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There have been very few times....

Monday, January 13, 2014

that I've been completely ashamed of my weight. I know I'm fat. I know I've been fat for awhile, but there are only a handful of times where how I look has made me feel like less of a person. Saturday was one of those days.

Let's backtrack. The first time I can recall feeling embarrassed about how I look was in high school. It was when I played volleyball and had trouble with some of the conditioning exercises. At that time I was 5'5, 135, and not fat. The team had an entire meeting to discuss me. Meanwhile other girls, girls whose parents were boosters and who were lazier than I could ever dream of being, left that meeting unscathed. I felt awful that I couldn't keep up and like there was something wrong with me. I quit playing after that season ended.

The second time I recall feeling this way was also in high school. My then boyfriend tried to deter me from following my dream of being a broadcast journalist by saying, "people on TV are perfect, and you're not." I was 5'5 and 155. I could stand to lose a few pounds, but saying that wasn't appropriate. I changed my major and career goals.

The next time was when I was on the Depo-Provera shot. I went to my doctor's to get my injection and someone in the waiting room asked me when I was due. I later had someone tell me that it may have been because it was an ObGyn and it was assumed everyone was pregnant. I was 5'5 and 180. Again, I could have lost a few, but I didn't look pregnant. I did nothing and tried to discredit it, even though it still hurts to think about.

The next time was when I went out with a few friends. I had just gone through a traumatic breakup and they told me I wasn't hot or attractive in a roundabout way. I was so upset that I walked the four miles home - fending off would-be abductors the whole time (including someone who exposed himself to me). I was 5'5 and 118. Definitely not fat. In fact, I had many people telling me I was too skinny. I ended up eating - eating a lot. I ate so much I gained 100 pounds. I went from being too skinny to too fat because I couldn't handle the criticism (being not hot enough and told I was too thin all at the same time). I stopped caring.

Things cooled off after that. I didn't have many problems with people making comments that made me feel ashamed of how I looked. Then I moved to the Bay Area.

The time before Saturday I was covering an event for work (I may have blogged about this). It was at the Senior Center and so, so many of the women were pissed that I was even there, chatting up anyone, let alone "their" men. One particularly ruthless lady, again, asked me when I was due. I left, went home, and cried. I was 5'5 and about 200 pounds. I had just come off a couple of years where my life was turned upside down and didn't know how to cope. I was devastated by what she said. It's always affected me, but things continued to get crazier and my schedule never slowed down enough to really get completely on track. I'd get on track, then off-track. I'd go months being able to exercise and control everything and then go months not having the time (or energy) to workout and eating on-the-go (basically fast food, then mall food - I didn't plan anything very well).

This last time, however, may have been the worst. I didn't cry because I was so in shock by it and I'm still processing it. As I've mentioned, I was forced to take a second, low-paying retail job to supplement my already low-paying full-time job in order to pay my bills. The mall is an unforgiving place. I was at the store and a lady came in. I was helping her, being extremely kind and attentive, and she was talking about camis. I found her size in the two she wanted and then we were talking about shapewear. The store has a variety of shapewear and just recently got in "slimming camis." I personally love them. They can be worn as a regular cami, don't look like shapewear, and are very comfortable. We were talking about sizes. I've never been afraid of saying what size I wear in clothing or bras at the store. I'm there to help, and saying my size will give someone a reference point to determine what size they might be. This woman was smaller than me, but by no means small. I told her I wore a large. She looked at me, completely in shock, and said "Yoooou? You wear a large? I can't believe that." I was mortified, but maintained my composure, and just said, "that's why I mentioned it. I wanted to give you a reference point." Then, possibly realizing her error she came up with, "I'm sorry, but they must run big if you wear a large." I told her to get a medium, checked her out, and went on with my day. I'm not over it. The funny thing is that the sizes don't run big. I wear a large (rarely an xl) in nearly every top I own. I have a large chest and need to lose about 50-60 pounds before I'm able to fit into a medium, and that's in select brands. Typically a medium won't fit my chest right. Even now, at my size, I'm not squeezing into a large (although, depending on the brand, it can be a little snug). What bothers me the most is that I know I need to lose weight and I'm trying. I can't workout very often because my schedule is insane, but I do it when I can and try to eat well (today notwithstanding). I don't think things will magically change on their own and I know it takes work, effort and energy - this isn't my first time trying to lose weight. I've never felt so bad about how I look. That lady's comment, and follow up comment, hurt. She did everything but break out in an uncontrollable laughter. I put in my notice that day.

While I'm going to miss the much-needed extra income, I have a few freelance opportunities lined up so I'm hoping those will supplement my income enough. I still need to figure out how to get on track - permanently. I also am now becoming increasingly paranoid about how people see me and what they think of me when they do see me. I have always ordered food and wondered if the waiter or guy behind the counter thinks, "oh, of course, the fat girl is ordering the salad only so she can go home and pig out," or "oh, figures the fat girl would get the fries. Stop eating fries, fat ass." At the store, I never really thought about other people. I mean I would be uncomfortable because I don't like dressing up and we had to, but I tried not to think about how people were viewing my weight. Now I know and all this situation does is reaffirm my beliefs about myself and my desire to not leave the house.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I don't know whether this will be helpful to you - I certainly hope so. I'm 5'3" and weigh between 135 and 150 pounds - right now I'm right in the middle. I don't consider myself fat. People make one of two kinds of comments to me - either the kind you've had, with people telling you you're fat or the other kind you've had, with people saying you're too thin. And for me, it doesn't seem to make much difference whether I'm 135 or 150. I get both kinds of comments.

    So what I have figured out - which is the bit that may help you - is this. People don't see so good. They have some subjective ideal in their minds about what's "thin" and what's "fat." It has nothing to do with weight scales or "normal" or how I really look. It's all about them.

    So I pretty much disregard what people tell me about how I look. If someone is exceptionally rude, I might challenge them with "I don't understand why you think it's okay to say that!" If someone is giving me what THEY think is a compliment, I just say thank you.

    And why do folks feel they have to comment about my appearance anyway? I had an acquaintance who felt it was her job to comment on my outfit every time she saw me. Usually in the negative. I ended up responding to her the same way each time with, "Yeah, but I'm feeling exceptionally intelligent today!" Eventually, she stopped.
    1528 days ago
    The mall is a really unforgiving place. One time in high school, some teenage boys came up to me and jokingly asked me out because they "liked fat girls". I'm sorry someone was so rude to you. It usually comes from their own insecurities. It's about them, not you. Not that it makes it feel any better when they say something awful to you.
    1528 days ago
    Wow, all I can think is that you have had the supreme misfortune of having a few judgmental, inappropriate and just plain mean people cross your path. The really sad part is that in several of these cases, these were people who should have 'had your back', and been supportive and encouraging.
    Don't let the minority opinions color how you see yourself. Our worth as people cannot be measured by a number: either on the scale or on the tag in our clothes. Some people are just too shallow to understand that.

    1529 days ago
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