Sunday, 6 April 2014

Being Fat is Not a Choice

It has taken 24 years for me to write this post, but now seems like a good time to share my thoughts. Let me be clear; I love my body. I love the home it gives to my brain, that it lets me get up in the morning and see, hear and feel the world around me. I love that it means I can go places and have amazing experiences in it. It works well. Yes, there are some aches and pains but it is mostly pretty healthy.

I don't love its size. My fault, right? Should have been more careful, did it to myself, just need to stop eating the wrong stuff and do more exercise, right? Right? Well, no! In the simplest terms possible, you might be partly right, and I might even agree with you. But becoming overweight is not a simple issue. I did not wake up one morning and think "I know, I think I'll put on weight so that I can spend my adult years fat, and ridiculed by strangers".

I was 18 when I started to gain weight. I am not going to go into the contributing factors but I will simply say I went through a series of traumatic events which left me with depleted self-esteem and major paranoia. I didn't gain weight fast - it was a slow, hardly noticeable at first, process. And since I didn't really care about myself then, and I barely ever looked in a mirror, I didn't really notice.

Being fat is not a choice - more like a pit that you accidentally fall into. It's not an easy pit to get out of either. You can't just walk out of it. You have to fight, and dig your way out, and you have to have the right combination of tools too. You have to have to have energy, motivation, patience, self-esteem, encouragement, time, persistence and strength. I have had all of these tools at one time or another, but never all together. I'm still working on that. And I'm still fat. Don't hate me for that - I'm actually a good, hardworking person.

It seems to me that overweight people are the final remaining group that it is perfectly acceptable to publically abuse and discriminate against. It is not ok to discriminate on grounds of gender, race, religion, sexual preference, gender choices or disability, but if you are fat, for any reason, you are fair game - and 'it's your own fault'. When you judge me as lazy, dirty, a fat slob, a blimp or a whale or any other countless assumptions and unpleasant taunts, you write me off. Why is it ok to do that, just because I am overweight?

And yes, I did use the word discriminate, and yes it is a strong word. I am overweight and I'm pretty big, but not the biggest, yet when I travel on a plane, the seat arms dig into my thighs the whole journey. Tube seats are the same (and I can tell when you are deliberately digging your elbows into me, even though I am pulling my arms in front of me in an effort to make myself as small as possible. Passive aggressive much?). I avoid restaurant seats with arms too. And I have done the walk of shame, getting off a fairground ride because I didn't fit, to the sniggers of the other riders. These are just a few examples. So yes, I feel discrimination.

Can we all agree that the outside of one's house is far less important than the inside? After all we spend most of our time on the inside looking out. I don't dismiss the outside, it needs to have some curb appeal, I get it. I don't truly believe that being fat takes all your curb appeal either, though I have to fight my preconceptions on that, based on the constant bombardment of media properganda that only thin will do.

Yep, I'd love to be thinner. And I'm not going to give up trying to get there either, but I am fed up of being bombarded with messages from all angles that I am not good enough, that I should hate myself for being fat, or that it is a choice that I should snap out of, or that I 'just need to eat healthier and start exercising more'. It is not that easy and it is not that simple and it was definitely, never a choice.