In part one of 'The Weight Pandemic' I wrote about society placing so much emphases on weight and how you can never go anywhere without seeing or hearing something about weight. I wrote about how people are judged by weight, and how there is an unreasonable expectation to be grossly thin. I also wrote about how some of my own friends are passing judgement on others. In this part I am going to talk about my experiences and those of one of my Cousins.
I'm the girl on the left with the long, dark hair. Twelve years ago I wore a size 12, I was a sophomore in high school. I think I looked pretty, happy, and relaxed. Which I think is really awesome considering how depressed and upset I had been while shopping for a dress for this event. I might have been a size 12 but I could never find a dress to fit me right. Granted we didn't have much time to find a dress and were on a budget but those things combined with my body shape made it nigh impossible to find a dress. I am pear shaped. My hips are wide and my shoulders are narrow. When buying dresses and shirts, I have to buy to fit my hips and alter them at the shoulders so things don't look frumpy, weird, and don't fall off at the top. I remember being frustrated, angry, and so upset to see a dress I really liked, find one in my size only to go the the fitting room and not have it fit. I also remember feeling so guilty for dragging my parents from store to store in an effort to find something, anything! I knew they were getting frustrated so after three or four hours of shopping I settled on the one in the picture. It wasn't a bad dress, it was far more affordable than some of the others I had been looking at and I think it might have even been on clearance. It was pretty and comfortable, my mom picked it out, and I wore it more than once.
This is me now. I wear a size 32 in pants. I still think I look pretty but that doesn't seem to matter because I am, by definition 'morbidly obese'. I have even been told so by an official. As you can imagine that really hurts. How did I become so grotesquely huge in twelve years? It doesn't matter and the story of the how or why isn't important. Just know it was never intentional, I never did this to myself on purpose and I have been struggling with it the whole time. I've tried diets. I've tried smaller portions of food. I've tried diet pills and exercise (nothing extensive, I didn't have time for it, but walks and parking father away from the store doors, little things like that). I've tried all sorts of combinations.
I have been harassed by an employer about my weight. He used to come up behind me (this was when I only wore a size 20 in jeans) and tell me that I was too slow and that he was going to whip me into shape. He gave me tasks around the store he never gave anyone else, things like cleaning door tracts, cleaning grills, and having me switch between stations so I ran back and forth all the time and never got a break. When I needed to go to the doctor I would make my appointment in advance and ask for that day off and he would schedule me in so I was forced to find someone to switch shifts with me. Another manager had to fight him to approve the raises I was due for passing all my certifications. I ended up quitting because of him.
I have gone in to apply for jobs and been told that they were out of applications but then seen someone walk out of the store not but a few minutes after me with one. I've gone to interviews and see the change in potential employer's faces when they see me and look me over physically. I can tell the difference in someone who is interested in me as a possible employee and someone just going through the motions until they can get me out of their office. Walking down the street I see the way others look at me, I see them lean into their friends and whisper. I've even heard people say really mean things and been called rude names. And you know what, it really does effect me no matter how much I try not to let it.
My Grandfather told me I have to get the weight off, that I used to be such a pretty girl. I understand that he is worried about my health, but that really hurt. My Grandmother has been lecturing me about my weight since I was 9, before I was even fat or out of shape. My Uncle D took me on a 23 mile bike ride when I was a teenager and then swimming for two hours afterwards and he's always been subtlety pushing fitness on me since I was little.
All of these things, the judgement of others, people 'trying to be helpful', the lectures, the constant weight focus of society, has not helped improve the way I look at myself much less my depression (thought being fat isn't the only reason I have severe depression). In fact, while I might find another large or heavy person beautiful, I hate myself. I've thought of cutting my stomach open and sucking the fat out with the vacuum hose. I've entertained the idea of cutting myself open and scraping the fat out with a spoon and cutting off the excess skin and sewing myself back up. I've thought about starving myself. I've thought about eating and throwing up my food afterward. All of which if I did would land me in the hospital and then the psych ward.
One of my cousins has always been heavy and always struggled with her weight. One set of her Grandparents gave her sister and brother treats but forced her to eat nothing but healthy food. She was never given treats. She was picked on in Girl Scouts and school. In high school she couldn't fit in the desks and her teachers, being vicious, refused to let her sit at tables so she could learn. Things got so bad that after her mother dropped her off at school in the mornings she would walk home. What was the point of being there if she wasn't even going to be able to sit in class to learn because of bigoted teachers? So she ended up being home schooled. She and I have commiserated enough about our weight and how we feel, and how others have treated us that I know she's thought about doing the same things to herself as I have.
What I find interesting is that there is all this pressure from the outside world, from society, and from our own peers (even if they don't realize that judging a stranger is like a slap in the face to you) and they can't figure out why people take drastic measures and hurt themselves. Really? What the hell do you expect? After awhile of hearing nothing but 'helpful advice', lectures, insults and hateful things, being judged, turned away from jobs or opportunities it begins to wear on a person. And then they want to call us who have thoughts like my cousin and I do, crazy and tell us we need mental help.
There is enough scientific evidence out there for everyone in the world to know that not all people are the same. There are different body types, my metabolism might be slower or faster compared to a friend's, my bone structure isn't the same as my cousin's or even my mother's, and genetics play a crucial roll in everyone's physical make up. So with that knowledge why are people still setting standards for weight and passing judgments and hurting each other. Why do they insist on trying to force people to be something that's utterly impossible?