“Fat bashing” doesn’t make matters any better, it often makes them worse

Jodi Davis

| 4 min read

Does this letter sound familiar to anyone out there? I know it is to me. It’s almost like I wrote this letter myself twenty-some years ago:
“Today I was faced head on with one of the biggest challenges in my life, my weight. A comment was made to me from a complete stranger that left me speechless. It made me think….
I want to change my life…except I sort of like it. I mean, I couldn’t be more delighted every Monday night after my parents go to bed when I go into the living room … watch TiVo, drink a pop and eat a snack without freaking out over fat grams. I’m perpetually in a good mood because I do everything I want. I love having the freedom to skip the gym to watch a movie … without a twinge of guilt. I’ve figured out how to not be beholden to what other people believe I should be doing, and when the world tells me I ought to be a size eight, I can thumb my nose at them in complete empowerment.”
“Fat-bashing in all its varied forms–criticism, exclusion, shaming, fat talk, self-deprecation, jokes, gossip, bullying–is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice.”
“I know I’m not perfect and every day is a struggle for me to become healthier, but I AM beautiful on the inside & out. I always put others before myself and try to be the best person I can be. It’s funny that just because I am a little bigger than you, that you look past all my caring qualities.”
I found this letter online some time ago and it really stuck with me. I understand why the author wrote it. It’s heartfelt and I’m sure it was very helpful in aiding the author to deal with the anger that is so rightfully felt. In my opinion, it’s a plea to stop the prejudice, the rude comments and the mislabeling of those who deal with weight issues. It does need to stop because it only makes matters worse. Believe me, I know because I’ve been there.
Frankly, I have yet to find a severely overweight individual who hasn’t had some form of negativity cast upon them. Unfortunately it’s something that the majority of the heavier population deals with. People can be cruel. Some are extremely cruel. It is just downright rude to cause a person to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even ashamed of their body size; negative comments intending to do just that should be stifled.
However there are those few people on the planet that just feel the need to make these rude comments to people who are struggling with their weight. I’ve heard them being spoken to me more times than I can count. I have also witnessed these comments being said to others. I want to address this issue today. My question is: Why?
It doesn’t make matters any better; in fact, most often times it makes them worse.
Speaking from my own experience, when these forms of negativity were unexpectedly “thrown” at me, I would immediately feel an intense numbness overtake my entire body. It hurt. It hurt down to the deepest part of my soul. So in order to help me get through the pain and the numbness, I would do the only thing I knew. I would do my best to hide the internal ache. Being perfectly honest here, I feel that I actually became a master at it.
Soon after I would become defensive; soon going into my typical denial mode. Next the anger would build and I would become frustrated with everyone. I’d think: “How dare they make these rude comments to me, they do not know what I go through daily and the struggles that I face at 300 lbs. In all actuality, I’m fine with my size. I am beautiful on the inside and I care about others, maybe more than I should at times, and that is what really matters in life. I have a lot to offer this world!”
This helped me cope. I needed that. The pain stayed hidden for a while. But hiding the pain didn’t make it go away, it was always there. So I turned to something that gave me comfort; a familiar ‘friend’ of sorts. Food. But that friend eventually took someone precious to me away, and sparked my desire to stop denying my own health issues.
If this person follows the same pattern I did twenty-some years ago, I hope it doesn’t take losing a loved one refocus them on their health. And I hope the author keeps writing, we need more people to stand up to the prejudice and hurtful comments thrown at people with weight issues.
Photo credit: faungg

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