The best way for me to begin is simply by making a statement: I am fat. To be honest, it’s hard for me to follow up that sentence with anything, because I never discuss my weight. Why would I discuss something so evident, especially as it has been the source of 90% of the bullying I received throughout my life?
For those that are considered “skinny” or “in shape," I write this so you can understand what it’s like to walk in my shoes. For those who consider themselves fat, too, I hope these words leap off the page to comfort you.
1. The annoying process of clothes shopping.
I have been on this earth for 23 years now, and it doesn’t get any easier to shop for clothes at my size. My pant size is somewhere around a size 24, and there are two issues I run into. The first issue is that I can’t just walk into a store and find a cute pair of shorts or jeans on the rack; I have to go to a plus-sized store. I have no issue going to Lane Bryant or Torrid, but the struggle I face is that everything is too big. I can grab a pair of jeans in my size and put them on. The fit around my waist is perfect, but then my eyes scan down to my legs and I look like I’m back in the 1970’s wearing parachute pants. Skinny jeans? Nope. Not for me.
2. The friends who try to be supportive and encouraging but don't understand.
Nothing is more awkward than shopping with my skinny friends. They will find something cute for me to wear and expect that I will fit in it. I then have to inspect the garment and somehow explain to my friend that it won’t work. As I comment on the garment and my weight, my friend responds with, “Oh my gosh you’re not fat! You’re so pretty!” I have learned to just say thank you, turn around and roll my eyes. Their heart is so pure, but lying to me isn’t encouraging. Why can’t fat be beautiful? Why is that you have to deny the state of my body to help me understand that i’m beautiful?
3. Amusement Parks are two things: fun and frustrating.
Growing up outside of Ocean City, New Jersey meant my summers were spent on the boardwalk. With two different amusement piers, there was a whole world of possibilities. I love the thrill of coasters and laughing while my friends scream at the top of their lungs in terror. The thing I don’t love is the fear that takes over when I sit down in the seat as I wait for a ride attendant to strap me in. The worker comes around, tries to squeeze me into the harness with no luck. “Ma’am, you’re not going to be able to ride today, I’m sorry about that.” I will not sit and blame the roller coaster designers or amusement park creators. All I will say is it is extremely awkward to wait at the exit until my friends step off the ride, talking about how awesome it was. It’s actually pretty embarrassing.
4. When guys offer or attempt to pick you up and pure horror flows through your veins.
What if they try to lift me and I’m too big? What if their face scrunches up like it does when they’re trying to get a new PR at the gym? What are the people around me thinking? Piggyback rides weren't meant for people like me. So when I ask someone to not touch me frantically, it has nothing to do with them but everything to do with me.
5. Working out...enough said.
Nothing is worse than being on the treadmill trying to jog my stomach away when I hear a clapping sound. No, it’s not the person next to me cheering me on. It’s my thighs letting me know that they’re still there and they need to be heard. It’s also really fun trying to use a machine that has your body folded over like a lawn chair and you can barely breathe. Mind you, there are also attractive and fit guys next to you whom you know are judging you. At this point in my workout, I leave the gym and stop at the store for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
6. All the people that want to help me get healthy.
I am fully aware that my obesity is not good for me. I go to the doctor for a sore throat and he tells me to lose weight. Trust me, I know. I also know that you care about my health and want to see me live a better quality of life. I want that for myself too.
Here’s what you need to understand: when I wake up in the morning, I don’t hate myself for my weight. I don’t start doubting myself until one of these situations happens. Society has told me that I should not be comfortable with who I am now as a big girl. I am not physically healthy, and I admit that is an issue.
You know what the real issue is for me, though? The fact that I want to be irrevocably confident in myself just as I am now. I know that if I’m not satisfied with myself now, losing weight isn’t going to make me be satisfied. Our nature is to always find something negative about ourselves and want to change it. Changing one thing won’t fix my problems and I need you to understand that my main priority is my mental health. I want to gain an understanding of my worth now before I start altering myself for all the wrong reasons.
So to those who have no sympathy because I “choose to be fat,” for a moment, stop being insensitive and attempt to place yourself in my shoes. I know girls who eat just as much as I do, but their fast metabolism keeps them from being my size. Health isn’t based off my weight, but my heart and brain. I ask that you think before making assumptions and begin to have respect for the struggles people like me face every single day.
If you are reading this and you relate to these problems, know that I’m in this with you. We are beautiful, large and beautifully large. It’s okay to be who we are without making any changes. As I always say, “Do you, boo boo! And don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thing.”