What is the worst thing a human being can be? Is it being fat? Truth be told, I can think of things that are much worse! So why is then, that fat shaming and fat phobia is a thing? Why is it that if someone doesn’t fit the stereotype of how a woman should look, it becomes a societal problem?
I’m fat. I have been my whole life. From a young age when I didn’t even understand what fat was, it was pointed out to me by those closest to me. At the age of eight, I couldn’t understand why there was this sheer panic about what I looked like. It was like the adults were talking about me in hushed voices, but I couldn’t understand why. I was a chunky child, a bit bigger than everyone else but not anything concerning at the time. You could almost call it puppy fat. As time went on, I started feeling insecure about how I looked. It was always pointed out that I needed to lose weight, but I didn’t understand how to lose it. It’s not as simple as everyone saying ‘just stop eating that’. **Rolls eyes**
I started secondary school and in my first year, I used to get bullied. I was always quite vocal, so I never let the bullies win. I made friends with a group of girls and that was the first group of friends that I had ever had. I’m still friends with one of them now (see Frenemy post). I was the biggest in the group. I got through schooling always being concerned about my weight. I tried to starve myself but that didn’t make me skinny, so I stopped that. I used to gorge on chocolate on the way home and people had a way of embarrassing me about eating junk which resulted in me not wanting to eat in front of people. I was insecure but I was good at hiding it by being funny, witty, and never allowing anyone to say anything about my appearance, without ripping into them. I masked my insecurities by being the class clown and feisty. Eventually, people just knew not to say anything to me because they feared embarrassment. I feel the problem is that no one tries to understand why children feel the need to do that. Thinking back, if I had the right support, I would have been able to talk about how those things made me feel and maybe the right person would have guided me to understanding things better; not that I am blaming anyone. I believe it is linked to emotional eating and there is a deeper reason to it. Sometimes, children just need to be understood and I felt I was never understood as a child.
Growing up, whenever I watched TV, I would see these pretty perfect looking women who had incredible bodies without an ounce of fat. I thought their life was perfect. I didn’t understand at a young age what it meant to have a certain type of body and why it was a big deal if you didn’t have that certain type of body. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with mine but then at the same time, because of everyone else, I knew something was very wrong with mine. My body was a problem because it was a problem for everyone else, not me.
I kept hearing the word ‘diet’ floating around without any real understanding of what nutrition and a healthy lifestyle was. I tried every diet under the sun! I tried shakes from the age of fifteen and it didn’t work because starving your body never does. I tried something called Diet Chef. Diet Chef was calorie controlled pre-packaged food and it tasted vile. I tried slimming world and that would work for a week, but I could never prep as much as would be needed whilst living with my family who were eating completely different things. It was a constant battle trying to figure out the right thing to eat. Someone always felt they had the right to comment on the food that I chose because they felt they had a right to tell me what they thought of it. Being fat is not a problem for the individual as much as it is for everyone else around them. I would always find the slim people around me complain about their weight constantly and it started to feel like they were trying to make themselves feel better because deep down inside, they knew they were not in the same position. Maybe they were just dealing with their own insecurities and needed validation.
I spent all my teen years trying to achieve a better body because that is what would mark my worth in the world after all. It was how I would be accepted by society for looking a certain way. I even spent most of my twenties not feeling good enough. And to be fair, I have started my thirties feeing similar. I don’t think it is always because of how we feel about ourselves but more about what others can make us feel like. This is the point where someone will say that you shouldn’t let others dictate how you feel but honestly, I am positive we have all been in a place where we have been affected by what others say to us. It’s just an unfortunate reality of life. And I guess it affects us because deep down inside, we all just want to be accepted for who we are.
Fast forward to 2021 – I have tried many more diets since my early teens. These have included calorie counting, having a gym and personal trainer membership, keto, slimming world again and again, Atkins, reading weight loss books and another shake diet. The list is endless! Evidently, they didn’t work otherwise I wouldn’t be making confessions about being a fat girl. But here’s the thing a fat person will never tell you. Being fat is one of the hardest things. I mean, judgement is inevitable if you look a certain way and people have a fat-phobia, but it’s the constant shaming of how it makes you undesired, how it’s because you can’t control what you eat, how you’re branded as the epitome of laziness. But that is far from the truth. I enjoy healthy food just as much as food that is classed as unhealthy. I am not lazy – I work 14-hour days. I cook sometimes when my schedule allows it because let’s be real…. If you leave the house at 6am every day and sometimes don’t get home until 20:30, trying to weigh out carbs, protein and fats is the last thing on your mind when you need something quick, so you can sleep to repeat the entire process all over again the next day. It’s hard because it is such an internal struggle when you want to do the simple things like wear certain clothing but won’t because you know there will be someone who will comment, or just not feeling like you are the biggest person in the room or taking the most amount of space. It’s the simple things like not being judged when you’re amongst a group of people who have been blessed with great genetics. And it is also about the simple things like being able to live your life without always feeling like you’re being judged.
I can’t deny that I am self-conscious and insecure all day, every day. I hate looking at the reflection in the mirror and I feel that I am constantly being judged by others because they can only see my size. I hate shopping for clothes despite clothing stores being more inclusive. I don’t like wearing bright colours because I don’t want to be noticed. And sometimes, I question if I am worthy of love because men have judged me and told me that the way I look is something that they can’t look past. It’s a different kind of hard. I know most people would say you are the only one that can change that and there is truth to that. But here’s another part of that truth. Losing weight is the hardest thing that I have ever had to personally do. Yes, I am now better educated when it comes to nutrition and what a healthy lifestyle entails, so I am more aware of what I am putting into my body. The problem is that losing weight is hard, not eating healthy. And I think that is where most people are mistaken. Eating healthy is easy when you are educated on nutrition and you can prepare meals, but it’s the fact that when you are eating healthy and are not seeing results, it becomes challenging. It’s getting the weight off that is hardest in my humble opinion.
Another thing about fat people is that they don’t actually need people to tell them they are fat. They are not blind. They have mirrors. I have mirrors. In fact, I am surrounded by them. I don’t need human mirrors. Human mirrors use horrible words and mask it as a way of being concerned for you. It comes to a point where people stop saying horrible things directly to you but as a fat person, you just know you are being judged behind your back. They’re not saying it out loud but believe me, they are thinking it. And that is what makes you self-conscious. It’s almost like people look at you and are grateful that it is not them that is in that position. Or they feel the need to iterate how they wouldn’t even allow themselves to get to that stage if it comes up in conversation. It’s almost like people have sympathy for fat people because they feel sorry for them. But that is something fat people despise; I can assure you of that.
So, that brings us to the present. All the above reasons are why I have decided to have bariatric surgery which is going to happen in the next month. I made this decision after several attempts to lose weight, not because of what I look like anymore, but more for health purposes at this stage. I want to be the healthiest and fittest version of myself. The bariatric surgery is a tool to help me achieve what I have always wanted to achieve, and I won’t deny that I need help with this. I want to be accepted in society without the fear of being judged on my outward appearance. Bariatric surgery just physically stops you from being able to eat so much and I feel once you start seeing results consistently, it motivates you to continue on the journey. That is how weight loss is achieved actually. It’s the start of a lifestyle change. The lifestyle change where choosing the right foods is a mental challenge and weight loss is the side effect of that mental challenge. But when you’re not constantly battling with your mind about how much of something you should eat, the lifestyle change becomes easier. Eating is a normal part of life. We all do it whether we are happy, we are sad, we are hanging out with friends or we are just craving certain things. Food is simply a part of life. An important part of life, so I have made this decision because it is something that is important to me regardless of what other people believe is the right way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. I will also be interested to see if losing weight will make people treat me differently. Oh, and bariatric surgery is not an easy way out like most people seem to think. In fact, I am frightened of what my life will be like once it is done because of that mental challenge. But excited at the prospect of a new life nevertheless.
Until next time.
The Unveiled Reflector x