What the UK fat shamer doesn’t understand

Reading about the mother in England who chose a different nursery school for her daughter because one assistant was morbidly obese brings a flood of emotions to the forefront of my mind. I was very recently that obese person. I spent many years in a body that I didn’t recognize. I hated who I saw in the mirror; but with autoimmune diseases running rampant with many still undiagnosed or treated, not only was food my only comfort; but my body wasn’t working properly to process whatever I ate.

 

Last December, after undergoing six intensive solu-medrol infusion sessions (one being 1000 mgs via IV for 5 days in a row), my weight ballooned. Yes, the weight was there prior; but the steroid infusions made it even worse. A picture was taken of me at a Christmas party that literally stopped me in my tracks. Three days prior to Christmas, December 22, 2016, I stepped on the scale at Weight Watchers and sobbed. I had no idea that my home scale was so off. I was in tears through the entire meeting. How had I gotten so big? How had I not seen it? How was I going to get the weight off?

The picture that prompted me to join Weight Watchers,December 2016. Blogger, writer, autoimmune warrior. Photo Credit: Jeff Kirlin.

 

There’s no more of an eye opening experience when it comes to fat shaming than being in the dating world. It seems someone who is certifiably insane but skinny is a better catch than someone who is a wonderful person but obese. With the advent of all the filters, shading, and proper arm reaching from above you for the perfect selfie pose, everyone works hard at that one selfie out of 20 that makes them seem skinnier than they actually are.

 

In the business world, people don’t look at you the same way as they do their skinnier counterparts and immediately offer an excited “Oh you’ve lost weight” if your pants happen to be hanging a bit loosely (the pants being loose only from sitting behind a desk for long hours at a time).

 

In the world of products that are marketed by individuals with their “Home business” are bombarded constantly in front of you. Drink this potion and you will lose weight without even trying. Use this diet for a certain number of days and the weight will melt off. Do this exercise and only this exercise everyday for x number of days and your belly will disappear.

 

Someone who is obese is bombarded daily with the fact they are obese. The fact that the nursery school assistant referred to in England was sweet and wonderful with the children is simply amazing because it takes a lot of work to rise above the fat shaming and not let it bother you. Perhaps this wonderful teacher loved working with little kids because they didn’t fat shame her?

 

I wasn’t always obese. I was a top swimmer in my state for over a decade and didn’t have an ounce of cellulite on my body for a very long time. This made my scale climb even more painful. I wanted nothing more than to lose the weight. I’d start working out and then end up sick for weeks after very little effort. I fell into some of the quick fixes advertised, which certainly didn’t work for me. Weight Watchers was the only method I hadn’t tried.

 

Thanks to my amazing group and leader, I started to learn new tactics and healthier ways of eating. This was coupled with starting a new treatment for my LEMS, that allowed my muscles to work as they were supposed to. Muscles are needed to lose weight! I’ve lost 52 pounds to date, with only 6 more pounds to go until my goal weight. During a milestone celebration at one meeting, my leader, who was the one who weighed me in that first fateful night said “ I remember, and I didn’t think you were ever going to come back. It’s been so great watching your transition.”

52 Lbs lighter, September 3, 2017. Blogger, writer, autoimmune warrior, just like last December.

 

As happy as I am with my weight loss for a variety of reasons, I actually carry some anger and resentment for those who treat me differently because I’ve lost the weight. I get angry because I’m the same exact person I was with 50 more pounds hugging my frame. I get angry because fat shaming is such a huge part of our society. I get angry because people often make comments about how much better I feel because I’m working out. I want to scream at them, I’m working out BECAUSE I feel better! I readily admit that yes, part of my weight loss is due to following the Weight Watchers’ plan; but just as much credit has to be given to my LEMS treatment that has given my body the ability to do what it’s supposed to do.

 

When I first started dating the man I am currently seeing, I showed him a “fat picture” of me, pretty soon after we started dating. I wanted him to see who I was, not just who I am today. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t just spending time with me because of how I looked. It turns out that he, too, was a top swimmer growing up. When I expressed to him, on our second date, how happy I was that I now could work out and now was in shape after years of that not being the case because I was physically unable to, his response was “Of course you feel that way, that’s the athlete in you.” I finally had found someone that understood how I felt.

 

Society needs to stop judging people on their weight and instead start supporting them! People are overweight for many reasons. Some reasons are physical health reasons, some are mental health reasons and some are simply genetic reasons. Everyone has indulged at some point in their lives. Not everyone gains weight from those indulgences!

 

We are conditioned to have wonderful food along with celebrations in life. What kind of a birthday cake do you want? We are having a barbecue because our relatives from far away are visiting (and there will be far too much food at the gathering). You got all A’s on your report card? Let’s go to get an ice-cream.  By the time a child is a teenager, food helps them celebrate and often helps to comfort. That was my draw to food. When nothing else felt good. Food made me feel better.

 

Let’s stop judging people and look at the faults of our society as a whole, instead.

Dawn DeBois

About Dawn DeBois

Florida born and Maine grown, my life has been atypical. My childhood was full of loss and severe physical pain. Both emotional and physical stress during childhood has been found to contribute to autoimmune disease. My first autoimmune diagnosis was at the age of 28, which has led to juggling multiple autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto’s, Fibromyalgia, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis and most recently LEMS- Lambert Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome). I am officially now classified as having “Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome.” You know what they say, go big or go home!