I’ve had this post on the back-burner for almost three weeks, not really knowing how to say all I want to say without being overly wordy, sentimental, melodramatic, awkward, or not making any sense at all.
Like that sentence.
But at the end of July, a study on the effects of fat-shaming was published and suddenly people are flabbergasted to find out that fat-shaming contributes to increased obesity, and not healthier habits after all, because science now says so. To that I say…duh. Did we really need a study to tell us that weight bias and discrimination contributes to depression, lower self-esteem, self-loathing and extra trips through the fast-food drive thru?
It’s called a shame spiral for a reason, people.
Dirty looks from ladies in boutique clothing stores because I’m shopping with my size 2 friends and I clearly don’t belong in the store.
Plus size sections in the basement corners of large department stores.
No plus size clothing available at all.
Calling it plus size in the first place.
The lady on the crowded bus who loudly proclaimed I was too fat to sit next to her.
Let’s not even talk about online dating. I’ll save that one for later.
I could list more, but there’s another side to this that I really want to write about, and that is that on far more occasions than not, I’m the one fat-shaming myself because of what I think other people think of me based on actual and perceived prior experiences.
This sentiment often comes to mind recently:
As I get older, it’s something I’m learning to embrace, but trying to rid myself of years worth of negative self-talk is a hard (although worthwhile) battle. The negative thoughts are ingrained in my attitude, and they are the easiest to hold on to when I feel like I’m being attacked, forgotten, left-out, or ignored because of my weight.
My first recollection of being seen by others as “bigger” was back when I was 12 or 13. I was the pitcher for my little league soft-ball team and during one particular game, the other team’s coach decided to have a screaming fit about my team cheating and lying about my age because I was “so much bigger” than all the other girls. He even demanded to see my birth certificate. My coach kept me in, and we won, but that doesn’t change how the experience integrated itself into my psyche.
Three things to note:
- I was actually one of the youngest on the team.
- I was not overweight. I had boobs and hips and yes, I did look like a 16 year old, but it’s the first time I can remember it being publicly pointed out BY AN ADULT MALE that I was different. And since I was younger, and bigger than all the ‘normal’ girls my age, it meant I didn’t fit in.
- I’d like to find that man now and kick him in the shins. Only higher.
This image of myself as “bigger” carried itself with me into high school, and even though I didn’t let it stop me from doing things back then, to this day I still say, “I was the ‘biggest’ girl on my dance and cheer-leading squads.” What that really means, is that the other girls were shorter than I was, with naturally smaller frames, but in my own mind I was still “bigger,” and therefore, fat.
Then my depression hit, and I spent my entire 20’s trying to claw my way up and out of my dizzying, damaging spiral of self-hate and fat-shaming.
I’m not good enough…
I don’t deserve…
No one likes me…
If I were just skinny…
The saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, is a big fat lie. Words do hurt, and I am particularly exceptional at using them against myself.
The truth is that I am overweight. This is a fact, and right now it is what it is. But it has taken me a very long time to realized that it is not who I am, and I am going to continue to work on caring far more about what I think of myself, and less on what anyone else thinks (unless you think I’m awesome, in which case you are totally right).
This is the end of my own personal fat-shaming — join me?