A call to action: your fat friend is going it alone.
Your Fat Friend
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Damn, this is a hard one. I have a family member who is very overweight. I am not. I am aware of their depression as well as their defense mechanism, which is to absolutely, angrily, shut down any conversation about their weight (which is essentially their health). I am aware that that most likely stems from them dealing with a lifelong pattern of people subtly (and less-than-subtly) blaming and judging them for their weight. I’ve asked myself “why do I want them to lose weight? Is it about them? Or is it really about me?” I’ve thought about that a lot, and I’ve truly come to the answer that it’s not about me. I’m NOT embarrassed of them. I’m not uncomfortable and I don’t see their weight as their defining trait. But I do see their depression and lack of self-love as their defining trait and their weight is a direct result of those two things. I know, that when I talk to them about it, I get less than a sentence out and I get my head bit off. I’ve tried every technique. I’ve been told to ‘just love them how they are, no matter what’, and I do and I will, no matter what. But that does not mean I will settle for ignoring their sadness and depression. This family member is not someone who wants nothing in life. They are not someone content to do nothing, go nowhere, be no one of consequence. They are someone who wants those things and has shelved them, stopped themselves in most attempts to do and be those things because of depression that looks like fat. So, what do I do? Sit by, while I feel like I have something to offer them? Just be quiet and pretend I don’t see the depression constantly. I can hear it, for God’s sake. I can hear it’s energy vibrating. What kind of a person am I if I don’t push them? I believe everyone is entitled to dignity, respect, and kindness. ENTITLED to those things. But I do not believe any of us are entitled to be shielded from truth. People ARE worried about you if you’re overweight. People are mostly clumsy with their words, and yes, people are mostly incapable of true empathy. And the burden falls on overweight people to absorb others’ clumsiness, insensitivity while ‘just trying to help!’, and efforts to give unsolicited advice. Maybe that’s not fair. But it’s no crime. In my experience, there’s not much vulnerability on the side of the overweight, and in my experience, there can be no real changes without vulnerability. The willingness to be open about the depression that manifests itself as fat. I wouldn’t care about my loved one’s weight, if it didn’t mean depression. I wouldn’t care about how they looked if I didn’t know that they do. They say some of the same things I’ve read on this blog: “No one understands”, “It’s not my fault, it’s society.” “I am healthy, my doctor says so.” And so on and so on. We are all dealt a hand, we play that hand throughout life and sometimes we get ourselves into a hole. We can either sit in it and defiantly insist that it’s not a hole, society just sees it as a hole. Or we can take the steps to get out of the hole, whatever those steps may be and however long it takes. One thing I feel sad about with my loved one is that we only get so many years on this earth, it’s up to us, each of us, to make ourselves happy. No one’s gonna do it for us, in fact, most people are gonna try to take that happiness from us. I had a friend in high school who had very bad skin. His whole family had acne, it was genetic, it was eating-habits, and it was lifestyle habits, too, that caused his acne. He HATED it. He was embarrassed to the degree of social isolation. His brother and sister didn’t seem to be as bothered by it and they just went through their lives with acne and ‘oh well’. But he hated it. So, he took the steps to solve his problem. He insisted on special soap that he found worked well, he washed his face religiously in the morning, around 3 or 4pm, and before bed. He stopped eating greasy foods and stopped drinking milk. Pretty quickly his acne was clearing up. His friends didn’t have to go through those changes. His brother and sister chose not to. He never asked fate “Why do I have to do all this? It’s not fair. Others don’t have to!” He simply had an issue that was causing him emotional pain and depression, and he changed his ways and took steps to solve it. He didn’t ask society to change their perception of desirability…. however unfair the hand he was dealt was, he figured out his way to make it a winning hand. I know that I’m going to face some ire for writing this. And that’s ok. I’m open and ready for it, because I need to talk to someone about this issue, and I cannot talk to my loved one about it. They’ll bite my head off. They are not willing to face their depression, at least not with me.

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