I am sick.
I’ve been sick for at least two weeks. Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, bathroom stuff.
Eating has become something of an adventure because I just don’t know what sets me off. Some days all I can stomach is soup and sometimes even that proves to be too much.
Coffee is too harsh. Milk products seem to cause trouble. Ruffage causes gas pain almost immediately.
Broth has become a close friend of mine.
I’m taking probiotics. I’m trying to be mindful of what I’ve been putting into my body. I don’t know if it’s related to diverticulitis, an issue that I was diagnosed with last year, or if this is something altogether different. I’ve made an appointment with my doctor but she’s booked well into March. It could be related to these massive ovarian cysts I’m waiting to have removed. I just don’t know.
In the meantime, I am trying to go about my business but I am sick.
But as it turns out, I am sick in more than one way.
This morning I got up and, even though I know I shouldn’t, even though I know that I’ll immediately obsess and fixate, I got on the bathroom scale.
It’s hidden away, tucked under furniture so that I don’t see it on a regular basis. It’s the appliance that can instantly cause me either great joy or grief and, essentially, begins to take over my every thought. And even though I know all of that because I’ve lived through disordered eating my entire adolescent and adult life, I still couldn’t help myself. Curious about the impact of this mystery illness, I heaved the bulk of my giant self onto the scale and rejoiced at the result.
I’ve been sick for at least two weeks, maybe a bit longer, and in as many days I have lost over twenty pounds.
This is probably meant to be concerning but here’s the rub:
Now that I know that the numbers are on a downswing, I don’t want to fix the problem. I don’t want to go to the doctor and I don’t want to stop feeling awful. Whether it’s the actual physical effect of throwing up on a regular basis or the fact that I just can’t really find my appetite most days I’m not sure. It doesn’t even matter. My brain is so wrapped up in the societal stigma that being fat is bad, that fat people are not worthy, that I am less of a person because I am heavy, that I would rather feel awful and lose weight than feel fine and stay fat.
Oh, that is messed up. Oh, that is so sad.
Well, that’s not the only messed up part of this whole ordeal.
The real messed up part is that almost everyone I know is a contributing factor to my self-hatred.
See, I’ve had the unique opportunity to live my life as a regular, slightly heavier person, a very heavy person, a fairly thin person, and a very heavy person yet again. In my long career of shape-shifting I have noted some very intense differences in the ways that I’ve been treated based, as far as I can figure, entirely on what I’ve looked like.
I mean, it’s no secret that there is a stigma around fatness. The internet is the number one way to get an idea of what people think about fats and the reasons they exist as such. The belief, whether it’s true or not, is that weight gain is based solely on caloric intake. If someone is overweight, people leap very quickly to a few basic assumptions about that person’s self-control, habits, and their activity level, and ultimately those ideas will shape the overall way that they are perceived. This leads people to labels like, “lazy”, “indulgent”, and “gluttonous”. If someone dares to be fat out loud they are chastised for encouraging unhealthy behaviour and habits for others, EVEN if that fat person is actively working on their body weight at the time when they are being observed. This past January I was appalled at the body shaming and judgement that came out of regular gym-goers when fats invaded their gym space with starry eyes and ideas of successful resolutions. The tone was clear: Fats not welcome here.
People don’t hesitate to make comments or remarks. They assume they know things about you that they couldn’t possibly know. They do this under the guise of concern or because it’s for your own good.
PUHLEASE. Stop fooling yourselves.
We know, from a scientific standpoint, that everyone has different factors that will shape what they look like and what they weigh. To a point, yes, our fatness can be something that we can control, but it isn’t just as simple as how many calories you get, where those calories are coming from and the amount you move throughout the day. Genetics play a big role in the way our bodies behave, and like many things in life you simply don’t know what someone else is up against.
A lot of people are on pharmaceutical drugs for their mood and many of those drugs cause weight gain regardless of what those people do with their lives. Sometimes, when someone has starved themselves for many years their bodies have no idea what to do with calories when they come in. Sometimes there are medical issues with a person’s physical body like an underactive thyroid, or their metabolism is just kind of slow and wacky. Sometimes there are emotional factors at play and most often there are learned behaviours lurking under the surface. Some of these things can be dealt with, but some of them are just the way the chips have fallen.
Sometimes, no, all the times, it is no one’s business but the fat in question and maybe their doctor, nutritionist, psychic medium or their professional trainer if they so choose.
In my experience, there is a distinct and noticeable difference in the way a person is treated when they are fat versus the way that they are treated when they are thin. It’s not just that more people are attracted to you when you’re thin, although there is definitely more flirty fun, but that these things I’ve mentioned are in the back of people’s minds. Even those who don’t consciously look at me and immediately think that I’m a lazy loser with no self-control make judgements they might not even realize are there. An unconscious bias that colours their behaviour. These things come out of people sometimes when I least expect them to and I am catapulted back to earth in the knowledge that, oh right, from a societal, hivemind standpoint I am less than others because I am fat.
But the comments that are made are out of love, they’re out of concern. People just want you to be healthy.
Nah. I don’t buy it. The size of a person is not a measure of good or bad health. Just as it’s not a measure of good or bad decisions. Just as it’s not a measure of a good or bad person.
But being big is treated that way, isn’t it? Yeah, it is. If you’re fat, you’re expected to always at least be working towards not being fat anymore. Because you’re simply not good enough the way that you are.
Case in point, I’ve drunk the koolaid myself. Here I am, losing weight after years and years of steady gaining.
Why? Because I am sick.
I am sick and I’m not interested in getting better because I would rather feel awful and lose weight than feel fine and stay fat.
And you and I both know that if I continue on this trajectory and wind up noticeably thinner my weight loss will be celebrated by people in my life. Those I’m close to and those I’m not. People who see me all of the time and those who will be shocked by the transition.
There will be balloons. A parade. And don’t forget, when I’m thin no one will think twice about how much cake I put on my plate.
But the “achievement” will not have happened because of something I’ve done or haven’t done. I’m not suddenly smarter or better at life.
I am sick.
And that, my friends, is how I know that all those snide comments and gatekeeping desserts?
They were never about your concern for my health.