I’m So Tired of Being Told that my Fat Body is Going to Kill Me
I was a teenager the first time that I was told that my body was going to kill me. Right as I was entering adulthood I was informed that because my mom had type 2 diabetes, my dad had type 2 diabetes and my grandpa had type 2 diabetes, I was pretty much guaranteed to have type 2 diabetes.
“If you don’t lose weight this will happen to you too, and you will have to give yourself shots every day and you could even die,” this was the message I was given by my pediatrician before I could even drive.
My body went from being this thing I hated because I was told it was ugly and undesirable, to a thing that hated me - that was trying to kill me. My body wasn’t even mine to hate anymore, it was its own dangerous entity, plotting against me. My body no longer being my own, I was free to treat it as my enemy. To starve and punish and scorn it. My body became something to defeat.
I lived in the obsession with the enemy of my body throughout most of my early adult years. When I had obsessively counted every bite of food that had gone into my mouth long enough, when I had ran enough miles on sore knees, I was winning the battle. My doctors congratulated me as such. I was holding off the enemy — the body that wanted so desperately to be fat- and was therefore staving off my own death.
When I could no longer handle the battle - when I missed being someone not at war with myself, I gained weight, confidence, and happiness. But there is no permanent victory to be had with body positivity or fat acceptance, not when society is doing everything they can every day to resurrect your battle with yourself.
I can’t tell you how hard I’ve fought to keep that battle away from me, to keep from seeing my body as my mortal enemy. Every single doctor’s appointment I have to decide to get on that scale. If I get on that scale, the conversation (no matter what I’m there about) will revolve around my weight and the early demise it surely represents. If I don’t get on that scale, I’ll have to justify it.
“What do you mean you don’t do weigh ins?” the doctor or nurse invariably asks.
“I don’t. It is not healthy for my mental well-being,” I explain.
“But are you tracking your weight? Do you know how much you weigh? Do you know if you need to be concerned?”
They say this as if the world isn’t a mirror and a scale. As if my numbers aren’t being served up to me in every judgmental look, every diabetes joke, every news program about this “obesity epidemic.”
Yes, I know my weight. I know if I need to be concerned.
Every ache and pain I wonder too. I sometimes stay up all night wondering. Not because that ache or pain is by any physical evidence connected to my weight, but because society tells me that I absolutely cannot have any other problem than my weight. Society tells me that if I am fat, I am dying and if I say I am not dying then I am in denial. I am never given a moment’s peace.
I remember the birth of my first child. It was a beautiful and intense experience. During the pregnancy I was tested for gestational diabetes numerous times because of my weight. I knew each test would be negative. Why? Because despite my weight, my entire life I’d always bordered on hypoglycemic. That same doctor had regularly treated me for passing out due to low blood sugar. But I was always reminded that this was temporary — one day, my weight would reverse all that and I would be instead battling to keep my sugar numbers down instead of up. So they never believed the numbers and kept making me come back for tests.
I had just finished giving birth. The doctor handed me this squirmy little dude and I was just familiarizing myself with his beautiful face when I heard the nurse ask my doctor how much I weighed. The doctor told her.
“Gestational diabetes?” the nursed asked in reply.
“No, you would have thought so huh?” my doctor replied. The nurse nodded agreement with this unlikely outcome.
I was just holding a new life and being reminded that they expected me to die.
I have found myself at a weight loss surgery clinic twice now. I’ve never been excited to be there. I never have thought, “I’m doing this for me” I’ve only thought, “I can’t live with the world holding this gun to my head.” I’ve found myself there after countless panic attacks in the middle of the night that the ache in my knee is the sign of worse to come, after one too many reminders that my body is a ticking time bomb. Sitting nervously in consultations as I’m told how cutting out part of my body, risking death, and resigning myself to a life of thimblefuls of food that I have to be careful not to vomit back up will save me. They write my current weight down and then draw a line down to a much smaller number. A number that they promise will ensure I can see my kids grow up.
Each time I’ve gone home and cried. Each time I’ve looked in my mirror at my body — the body my mom held when I was her beloved baby, the body that gave birth to my beloved babies, the body that has been a willing participant in every hug I’ve given, every word I’ve ever written and every accomplishment I’ve ever been proud of and thought — “why does the world keep saying that you are trying to kill me?” And then I feel foolish and weak, recognizing that I’ve let the world override what I know about myself. I’ve failed this too. These are some of the worst moments of my adult life.
What’s funny is that while my body has not been trying to kill me, something in my body has for a long time. I’ve been battling deadly chronic disease my entire life. Disease that is actually attacking the body that everyone tells me is my enemy, and my body has been fighting so hard against it. But my doctors don’t regularly remind me that this disease is trying to kill me, society hasn’t made countless memes about my impending death. That would be cruel. In fact, society doesn’t actually give much of a fuck if my disease kills me or not. But my body, the body that is my only defense against this disease, is constantly treated as the real enemy that I should be fighting. Guess how often I have to tell doctors I don’t want to get on a scale vs how often they proactively ask how my disease is progressing?
My body is not killing me, and I’m so tired of battling a society that tells me that it is. And if my body was killing me and if every dire medical prediction they made came true: if the only way to survive was to see my body as the enemy, to wage constant war — if the only way to survive was to be reminded every single fucking day that I might die — what kind of life would that be? Who has ever been able to hate themselves to better health?
I am a human being and my body is a part of me. I deserve to live or die with the freedom to love myself — my whole self — without fear. Please stop telling me that I’m going to die, because that is actually killing me.