No one should ever be shamed or blamed for their body or their weight
I’m always surprised by the twists and turns our lives take. For my entire life, I’ve been a target of ridicule simply because of my weight. People rarely take time to look beyond my weight to see, well, me. The loyal and loving friend. The devoted family member. The hard-working student and successful professional. The enthusiastic animal shelter volunteer and cat Mom. The Monty Python fan. The person who laughed until tears rolled down her cheeks when her dining table collapsed during a dinner party. That person. A person who just wanted to be loved and accepted as they are…. but never was.
And whose fault was that? Well, mine, of course, because I was unable to control my weight. I deserved to be considered “less than” slimmer folks. At least that’s what people told me; medical professionals, school personnel, advertisements, entertainment, every type of media in the world, and even family members. And I believed them. Weight bias taught me that I should be ashamed of my weight. . . and myself.
The harms of weight bias come in many forms. For me it manifested in low self-esteem, constant negative self-talk, depression, isolation, and dangerous eating patterns that led me to gain even more weight. I had wonderful people in my life who loved me. But I felt unworthy of that love. My lowest point was when I needed to walk out of a church service because I felt unworthy of even God’s love (which, by the way, is contrary to all my personal beliefs). I sat sobbing on a bench. How had I gotten here? And why had I gotten here?
I finally found some answers in the sixth decade of my life. I found the right medical professionals who helped me learn about managing weight. First up? Learning more about how our bodies regulate weight and fight against weight-loss. Contrary to popular belief, weight is not fully within our control. Second course? Working to reduce weight bias. I learned to challenge all the negative self-talk I had developed over the years. Was I really a failure just because I had not yet successfully managed my weight? Of course not. I slowly began to accept that I was worthy of the many good things life had to offer. Love, respect, kindness, all of them.
And then came the most unexpected twist in my life. I began speaking out against weight bias. I never talked about my weight in private let alone in the public eye. Yet here I am. I’ve gone from being ashamed and guilty about my weight to advocating for others who have walked this lonely, difficult path.
Bottom line? People of every size deserve dignity and respect. No one should ever be shamed or blamed for their body or their weight.