“You don’t encourage people to take care of their body by telling them to hate it”
Recently a topic came up in one of my class discussions, we were casually talking about the difference between fat shaming and encouragement. I shared with my class that I recently lost over 100 lbs, a student said to be “really, that’s amazing, I thought you were just another skinny bitch”. Oddly enough I do not identify as skinny, and I actually do not typically use that word. What some people don’t know is calling someone skinny can be just as triggering as calling them fat.
There are some people out there that must truly believe that people who are overweight don’t know so they feel it is their obligation to tell them. In case this is you, we know!
As someone who has been overweight my whole life, I can tell you firsthand that I knew, it wasn’t a surprise to me anytime anyone pointed it out. I have had probably 100’s of people tell me in some way that I am fat. I have always been curious if people truly believe they are helping or if they are being mean.
The one thing I have heard a lot especially with sharing transformation pictures, is that I was beautiful before and now. I never once said I was ugly in the before pictures, but people assume because I was overweight, I must hate everything about myself. In today’s society fat and beauty intersect; but why can’t someone be overweight and beautiful at the same time. What is the cut off for beauty then? Is it a number on the scale or a body fat percentage?
Coming from the medical profession, there are a variety of reasons to explain why someone is overweight. PCOS, thyroid issues, neurological issues, musculoskeletal issues that impair mobility or cancer to name a few. A woman who is considered overweight in someone’s eye does not owe ANYONE an explanation at any time. Now the point of this conversation isn’t promoting being overweight, I believe everyone should strive to be healthy and well, but if that doesn’t physically look like what society says it should then so be it.
Another comment I have seen quite often, especially from men is that I look fit for a mom of 2. I’m sorry, am I supposed to be overweight and sitting in sweats just because I have children. I think because I have been overweight, I am more sensitive to comments, but why is it assumed that because I am a mom that I should not be in shape?
Women who are overweight have constant reminders in society that they are not the accepted norm. Plus-sized sections are filled with loose fitting clothing that typically does not seem to follow trends, especially if you are in the younger generation. Advertisements have small women plastered on them, making a larger woman feel unwelcomed to utilize a specific product or service. Amusement parks cannot accommodate all sizes, chairs in waiting rooms aren’t always roomy enough and let’s not get started on airplane seats.
One thing I always found quite interesting is that workout clothes don’t go above a size xl, but according to society women above that size need to workout more. Gym advertisements show fit and happy women barely sweaty at the gym, I don’t know about you but I’m a mess when I’m at the gym. Also, I am not always happy there, sometimes I am angry or frustrated, but those feelings feel abnormal in comparison to the advertisements.
The body mass index (BMI)is the initial way that overweight women are separated from the herd. I remember in health class in Grade 9 talking about body mass index and how to calculate it, I knew the end result would not be good. At the age of 13 the last thing I wanted to do with people in school is figure out how obese a calculation says I am. Even as a nurse, I hated the BMI calculation, it purely takes into consideration someone’s height and weight; not their muscle mass, fat distribution, lifestyle, age or bone structure. According to my current BMI calculation—I started at 45 which is obese and I now current site at 28 which is overweight. It’s safe to say I am still not a fan of this categorization of women based on size.
The point is, it is not acceptable to provide your opinion or offer suggestions unless they are asked. I can assure you that a woman is not waiting for someone to tell them they are overweight before they make a change. By critizing someone or constantly pointing out what you think are flaws is only contributing to their negative thoughts and guess what that leads to—eating. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life you need to be supportive, provide emotional support and motivate them. Shaming people will never result in healthy weight loss and it’s not nice.
That desire for change comes from within yourself. I decided I needed to change when I finally realized I could not find happiness in other people, I needed to be happy with myself. Although people are no longer calling me fat, their desire to share their opinions with me has not changed. People still feel the need to tell me that I have lost enough weight, to be careful with weightlifting so I don’t look masculine or I get told to smile more.
Behind these comments typically is a lack of education, people often read something or hear something and go with it. I know my nutrition is on point, I work hard in the gym and ultimately it is paying off.
Not everyone will be happy with how you look, but it does not matter. If they choose to share their opinion with me when it was not requested, I quickly brush it off. My opinion of myself matters most to me.