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An intense, uncomfortable, and awkward post about fat things

November 29, 2012

A recent picture of me and my friend Kathryn our buddy Cornelius took. As you can see I still have a ways to go.

At the beginning of the week, I read this great post by the amazing and awesome and wonderful Lindy West, about being fat at the gym. It made me really emotional for some reason, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why.

While it’s true that the gym is a horribly judgmental place to begin with, there are a lot of uncomfortable truths about being fat you just don’t know unless you are or have been fat. And sometimes it’s hard to express to people that have never been fat what it feels like to be fat. I’ve decided to try, anyway.

Please bear in mind that these are based only on my own experience and my own (sometimes unhealthy) mind. One thing I have learned, or rather, become conscious of, is that I did not get to be at my highest weight, 200lbs (on a 5’1 small-ish frame) by accident. I did it because I thought it would make me invisible and give me something to hide behind but what really happened is that I didn’t become invisible. I was still visible. Just in different ways. The ways fat people are visible. The ways fat people are judged. So fat? Is not a security blanket. Even though I really desperately wanted it to be.

  • Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): just because you read somewhere that counting calories is one of the many symptoms of disordered eating does not mean that my doing it to lose weight is an eating disorder or unhealthy, so back up off me, bro. First of all, it’s fucking science. The calories in need to be less than the calories out to lose weight and how the hell am I supposed to know I’m doing that right if I’m not counting? Second, I am counting, I am not restricting my calorie intake to 1000 calories a day or whatever, which actually is a symptom of disordered eating. I make sure I get a lot more calories a day than the recommended minimum for a woman my age and weight. Third, and most important, have you seen any of the food pictures I post all over the place? I basically eat whatever I want, mostly in moderation, and still lose weight (kinda slowly), and I can do it because I count my fucking calories and make it like a little nutrition puzzle.
  • Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): stop looking at my food (unless I’m Instagraming it at you). At this point, people in Australia know that I am in the midst of a weight loss path thingy and I have some good days and some tumble-off-the-wagon-horribly days but it doesn’t always have to be looked at or talked about. It’s a long process and I try to stick to it but looking at my food and talking about how good or bad I’m being makes me think about food too much.
  • Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, stop trying to help me find someone. Do you know why I haven’t found someone? Because this is (really) what it sounds like in my head: “Well, there are two categories. Fat and not fat. And for whatever reason—society, the media, body image issues of other people I’m close to, my unmitigated asshole of an ex-boyfriend—I’ve been taught that fat is unattractive, and not fat is attractive. So until I am not fat, I am also not attractive. So what is the point of being attracted to this person, because this person could never possibly find me attractive, so really, what’s the point?” It’s not like I’m never attracted to anyone, it’s kind of just like I don’t think about it because those people are usually not attracted to me so I don’t dwell on it. It’s almost like being asexual, only a lot more sad. I promise you I am working on the mental baggage, but that is what it sounds like in my head right now. And if this is what it’s like in my head you’ll probably agree I should not be finding someone for a while.
  • Sometimes I want to tell people (not all people, just some people): do not follow the above up with “well you just need to find the kind of person who loves your body and you’re all set.” This is fucked up. I need to find someone else, someone else, whose opinion of me will decide my own opinion of me? The only person who gets to decide my opinion of me is me. It’s my opinion that needs to be fixed. Which again, I am working on.
  • I know people mean well. I really, really do. But unless you’ve ever been overweight, or ever been looked at like you’re overweight, you just don’t know. And really the best thing to do, I think, to support someone is be sensitive to the weight stuff (for example, “LET’S GO SHOPPING AT ZARA!” is not sensitive because nothing in there fits anyone who wears more than like a Size 6). Also it’s really hard to listen to people who are at a healthy weight or thin talking about how they need to lose weight. It really fucking is. Going out and chatting about not weight is awesomely supportive. This is why I love spending so much time with hockey fan friends. We just talk about hockey, and I don’t have to be Crazy Body Image Issue Girl for a few hours. It’s awesome.
  • I also know, and I really do, that I’ve come a long way and have a lot to be proud of. I’ve figured out, with the help of therapy, why I gained the weight in the first place. I have an awesome plan, and awesome people who help me with this plan. I have lost bunches and bunches of weight and I still have a lot to go but I feel good about it. The mental baggage takes longer but I’m getting there.
  • I know a lot of the above makes me seem really fucked up. But the truth is this is kind of a lonely experience and maybe, I really don’t know, but maybe, there are other people out there experiencing stuff like this and I think we should be able to honestly vent our frustrations about body image issues so it doesn’t feel so lonely. So I’m being honest and it’s scary but if people want to think I’m crazy then I guess that’s their problem but if people want to vent or commiserate or anything then I am here and you can also email me if you don’t feel okay doing it publicly.


14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2012 10:43 pm

    Amen. I’d also add that I’d like to tell some people, sometimes, that I don’t need to hear about how great crazy fad diet X is. I probably got pounds by liking too much food, and all drinking lemon water and drinking tuna fish all day is going to do is make me crave food I miss and want to murder someone.

  2. November 29, 2012 10:47 pm

    It’s probably not best for someone going through a lot of shit to talk to someone going through a lot of shit, but whatever. I completely understand what you said about finding someone. However, I think I beat myself up about it less. Until I’m happy with myself I don’t think I’ll meet someone I’m happy with. Simple as that. That involves weight, job, habits, friends, etc. It involves everything about my life. I don’t know if you’re happy with everything EXCEPT your weight but even though I’ve met and had dates with some great girls, I was always settling somehow and the reason was I wasn’t me at my best. I think that’s what you were basically saying as well.

  3. ThatRachelH permalink
    November 29, 2012 10:53 pm

    I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re all kinds of awesome and brave for being so open and honest when it’s scary to do so.

  4. November 30, 2012 12:47 am

    This is an amazing post. I love you for it. Weight stuff has never been a big thing but I have dealt with learning disabilities and other things of a similar vein. It is HARD. I’m much happier with myself than I used to be yet I don’t think I could talk about my issues and struggles as gracefully as you have here. ❤

  5. Susan permalink
    November 30, 2012 6:51 am

    Laura – you rock! And so do all of you who have left these wonderful, supportive comments! I may turn back to this column regularly today when the demon sugar beckons…..Thanks!

  6. November 30, 2012 8:16 am

    Laura – it never ceases to amaze me how strong and brave and honest you are. You are one of the bestest people I know, and I hope that I can help you realize that and that I am never one of those people you want to tell these things to – but if I am, tell me! Tell me to shut my yap or change the subject. I love you too much to ever contribute to your hurt. I’m sure other people feel the same way… maybe not all, but some. 😉

    I know you feel like you’re fucked up, but you aren’t. If more people could speak as eloquently and openly on things, maybe we would all feel a little less fucked up.

  7. November 30, 2012 9:15 am

    1. I had never really thought that people were gaining weight as a tactic to “hide”, so I’ve learned something new.

    2. I don’t think the urge to feel uncomfortable when friends want to “find” you a mate is limited to fat people. I hear you, but the urge of non-single people to want to play matchmaker for their single friends is annoying regardless of the weight of the single person. I “found” my wife by not looking. She ended up being opposite of what I would have predicted in almost every way.

    3. I am a wee bit concerned that an ice rink has a ginormous concrete pillar in middle of it. Can’t feel good to slam into that after a wipeout.

  8. November 30, 2012 9:56 am

    I’m kind of at a loss for words right now because I never realized how much you and I are alike. I agree a lot with everything you have said here and even if I haven’t felt necessarily that exact way, I completely understand and have felt something very, very similar. I’ve been overweight most of my life and always hated it. I started to be a normal weight when I took up smoking at 18, and then I became extremely thin for a few years when I abused drugs for a few years. Then I quit it all and gained weight quickly, and let myself lost track somewhere along the way but before I knew it, I was 200 lbs and too ashamed to leave my house.

    It’s incredibly brave of you to post this, and I appreciate that because it makes me feel a little brave in at least saying that I am in the same boat as you. It’s so hard because the way being overweight makes you feel is so awful and it comes from EVERYWHERE, you feel shitty about yourself, you feel other people making shitty about yourself – strangers, your own friends, your family…and it is so, so, so hard to lose weight. It makes me cry a lot because of how much work it takes. I tweet about it a lot so you probably know that I am currently working very hard to lose weight, and this is a decision I only made a few months ago – to combine dieting and exercise. It works, but it’s so hard. Every single day is a battle. And while I am so much better off than I was a few months ago, I still look at myself and feel awful because I’m still so overweight. It’s really helpful to have the support of people going through the same thing, honestly. So again, I appreciate this. And I really wish I could physically hug you but since I can’t, I’ll just tell you how much I support you and am always here for you if you ever need anything. There are so many bumps along the way but you are so incredibly smart and great, I have so much faith in you. ❤

    PS I think it makes me sound pretty crazy that none of that stuff you said really sounded crazy at all to me.

  9. December 2, 2012 11:27 am

    Just wanted to add my tiny bit – I only know you from Twitter and most of that is related to hockey. The one thing about the internet is sometimes you get to know a person’s personality better because you don’t see the superficial bits everyone likes to rag on (ok, they rag on our comments/tweets/status etc., but you get the picture). I like the bits of you I get to ‘see’ and wish you well in getting to whatever your physical goals are, because I like those bits. *hugs*

  10. December 12, 2012 2:04 pm

    This is an excellent post, and thank you for sharing it.

  11. March 3, 2013 9:41 pm

    I blog quite often and I really appreciate your information.
    Your article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking
    for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.


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