Words like violence

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past couple weeks about weight loss surgery. And I am still very much on the fence at this point. I have absolutely no clue what I want to do. There are so many thoughts running through my head, I’m having a hard time finding the proper way to channel it all. Surgery doesn’t feel like my best option. I’m not sure if I’m at the point where it is my last resort, and I always told myself it would have to be, before I’d consider it. I’ve talked to friends and family, and I have read a bit, but I’m still not sure what I should do.

One thing I have learned in the process, is that many people are ignorant – remember, this doesn’t mean the same thing as “stupid” – it simply means not knowing or understanding something. I have spent my entire life in the shoes (and the body) of a fat person. Unless you have been in these shoes and have some truly constructive and useful advice, I’d suggest sitting this one out.

My weight is not something I have to justify, defend, or be ashamed of. I shouldn’t have to “explain” myself – if you don’t know the story of why I’m fat or how my life has been affected by it, you can’t truly begin to comprehend how difficult it is to struggle with something like this – that is, unless you ask. I make no apologies for my fatness confusing your sense of what a “normal” body type is. Lord knows there are all types of bodies, and all types of prejudice against ALL of them.

Fat is unfortunately still a socially accepted form of personal attack.

So is being thin. How many times have skinny women been told to eat a hamburger? How many women are told they look like “death warmed over” just because you see the curve of a bone beneath her skin? (And why is being fat *or* thin more socially acceptable if you are male than female?)

Talking bad about anybody’s body is damaging to a person’s pride, ego, and sense of self-worth. People find flaws so easily when they look at others. How often do you see flaws when you look at yourself? I see my flaws daily, I don’t need other people to re-state the obvious. Instead, why not take a look in the mirror and decide if your flaws are any better or worse than mine? You may have to look further than the mirror. It is normal to wonder and question things – we can never understand others if we don’t first understand ourselves. I always used to think it was the other way around, and there’s where I got hung up.

I couldn’t understand the people who hurt me, criticized me, and made me go home every day crying. I felt like I needed to do something to make them happy, because their attitude clearly showed they were distressed. Each time you do something to hurt another’s ego, you are also hurting your own, even if you may not realize it right away. So I felt bad for these people who felt so bad about themselves that they had to take that out on me.

Rather than complain about ignorance in this post, I think the point of this blog, and perhaps any, is to help shed a light on things that may help the reader identify with the writer. So here is where I get to list all of the things I have been called and/or accused of being in my life. After that, I will list things I would prefer to be called, or think about myself. Maybe we can get the scale to weigh in my favor? Let’s see…

Things I have been called in my life: Fat, Chunky, Chubby, Big, Ugly, Disgusting, Unhealthy, Fatty, Fatso, Tubby, Gigantic, Gross, Huge, Blimpy, Thick, Unsexy, Fat ass, oversized load, wide load, butterball, lard ass, cow, pig, obese, oversized… and “You have a nice smile, but….” I’m sure there are more but I think I’ll stop before I let any of them sink in. Oh, here’s my favorite – Megasaurus. It was hurtful at the time, but now it just makes me giggle. They were calling me something that could easily tear them to shreds! RAHR! Don’t make the Megasaurus mad, you might be her next meal! On top of all the times people would point and laugh, and then their buddy would tell them not to piss me off, because I might sit on them. I was tall for my age in grade school, so being fat made me stand out even more. The implication that I might sit on my enemies always confounded me, but I admit that I used it to my advantage at times. “Stop being a jerk, I WILL sit on you!”

Now, here’s some things I think of myself and know to be true: Creative, kind, crafty, resourceful, loving, intelligent, pretty, sweet, open-minded, generous, geeky, nerdy, talented, fun, friendly, cute, nice, interesting, unique, plus-sized, smart, curious, silly, helpful, overweight, charming, and compassionate. There, see? That wasn’t so hard. I may not believe these things all the time, but it’s definitely important to remind myself once in a while.

The point I’m getting at is that words you use make a big impact on how a person feels. I could list more negative things I’ve been called than positive things I think about myself – I had to really reach for some of that, and wasn’t sure if I fully believed some of the “nice” things I just said about myself. This is because years and years of bullying and attacks on my body have conditioned me to believe that I am flawed.

What would I like anybody who reads this to take away from this? Well, first of all, think before you speak. If the words you are about to drop out of your mouth might damage a person’s ego or self-worth, find something else to say. Second, don’t assume you know a person based merely on their appearance – I have known people my size and bigger who were in all sense of the word “healthy” – active, happy, fit and could probably beat up anybody who called them fat, if they really wanted to. Next, understand that the fat person in front of you has probably already tried everything you are about to suggest to lose weight. If you think a person who has said they have been fat for the past 32 years of their life has never even considered ways X, Y and Z to diet and exercise, you may want to reflect on something from your own life that you’ve been unable to escape. Do you have a mole on your face? Do you have a big nose? Do you hate your hair? Do you have bad teeth? Do people still call you some ridiculous nickname from childhood that you hate? Have you ever been turned down when you asked somebody out? Have you ever wished that zit would have just waited ONE more day to pop up in the middle of your face? If you have ever had something weighing you down and making you feel bad about yourself, understand that your comments about another’s appearance are a similar burden to carry.

Being fat is not something I can ever escape – even if I lose weight, it will always be a part of my life, my history, and what has made me who I am. When you call me fat, you are basically saying that I am flawed, and that is hurtful. It’s damaging. My weight is something I am constantly aware of, whether somebody is pointing it out or not. I can’t ride on airplanes, I can’t fit through turnstyles at the train station, I can’t even wear all those cute knee-high socks I love so much. I will always be 100% more aware of my weight than you are, because I live in it every day.

Moral of the story… stop trying to label people you don’t know or understand. Be kind to one another. Think before you speak, and, if what you’re about to say would hurt *you* if somebody said it, just don’t say it.

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