Ignoring the Haters, Learning to Love and Live Life at Any Weight

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan, ~INDYGIRL

Sometimes people who feel uncomfortable with their weight or those who have more than 100 pounds to lose feel embarrassed to exercise or sometimes find it hard to even go out in public. It is indeed difficult to combat the negativity that people might express because of someone’s weight. We’ve all seen the talk shows and experiments where a celebrity or their assistant puts on a “fat suit” and is treated differently, usually poorly, in everyday situations. We who are overweight cannot just take off the “fat suit” and need to know how to love our bodies the way they are now, despite what others might say or do.

I used to be a firm believer that overweight negated being pretty. I was told that I had such a pretty face and such a great personality, if I would only lose weight. Be it kindergarten or college, the popular crowd usually judged me on looks. I stuck with a crowd of eclectics until I finally found a niche, being the smart, odd girl who hung around with other smart, odd people. Having found a source of support, also known as friends, I began to grow and see myself through their eyes. Soon I found that I had other things I liked about my personality besides being smart. Odd wasn’t the word for what I was anymore, I was original, funny, spontaneous… and my list grew. As it did, I stopped hanging around the people who judged me or made me feel bad about myself.

As I began to like myself more, I played more with my hair and my clothes and makeup. I needed a style that was more of statement about myself. It felt almost artistic bringing the inner me to the outside. Oddly enough, I find that when I’m dressed in my favorite clothes and am made up, I eat less. I think that’s because you act how you feel. If I feel beautiful and am having a thin day, my actions follow suit.

Soon I found myself wanting to go to a gym and so I signed up, nervously. I’ve had several gym memberships in my lifetime, and the ones that were most successful and comfortable for me were run out of hospitals. They take things from a health approach, rather than a body competition approach. It’s also common to find larger people in that type of program, so it can be less intimidating. There are usually heart rate monitors and health professionals on staff in case of any health issues or fears.

One day as I was working out on the elliptical trainer at around 350 pounds, I noticed in the mirror ahead of me that the girl had some well defined shoulders. That was an epiphany! I was proud of something on my body. Soon I noticed the firming of my hips and the power I felt from strength training. These things made me feel beautiful.

I became disabled at the age of 36. I had a good pity party and weighed up to 460 pounds, while lying in bed eating, wishing the pain would go away. Long gone are the days of working out in gyms, but I do my physical therapy at home. Now I notice the hardness of my biceps and the fact that I can even feel my hamstrings. I see more definition in my calves and when I don’t see these things, I pull out my old pictures. My old pictures of me at 460 pounds give me a reality check of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

These things I find to like about myself, to embrace, are the very things that give me strength to go out into the cold world and face people who might not understand me and be cruel. I used to try to live up to everyone else’s standard of success. Now I have my own. Reaching my goals and succeeding at my desires makes the negative people of my world less powerful.

Another rule I have for myself is that I no longer people please. If I don’t want to go to an event or an occasion because I know there will be people there who are unkind toward my weight or my goals, I don’t go. There is no sense in stressing out over something that should be fun. I make alternative plans that don’t include negative people.

While I can’t say what will work for everyone, I can tell you that I have grown from hating, literally loathing my body, to accepting it and finding things I love about it. I’ve also come from being afraid to let anyone see me to being able to go to a water park in a bathing suit.

What are some things that you love about yourself? How would you redefine success?

Here is a poem I wrote back in 2001. I hope you enjoy it.

Big Fat Lies
Waiting for some miracle, while eating chips at night,

Surfing all the channels for the diet that’s finally right,

All these years of damage; I’ve starved, but gained a lot,

Certainly not in the fitness department; I was a total flop!

I was told the same old rules, I’m sure you know by heart,

I’ll repeat them anyway so this poem can start:

Big girls should never go to proms or have weddings in big sizes,

Wear a lot of rust and black because it slenderizes.

Never eat in front of people, you’ll look like a pig!

Keep you mouth shut, Baby, you shouldn't be loud and big.

Well, thank you for the great advice I hear all night and day.

Now pardon me if I take my life and go the other way.

Big girls should go wherever they want wearing shorts or wedding gear,

We should speak what’s on our minds, we have the right to share,

Take your life and live right now, not waiting until when…

You get one chance to go around--don’t let them steal your wind!

Stop the wishful thinking, just live and you’ll get better,

Never miss a day at the beach dressed for summer weather.

How long has it been since you felt the breeze of summer on your legs?

Not been ashamed of wearing shorts or eating ice cream with the kids?

Skipped through your yard on a sunny day or went on woodsy walk?

Don’t let those people get you down, who cares if they start to talk?

The time is now--Go evolve, knowing the journey never ends,

Enjoy the twists and turns you take, thanking God for every win!
Have you ever been hurt by strangers talking about your weight? How did you react?

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ETHELMERZ 6/10/2020
Wishing you better days, it is hard keeping yourself going. Report
ERIN_POSCH 3/23/2020
thanks for sharing Report
BLESSEDMOM2014 2/16/2020
Love, love, love this! Report
ANNIEMAROO 2/14/2020
Thank you for your honesty about what it's like to be in your shoes. Believe me when I say "You are an inspiration!!!" Report
CD25125448 9/30/2019
Thank you for this post and the positive way you've framed your mindset. I need to do the same. Honestly, the greatest haters I currently have, since gaining so much weight, are family members. I come from a family of extremely "appearance-focused" people, and like with much of society today, "fat does not equal attractive". It's one thing to learn not to worry about what others say and think...but very difficult to deal with hurtful comments from those we love the most...and who are supposed to love us and support us no matter what. For me, with these people, I mostly believe that they are just concerned about my health. But seriously...when I tell them about how I'm working on that, and attempting to share my goals with them, they continue to be negative toward me, and barely even seem to listen. It's really hard sometimes. Some people just don't get it, if they've never had to struggle with weight. So for myself and all of those out there whose haters are within their own families, I'll repeat what a dear friend once said many years ago. "Everyone gets talked about for something. If it's not one thing, it will be another." Let's be kind to ourselves, no matter what. And stick together here on Sparkpeople. We're in this together, regardless of what's going on around us. Report
AMOBRASIL83 7/27/2019
Love reading your blogs...they're such an inspiration! Don't stop sharing with us! Report
SOAPIT 7/23/2019
While I understand and agree with much of this blog post sometimes it is very difficult to get past all those things. I live on a lake and have not had a bathing suit on in years, have not been swimming, die from the heat while boating because I only wear jeans. Been trying to get past these things for years...hope to one day actually do it. Glad you found peace within yourself....good for you. Report
KERRYG155 7/10/2019
I definitely went through those things but I did have my younger sister was and still is my friend and cheerleader. Report
Thanks Beth for this inspiring blog and poem. I see myself in all that you wrote.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people papermoon2 wrote about. And yet not really I am struggling with a lot of things at the moment physical, mental, and emotional and my coping skills are to stuff my face with food. I don't want to do this but I don't have the energy to stop myself. Actually that is partially true but to be really honest because of pass abuse I learned at a very young age to separate from my body. So I am not really aware of stuffing my face with food until I realize I feel sick. I know until I heal from the abuse I will continue to do this. This coping mechanism helped me survive the abuse but is not helping me now. Report
Great attitude and cool poem Report
Love this Report
Absolutely love this!!! Report
What an awesome blog.............Thank You. Report
Thank you Beth. I love reading and re-reading your articles. The nasty remarks of strangers don't hurt as much as the nasty remarks from supposed friends and especially from relatives. Some of them are etched in my brain, but I'm trying to erase them and get on with my life. I've noticed a common theme is the nastiness of sisters. My own sister has been very hateful over the years. Right now we're going on a year since we've talked. It's been a good year, much more peaceful without her condescension. Ditto my MIL. Life is so much nicer and serene being surrounded by supportive friends. Thanks for the reminder to love myself. I don't do that nearly enough. Report
Good post and good poem. It's so hard to like oneself. Report
I applaud you! You are remarkable! Report
Beautiful! Report
Woman, you, your blog, and your poem are BEAUTIFUL! Thank you. I am copying your poem to post by my closet as inspiration. I too, have been hurt by the haters, and I too, say: "No more" Report
Beautiful. Report
Wonderful post and I loved the poem. It is really hard to not think badly of yourself when all you see around you in the magazines is stick people. I love "All You" though for it has normal woman in it. I hope when I am feeling down that I can remember what you said about being happy with ourselves. Report
I love the poem. I couldn't have said it better myself. We deserve the best always, no matter what size we are! Report
I was about 10 months pregnant - over weight to begin with, but very big prego belly too! - A man was scolding his BEAUTIFUL teenage daughter for purchasing and eating a candy bar. As they passed me he pointed and said "Do you want to look like HER!" Needless to say I was hurt - but also enraged enough to yell back "I am 9 months pregnant you moran!" Then I mentioned to him that it was Dad's like him that cause eating disorders like anorexia. Not very nice of me, I know, but hopefully it left him with something to think about. Report
I mentioned to a friend the other day that "I'm getting close to being overweight" and she said congratulations. Another looked at us like we were crazy, but being in the obese range for years, being just overweight for me is going to be great. Then continue on until I'm the right weight for ME. You do it first for yourself and then for family to be around for them in the future. Fortunately, I do have a somewhat support system as my grandsons keep wanting to go for walks and bike rides. My daughter stopped going to the gym as her boyfriend didn't like her being around other guys so we get her to go with us. Not quite the same but is moving, not sitting. Report
I live by 2 Rules- 1. My Mom's: Pretty is, as pretty does. Many look great from the outside, and are empty of any worth on the inside. 2. God: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Report
I enjoyed the poem and the blog. Thanks for sharing it with us. Report
This blog and posts really hit home. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring!! Report
wonderful thanks so much for sharing. Report
This blog post is timely once again in light of the recent flap at marieclaire.com.

The "watershed moment" in relations between those who are gravitationally enhanced and those who think less of us for being so has finally arrived.

There is no justification for anyone spewing hate, and the United States Constitution should not be protecting free speech (or blogging in this case) in a market-driven scarcity-model of speech known as the finite world of broadcast media. There were landmark cases dating back into the 19th century.

That being said, this blatant misuse of a public forum is bringing out in the open the biases, prejudices and unspoken thoughts of the size-ist bigots everywhere! Report
Wow -- beautifully said. You are a great inspiration to me! Thank you so much for sharing. Report
Loved the Blog - and the comments. Seems that most of us have had barbed comments to contend with at some time about our size.
I am now determined that hurtful remarks will be addressed and not ignored.
Thank you for the inspiration to begin a fight back. Report
I am roughly 180#. I'm overweight, but I am also relatively healthy and working toward becoming healthier. My brother in law has made comments about how I won't ever keep the weight off b/c no one ever can. He is 350+ #s... and it makes me so mad that he would have the audacity to comment on my weight issues when he can't even face his own. I think his assessment of my future success is based on his own inability to manage his own weight and health.

I know that society is very stereotypical and often mean to people who are heavier than others.... but there also appears to be situations where those who are heavy are unfairly rude to those who are smaller. I think ultimately society needs an attitude adjustment on both counts. Report
at 360#, people don't know if i'm on my 'weigh' up or down...i think an opportunity to turn the attitude around is to tell people, 'you should have seen me 200 pounds ago!' it happened in reverse to me...i finally had gotten so big i could no longer wear my mom's castoffs that i had to go to a store to figure out what size i actually was...i said to the store clerk helping me, 'i don't know what size i am--it's been about 100 pounds since i bought clothes'...her sweet reaction was 'oh, that's so good!' thinking i had LOST that much...the critical, judgmental people don't know your/my/our situation and, as you have pointed out, they are not worth your 'shame' or even 'embarrassment'...i can LOGICALLY say it, but to recognize it in my gut, is another thing... Report
great poem and blog. Report
Have I ever been hurt? Yes and it came from my younger sister. I had been feeling bad; shaky, weak and unsteady on my feet. It turned out to be to high a dosage of Thyroid medicine. When the doctor knocked it back, I felt like a new woman.

My sister called to see how the doctor's appt went and when I told her the dosage was to high due to my weight loss, she informed me that I was never going to be able to lose the weight and even if I did I wouldn't be able to maintain the loss. I was crushed for a second and then I was pissed. I won't go into what I said but needless to say we didn't speak for 6 weeks. She eventually apologized and said she was just showing concern for my health - duh, really? For what I said to her - I never apologized and don't ever plan too. She deserved the tongue lashing she got.

A struggle of a 10 pound weight loss can't even compare to a 160 pound weight loss. The journey is hard enough without someone telling you you can't and won't do it. Can you imagine - and this from a person who is suppose to love you for who you are. We may be family but we don't always like each other.

Thank you for letting me "vent" - gosh it feels good! Best wishes to you on your weight loss journey and thank you for a thought provoking poem. Report
Love it! I don't want to miss today because of some nebulous someday of being back at a comfortable weight. I have a family reunion coming up the end of next week and though I dread putting on a swimsuit, I will do it and I will have fun. I will enjoy every relationship and ignore any weight comments. My inlaws have been notorious in that regard. Years ago they even wanted everyone to hop on the scale to see what kind of shape we were in. I refused and caught a lot of grief for not joining in their 'fun'. I wasn't even really overweight at the time. Still, because of a lifetime of yoyo living, I was very self conscious and it was and is none of their business. Now I really need/want to lose weight and the last thing I will want to discuss at the reunion is my size. Hmmm. Report
I too suffer from my self image. I struggle everyday. Especially watching myself gain wait and knowing where I was. I have had a two year battle with quitting smoking in which I gained 20 lbs. I have a hard time believing that I will lose that 20 lbs again. But I'm staying quit this time which has given some self confidence back that was lost in previous attempts. And with that self confidence, I am starting to believe I can do more :) Thanks for sharing! Report
great poem Report
When I began my journey at 248 lbs I was too embarrassed to even walk when people would see me (look at that fattie trying to get up that hill!). So I would walk under cover of darkness late at night or early in the morning. It's shameful to admit, but true. No way would I go to a gym - no way! So, it was me hiding in the darkness with my pedometer because I couldn't bear someone to shout out a hurtful comment. I am down almost 80 lbs now and have come fully into the light. I hike every Saturday with a lot of super fit people and I actually feel like I have earned my place among them. No more hiding and it feels great. Report
Yesterday I told my sister that I would need knee surgery on my left knee(already had surgery on right one..both surgeries are due to an accident) instead of saying "I'm sorry to hear that" or "how can I help" she said "after that surgery are you going to join a gym and work on your weight?" I told her at this time a gym,working out or weight loss were the furthest things from my mind! She's lucky I was still in shock from finding out about the operation! Oh...and she's overweight too! Report
I have read this post before, but I am glad that I read it again. It gave me "food" for thought.

I have not always had a good opinion of myself, that is one of the things I have worked the hardest on during my journey that began on Nov 26,2007. I have been working on seeing myself in a positive light, and it has been enormously helpful. That along with banishing the negatives that have wound through my mind for soooo long, has made my journey a real joy.

But, I am remembering what I did do right. Actually, many years ago, I was having one of my periods of dieting and exercising. I had cycled through that for a million years, it seemed.

This particular time, I began to notice the other people around me at the gym, the thin people working out with ease, the "swingers" trying ot hook up, the older people working hard, etc We are all familiar.

But, the thing that I noticed, actually proved to me a theory I had been finding in my everyday life. Not one of those people cared what I looked like, or what I was doing.

Not that they were being mean, they were just so self involved, they really did not notice me, unless we were side by side on a machine, and we spoke. If we had occasion to do that, the majority of the folks were friendly.

I guess, that helped to develop the theory that was running around in my head.

People, are not normally just plain mean, they are just plain unaware.

Of course, there are exceptions, and I have just chosen to ignore any of that @$%
until now I am at the point, that I don't even notice, so for me, it is nonexistant. I mean, really, what do their opinions, if they even have one about me, have to do with my life?

I realized that I was so wrapped up in my appearance, my eating, my obsessiveness, that I thought everyone else was too! What a relief to realize that I was just not that important in the life of complete strangers.

I agree with INDYGIRL. My opinion about me is the only one that truly matters. As I am learning to love myself, and like myself even better, I realize that I can choose to see the negative responses from others, or I can smile first, and realize that that usually is what people respond to no matter WHAT you weigh!

Best wishes on all of your personal journeys!


I Love That Poem Report
Awesome poem, awesome blog - you are truely an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. Report
WTG girl...........BTDT, maybe not as drastic as you went through, but I had some of that "stuff" too. Keep on trucking and don't waste time on those who don't deserve it...for as you intimated..."we pass this way but once"... so go for it all. Report
I will be honest - I have never had anyone comment directly about my weight (except my grandmother....God Bless her) - the thing that irks me is when my perfect size 6-8 "friends" talk about how fat THEY are....Honestly they have NO idea what it is to be in the world as an overweight person - someone who can't walk into any clothing store (let alone a bathing suit) and wear it off the rack.....

I am making choices for myself these days! I no longer put myself in situations where I have to defend my "skinny" friends - I no longer am there to make them feel better about themselves - if they need me they know where to find me - in the meantime I am surrounding myself with people who are supportive, who I talk to about other topics beside weight loss.... YOU are doing awesome!! Report
thank you for this blog it made me feel like i can be brave not worry about what others think of me. i remember the first fat joke someone ever said to me was when i was in the 3rd grade. its weird how one person can effect the rest of your life. i look back at those pictures i wasn't even fat at all. but the girl told me i looked pregnant! she was my age. but after that kids started teasing me more and more from elementry to high school about my weight and everytime they made fun of me the more i ate but not really noticed i was eating. i ran across this site a couple months ago but i didnt really get hooked on it till a month ago. My mom and i have both joined and we are losing together. we weigh about the same and i dont like going to the gym alone. but im doing this for me and no one else. thank you to ~indygirl for inspiring me to move forward Report
I was walking down the hallway in high school one day, rushing through the packed crowd of students to get to my locker. Suddenly, another kid purposely knocked into me. He sneered "Oh, fatty, at least I ran into a fat person". HUH??? I was a size 6. I'm not sure who he was calling "fat". After that time, I developed severe body issues.

I totally understand how other people's hurtfulness can make us feel vulnerable and can hurt deeply. When we have it in us to disregard those remarks and go on with loving ourselves and life, that's when we've found the strength to win. Report
I love your energy, stay positive don't let others steal your power! Report
Awesome poem and awesome blog. Just remember you can only be hurt by other people if you let them hurt you. It's all a state of mind Love yourself, because really, how you feel about yourself is the only thing that really matters. Report
Just recently I came to the realization that someone doesn't like me because she is jealous of my accomplishments ( I have lost 70lbs over the last 3 years) and she has even said she is indimidated by me so now that I am shining as brightly as I can she has gone out of her way to be cruel. I am trying to find forgiveness but its hard when someone is intentionally hurtful. I really enjoyed this blog and the poem. Thanks, Report