fat for that time.
It's embarrassing to be the only kid in your class huffing and puffing during PE. It's embarrassing to climb a flight of stairs and end up sweaty and panting at the top. It's humiliating to squeeze into a booth in a restaurant and find your belly is touching the table, while your back is pressed up against the backseat.
And this doesn't even get to how other people treat you. Fat people on TV and in the movies are women like Nia Vardalos or America Ferrera - women that if you met across the street, you would be envious of how thin and sexy they were. Fat jokes fill most movies and TV - it's not acceptable (and rightly so!!) to insult blacks, Asians, the disabled, but fat people are still acceptable targets for jokes. We're just a bunch of lazy people who do nothing but sit around all day eating Twinkies with Cheeze Whiz.
NOTE: I know some movies still make jokes out of blacks, Asians, disabled, etc., which is still not cool, but by and large, it's not nearly as acceptable anymore as fat jokes.
Fat kids get picked on at school. Fat adults get cut out of jobs (it happens!), get ignored, or get treated like second-class citizens. Fat women tend to get the worst rap, because for us, our entire person is tied to our appearance, and if that appearance isn't the blond-hair, blue-eyed, 5'10", size 4 picture of perfection that society feeds us, then we are plum out of luck. Good luck trying to find sexy clothes if you are anything about size 10. Good luck trying to find a nice evening dress if you are size 22.
While all this is bad, what is worse is what fat does to you PHYSICALLY (not to undermine, of course, the psychological aspects of being fat). Being fat is not good for your health (and when I say "Fat", I don't mean 5 - 10 pounds out of your BMI - I truly think that BMI needs to be a guideline, not a rule, and that there is plenty of wiggle-room in that range). You are susceptible to high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, knee pain, back pain, headaches, stomach aches, and a whole plethora of aches in between.
That is how I was almost 100 pounds ago (yes, I am almost at the 100 pound lost mark!!). For the most part, I was "OK" with the physical aspects of being fat. Fortunately, I wasn't at the receiving end of fat jokes. Fortunately, I didn't have a desire to look sexy or pretty at size whatever I was (I wore size 18 jeans, but now, I realize that was completely the wrong size), so I didn't have to struggle to find clothes to fit me. But I did suffer the aches and pains. I'm sure I was close to being pre-diabetic. I'm sure I had high blood pressure. I definitely had sleep apnea.
Losing weight for me wasn't about me attaining that unattainable image of the perfect woman. Losing weight for me was about gaining freedom - freedom from the aches and pains in my body, from being sick, and from living an unfulfilling life, where I tolerated my body instead of loving it. Where I settled for second best instead of taking life at its fullest.
We hear a lot about an obesity epidemic, and it is a problem. But another problem is how we treat fat people. Fat people are not jokes - we have problems that need to be treated. Fat people are not second class citizens - if we want to feel sexy at size 22, then we should be able to find clothes that help us. Fat people are not there to be another person's punching bag - we are struggling already with our problems, the last thing we need is someone else's.
If we as fat people can live in a world where society is mindful of our circumstances and supports our desire to improve ourselves instead of picking on us or making us jokes, then maybe we as fat people can start our healing process and change. Now, I'm not saying that everyone needs to right now modify their diet and get within their BMI range - again, I believe the BMI is a guideline, not a strict rule to go by. But for people like I was, 100+ pounds, losing weight, and more importantly GETTING HEALTHY, can help us achieve freedom - freedom from pain, from jokes, from being fat.