Statistically speaking, the chances are that I will always be what our culture considers fat. I've read that for every 100 people who are obese, only 1 will regain a "healthy" weight. Health scientists define obesity as someone with a Body mass index over 30.
I think I'm supposed to say that I don't care what other people think. I'm supposed to have an internal sense of self that knows at the deepest level my own value, regardless of the feedback I receive from others. The truth is that my head knows I am valuable regardless of size, while my emotions fluctuate.
Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I'm less valuable because I'm fat. Sometimes I feel like I have to be nicer, more pleasing, and agreeable simply because I'm fat. It's as if I am making up for being fat by being incredibly easy to get along with. I feel guilty for taking up more space, for not being as "pretty" as I should be, for almost always being the largest person in the room.
Every day we all receive messages, both overt and obscure, regarding our value. Incidental daily occurrences such as people holding (or not) doors for us as we exit a business, the way tellers/clerks/checkers act toward us when we conduct business, how our bosses interact with us. When I reflect upon it, I can honestly say that people are almost always really nice to me. I go through my day with strangers opening doors for me, bank tellers/grocery clerks/bouncers/etc. being extra friendly, and when I produce outstanding results my boss is happy.
Does this mean that the I'm-less-than-because-I'm-fat feeling is all produced inside my head?
I don't think so. I think that:
- Fat prejudice is often less blatant and not clearly announced
- Sometimes I perceive that people don't think well of me because of my weight but it's never expressly stated, there have been jobs I didn't get that I believe my size/shape played into but I can not prove this....it's there in the subtext but rarely ever clear
- Over the years I've naturally stopped going to stores, clubs or places where I am likely to encounter poor treatment. For example, I purchase most of my clothes online or at "fat lady" stores. I'm older so I'm not into chic 20-something clubs where one might encounter more prejudice.
- Because I tend to look people in the eyes and smile, and I try to see and do nice things for others, I am more likely to have people respond in kind toward me.
- Media definitely sends volumes of anti-fat messages. Examples are seen in the fact that newscasters and celebrities are super rarely ever fat, the trendiest fashions are aimed toward the thin, everywhere you look there are advertised ways to get thin
- There are occasionally those well meaning individuals who overtly or covertly provide weight loss tips since they assume I'd be interested
I've found that having more positive messages in my life diminishes the effects of the negative messages.
I can choose to focus on food, weight, diets, etc., or, I can focus on relationships, goals, and the world around me. I can surround myself with people who value me. I can develop an interior life that sustains me during the challenges of life.