For a good part of my life, I weighed close to 300 pounds. I’m talking when I was a teenager. At the ages when such a thing, regardless of what’s taught and preached, easily marks you.
It got me scorn. Some people, people I didn’t even know, looked at me like I was fucking scum. I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of nice and kind people who didn’t—but yeah, still years of glares and critical eyes.
Nowadays, after more than a year of work, I weigh around 180 pounds. I’m five-foot-nine. This is better than I could have ever hoped for or ever imagined. I used to only be thin in my dreams and my fantasies.
And, I wanted to say this upfront, get my backstory done and cleared up for you, so I can then say this with some context: I’m in favor of body positivity. It is a necessary thing, a necessary stance, to quell and stamp down horrible alternatives. Not being body positive, not growing up with that mindset, leaves nasty, lasting scars. For instance, I hate every old picture of me. Hell, moments like my high school graduation, and significant times with family members—some family members I will never see again—I can’t stand to look at because of my fat face.
And that…well, that’s because of society. Being overweight means being taught by the media to hate the way you look. It’s worse for women, duh, but men get it as well. I got it as well.
I may be thinner now, but I didn’t forget what it was like. When I say body positivity is a good thing, I’m not saying I don’t want people to be healthier—I just don’t want people to hate themselves. God…I don’t want that to happen to anyone anymore.
I didn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve that pain. No one does.
And, I’m not one of those people who blames the parents. I’m not even going to lay the burden on the individual entirely. I got thinner because I could afford a nutritionist. Could afford to spend a solid hour on exercise literally every single day toward a fitness goal. I’m privileged enough, that I got to be thin again.
And not everyone gets that claim. Obesity is caused by systemic and holistic issues. It’s hard to run from, and harder still to avoid.
I’m terrified that come later in life I will not have the time or the monetary freedom to run and walk, to get nutritional help. I fear I will be at the whims of a world that is not built to make people healthy.
Once fat, you are fat. Regardless of your actual body. Mental scars stay. When you lose a lot of weight, everyone congratulates you—and mixed in with the pride from that, is the thought: “It would be so easy to go back” and “One piece of bread, one binge, one cupcake, and you’ll lose all that work.”
Who cares if that’s irrational? It hurts all the same.
Other people have much more severe problems, sure. Depression, cancer, divorce, bankruptcy. I get that. But, in this world where all the people who did not have a voice, now do through the internet, I thought it might be worthwhile to share this. To share for the sake of those with similar experiences, and tell them it’s not odd, and it’s not just them, and to make everyone else understand.
Because there’s a lot to understand.
A fat person knows they are fat. They know they should get more exercise. They understand that certain foods hurt them. The health risks, they know all too well. The media screamed it at them. Little kids made fun. The fact it makes it harder for them to have a significant other, to wear nice clothing, to do physically taxing things. The fact it is stigmatized…
If I see an overweight person, I assume they have a “good” reason for it. I assume something in their life is making them have too many responsibilities, or not enough time, or not enough money, and they just do not have a choice.
I assume this. And I think I’m almost always right.
Something can, of course, be done to help people live healthier lives. But, to assume a moral failing in someone for being fat, it’s wrong.
It’s not that simple.
We all have human bodies so complicated it takes some of the hardest schooling in the world to understand their many facets. We have brains that most barely comprehend the simplest aspects of their functions and operations. And everyone’s body is different, everyone deserves respect. I promote healthier living, and I want people to feel better like I do, but I also promote and push for empathic understanding.
Because, when has shame and hatred and self-hatred ever done something, anything, positive, for anyone?