When I went to my home church for the Easter celebrations a few days ago, my pastor said to me , “Wow! you are just putting on weight. What do you eat?” He shook my hand vigorously and smiled at me while I smiled a little bit and said nothing. He then asked me again and, I replied, “Normal food sir”. We haven’t seen each other in about three months so this is normal. Since he joined the church a few years ago, I have come to expect these exchanges. Sometimes, between the two of us, and at other times, in front of a family member or two; and in some cases, in front of large groups of people, like during a church youth meeting or other events. I have come to realize he doesn’t really mean any harm, and maybe this is his way of “bonding” with me.
You see, that is just one man, imagine the number of these kinds of exchanges I have to navigate through every day. When you are living in the fat lane, almost everything is about your weight. You are reminded in numerous ways: when you enter a keke, when you eat in public, when you are shopping, when you are walking down the road, sometimes, when are just sitting there, breathing and minding your business. People still feel the constant need to remind you about something you are already aware of.
After a while, it’s no longer about how you feel about yourself, it’s that the whole world keeps telling you how to feel. It becomes exhausting, tiring and frustrating. It’s that a stranger can walk up to you and ask if you have goiter. People will stare at your arms like they’ve never seen stretch marks before. Previously fat people will offer you dietary advice even though you did not ask, and your friends can make fat jokes and then turn to you and say, “Oh, not you, you are not that fat”.
Sometimes, I just want to buy snacks without getting weird looks, and I want to be able to reject a meal without being asked if I am on a diet. I want to walk into a store and find items in my size that are actually cute. I want to have conversations that doesn’t involve someone giving me weight loss tips. Finally, I want to hear that I look good without the accompanying “you have really lost weight” because I really haven’t lost that much, I just look good.