The Side Effects of Growing Up Fat

This is a hard post for me to write, but I need to write it.  It’s been on my mind since the woman at Old Navy posted the picture of herself after being fatshamed in the store.  I was so proud of her for being brave, especially since I’m such a coward about my own body.

You see, there are side effects to fatness, to growing up a fat girl, in particular.  And I want to share just a few of them with you now:

1) You judge yourself in relation to every other woman in the room, and notice if a) you are the fattest, or b) if there is someone fatter than you.

2) You imagine how great your life would be like if you lost weight.  You even imagine extremes in which you have lost weight (cancer, lingering illness, depression).

3) You “hate” other women, skinnier women, simply because they are smaller than you.

4) You hide your Lane Bryant bag because maybe people won’t know you’re fat and can only shop at one store in the mall.

5) You learn to hate the words, “You have such a pretty face” because you know that means, “If only you’d lose some weight.”

6) When you get sick and lose weight, people congratulate you, nevermind the fact that you had an illness that took you down.  You were down, weren’t you, and isn’t that all that matters?

7) Every conversation with a doctor means justifying your eating habits.

8) Self-loathing.  All of the time.  Never understanding the true size of your body.  it’s either bigger or smaller than you imagine, but never knowing makes the loathing worse.

9) Meeting boys who either a) dare each other to go up to you and pretend to like you (yes, this happened!) or b) tell you, “I think you’re great, but I can’t date you.  My friends would make fun of me for dating a fat chick” (yes, this also happened!).

10) Everything you put in your mouth is public game.  You go to Waffle House, for example, as a then-vegetarian, and when you explain you don’t want meat, the waitress says, “You look like you just eat meat all day long.” (this, too, happened).  Or, you’re in the grocery store, and a woman follows you to tell you not to eat carbs so you can lose weight like she did (do you doubt me yet, on the validity of these happenstances?).

So thank you, Rachel Taylor (I, too, am from Louisiana) for being brave.  For standing up for yourself in a world that fatshames, regardless of truth, consequence, or effect.  Because being fat must be the worst thing for some people.  I understand that.  It’s been the worst thing for me my entire life.  I have struggled for 38 years to move past it, and still, I ask my husband, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

He’s a good one.  He tells me, “You’re beautiful in everything you wear.”

Because I am.

If I say it enough, perhaps I’ll believe it.


9 thoughts on “The Side Effects of Growing Up Fat”

  1. I love this – I’m a teenager who is over weight and this is something people need to hear. I feel like bigger people are put into a box and made fun of. This is great. Also if you have a chance could you check out my blog with my friend

    1. Hello! I’ve checked out your blog and am now following. Thanks for posting! I’ve been overweight my entire life, but the teen years were the hardest. I think the 80s/90s weren’t as accepting as now is, but we’ve still a long way to go. Stay bright, my dear, and shine.

  2. Your words have such power and meaning – I applaud you for your bravery and want you to know that you’re far from alone. I’ve had weight issues my whole life and can understand your pain. Sending hugs x

  3. On the flight home from Indiana yesterday, I was seated next to a woman – I should say a “beautiful” woman, but I’m trying in my own life not to focus so much on appearances – when the flight attendant stopped by our aisle and asked, very loudly, “Ma’am, do you have your seat belt on?” The woman beside me (who was not only beautiful, but very kind and charming) said, “Yes.” The flight attendant stared down at her with an expression I had never really seen before – sort of like a smirk, or something – and said, just as loudly, “You’re sure? You don’t need an extender for the belt?”
    I am not a violent person. But I wanted to slap that flight attendant. It was so obvious this woman did NOT need a seat belt extender – her belt fit perfectly well across her lap. It was like the attendant simply took the opportunity to bully this woman about her size, and you could just see this poor woman deflate, like the light going out of her eyes. The worst part was, I had no idea what to say, because the comments that get made about my body usually have to do with “don’t you ever eat?!” and “wish I could be anorexic” (both of which also stretch my limits of nonviolence, btw, because NO ONE should be body-shamed).
    I guess what I’m saying is that I wish this wasn’t a problem. I wish our society could just get over its ridiculous obsession with “beauty” and focus on what actually matters about a person: kindness, empathy, compassion. We are all born differently. The joy of our lives should be that we were born with these bodies – not someone else’s. Bodies that are our only vehicles for enjoying this life, so we shouldn’t just appreciate them; we should revel in them, delight in them, pamper them, care for them. Because I know you IRL, Miss Bluestocking, I know how fabulous you are. Fabulous – not just beautiful (which you are) but FABULOUS. I don’t know why the world wants to make you believe you aren’t, but I admire you for not taking anybody’s crap lying down.
    Hang in there. You are precious, and you deserve happiness. xoxo

    1. That poor woman. Planes are a place of bullying because of small seats in general, but the bullying happens to women and men of size, not as much, or as publicly, to pregnant women, or football-player-sized men, who may also need seatbelt extenders.
      Love you much, and thanks, as always, for your gorgeous words.

  4. Dear Amy, I get it. I get it ALL. And no matter how much you believe in beautiful and acceptance and…, at least once a day, every day, that self-loathing and shame appear. Thank you for sharing your pain.

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