“It’s 2021 y’all, and I’m tired. Why do I even have to explain this? But here we go. Again.
Words have meaning. Let’s talk about connotations.
Just the other day, a friend hurt my feelings. I was exercising on the phone and asked, ‘Why is this so hard?’ And that’s when she reminded me of the f-word. ‘Because we’re fat,’ she answered.
I’m not singling her out, but my story wouldn’t be complete without this example. Well, Felicia… you know why it’s hard.
That’s funny because just recently my cousin told me she did ten pushups and she felt out of breath and tired. She’s not overweight. You mean people who are not overweight get out of breath, too? No way! Insert eye roll.
When I workout consistently, even at my heaviest weight, I don’t get out of breath. Hmm. I wonder why? Probably because weight alone is not a true measure of endurance. Come on, y’all. We can do better than this. Much better.
Didn’t I just write a story on this about Jillian Michaels and how body size is not an indication of health?
This is what we get tired of. Quit assuming everything is because of our weight. People who are not overweight get out of breath. People who are not overweight have heart attacks and strokes. People who are not overweight have diabetes. So you all need to stop the profiling once and for all because that is what it is.
When I shared what the first friend said with another friend because it bothered me, she said, ‘Well, she’s being honest, right?’ No, girlfriend, she’s not. See above.
After I heard the f-word, I felt low inside. One would think it would lose its impact after hearing it so much, but it doesn’t. So, yeah, I felt low inside.
Just like I did when I knew members were whispering about me at my old job because I was the big girl at the desk. I remember one member whispering to her friend, ‘Look at her face, it’s just flawless.’ Her friend, another member, responded, ‘Yes, but she needs to lose weight.’ Girls with extra weight know this line all too well: ‘You’re pretty, but…’
Just like I did when my mom told me I should wait until I lose weight to go on a date. I know my mom loves me more than anything in the world. She’s a good mom. She does the best she can. But some of her thoughts, albeit unintentional, are just not developed. She thinks she’s helping, not hurting.
Just like I did when my mom told me maybe I wasn’t getting hired after job interviews because I was too big and the weight could be appearing as sloppy to the employer. Same as above. She thinks she’s helping, not hurting.
Just like I did when I went to reunite with my dad for the first time in ten years and everyone acted so shocked about why I was so big. To this day, their comments disgust me because I wasn’t even big (and so what if I was?), I just wasn’t skinny. Society has the disease, not me.
Just like I did when a cousin always ‘jokingly’ said, ‘Well overweight people get hot, and overweight people get tired’ when I would tell him I was hot or tired. He thought it was cute.
Just like I did when my ex-boyfriend had tears in his eyes because I had to force it out of him that my weight bothered him.
Just like I did when one of the members at that old job walked me over to the treadmill, pointed to it, (while I was supposed to be working at the desk) and told me I should get on it every day. Here I thought there was an issue at the facility I needed to address. No, he just needed me to address I was too big and he didn’t approve.
Just like I did when a family member stared at me with disgust because my belly was bigger. We see you. You can’t hide.
Just like I did when my dad told me I had looks to kill like Bo Derek, but the weight hides those looks. He means well. He’s just like my mom. My parents love me endlessly. My dad’s heart is forever broken because he’s not near us (and so is mine). But they just don’t know better. They come from the generation that if you’re skinny, you’ve won in life.
Just like I did when I was 17 and my aunt told me, ‘I’m not trying to be mean, but you should really lose weight’ on Christmas Eve.
Just like I did when I was sitting at a restaurant with all of my cousins and one decided to embarrass me in front of all the others by referencing my weight in a not-so-kind way. My other cousin silently whispered to me that her brother picks on her too just like our cousin picks on me. She must’ve seen the embarrassment it made me carry. Your comments make us carry so much more than ‘too much weight.’
Just like I did when the guy I loved looked at a photo of me when I was younger and thinner and told me, ‘I wish I would’ve met the girl in this picture…’
Just like I did when I went to visit my grandparents but felt immense shame because they constantly told me how big and unhealthy I was. Same old-school generation my parents learned from. I quit going back. I still loved them, but a person can only take so much. This is why people who carry more weight live in isolation. You almost become shamed into solitary.
Just like I did when a friend of mine told me I was beautiful but I didn’t have the look most men were attracted to because I was mixed with Middle Eastern and void of being skinny. She didn’t say why. But we know why. And guess what? My biggest fans have six-packs. Not that it matters, but whose most men?
Just like I did when a handsome new staff member at another old job had a thing for me and many of the females were drooling over him. He made his interest in me apparent and one co-worker said, ‘He wants you. I don’t know why, but he does.’ Don’t know why? Probably because you can’t understand why big is beautiful, too.
When I told her the comment she made bothered me, she basically concluded I was being too sensitive and I didn’t think much of myself because I let ‘every little thing’ bother me. Seems like people think spewing hurtful comments can be justified by calling you sensitive. Where’s the accountability? People would be ‘less sensitive’ if you spent more time building them up than breaking them down.
Just like I did when I went to see a rheumatologist to rule out Lupus because I had a continuous butterfly rash on my face and the first thing she said to me when she walked into the room was, ‘Are you trying to lose weight? Have you considered bypass surgery?’ What does this have to do with the rash on my face?
Just like I did when I went to see a neurologist for tingling and as soon as she walked into the room for the follow-up appointment she uttered loud and with great shock on her face, ‘Did you gain weight?!?!’ like it was the end of the world.
Just like I did when I went to visit a surgeon for a weight loss consultation and I expressed my fear to him that getting the surgery isn’t my answer because my issues with food are psychological and chemical. What if I regain the weight? I’ve seen people have this surgery and regain it, so I’m not sure it’s worth it. The doctor then expressed how regaining the weight is more of a choice and responsibility. I guess they don’t always teach you about the scientific component of addiction and how it is parallel to drug addiction in medical school.
Just like I did when a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders told me food addiction isn’t real. She said, ‘You can’t be addicted to something you need.’ I told her that just invalidated my whole life and never saw her again.
Just like I did when almost every ex tried to get me to lose weight because doing so would make me look better to them. They didn’t care about my health. They cared about my image making them feel more comfortable.
Just like I did when one ex told me, ‘Everything on you is ugly except for your face.’ Okay, a–hole. So many disagree with you and we call them real men. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.
So, here’s what happens when you think it’s okay to say someone is fat, even as a descriptor and nothing more:
All those past reminders I just explained resurface. You feel your insides shrink just as you did on the very day you felt the sting of the initial comments. You relive pain and the falsehood that you’re the ugly elephant in the room different from everyone else. You revert to living in isolation because it’s better to be alone than have everyone point out your size.
You get told, once again, in the most indirect and subtle way, no one wants to be the fat one because what you are made up of is just not in (oh, how wrong you are). You carry the belief there is always going to be something wrong with you.
Words matter, people. Don’t ever diminish someone to being sensitive when you never walked in their shoes. Don’t ever tell someone, ‘Well, it’s the truth, you’re fat.’
People who are happy and like themselves don’t go around confirming words that make others hurt. They just don’t. So if you want to help the situation, start with yourself.
Your beliefs and words are a reflection of you and not the person’s body that carries more weight. If you know the struggle of eating and weight, don’t think it’s okay to just say ‘we’re fat.’
Because nine times out of ten, you’re using the word in a negative way that confirms your dislike for yourself and the ideology of fat in and of itself. You are not using the word in an embracing way.
I’m choosing to be kind to myself now because I like myself. I really do. (Maybe I was given this challenge of overeating and weight struggles because I’m wise enough to know better, and spread this message).
Why not be kind with me? I know it’s hard for people who don’t like themselves. My mom is in her sixties and she still stands in front of the mirror and says, ‘I’m fat and ugly. I’m disgusted with myself.’ She has one of the most beautiful faces in the world and she’s not fat.
My other friend who diminished my feelings as being touchy and too sensitive always finds flaws within her own body and struggles to measure up (in her own mind) to the image society declares acceptable. If people can’t be kind to themselves, people can’t always see why kind words, used in a kind way, are critical to building self-worth and self-perception.
Please note, I don’t avoid the f-word because I think fat is disgusting. Or because I think fat is the dreadful adjective none of us want to become.
But it has been used and will always be used in a way that is belittling and diminishing. I want to let go of the negativity. I want to let go of the hate. I want to heal.
I’ve dated a lot of wrong men. But I dated one right one who made everyone else’s opinion look really sad. Really immature. And really low. Take the higher road. Be like Jesse. I learned my self-worth the day I met Jesse.
He saw beauty in me I never knew existed. And the fact he looked nothing like me, he had the body that fit so perfectly into society’s standard of beauty, meant so much more to me because the guy they all thought a girl like me couldn’t get thought I was beautiful and perfect. His view of me silenced the hate of the world. His view of me erased all the stereotypes society suffers from.
His exact words in a text to me after our first date were, ‘I can’t believe how sexy and adorable you are.’ Boom. The scale wouldn’t call me sexy and adorable. But he did. I showed him a picture of me when I was thinner and he said, ‘You were cute, but I like you better now.’ Boom again.
I even asked him for workout tips because he was athletic. He informed me I was using weight machines incorrectly. His reason had to do with my size but he didn’t say, ‘Because you’re fat.’ He understood empathy and he worded it with kindness and in a way that didn’t allow the extra fat to define me. He said something like, ‘When you have extra weight in this area…’
He only said it because I asked for advice. He said it with so much fragility. I heard the hesitation and gentleness in his voice. He didn’t want to hurt me. He considered why I would be sensitive about this topic and he respected it.
News flash: he was never overweight, either. If he can do better (having never walked in my shoes), we all can do better.
And don’t forget: girls with extra weight on them have fans. A lot of fans. As a guy online told me, ‘BBW is trending.’ Yeah, mama, it so is.
Girls with extra weight on them are someone’s preference. Girls with extra weight on them are someone’s ideal beauty. Girls with extra weight on them are not less than.
Girls with extra weight on them get their inbox flooded from guys (many with six-packs) who think they’re gorgeous. Water seeks every level. Girls with extra weight on them get really tired of people who think fat is the devil.
Girls with extra weight on them like themselves and don’t need to go around saying negative words to others and then brushing it off as ‘honest.’
It’s not honest. In fact, it’s so far from the truth. It is a lack of compassion, sincerity, and wokeness.
Yes, wokeness. We’re in 2021. Time to wake up. Big girls are in. And fat isn’t a bad thing.
We’re not sensitive. You’re just unwoke.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Felicia Naoum of Parma, Ohio. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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