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Riffing off my sister's blog

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

ALICIA363 wrote a great blog a couple of days ago and it got me thinking. It's about one of her barriers to success: fear of becoming "One of Them". It's a personal reverie, but it really is addressing how we develop internal prejudices and attach them to external things, like, in my case, body size/shape. In her case, athleticism.

I had to go through a similar process myself, addressing my fear of success at the weight loss game. I truly did fear losing the connection with people who held this attitude about thin folks. Including myself.

Where did we get the idea that "thin" equals "mean"? Is it from the almost cliché portrayals in the media? Think TV or movies, two girlfriends over ice cream, looking across at their nemesis, "I forget, why do we hate her?".

Or perhaps we had a specific individual in our lives, someone who was important to us, like a mom or a sister, or someone we looked up to at school... that either exemplified the "thin = mean" attitude or taught us by their comments.

Or we might have been bullied, had comments made to us directly or about us, related to our weight. Being sensitive souls, we took it all in and defended ourselves by putting up an inner barrier. We labeled ourselves as "good" or "victims" and the other guys/gals as "bad" or "bullies".

Many heavy people have a prejudice toward thinner, more "beautiful" people. I took one of those tests that measures responses to show your hidden prejudice that was based on heavy versus thin, and found out that my own prejudice was in favor of the heavier! No wonder I had problems accepting myself as thin!

As with any form of discrimination, the solution lies in getting to know a few of the population and finding out that like all humans, there is a mix of good and not so good characteristics... but as individuals, not as a class!

Yes, there are some thin "mean girls", but more thin "clueless", and a large population of thin folks who have to work every bit as hard as I do as a POW. "You can't tell a book by its cover" definitely applies here.

Until I *did* succeed and walk a mile or six in their shoes, how would I know about the problems of "trying not to lose any more"? How would I know about the issues of the five pounds that feels like 50 to someone whose natural weight was less than what I used to carry?

By befriending some naturally thin people, I found out, for example, the gal who was naturally thin and had this huge chocolate bar on her desk? It didn't tempt her the way it would me... it sat there for MONTHS! Same chocolate bar. Not like me, where the chocolate bar would be a new one every day (or sometimes multiple times a day). She's not a compulsive eater. I am.

When my own body took on ten extra pounds last year? It felt like a humongous burden! 10 pounds added to 120 is almost 10% of my body weight. 10 pounds added to 210? Not as much, proportionally. So don't envy the thinner among us... when they complain about that 10 pounds, it's as scary to them as my original 80 or 90 was to me.

By getting out there and running in races, I found out that most winners are every bit as encouraging of the last runners as we are admiring of them.

My sister learned the same way I did... by observing and reasoning. We still reject the attributes of character that are ugly... but recognize now that they are independent of the body size they come wrapped it. It's OK to be thin and fit... it won't turn you into the "mean girl" example that probably started this internal barrier in the first place.

LIFE is good. It's better when I'm fit. It's at its best when friends and family are along for the journey! Creatively, consciously, and consistently making choices to support long term health and personal growth... I am GRATEFUL for every single day!

emoticon (And thanks, Ace, for reminding me of my roots!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting blog. Thanks.
    1503 days ago
    Grat blog, thanks
    1503 days ago
    awesome blog thanks for sharing
    1503 days ago
    Thanks to you and our other team members I feel so much better about this now hearing its not just something that seems to pop up at least 3-4 times a month. At first i was taken aback by it but now I just throw out a "ya think?" whenever I hear the "you're way too thin or "going over the top with this aren't you?"
    To thy own self be true Spark friends.
    emoticon for sharing Barb!!

    1504 days ago
    Great blog, thanks for sharing!

    1504 days ago
    And I'm going to restate what I just wrote on her blog.
    Weight bias in reverse is real as is "thin shaming" While I would never tell anyone that they're too fat, somehow advising me that I'm too thin is considered OK. I'm right smack in the middle of the recommended healthy BMI range.

    Your 10 pounds example is perfect! It doesn't mean the same to my husband as it does to me.
    1504 days ago
  • DALID414
    Yup, I've been the one at the gym thinking s/he is always here working out hard and s/he looks the same! Silly me, now I know why. emoticon
    1504 days ago
    One thing that thinness means to me is possible death. My mother died at the age of 47 weighing 77 lb. Not that she wanted to be that skinny, but she was very ill. Food disgusted her when she looked at it and so she was being tube fed to the tune of 2000 calories per day, but still the weight kept dropping off. She had adrenal exhaustion.

    And then there was me who weighed 99 lb. a good part of my early adult life and was told that I would be hospitalized if I didn't gain weight for a pregnancy. So little by little my weight crept up to 172 lb. Then several years ago I started dropping weight without even trying, and in fact I was forcing myself to eat to try to stop the rapid weight loss which was accompanied by horrible abdominal cramping. I lost 50 lb. in three months and was at the weight that supposedly I am supposed to be. It was discovered my innards were blocked so I had emergency surgery. In spite of the fact that supposedly I was at the weight recommended for my height, the hospital dietician was desperately trying to help me gain weight.

    A colostomy and eventually an ileostomy later, I had gained back to the 172. So then I decided to join SparkPeople and have gradually lost weight. I am about 130 now, and don't want to lose any more since I want a few lbs. for safety.
    1504 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I agree with you so much but had not stopped to REALIZE it before. I agree with all you say about "thin" people in my mind but I hadn't realized it until this....I just shied away from them. Bottom line is people are people, inside and out and not necessarily what our minds project on them. I know for a fact my mind is "bent" out of shape!

    Thanks for another outstanding blog that makes EVERYONE think! emoticon

    1505 days ago
  • -RUBIES-
    I think the whole "thin=mean" comes straight from tv/media. Personally, I've never thought that way. Fat, thin, mean, nice... they come in all different sizes.

    Excellent thought provoking blog.
    1505 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/7/2014 12:19:14 PM
    I think this relates to thoughts I've been having about wanting my outside to match my inside -- for people to not assume that because I look such and so, I fit neatly in this box and they understand me. I haven't been able to fully flesh out my thoughts on the subject, though, even though they've been simmering for ages.
    1505 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Well, you did it again -- caused me to think about/analyze what is going on inside this overweight body's mind. Thank you.
    1505 days ago
    We all need to look past the physical attributes and seek the person within. Define them for their inner beauty and get to know that person instead of what you see.
    1505 days ago
    I see these prejudices everyday -- not in body image/weight type of things, but ethnicity. My DD happens to be Korean. When we're out together people do a "double-take". It used to bother me. In fact, when both my kids were little (both Korean adoptees), people would stop and ask me "Are these your children?" Of course, in the brain, sarcasm went into overdrive with responses, but I just simply replied with one word, "Yes." If they require more of an explanation I would just say, "I am their Mom by the heart." That was the end of it, usually.

    ANY kind of prejudice, weight or otherwise, is a real barrier to getting to know the REAL person, the "book behind the cover".

    Great blog. Thanks.
    1505 days ago
    emoticon "they are independent of the body size they come wrapped in"

    We must be wired to categorize (@ least that's my excuse) - to save us from the big, dark, 'thing' out to devour us...
    I am constantly reminded (and am grateful for the lessons) that while 'we' are indeed 'one', each of us is unique and trying to fit 'those people' into a box just doesn't serve me well.

    Here's to each of us, in whatever size and shape we sport, Living life Daily, Gratefully and with Love, shown as Respect, for all of us.
    1505 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/7/2014 8:31:54 AM
    Super blog and really resonates with me at so many levels: "liked" it.

    That protective insulation of the extra pounds served a purpose, I'm pretty sure in my case . . . and figuring out what that was helped me lose it. Weight loss starts between the ears, maintenance continues in the same place.

    It was a huge shock for me when I realized that one of the "thin beautiful mother of three" gals at the gym looked that way because . . . she worked at it!! Yeah!!
    1505 days ago
    Awesome blog!--Interesting-----Lynda emoticon
    1505 days ago
    We always attribute motives to others based on their appearance. That's pretty much the definition of Prejudice. I always thought that when others had something I wanted, it was easy for them. A person with good grades must be a lot smarter. It never occurred to me that they studied even though they'd rather be doing other things like I did. A person who was thin must be able to eat the way I wanted to eat but without gaining weight. In the movies you see effort as a struggle, sweat pouring or facial muscles concentrated. Effort is largely invisible in others, though. I am thin,now, and I am sure that people at the grocery store think that I automatically just buy food that is good for me. They never hear the internal dialogue "Walk on By", "Don't even go down that aisle". It doesn't show up on my face.
    1505 days ago
    Haven't thought too much about the way we generalize people according to fat, thin, or something else where we place them in a category. I am sure that this would be wrong because we are so different on the inside from what people see on the outside . Great blog!
    1505 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Alicia did write an excellent introspective blog. I did not necessarily equate the thin ones as being mean. However, I did have the bias that the thin people had an easy life and did not need to work on staying fit. There are some thin people who seem to have metabolisms that allow them to eat anything., Like you I watched thin people eating crackers and candy without an urgency.

    However, now I realize that many thin fit people work hard at staying fit. I see them daily at the gym or working out. I also see thin people making good food choices.

    You are right about not judging people. Those 10 pounds can be very frightening even if you are thin.

    Thanks for a great blog and for sharing the other excellent blog.
    1505 days ago
    I agree with MJ, an awesome blog. I have to admit, sometimes I do look at morbidly obese people and wonder how they got that way and why they don't do something about it. No matter what, 10 pounds is 10 pounds and hard for anybody to lose. I do not share my thoughts with anybody, but a thought is a thought and I need to stop that.
    1505 days ago
  • ALICIA363
    Thanks for the nod and the expansion of thoughts. It's interesting to see the reactions/interpretation to the "One of Them" blog. I'm very conscious that the written word, although crafted as carefully as I could, is not a perfect expression of myself. SP continues to be a growing experience!
    1505 days ago
    Wow, all I can say about this blog is emoticon ! It's emoticon on every level and in every word. emoticon and I'm so glad I call you friend!

    Keep at it! LIFE is good and even better with Sparkfriends!
    1505 days ago
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