What Are They Really Thinking?
Some brilliant person once said a lot of truth is said in jest. Truer words were never spoken. I learned this the hard way once I hit my first weight loss goal of 50 lbs. That's when someone at work said to me, "you're losing weight, aren't you?" I excitedly responded in the affirmative. I felt like a million bucks. The heavens opened up and I felt bathed in light. A heavenly wonderful light. Until...until my coworker said, "it's about time too because you were too big."
[Insert record scratch here.] What did this person just say to me? Did she just say I was TOO BIG? Here's the deal, once you start losing a significant amount of weight, you will very quickly find that it's a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is obvious and for that I say THANK YOU JESUS every morning when I step on the scale. The curse part? Well, that's a little tricky. As people mention your weight loss to you, it will become very evident what they have REALLY thought about you when you were at your heaviest.
How the Public Sees Members of Fat-Burbia
According to the the Associated Press - NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, "Discrimination is an issue with 95 percent of the public believing that obese people face some level of discrimination due to their weight." [http://www.apnorc.org/projects/pages/Obesity-in-the-United-States.aspx#sthash.pxqGlwwa.dpuf] Although you may think people have a positive image of you because they've always been gracious in your presence, they still see you as just another fat person who doesn't care about their health. As they look in your direction, you may have noticed their eyes cut to your fat legs, or your swollen feet or they may make note of your shortness of breath. These are all signs that they are judging you in the recesses of their mind.
Once you start losing the weight, some people will see it as an opportunity to let you know what they actually thought about you when you were heavier. The more weight you lose, the more you will encounter this from people. The crazy thing? Most people will think they're being complimentary and that what they're saying doesn't hurt your feelings. It's okay for me to talk about my fat and how it made/makes me feel, but it's not okay for YOU to do so, regardless of what I say.
How to Deal with the Toxic Complimenters
The majority of the people in my Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) group are overweight and doing their best to lose weight (with varying levels of success). We spend a lot of time talking about how other people see us, treat us and talk to us. People sometimes think they're doing you a favor by telling you how awful you looked and how much they worried about you when you were heavier. Quite frankly, those people can shove it. Worried? Concerned? Not so much. Most of the time, they're just happy to be able to tell you what they really thought about you the entire time. So, how do you deal with this sudden onslaught of verbal truth diarrhea? It's simple. You respond with your own dose of truth diarrhea. Feel free to ask these people, "is that what you REALLY thought of me when I was heavier?" Let them know they're hurting your feelings. You don't owe anyone an explanation about your weight loss journey. Your journey is your own and it's a VERY personal thing.
Checking In With Fat-Burbia
Walking the weight loss journey can be a lonely road, but just know that you're not alone and as long as the numbers are going down, you're succeeding. No matter what ANYONE says to you, you're winning. You're getting healthier everyday and the next day is just another opportunity to keep moving and keep getting healthy. Everyone who smiles with you, is not necessarily in your corner. Here's where your SQUAD comes into play. Pick your circle carefully. These will become the people who hold you accountable for what you eat, your exercise and keeping you on track. Another benefit to having a strong squad? They will insulate you from the Toxic Complimenters. Each member of my squad is on their own weight loss journey, but we walk together. We don't compete against one another, we don't talk badly to each other and we support each other...NO MATTER WHAT! If there are people in your inner circle who don't support your goals, remove them. You owe them no explanation. Your happiness and your health are paramount. Keep your eye on the prize and until then, enjoy your life in Fat-Burbia!
Fat Shaming - Nothing New
People think that shaming us will make us feel badly enough to do something about it. WRONG! In fact, it has the exact opposite effect. Check out this YouTube video that responds to the fat shamers like a pro.
Responding to the Fat Shamers
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Joanna on April 19, 2016:
Everyone has a struggle. Everyone. It's okay to have different struggles. Some people have yet to realize that, and it is never okay to bash someone else's struggle because it is different than yours. Keep walking your walk, Natasha. People really don't realize what they are saying.