Own Your Beauty!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Note on Fat Shaming and Stigma

I read this article on New York Times today and after reading through all 14 pages of comments, many of which were incredibly cruel, hurtful and the epitome of what the article was trying to speak AGAINST I felt compelled to post a comment with my own experience and thoughts. And because I feel like the subject of size, weight, fat, and the shaming and hiding that so often comes with that isn't talked about enough, I felt compelled to share it here. Somehow weight has become the last acceptable prejudice, and even if it isn't always spoken about openly I think it is important for people to hear opinions and truths beyond just the "what diet I'm on now" talk. Take it or leave it.

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I read through all the comments posted so far, as painful as it was. I would probably fit into what some of these cruel commenters would term a "fattie". I lost weight on occasion, but it never stayed off and I was being taunted as young as preschool for my weight (even though when I look back on pictures I was solid, but certainly not fat) I take after my father, strong build, linebacker shoulders, broad hips.

Do I eat to much? Yes...without a doubt. I have also dealt with intense enotional issues through my life since I was in preschool that I believe I have dealt with through food, through gaining weight to create a protective shield around me. When I did lose the most weight I was 19 and in an emotionally absuive relationship with a man who would taunt me for my weight and punish me if I didn't continue to exercise and lose weight at a rate he felt was appropriate. When we broke up I was 175 lbs, a size 12, the smallest I had ever been in my life, and miserable beyond belief. I started eating and stopped exercising again as my own ridiculous way to "pay him back" for the pain he caused me. I regained the 100 lbs. I lost in a matter of 2 years.

But guess what...I was also dating someone after this who would stop and get double quarter pounder meals from McD's on the way home from work as an afternoon SNACK before coming home to eat dinner, would eat 2-3 candy bars every afternoon, drink 2 liters of soda on a regular basis, eat a whole package of Oreo's at night, and never gained weight and stayed what you might term a "healthy" weight, while I would diet like crazy, trying to avoid the temptation of these foods in the house, and be LUCKY to lose 5 lbs. in a month. I trained for a year, running 15-20 miles a week, eating healthy, exercising twice a week with a personal trainer, ran a half marathon, and I still never got below 250 lbs. So yes, I truly do believe some people are genetically more disposed to lose or gain weight than others.

My big question - why is obesity SUCH a massive issue in the last 30 years? Have we as a society suddenly become lazy, gluttonous. depraved people who lack moral character and willpower as a whole? Or is there something bigger going on? It isn't safe or feasible to walk or ride bikes places anymore thanks to poor city and suburban planning. Food manufacturers continue to find new ways to cram more calories into the foods we eat and make us want/need to eat more. Our foods are more often becoming products of chemistry rather than products of natural farming leaving our bodies dissatisfied and craving more. We are working longer and longer hours, without breaks to go move, without needing to be as active to complete our jobs, without the support to go workout on our lunch breaks (if we get them). And yet the societal fat shaming increases at the same time that same society is making it less and less natural to be slim.

Sounds like we need a full shift in thinking, priorities and actions! That includes stopping with this false moral superiority over those who you deem to be less worthy than you, based on class, size, gender, or whatever you find the most offensive. And it also includes holding our food manufacturers responsible to end their manipulation of our food supply. And yes, it also includes making time to move and be active a priority, within our families, our jobs, and our society as a whole. It also means being accepting and loving of others instead of taking your own insecurities out on those around you.

BTW - I ran 3 miles this morning, ate organic oatmeal for breakfast, homemade chicken soup and roasted veggies for lunch, haven't had fast food in probably a month or more...doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone who didn't exercise or who ate McDonald's for lunch. And I still weigh 250 lbs. Maybe after 29 years my body is just comfortable there, maybe someday I will lose weight again, maybe I won't. That also doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone else.