I was having lunch with a friend yesterday who I consider absolutely normal size-wise (and most other ways too). She’s not Gisele - because Gisele isn’t really even Gisele - but she’s not a heavy hitter riding an electric scooter in Walmart stuffing her face with bacon-wrapped Twinkies.
Which is to say, she's not any sort of "extreme" - she's just a perfectly average-sized woman.
So I was shocked - absolutely, unequivocally shocked - when she said that she has been called out by complete strangers for being fat. More so, even, that it had happened more than once. It was obviously a very painful set of memories for her and it made me mad as hell.
“You know that shit’s not about you, right?” I asked her.
She nodded her head, but I’m not sure she really heard me. And I get it - it’s hard to hear clearly in the midst of such pain. But it is an important lesson - if not one of the most important lessons - and it bears repeating…
That shit is not about you.
“Fat” was never really intended to ever make you feel less than - it was intended to make them feel “more than.” And, honestly, do you really care about them?
You wouldn’t base your wardrobe on the opinion of a person wearing platform sneakers.
You wouldn’t base your investment strategy on the advice of someone collecting cans on the side of the road for gas money.
You wouldn’t buy toothpaste based upon the recommendation of a man with rotted teeth.
So, you sure as hell shouldn’t be basing even a modicum of your self-worth on the opinion of a person that is so ignorant that they think “fat” is a value judgement and so psychologically-damaged that they want to intentionally cause harm and distress to another person for no good reason.
My precious snowflakes, hear me. Anyone - stranger or not - that tries to make you feel “less than” because of your body is a psychologically-damaged, ignorant, platform-sneaker-wearing, can-collecting, toothless bully. A stunted child that has never learned how to self-regulate. Do not give them any power. They do not deserve, nor have they earned, it. If they have earned anything, it is your pity.
Being “fat” means, essentially, nothing. It doesn’t define who you are - your mind, your heart, your values, your contributions or your essence. Maybe it defines your body size - maybe it doesn’t. Even if it does, it is just a descriptor of one facet of your being - not your entirety.
And, yes, it is a facet that our culture places an amazingly stupid amount of emphasis upon. Does that make it right? Remember, this is a culture that once touted cigarettes as a cure for asthma, asbestos as a fire retardant in children’s pajamas and - sigh - platform sneakers as a perfectly acceptable form of footwear. Curse you, Baby Spice!
Point is, sometimes we get shit wrong. And then we evolve.
So, you can continue to buy into what you know is wrong or you can choose to reject the ill-conceived notions of the psychologically damaged, ignorant, platform-sneaker-wearing, can-collecting, toothless bullies of the world - including those living in your own head.
Reject those notions that you are less than - and then reject them again. Reject them every day, 100 times a day, until you believe it.
You were never less than.
I said before that anyone who thinks weight loss surgery is the “easy way out” has no idea what they are talking about. There is nothing easy about weight loss after surgery - you still have to go through all the same motions of watching your diet, exercising, drinking water, etc., to be healthy. Truth is, however, while not easy, it is easier than losing weight without surgery. At least that has been the case for me.
And so the fuck what?
I don’t know where along the way we got it stuck in our heads that we had to struggle for the battle to be worthwhile. Is it because fat people “dared” to get fat that they should now pay penance when daring to get healthy? I call bullshit.
Say I want to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. (Bear with me, I just watched Wild and that shit is intriguing to me…) I need to get to California as a starting point. Now, I could get to California from Michigan over the course of many, many months on foot - or I can hop on a plane and be there tonight.
There is still an element of risk in said journey (as every nervous flier - myself included - can attest to), but the risk is worth it because the plane ride would certainly be easier and it would get me where I needed to be much quicker. I would argue, in fact, that the risk is probably only one millionth of what trekking from Detroit to California for months across unknown territory would be. And most of you wouldn’t shame me for utilizing this particular technology - the easy way out, if you will - because it is an accepted norm.
Of course, the trek on foot to California would be monumental and epic - a story for the ages. It would also take fucking forever and use up all the energy I had saved for my hike up the coast. In fact, let’s be perfectly honest, there’s a real good chance I’d wither up and die before I ever made it to California.
The journey to California is not the journey I choose to be epic and monumental. It is not the “story” I am really interested in expending all my energy to create. It is also not the story that I choose to define me - it is the story that will launch the story that will define me.
My precious snowflakes, I pray you understand that metaphor but just in case it is 5:00 a.m. when you are reading this and you have not yet had your first cup of coffee… the epic battle to lose weight and get healthy is not the journey where I choose to expend all my valiant energy. I will use every tool at my disposal to make it quicker, easier and more effective because there are much greater journeys on the horizon to be had.
And because I deserve it.
Even if there was no other epic anything on the other side of losing weight, I DESERVE the “easier way out.” Getting fat wasn’t a bucket-full of fucking fun - staying fat certainly was not either. It was near-40 years of trauma, shame, self-loathing and imbalance fucking with my psyche and self-worth - not to mention the physical toll on my health. I paid my dues and did my time - surviving “in spite” of being fat. Martyrdom no longer served me well - it wasn’t going to cure diabetes… or sleep apnea… or high blood pressure… or a broken little girl that was done being defined by a body - and a story - that had been created long, long ago before she had any control over either.
You need no one’s permission to “do you,” but if you want it - consider it given. (And y’all know I’m talking to myself just as much as you here, right?)
You have all the permission in the world to use any safe and known technology at your disposal to make whatever battle that lies at your feet easier. Period. Make the struggle less… pamper yourself… give yourself grace… go to extraordinary lengths to be as kind and as accommodating to you as you would be to a stranger.
And, for fuck’s sake, don’t let martyrdom be your defining moment. There is no glory in going to the grave having made your life harder than it had to be. Live the shit out of this life, my precious snowflakes... by any means necessary.
FINALLY my 45 day plateau has broken! After fucking with the same 5 lbs. for what seems like FOR-EVAH, the scale moved below the 230 mark. I am so relieved.
In other news, a colleague told me that I walk "like a thin person now." Heck, yeah!
Because I am wife of the year, I bought tickets for hubby to a Van Halen concert last weekend. I was pleasantly surprised by how much room I had in my seat at the concert venue. Not only were the arm rests not digging into my hips, there was room enough to sit a bag next to me. A bag containing a $55 Van Halen concert t-shirt because, once again… wife of the year.
The seats on either side of us were empty which in my pre-Tiny Tummy days would have been a huge relief. I haven’t been in a concert arena, theater, ball park, stadium or airplane in years that I wasn’t praying to the gods that the ONE empty seat in whatever venue was the one next to me so that I didn’t have to worry about my fat thighs spilling over onto a complete stranger.
About halfway through the opening act, however, a larger woman and her husband came and sat down next to us – her next to me, her husband on the aisle. I immediately started to worry about how the both of us were going to fit next to each other without tumbling on to each other.
“At least we’re in this together,” I thought to myself.
I said something later to Mr. Adams about it and how I was surprised that, in actuality, we never even touched.
“You realize that woman was like 400 pounds and twice your size, right?” he asked me.
Size has always been such a bizarre concept to me. Truth is, I have ever been able to differentiate between a woman my size and a woman not my size – I just always assumed I was bigger. Except now I’m not. And sometimes I feel thinner now because I can definitely do things with my body – like climb a flight of stairs without dying – that I couldn’t do before. But sometimes I feel exactly the same because there are rolls and fat and it’s all not perfect and, hence, I must be a fatty-fat-fatty, right?
The day after the concert I went shopping. I don’t have a single skirt or pair of dress pants that fit any longer and I am attending a Board meeting on Thursday so I really need some fancy office-type duds. Prior to weight loss surgery I was a size 26. When I got into a size 22 comfortably in May I was really pleased. I decided last week that the one pair of size 20 jeans I own are getting way too baggy and it was time to try and tug on the one pair of size 18s I own – only I didn’t have to tug much at all. They fit just fine. Then, on Saturday, I bought a pair of size 16 pants. They are a little tight in the waist because it hasn’t dropped as quickly as the rest of me, but they fit well everywhere else.
Size 16, my precious snowflakes.
Size 16 as in... one more size down and I have completely sized out of the plus size shops. Size 16 as in... I can actually start shopping just about any damn where I want to. Size 16 as in... almost the American average of size 12 – 14.
Holy hell this all has me so confused. I haven’t lost a pound in nearly two months, but I’ve dropped from a size 22 to a size 16/18? This body remains such a mystery to me.
I'll just leave this here without comment. However, if you do have a comment, feel free to find Patty Miller Ocel on Facebook and leave it for her.