There was an “AHA” moment for me. It was about 3 ½ years after my GBS (Gastric Bypass Surgery). My new baby girl was roughly a year old and I can remember very clearly coming home from a morning grocery shopping trip and realizing that after all I had been through the past two years, my standards had changed. There had been a lot of changes in how I thought about myself and my life. I hadn’t even realized how much I had changed inside but I had gained a lot of confidence in myself and my views and opinions. I, suddenly, was no longer willing to second guess myself or my decisions. I had proved myself TO MYSELF many times over in the past two years and that newfound self-trust allowed me to look inside myself in that moment and realize that I didn’t need to feel ashamed. In fact, that I had been feeling ashamed about one thing or another for the better part of 20 years. Since I was about 12yrs old and started putting weight on. The specific incident that I had been thinking about is irrelevant, I don’t even remember what it was now. But this realization that I didn’t need to live my life from a shamed perspective was HUGE.
SO MUCH SHAME!
There is a lot of shame in the obese/morbidly obese person’s life. Whether it comes from themselves, media, family, friends or, like last post, some random Walmart shopper, it’s always there. If you are overweight (even a lot overweight) and have never been made to feel shameful, that’s pretty cool and I wish I had been as strong. But most of us fat people feel ashamed a lot of the time.
Everything around us tells us we should feel bad that we aren’t fit and healthy. The media constantly tells us what we should eat – low fat, low carbs, high protein, low sugar, high complex carbs, gluten free, paleo, Atkins, plant based, etc. Most of those diets even contradict each other! And then that same, oh so helpful media shows us commercials with beautiful people – slim, tanned, happy, and sexy- eating boatloads of chips, pizza, beer, wine, ice cream, pasta, and candy!!! Never mind the doctors who, if they talk about it at all to us, give us a pamphlet on “healthy eating” and tell us to google diets and try one. Oh! And did I mention that these doctors usually are slim and healthy and have not been overweight, never mind morbidly obese!
So, because we haven’t been able to decipher all these mixed messages, not to mention our own messed up psyches and get skinny and healthy, we are shamed. It not only happens, but is even encouraged sometimes. People need some outlet, right? I mean, it’s so sad nowadays…its not ok to shame someone for the color of their skin, religion, sexual preference, gender preference, acne, learning disability, developmental delay, blindness, number of random piercings or level of geekiness….but fat? Well, Hell! THAT’S STILL FAIR GAME!
SO FIX IT ALREADY!
So once I had my “AHA” moment did it all just change overnight? What about when the weight started to come back on? In the movies, when a person has that moment of clarity, they experience a whole change in perspective that stays with them from then on and allows them to change everything about their life. In real life? Not so much. Because life creeps back in.
I kept seeing those same news reports on the latest and greatest diet followed by those same ridiculous commercials. Once the weight started coming back on, I still got those looks. People who knew I had the surgery would watch what I ate, or comment on how tight a shirt was getting. So even though I KNEW how much had changed on the inside and that I wasn’t ashamed anymore, I’d still find my self-talk going down that path again.
JUST CHANGE YOUR MIND…
So how do we fight that constant barrage of negative? How do we not let them shame us? It’s that self-talk. I had to train myself to stop midstream and think about all I had accomplished even if the outside world can’t see it. I still do. It’s not easy, but it is very simple. A friend of mine once said to me, “It’s simple! You have to just CHANGE YOUR MIND and not do that anymore.” (Thank you Katie!) She was right. It is simple. But it is NOT easy. It takes a lot of practice to even catch those thoughts before they spiral downward. But once you’ve had that moment where you realize you are so much more than what they can see, it gets easier to push the shame away.
Its something I have to do every day. When I have that second bowl of chips and I know I shouldn’t have had the first one, it’s easy to let myself feel ashamed. It’s hard to just let myself make a mistake and then move on with acceptance. But I know I wasn’t put here to curl up in a corner and feel ashamed! It’s what they would love for us to do because then we wouldn’t be out there challenging their views, then we would sit at home and DO NOTHING. Let’s not do that anymore.
Why do they think it’s still ok to treat obese people that way? Why, in the sooo politically correct world is it still alright to humiliate and hurt fat people? I have a few ideas on that score, so let’s press into that next time. Until then – I’m here, I see you and I know what it’s like!