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Freedom from Being Fat

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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Fantastic. Congratulations, you are an inspiration.
    1686 days ago
    ugh you are so right! emoticon
    1686 days ago
    Excellent blog Carolyn!! On behalf of fat people and former fat people everywhere, fighting everything you describe... emoticon

    1687 days ago
    Great blog, thank you emoticon emoticon
    1687 days ago
    Great blog.
    1687 days ago
    I am looking forward to a little freedom myself (said in a groucho marx voice). Maybe when I am a little farther down the path of maintenance, I can be more confident, and not have to use a groucho marx voice!
    1687 days ago
  • WILDKAT781
    thank you so much for posting this...it is so very true. just yesterday - I was telling my Daddy (while we were at the hospital to get his chemo treatment) that I was going home to do my workout...the man in the other bed looked at me strange and said "WORKOUT!" My Daddy jumped in and explained how I had lost 46 pounds and was doing great...then the man complimented me, but he just could not grasp that a FAT person did a workout. Made me feel great that my Daddy defended me and bragged about me but made me feel pretty low the way the man reacted.
    1687 days ago
  • OKIE30
    Great blog!
    1687 days ago
    Hi Carolyn, this is a fantastic blog. I found it very heart-felt and moving.
    1687 days ago
    What a wonderful and touching post.

    I was that fat kid. When I was really little I was super skinny and I remember my grandmother calling me "skinny minny" all the time. I was on seizure medication (due to poor temperature modulation early in development) and it completely eliminated my appetite. I got off of the medication around age 5 and everyone was so thrilled that I was eating that they pushed food on me like there was no tomorrow....Well, obviously, I was overweight for my entire childhood and I suffered from severely low self esteem as a result. All of the horrible taunting killed my self confidence. ESPECIALLY when it came to anything physical. I feel like if I had felt as though I was competent at a sport, I might have enjoyed playing but since I was overweight...I was always below average at sports. Of course this only furthered the problem because I was doing less physical activity.

    I think that what you have outlined here about society's treatment of fat people is really a way that the problem is compounded. Self-negativity is the death of motivation. Hearing or feeling that others find us lazy and weak-willed can make us start to feel that way about ourselves. You know what doesn't help someone start the difficult path of weight loss? Feeling like we are weak, lazy, and can't change our ways.

    If we start to think of ourselves as the kind of person who CAN change who CAN be disciplined, well that is just a recipe for success.
    1687 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/10/2013 3:22:02 PM
    Great blog! Full of feeling!
    1687 days ago
    Carolyn, you are a gifted writer. Well said!
    1687 days ago
    1687 days ago
    Thanks so much for this. I love your insight.

    I haven't had a lifelong issue with weight (I had different struggles and weight came later). As a teen, I remember a guy saying to me, "you're the opposite of the fat girl with the pretty face." I was shocked when he explained, "you may be ugly but at least you're not fat." He thought that was a compliment.

    I just want to be strong and healthy. I want to be able to get in and out of the back seat of a 2-door car for as long as possible.
    1687 days ago
  • KJACOBS1111
    People who have always been thin will tell you that fat people are out of control. To them the body reflects the person inside (even if that isn't true)...A few years ago I was passed over for a job directly due to a false judgement about my weight at the time. The way they delicately put it was that they needed someone who was "ready to jump right in and get things done" and "someone...more high energy who could keep up with the running around"...it wasn't a physical job...the running around would have been normal stuff like going to different offices across a campus. I know they meant the weight because there was a gesture that went with the kindly said comments sort of encompassing "me". I feel bad for the guy wanting so much to explain why I wasn't hired and not being able to say why the others voted against me directly.

    It happens, their loss, because I rock! A friend was so shocked when I mentioned that to her...because I am incredibly high energy at work and working on projects...not to mention crazy good at what I do and very dedicated when I care about something. I think that those experiences, while awful, have taught me to be more compassionate to other's challenges, both visible and invisible.
    1687 days ago
    Wonderful blog, so inspirational! emoticon
    1687 days ago
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