There is no doubt that there is a prejudice against women, men and children of size. I can speak from experience as prior to losing my weight, I was treated differently by men, friends and perfect strangers. Yes, I remember buying donuts and a local donut shop and having people look at me thinking, “Like that girl needs a donut?” For me, that was a tough time especially because it was during my teen years and while all my friends were complaining about gaining 2 lbs. and hitting the 100 pound mark, I just wanted to feel better. I’d just roll my eyes and wonder what it would feel like to complain about being skinny. I was called “Bertha” as I walked down the halls and barked at, it wasn’t pretty, in fact it was pretty darn painful.
At the age of 18, things changed for me. I changed my lifestyle and yes, people’s attitudes toward me changed. Why? Because I was no longer perceived as fat. However, the interesting thing is, I’m the same person I was 50 pounds heavier. I laugh at the same jokes, I still love the same dorky music and I still have feelings, I haven’t changed. Yet somehow, people think that extra weight is some type of barrier against pain, both emotional and physical. Additionally, they think that extra weight immediately exempts feelings and awareness. With all the prejudice out there, it’s amazing how people think that someone different is immediately void of humaneness when in fact the people pointing the finger are the ones perhaps missing some level of it.
This past week there was a very hurtful, nasty, angry blog written by Maura Kelly, a freelance writer for Marie Claire magazine. The title of the post was, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room?” The post was, in my opinion, very unprofessional and for a brief moment, I sensed a bit of intention, in that perhaps the blog was written to generate readership. Just a thought, it happens. But aside from that, reading the post made me sick to my stomach (almost as sick as when I hear the “n” word used for my black friends or the “f” word used for my gay friends).
The tone of the blog was so intense that I felt as though she was writing to someone specific, someone that she was angry at, not to the general population. Perhaps written to herself based on her history of anorexia. Of course with the uproar came an apology, was it genuine? Who knows. All I know is that the words written shall forever be part of this writers shadow. This blog was a reminder that prejudice is still alive and well in our country and it goes way beyond color or gender, unfortunately.
But out of bad there is always some level of good. What the blog did do was the raise awareness about the perception about different sizes in our world. It brought about some really great discussion about size and acceptance, etc. I have always believed that we were not designed to all be tall and thin. Do I want my friends and family to be healthy? Absolutely, but health is not always determined by size as I have known many “thin” people that lived on Diet Coke and Snickers.
For years I have touted that size is not necessarily indicative of health. Although our society has slowed down, and healthful food offerings are not always accessible, the truth is that size has never been an indicator of character any more than color or religion. I am a firm believer that good health comes in all sizes and although I am concerned with obesity related health issues, we have to get a closer look at the numbers that really threaten our society and that is the number of uneducated people pointing the finger at those that don’t fit the “ideal” ….whatever that is.