So I had some good conversation at work today.
I actually work with a guy that I was in choir with in college and so we sat together at lunch, we also sat with another lady (I can’t remember her name, ack!) and we got onto the topic of weight. I’m 5’2” at 186lbs, highest weight was 220 back when I was a teen, dropped down to 140 then went back up to 218. These numbers might not sound like a lot but for someone as short as me it really is a strain. The two people I was talking to are 5’9 to 6ft ish and both are over 300/350lbs…maybe more, as I did not ask what their weight was.
It was interesting to talk to them about their views on discrimination and at a few points in the conversation I almost felt shitty for even relating to them as I’m sure when they look at me they don’t think I have a clue as to what it feels like to struggle with weight. I learned today that although I do know what it feels like to be overweight in a skinny world, I do not know what it feels like to not be able to fit into cars, restaurant booths, certain chairs, etc.
There were times in my past where I felt very uncomfortable sitting in certain chairs but I honestly never thought about how it must feel for people bigger than I am and in the moment I realized that I felt like absolute complete shit. I thought to myself, who am I to complain about my weight and who am I to feel as if I am disenfranchised. But at the same time I also thought to myself that I want to speak with these people about these things. That I want to speak out about those things.
I might not be as heavy as some people but I do know what it’s like to be judged for your appearance, I do know what it’s like to not be able to shop for clothes, I do know what it’s like to have everyone in the world thinking that all you ever do is eat and if you could just stop eating then you wouldn’t be fat. I know what it’s like to have people completely deny your weight as well. As odd as it sounds, it’s equally offensive to have someone look at you and say “you aren’t fat, you aren’t big” and expect you to just live like everyone else. To the extent of my conversationalist’s experiences today; to be expected to sit in a tiny chair and have people not consider the fact that you are concerned that it won’t hold up underneath you, or not consider the fact that you might be really fucking uncomfortable.
I won’t go around making excuses for people. If you don’t like your body and if you feel bad about then then I encourage you to take control and change it - but to be clear, I also encourage the people in the world to understand that overweight does not equal sitting around and constantly eating, it does not take away your personhood, it does not get rid of feelings, insecurities and emotions. Likewise, it does not make you undeserving of happiness, of love, of laughter and of the joy that life can bring.
It is not right to demean people, make them feel like they are less, and expect them to fit into a skinny world when they are not skinny. Putting a person down and treating them like dirt does not make them lose weight. It does not make them want to be healthy. You know, it might just make them turn to the only thing that’s ever comforted them; food.
I am glad I had the chance to hear their perspectives today. I also realized what little I have to complain about. My objectives are not to be thin or skinny, my objective is to be healthy and strong - my weight will take care of itself if I take care of my body.
And the last very important objective is to lead by example, to treat people with respect no matter what size they are, to be considerate of others, to hear their stories, to learn from them, and to offer them at least one person in the world that they can go to and know that they will not be judged.