21 Nov How I Shed The Shame of My Weight Gain
I have always been paranoid about weight gain. I probably got it from my mother who constantly obsesses over her weight and how her clothes fit.
Growing up I tried just about everything to lose weight. You name a diet fad and I’ve probably tried it; from depriving myself of food (longest time ever was 2 weeks) to a daily dose of vinegar, salt and lime concoction. When my waist was 23 inches I wanted it to be 18 inches. I always thought my legs were ginormous and wanted to lose weight on them. Why such an obsession? Well like a lot of other girls, I was repeatedly teased by classmates and told that I was chubby, fat or needed to lose weight for sports.
So needless to say, I developed a HUGE complex.
I was considered to be clinically obese.
None of my clothes could fit me. I was the most unfit I had ever been in my life. I couldn’t even do 20 jumping jacks without stopping to catch my breath.
I don’t know about elsewhere, but in the Caribbean we feel as though people’s weight are our business. While my weight was increasing, it seemed to be more of an issue for people in my life than it was for me. At the office, I’d receive comments like…
‘You shouldn’t be eating chocolate. Put it down.’
‘Hey, I was on a diet plan that helped me lose weight. You wanna try it?’
‘You need to lose weight. You are getting too big. I don’t know what is going on with you.’
‘Eh eh! How you looking so? Yuh eating too much KFC or what?!’
People who I hadn’t seen in months would meet me and the first thing out of their mouths would be, ‘You not going to the gym again?’, ‘How you get so big??’ 0_0
I’m sure quite a few ladies and gents reading this blog could relate!!
My boiling point reached one evening, knowing my weight gain, I was anxious to go to a friend’s party. I haven’t seen my friends in a while and I know I would look a tad (ok ALOT) bigger than when they last saw me. I stepped into my living room and my mom’s friend was visiting. He turned around, smiled and said, “I don’t like how you are looking. You put on too much weight. You should go on a diet.”
I was like a deer in headlights. I was too shocked to even respond. I think I just sat down and smiled in an effort to hide my embarrassment.
I went to a high school friend’s wedding and to avoid any embarrassing comments, I put a disclaimer out to most of my friends that I was aware that I had gained weight and I was working on it. My defense mechanism was in high gear. I was even thinking of possible responses to give to people who made comments about my weight.
I have been shamed about my weight since I was a girl. Quite frankly, I am tired of it!
I am sharing my embarrassing moments because I would really like us to pay attention to how we speak to each other.
In none of the comments I have recently received did anyone ask me if my weight gain was health-related. They all assumed that I was ‘letting myself go.’ And so what if I gained weight? I don’t see how my weight was impacting any of their lives negatively. I used to get upset and feel to lock myself up in my room. Then it got me thinking:
Do we really make comments about people’s weight because we are trying to be compassionate or is it our own insecurities and issues that fuel such comments?
I then changed my perspective. People will always have something to say and sometimes those words are hurtful. On the receiving end, I’ve now decided to fine tune my interpretation of the messages I receive by asking the following questions:
- Is that person battling some internal issues that they are projecting unto me?
- Is the person trying to give genuine advice but may not know how to phrase it?
- Is this person just being an ass right now? (yes this is a valid question too)
You’re damned if you are too thin, damned if you are too heavy. It’s your happiness and health that counts!
Putting on weight has been a blessing in disguise. The extra weight made me appreciate my old size and made me see just how slim but more importantly how fantastically healthy I was. There was nothing wrong with my legs and my hips weren’t too big. I could have hopped, skipped, jumped and ran 5 miles freely!
Starting back my exercise regime was difficult; my knees and ankles hurt whenever I walked, I couldn’t run and I was a pitiful excuse in the gym. However, starting over was just what I needed to put some perspective in my life. Right now, I’m happy to say that I love my body just how it is in this present moment. I’m not at my ideal fitness goal but I’m getting there the healthy and loving way. I use encouraging words, a regular exercise regimen and a diet filled with food to nourish and energise my body.
Please do me a favour, the next time you see an old high school friend, a former work colleague or anyone you haven’t seen in a while instead of asking them about their weight, say this instead, ‘Are you happy? I hope that you are.’
This blog originally appeared on the Woman of Colour blog.
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