I grew up in America, in the society that hates fat people and yet I’ve never hated myself. I’m not sure how I missed the memo that I am suppose to dislike my body and myself for that matter not just because I am fat, but I gather because I am female. It seems most women, no matter the size, skin color, hair color, or education level have been taught to hate at least one thing about themselves. To feel they are lesser than others, and for that matter then engage in this competition to be “better” than those who all feel the same way?
Yes, so am I.
I am more confused by how I was able to avoid this self hate, and perhaps if I knew I could help others avoid hating themselves. It’s enough having society hate me for being fat, and then hate me even MORE for speaking up for myself against the hate. How dare the fat chick talk back to us? Or how dare the fat chick be happy? That’s not right, fat people are suppose to be sad and depressed! Shame on her for accepting herself and enjoying her life, that kind of example will never convince people that they should not want to be fat!
I make no apologies for being who I am, and loving who I am. If you cannot handle my reality then look away, but do not try to convince me that I am in denial.
People hate me because they fear being fat. They fear that if they become fat then society will treat them the way I am treated, or worse how they treat fat people. I have found the same hate from people who were once fat and have lost weight, they fear regain, they fear feeling the way they once felt about themselves. Why is being fat such a bad thing?
As I say, “Fat describes me, it does not define me.” Fat described my physical appearance, I do not hide from the “f” word. Sugar coating it by saying “pleasantly plump”, “plus size”, “fluffy”, “juicy”, “heavy set”, “full figured”, really does nothing to change my reality. After all, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.
I do not hate being fat because I base my self worth on more than my appearance.
I have always been fat, I will always be fat. When I made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery the surgeons estimated goal weight for me based on losing 50-70% of my excess weight was 220lbs. At 5’3″ and 220lbs I would have still been morbidly obese and qualified for weight loss surgery. Four years after surgery, and after my panniculectomy I did reach my lowest adult weight of 250lbs. I had lost half my body weight from 502lbs.
Wow, half my size and my life was PERFECT. No, actually my life then was not as full filling and exciting as my life is today writing this at 406lbs (my scale could actually register my weight this morning instead of OVRLD).
When I hit my “rock bottom” moment in April 2000, I knew I had to make a plan to change my life. I was morbidly obese, unemployed, and had not completed my college degree. While my weight definitely affected my life, it was not the source of all my life problems. Yes, part of the reason I had not completed my degree was because it was often difficult to walk to class, there were also many times I walked to the building and spent the night talking to my best friend in the computer lab instead of going to class. My problems were not due to my weight; my weight and my life problems were due to me not taking care of myself.
My plan was to get my life together, address my health, which included my weight, to finish my education, and overall be employable. At that point in time it did not include having a boyfriend or dating. Honestly, getting my own life back on track was enough work without involving someone else in the process.
I might have mentioned this before but patience is not a strength of mine. So instead of setting small attainable goals to reach in a realistic time frame I decided to jump in head first. I applied for graduate school and was accepted, this then prompted me to quickly complete my Bachelor degree. I also decided the weight loss I was achieving on my own was not going to be enough, nor quick enough, so I researched and decided to have weight loss surgery. Looking back the decision to address my health and pursue my education at the same time was not wise. This was the peak time of my lymphedema treatment and in addition to the appointments to have manual lymph drainage and compression wrapping on legs I was also often hospitalized for cellutitis and required IV antibiotics. Nothing says dedication like pulling over to the side of the road to self administer IV medication via mediport. I had to take a quarter off classes, and in others I took “incomplete”. As I said, I took on too much for me and my learning style and personal discipline to manage. Honestly, managing to walk around a hilly campus with my legs wrapped was quite an accomplishment. I probably just needed more time, perhaps another year to complete my studies. But instead, impatience me jumped shipped after two years and got a job. I planned on finishing my “incompletes” via e-mail. The professors agreed to the arrangement. However, when shortly after starting my new job I had a whole new wave of medical issues hit, and my life took a huge turn which actually lead to my current career.
My new job involved relocating to Miami, Florida. Life was getting better, or so I thought. Four months after my move I was hospitalized for cellulitis and a deep vein thrombosis. A few months later I suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) also know as a mini-stroke. Further tests revealed I had a hole in my heart that had gone unnoticed since birth. I had was on the scariest health roll coaster ever, and the issues had nothing to due with my weight. Although I am thankful that by this time I had my health on track or the stroke could have been worse.
In my journey, the weight I lost was not nearly as important as the strength I found in myself.
After a year of seeing numerous specialists and opting to have the hole in my heart closed, I then proceeded to have reconstructive surgeries to have excess skin removed. I also had to have a hernia repaired twice. The medical roller coaster involved more than just hospital and doctors it include learning to deal with insurance companies. I learned a lot, I had to fight a lot for coverage. I appealed and won on many occasions. It was a process I understood, I process others did not and I found myself helping friends and co-workers when they had insurance issues. I then decided to change careers and returned to college to get a degree in Health Services Administration. Graduation was timed quite well, just one month before my position at my job was eliminated and I was laid off.
It took me a year to find a new job, but I survived being unemployed. I learned to cut back on household expenses like cable. I sold items I no longer needed. I was resourceful, a problem solver, I focused on the positive: I got to sleep in for an entire year! All jokes aside, the new job was not as expected. I experienced weight and disability bias and was not being judged on my appearance instead of my skills and abilities. If you have read this far you will understand why I was not going to accept that type of treatment. I had not worked as hard as I did to improve my life situation to be judged on my appearance. I did not base my worth on my appearance and I was not going to accept others doing so. Of course the more I stood up for myself against the bias, the more attempts were made to knock me down. Having had successfully survived unemployment in the past I was not scared of what the outcome was going to be, I was not going to waiver on standing up for myself. That job ended as expected.
While all this was going on in my life, my weight was also increasing. I even had a revision to my RNY in September 2010, and still my weight is back up to 400lbs. I can debate the reasons, I can defend my habits, I can point to Lipedema and the still many unknowns about the condition.
I choose to accept it, no I’m not “giving up”…I am, as I always have, accepting myself.
Just as being fat was not the source of my life problems over a decade ago, regaining weight does not take away or diminish all that I have accomplished and challenges I have overcome.
I still have my education, I still have my resilience, my survival skills. I have a new sense of adventure. I have a new sense of purpose. I have someone very special in my life who supports, encourages and accepts me…he’s also very handsome and makes me laugh…oh and gives good back rubs.
A change in weight does not change all the good that I have in my life.
I still have fat arms, a big butt, and huge legs. However, I also still have a beautiful smile, cute dimples and an awesome personality. Those attributes cannot be measured on scale, and if they could that scale would most likely read “OVRLD” just like my regular scale.
Why don’t I hate being fat? Because I don’t hate myself, I never have and I never will.