I remember the first time I was publicly fat shamed. I was a 16 years old and on a class trip to the Jewish Heritage Museum in Manhattan for leadership training. We were having lunch in the museum’s cafeteria; honestly I don’t remember if I actually ate anything since this was during the time I would skip meals with the goal of getting thin. I do remember that at one point my friend got up to get a second helping of food at which time I asked him to get me a can of soda. He came back with a can of Diet Coke, I looked at the can and then up at him in confusion. He then said, very loudly I might add, “You could stand to lose a couple of pounds.” The entire table and those next to it laughed. I left the soda right in his hand and walked away. No one stood up for me and he never apologized. He claimed that it was a joke. I wasn’t laughing.
Such occurrences only got worse once I got older. In fact,one of my mother’s oldest friends no longer greets me with a, “Hi, how have you been?,” like the average person would, but with a, “You’re fatter.”
Recently the most popular tactic of public fat-shaming in my life has popped up at church luncheons and nights out at restaurants, where people will see me pass on the salad which leads them to pushing it to me with the notion that it will “get me thin.” It is no secret that I am usually not the thinnest person at a dinner party, but eating a salad before the main course of a meal will not change this fact within the next five minutes. I am very, very picky when it comes to vegetables and fruits, and its not because I don’t like them. I don’t trust the people who prep and serve it. I want the vegetables that come on my plate to be fresh and clean and the only way I can be sure of this is when I do it myself. Which is why 9 times out of 10, I do not eat any salad outside of my kitchen. (This is what happens when you watch too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares).
Naturally I am allowed to have my own preferences, yet because of my size this is put down to having an unhealthy lifestyle. Many people don’t realize that eating habits are not the only things that affect your weight, things like sleep deprivation, thyroid problems, pregnancy and stress can all expand your waistline. No amount of salad will chance this if any or these factors are affecting you. And whether it is my eating habits or any of the aforementioned factors that has got me to my current weight, that is none of your business. It’s mine.
Fat-shaming is anything but new at this point, yet what is both sad and irritating is how most people find nothing wrong with it. Many people claim that these kinds of actions are taken out of concern for my health when in reality it is for their own benefit. They wish to make themselves feel better by making people like me feel bad. Constantly telling me that I am fat and should be ashamed of myself isn’t going to motivate me to do anything else but hate my body.
Is it any wonder why it took me reaching my mid-twenties to finally admit that I am worthy of living my life? The fact that I started participating in an exercise class and making healthier choices in what and when I eat is not due to fat-shaming, I started loving myself and I want to make sure that I treat my body right especially after so many years of self inflicted hate.
Have you been fat-shamed? How do you go about shutting down those who fat-shame you?