Get your mind out of the gutter, not that size! Your size. Your body size. Your clothing size. Big shoes generally mean you are a taller person. Big pants sizes generally mean you are a larger person. But does that matter? Of course it does… Or so I’ve been told.
I am so embarrassed by my size. I’m embarrassed because for me, it means that I’m eating my emotions, and you can see them. I’m embarrassed because I have an obvious, blatant, in-your-face and in-my-pants-size struggle that is visible to anyone I meet. “Hi, I’m Dani… Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I have issues. Yes, this is the first impression I make.”
If you watch The Biggest Loser or Extreme Weight Loss or any of those reality-style weight loss TV shows, which of course I’m addicted to, you know there are often deeper rooted issues than just eating too much food. A lot of people think that fat people are just fat because they are lazy and don’t care about themselves. And maybe some are. But more often than not, there are a lot of layers to that onion. ;-)
There has not been any one significant event in my life that affected me and made me eat more than I should, but I do struggle with depression. I don’t deal with stress very well, and there are a lot of stressful things in my life that I don’t handle the most gracefully. I’ve battled with depression since I was in high school, and definitely in college. I’ve seen therapists, I’ve been on medications. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not hiding it… Or hiding behind it. Everyone struggles. It’s life. It’s okay. I could have been dealt a lot worse of a hand.
I started putting on weight my senior year of college, after the stress of school, finals, my portfolio, applying for jobs, becoming financially independent, etc. Then, after I met Joshua, there were the deployments. The first wasn’t too terrible; we got by. But the second… It was terrible. I used to walk back and forth in front of the family room bay window, looking up and down the street for the black unmarked government car. I was terrified. Every week it was a new casualty or more time without hearing from Josh. He told me before he left not to expect him to come home, and it was bad. It messed with my head and my heart. But again, we got by. Also during this time, my parents separated (and later divorced). After that, it was my failed freelance business. Unhappiness in my career. Moving far, far away from my close-knit family and missing them constantly, every day, even right now. Then it was the gluten allergy, the low Vitamin D, the borderline hypothyroidism, and of course the ugly depression peeking through every now and again. I put on the weight rather quickly. I just kept growing. Bigger. And bigger. And bigger. And I felt more and more out of control. And then we moved to North Carolina.
I was a target of bullying because of my size. It’s funny the way highs and lows work sometimes… It happened at my lowest emotionally while I weighed my highest. A couple of new friends thought it would be the right thing to do to tell me what was being said about me by people I had not even met in person. It crushed me. To this day, I will never forget the comments that were made or the people who said them. I will never forget how badly it hurt, or how ashamed I felt. How embarrassed. How alone. I’ve since forgiven them and moved past it, but you know how that is. You still can’t forget when someone hurts you like that. Especially when they never apologized.
So this is what I want to say. The next time you are about to make a nasty comment or snide remark — even to yourself, because we’ve all probably done it at some point in time, as I know I have — just think first. That person could be depressed. That person could be struggling. That person could be homesick. That person could be hanging on by a thread. She could be needing a friend. She could be needing support, without judgement, or someone to talk to. She could just need for you to not make comments about her size, or not to judge her so harshly before you even meet her. She could need you to see past the surface. She could need help.
I needed help. It took me much too long to open myself to accept it.
Every day is a battle with food for me. I don’t know why I’m like this or what’s wrong with me. I was raised in a healthy household and my parents and brother are not overweight or obese. Just me. I was. I am.
Which brings me to another point: What NOT to say to someone who is LOSING weight. Here are some examples of bad ideas:
- How much do you weigh now?
- What was your highest weight?
- What is your goal weight?
Just don’t ask “numbers” at all, unless she offers them to you. By the way, what’s your weight? What’s the highest YOU’VE weighed?
More bad ideas:
- I don’t believe in the type of diet you’re following.
- Do you even have that much to lose?
- I bet we weigh the same now.
- I think the diet you’re on is too expensive.
- I think the diet you’re on is too restrictive.
- I would NEVER do that.
- Aren’t you afraid you’re going to gain it all back?
- I just won’t believe your diet works until I see the results.
- You’re going to look anorexic at your goal weight.
No, friends… Just, no. Want to know what you can say?
- Good for you!
- Wow, you really have willpower!
- Get it, girl.
- I’m proud of you.
- Let’s go shopping!
- Keep it up.
Otherwise, give a genuine compliment, or… Just say nothing at all. Positive and supportive comments are all that are necessary. No one wants to hear about your cousin’s sister’s best friend’s co-worker that tried the exact same thing to lose weight, and it didn’t work. Or it did work, but she gained it all back.
Yeah, size matters. But other things matter more.
I struggle. But I’m happy. I’m trying. I’m fighting. I’m winning.