I performed this at the BODYlogues, if you would like to watch the performance as well.
“During that time the patient gained 40lbs and continues to be overweight to this day.”
I was 9 when that happened.
“If you put in more effort you’d fit your clothes better.”
I was 11.
“Hey fatty, ever seen a salad before?”
I wasn’t even 13.
Imagine for a moment a child who has been bullied for most of their school life coming back to school from break noticeably overweight. This child has always been “different” but now there is a physical target for their bullies. Their physical change has been due to a misdiagnosis and an incorrect medication, but that doesn’t matter to the bullies.
Now imagine that child looking at their old clothes that no longer fit, see the tears of pain in their eyes as they try to force themselves into those clothes to try to hide their weight change. Imagine the damage to their body as they force themselves into clothes over two sizes too small.
If the kid doesn’t get new clothes that fit, then that means they aren’t fat, right? If they fit their old clothes…they can’t be fat…right?
But the bullying doesn’t stop.
The child’s hatred of their body begins to grow, leaving them trying to avoid getting pictures taken, wearing old hand me downs instead of new clothes, trying to hide their body from the world as well as themselves. Eventually they can’t even look in the mirror without hearing the bully’s voices and the constant reinforcement from friends, family, media, and society that their body is “bad” and needs fixing.
The child isn’t even 15 before their first suicide attempt. Their hatred for their body reaching a point where they would rather die than return to school to risk further bullying.
The child is now 17, the attempt obviously a failure, but now the they have turned to more hidden ways of self harm. The child finds a dress for prom, but it is too small for them. They starve themselves to drop the weight, not telling their parents that they’re skipping meals when at school and giving away their food. People begin to compliment them on the weight they’ve lost, telling the child how proud they are of their “commitment” to losing weight.
Prom comes around, the dress fits, but the pain doesn’t go away. The weight comes back, just like it always does, and the compliments stop, the shame returns.
By this point everything is blamed on their weight.
Medical issues were blamed on their weight.
Self esteem issues? Weight to blame.
If something was wrong, it was due to their weight…to my weight.
“Just lose weight!” they tell me. They don’t care if the problem existed before the weight gain, if I just lost weight the problem would go away.
My cycle of starving myself and then breaking down and binging on food continues to grow, but for a while I manage to hold my weight at a steady level due to this. I realize I have a problem, and I go to my doctor and tell him I think I’ve got an eating disorder.
What does he tell me?
“You can’t have an eating disorder, you’re obese.”
I tried to kill myself that night, and it wouldn’t be my last attempt due to my body.
Because I was FAT no one listened to me when I cried for help.
Because I was FAT, all medical issues were because of my weight, even a leg injury that left me unable to exercise…thus causing me to gain more weight. If I just lost weight the leg pain from the injury would go away.
Why didn’t I and my experiences matter?
Why did only my fat matter?
Why was I praised when I hurt myself? Why was I rewarded for starving myself?
Why was I shamed when I tried to take care of myself and tried to eat when I was hungry?
I was finally diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder and Body Dysmporphic Disorder a few years ago. They think that I developed them before I was 15, with them being fully set into my mind by the time I’d reached adulthood.
I began receiving treatment, and while I stand just below 240lbs, I am slowly beginning to accept my body and how to healthily work with it and how I WANT to look.
I still struggle with looking in the mirror, and have to fight against the negative thoughts when people compliment me. I still struggle with the desire to fall back to my cycle, but because my new doctor saw the person behind the “fat” I was able to receive the care I needed.
So the next time you see someone and think, “Wow, they’re fat.” or how they need to lose weight, stop and try to look past that at the person beyond the fat. It doesn’t matter how they gained the weight, or even how big they are, they are still a person and when interacting with them THAT is the part we need to interact with. Shaming them won’t get them to change, all it will do is show them that you’re someone that doesn’t view them as a human worthy of the same love and attention you’d give a skinny or athletic looking person.