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Sunday, November 27, 2005

'My Life As A Fat Person' Debut Column

The more I write at this blog and hear from real people who struggle with their weight, I have grown a sense of love and respect for overweight and obese people like never before. Because God has been so gracious to give me my gift of weight loss and improved health, I cannot help but reach out to these people and share with them the wonderful blessings I have been given to encourage them in their weight loss journey.

That is why I created a new article series entitled "My Life As A Fat Person." These periodic columns will be written by real people who have struggled their entire lives with their weight and feel like there is no hope for them. From the e-mails I receive from people like this, the feelings of desperation and exascerbation consume them to the point that they almost can't even function as human beings anymore.

I've been there, too. It is a paralyzing position to be in that state of mind, but it is real. Some people don't want to admit they ever got in that mindset, but if you have been overweight or obese at any point in your life, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

It's not a place you want to stay either because it can lead to depression which brings on more eating which causes your weight to keep going up and the ruthless cycle is never broken.

The following column is from someone who has reached her breaking point. She is morbidly obese and is tired of people telling her she needs to lose weight. She's been fat her entire life and has endured the ridicule and shame her weight has brought upon her. It has had a tremendous effect on every aspect of her life and, if you read carefully, you will notice that being big has been the center of her life whether she wanted it to be or not.

I appreciate her willingness to be open and honest about how she feels and encourage others who would like to be a part of the "My Life As A Fat Person" series to write to me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net. I promise to keep your name anonymous and will only print your feelings as you express them to me.

I may make minor changes for clarity, but the message your share will not be diluted. I want people to know what it's like to live inside the body of a fat person.

You might want to get some Kleenex before you start reading this one:

I know there are lots of "types" of overweight people. Some didn't gain weight until adulthood while others had babies and never lost the weight. Some people are like me who have had weight issues their entire life. I can only speak for myself, but consider my experiences to make my point.

Imagine being 4 years old and your life is going along swimmingly until another little 4 year old says to you, "My name is Betty and I take dancing lessons but you can't because you are too fat!"

Up until that moment, you never thought anything about yourself was different from any other person and you don't really understand it. So you go to your Mom (who has spent her lifetime struggling with weight issues and is the daughter of a woman who did the same). You ask her if you are fat and she is a bit surprised.

So you tell her what happened and she says, "Well, you can take dance lessons if you want, but I am not sure they make leotards big enough to fit you."

Ooops! Not only are you hit with the fact you are suddenly different, but maybe you don't "fit" in with the rest of the world.

From that point in your life forward, imagine every time you eat a meal -- make that 3 times a day, 365 days a year, for however many years -- it becomes a value judgment on yourself. Whether it is your parents or grandparents, you may recalling hearing them say something along the lines of these statements:

"You shouldn't eat sweet stuff for breakfast, it will make you gain MORE weight." At the same time your so-called friend across the street with the dancing lessons says, "My Mom says I shouldn't skip breakfast and the doctor told her even if I eat cake or pie for breakfast I need something in my stomach." This translates to you as, "Betty gets to eat pie for breakfast every day and I have to suffer and eat crappy cereal or eggs."

Or how about this?

"When you buy your lunch at school, don't get rolls and butter because they make you fatter." It seems like everyone in the whole school is eating clover leaf rolls and a pat of butter but you.

And who could forget this one?

"You will sit at this dinner table and eat every bite on your plate. I don't care if you cry all night, you are going to eat those lima beans and corn. There are starving children in Africa who don't get to eat like you do." You cry and you spend what seems like hours at the dinner table until you eat as many beans as you can and you want to vomit.

But then, ironically, the subtle insults from your own mother are uttered:

"Honey, I made cookies for you and your brother as an after school snack but just eat one because you are really too heavy to have them anyway." Huh? It is now no longer a treat but a way to make me feel bad again. I have one cookie, my brother has 3 or 4 -- that's not fair!

Then you go outside and there is you-know-who across the street with a whole box of animal crackers. What is it that I do wrong or different from other kids that makes me have to have all these restrictions? What is causing me to be fat?

I have to eat less than any other person I have ever met. The kid across the street doesn't run and play for 3 hours longer than I do and burn off all the calories? She eats lots more than I do and bad stuff too.

I sit for hours at the table to manage to swallow nasty vegetables and yet still I am fat. Why is she skinny and gets to take dancing and I don't? Why should someone who is 7 or 8 years old by now even have to know about calories and be judged as a good or bad person by what they eat?

Then, when you try out for band in the 8th grade and don't make it but not because you haven't practiced your heart out -- again, it's because you are too heavy!

You switch schools in 9th grade and try out again -- and AGAIN you don't make it. You die inside because you want to wear one of those cute band uniforms so badly and to be a popular kid.

Then suddenly, two days later, your mother tells you they have decided to add a few more people to the band and you and a couple of other girls (who weren't very good) make it. You are so happy, but you have a sneaky suspicion inside that maybe your parents and others complained enough to the band director that he reluctantly relented and let you in.

But then the band director makes you stay after band practice every day with the few other fat girls to practice marching because you "jiggle" too much! Duh! That doesn't fool me one bit! Just tell me that I am too fat, but there are a couple of other girls in the band who are just as overweight as I am. Obviously you have now become the laughing stock of the band and embarrassed to be singled out.

By the time high school rolls around, you realize you should even bother to try out again to avoid the negative attention.

In college, when you are 5' 7" and about 155 lbs, you go out on a blind date. But not only does he not speak to you the entire evening, but he continuously oinks like a pig the whole time. You are with another couple who are both very nice to you but your date still oinks like the pig that he is. Instead of standing up for yourself and telling the guy he is a jerk and to take you home, you suffer through the entire evening because you have not learned how to stand up for yourself -- yet. Worst of all, you never want to go out on a date again.

Then "the real world sets in" and the advice from the well-meaning comes unsolicited yet again.

"You better lose some weight before you go to that airline job interview because they will never hire you with the way you look now."

Nevermind the fact that you graduated top in your class from airline computer school. Despite the negative comments, you are 5'7" and weight 144 lbs and are smaller than you were in high school or college. What gives?

Life as a fat person feels as if you are constantly being judged as being different from everyone else. Eventually you start to believe it is true and start beating yourself up before every putting every morsel of food into your mouth.

No wonder a fat person's self esteem doesn't exist! Finally, you become a 50+ year old adult and you just flat out give up! No hope, no motivation, who gives a flying you know what!

So, in conclusion, all of this ranting and raving I just did is to explain why sentences like "consider allowing yourself to have a breadstick" bug the heck out of me now. Why not "have a breadstick" vs. "consider allowing yourself to have a breadstick?" There is a HUGE difference between those two statements.

Anyway, that's my life as a fat person...


Comments or feedback? Click on the comments section below or e-mail me.

2 Comments:

Blogger LCT Cathy said...

I could have written any number of those quoted comments and yes, a few did bring tears to my eyes.

Thanks for all you do and keep up the awesome work!

11/27/2005 9:27 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS, Cathy! Honesty about the true feelings of people who are overweight will help shed some light on an often difficult experience in people's lives. Understanding may open the door to the light coming on for those who need to lose weight. Here's hoping.

11/28/2005 6:20 PM  

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