This week is #WeightStigmaAwarenessWeek. I have thoughts about this. (Shock…I have thoughts on everything. I know.)
1) When I went to be tested for Covid at the hospital, I cried because I was afraid they would leave me to die because I’m fat and disposable. During grad school, I lost 100+ pounds. I have the knowledge, awareness and desire to be healthy. However, in the past year, I have gained over 100lbs. Since last summer, I’ve had repeated issues with chest pain, breathing issues, all over pain and muscle weakness. Every time I see a doctor, for any health issue, they feel the need to inform me that I’m obese with the inference that I’m unhealthy because I am fat. This is RIDICULOUS. I didn’t go to them to talk about my weight; they’ve made no connection between my weight and any medical disorder. I’m unable to get the healthcare that I need, or even to get healthcare to notice the sudden and drastic weight gain as a SYMPTOM of something. I’m treated as whiney, lazy and diagnosis-searching because of my weight.
2) People are sometimes intimidated by my weight. They struggle to discuss being fat with me, or their own struggles with food, because they’re afraid that they’ll trigger me – assuming that my weight is a constant thought in my head that my life circles around, possibly because they think so much about it? Possibly because they feel like I should be ashamed of it? They struggle to make eye contact, and suddenly get uncomfortable when we talk about favorite foods or restaurants and find out we like the same things. And listen, I am the first to admit that I can be intimidating and annoying; but be intimidated by how direct I am, or how much I know about my profession, or how it helps me see right through you. Be annoyed with my inability to let things go, or that I always wanna “talk it out.” My body ain’t shit compared to the human being who is living inside of it.
3) I am often intimidated by other’s weight; when people are heavy, I notice it. I wonder if they’re like me, or have more medical issues, or if they’ve always been overweight. When people are thin, i worry about their health; I wonder if their lives are happier than mine. I wonder if they ever get hungry, if they enjoy exercise, if they live pain free, what it feels like to shop, if they ever get to have ice cream or red meat. I stop myself from making judgements on anyone that are based on their physical size, but I feel shame for having to stop myself.
4) An entire wardrobe of clothing for a “normal weighted” person would cost approximately as much as it does to buy three pairs of jeans for myself. ($275 on sale and with a coupon. True story.). There’s exactly one company that designs plus size clothing that fits my body, style and profession. How many clothing stores are there, of all different styles and price ranges, for people of “normal” weights? But when I discuss this with people, my most common response is some variation of “well, it’s more expensive to make your clothes with all that fabric. Plus, you’re doing it to yourself, really…maybe if you just cut out soda and walk three times a week?” It’s presumptuous, dismissive and arrogant. Also, I’m a crafter…it’s not an extra $50 worth of fabric or a labor. They charge more because we don’t have choices and they know it.
5) With somewhere between 32 and 68% of Americans struggling with being overweight or obese, we should have choices, representation on TV and in movies (that’s not the clumsy, food obsessed or endearingly quirky “fat person” who is usually depicted), representation in medical care and consideration from our representatives.
I’d welcome open discussion on your experiences with weight and weight stigma. How do you experience people who are heavier in your society?