Monday, 15 July 2019

Fat Shaming

I am a fat woman - in fact I'm more-than-fat - I am classed as morbidly obese (the irony of having that label is not lost on me, for when I had my medical (the one you get when you reach a certain age) my levels were all that of a 20 year old olympic athlete - the nurse didn't even draw a smile when I said "I know; I ate her earlier"). I know someone who is the "perfect" weight and size, who works out 5 days-a-week, eats all the right foods and basically does everything opposite to myself, and she's got high blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, so the 'people-in-the-know' aren't always correct with their labeling. However, that doesn't take away from the fact I am an overweight woman.

Aside from 2 young lads a year ago (one shouted out really loudly "no, Will, that lady is not fat, why would you say such a thing?" trying to embarrass his friend - it backfired when I replied "oh yes, Will, you are correct; I really am") the only person who has ever fat-shamed me, is me. 

Now, there is a reason I am overweight and that is because I allowed myself to become so, for a variety of differing reasons; I don't like myself and I find salads and vegetables exceptionally boring to eat being a couple - there are a few more that I'm not really willing to share, and I truly believe I allow myself to be this heffer that I am because it's just another form of "Self-harm" that is a lot less painful (at least on a physical level). I did actually cut myself when I was younger without realising back then why, and when I was a youngling people didn't talk about their issues; they just "got on with it". I got really good at hiding it; a bracelet here, a long-sleeved top there, but eventually I forced myself to stop doing it; it was getting harder to hide it. Plus, for a while back, in 1985 my life was good; in fact, it was bloody marvellous - sadly, like most good things that wasn't to last. A few different things happened all-at-once and I found myself absolutely hating who I was and what I had become. That's when it dawned on me that I had an escape. I had always struggled with my weight - 50% of the violent bullying I dealt with in infant and junior school was because of this (my Mum, bless her, used to tell me it was "Puppy fat" and I'd lose it by the time I was a teenager - not really much help when you're having your head smashed against a wall but I took some comfort from it). She was right (in-a-way) and by the time I became a teenager, although I carried a little more weight than most of my friends (bloody hormones didn't help) I was really happy with how I looked and had what (these days) would be classed as a "cracking figure" - curves in the right places!!  This became a bad thing in the end though because it brought about attention; attention that was neither sought, nor wanted. That's when I allowed myself to put on a little extra; I didn't want people to notice me, didn't want to have the attention. 

It's really easy to become fat, and even easier to stay this way. The trouble with being fat is that people look and automatically assume it's because you gorge and are lazy. That (at least in my case) is not true. I am anything but lazy (I work in a job that - at times - is quite physically demanding) and I do that 6 (often 7) days-a-week for 10/12 hours a day, 50 weeks each year. I don't sit at home gorging, watching daytime TV, doing nothing but thinking of my next chocolate bar (which I very rarely eat, choosing savoury over sweet any day). I make every effort to get my 10000 steps in each day, yet for some reason, I still can't find it in me to force down the foods that often make me gag, so that I can re-shape the person I despise staring back at me when I look in the mirror. I guess I still don't like myself enough, or maybe I'm just not brave enough to get myself to a stage where people notice me.

When I do eat well I lose weight easily and I feel good; so good. I find I have more confidence, feel proud of myself when I step off the scales to find I've lost, plan what clothes I'd really like to wear when I get to my "goal" and then it happens; people start to comment on how well I'm doing, how good I look and suddenly, that wall-of-fear, that terror that people will notice me strikes and the good I have done, I go and undo. I know I do it, I know why I do it, I just don't know how to stop myself from doing it. 

The trouble with being fat is you do tend to get ignored (great in one way as I don't want the attention; not good in another for sometimes us fatties need someone to notice so we can get the help we may desperately need). If I was anorexic and didn't eat, people would be going out-of-their-way to find out why; to force food onto me. There would be hospital beds waiting and counsellors to talk through any issues. There would be help from all angles. I went to my doctors; explained I was struggling and got told "you're obviously just meant to be one of those big ole birds" - at the time I did wonder if there was a medical reason for it as I'd been eating quite well - life was good at-that-point and when things are going well it's a lot easier to lose some. Another one, a few years later, said to me "you need to join a slimming club". That's it; that's the help a fat person gets.  Join a slimming club; but that's not always the answer. I know someone who allowed herself to get fat because she'd been physically abused (not once, but twice) by 2 different men several years apart. She got it into her head they'd done what they did because of how she looked (back when it happened she wasn't a fatty). They wanted her, so they had her, even though it wasn't what she wanted. She then allowed herself to get big, used her size, as a way to put off any potential men who might see her as an object for their own fun. She hated how she ended up looking, hated herself for letting them not only win, but turn her into the woman she had become, but couldn't allow herself to get back to the size she was because she was terrified to. What help did she get? What help was offered to her? The same as every overweight person "Go join a slimming club". 

All you hear these days is how people should be talking about their mental health; how we should all open up more, but they mean people who are self-harming by cutting themselves. They mean those who have tried to commit suicide, or who have had an actual breakdown. They mean those who go to a doctor and explain they can't cope, where they get handed pills and offered counselling (at least for a few sessions). They mean those who starve themselves because they have such a self-loathing or are dealing with their demons. The people they never mean though, are the fatties. Us fatties are viewed as lazy, slovenly and told to "join a slimming club". Do they tell the anorexic to "go visit a cake shop"? Do they tell the self harmer to "find a hobby to take your mind off cutting yourself"? Do they tell the person in their surgery who is sobbing so bad they can't even speak to "pull yourself together" (one of my Mum's favourites when I was a kid and upset over something). No, they throw all they can at them to help them.

I'm not saying everyone who is fat has allowed themselves to become so because they are struggling with issues; some people are lazy, just as some slim people can eat whatever they want and no put on an ounce (I knew a girl who was a size 6 and could eat enough food (daily) to keep 8 heavyweight boxers going for a week - she never put on a thing).

I know it's not nice to be wedged next to a fatty at a gig, on a plane or bus, in any other social situation - sometimes it's not nice for us fatties to be sat next to you for a variety of different reason, but rather than judge that person and look at them with disgust, try talking to them; treat them as the human they are. You may just be the one who helps them realise they are worth something. Your kindness could make all the difference. 

The old saying "Never judge a book by the cover" could not be more appropriate. 

There are always going to be vile people in this world; those who will judge, those who are mean just because they enjoy being so. You don't have to be one-of-them. A little bit of kindness really can go a long way; after all, we're all battling our own personal demons - even those who are preceived as 'having-it-all', and remember, nobody is more disgusted with the fatty you are judging, than the fatty themself. 

Oh, and that "jolly" fatty is most likely just trying to cover what they really feel; the best comedians are usually the most depressed.

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