Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Being "Fat"...

The word is a faux pas in American society. Ugly. Shameful. "Obese" is a little less offensive, but only when used in medical conversations. "Fluffy." "Chubby." "Full-figured." "Plus-size." These are words that, in one way or another, shape our view of people. People like the lady in the Wal-Mart check-out line. People like the guy buying power tools at Lowes. People like a neighbor. Or a friend. A mother. A daughter. A brother. People like me.

I've been debating with myself for quite a while now. Is this topic too raw, too real for a blog? But, frankly, it's something I am comfortable talking about. I recognize that the topic often makes people around me uncomfortable; so I try to steer clear of it unless I'm with my closest friends and family. But you know what? I'm kind of tired of keeping it quiet.

I am "obese."

And since it's something I'm not "allowed" to talk about to the general public, I have decided to dispel a few fat fables here on my own little piece of the bloggersphere.

Fable #1: I am fat. Correction: I have fat.
I can remember a very distinct thought that struck me two years ago around Christmas time. Hubby and I were in the car, leaving a Christmas party, and I was feeling pretty bummed about my weight. At that point in time, I was the heaviest I had ever been: 140 lbs above my healthy weight limit. I had just been to my third doctor who told me that nothing was wrong with me and that I just needed to "become more active." I was discouraged and disgusted with myself. It was in that moment, that a vivid picture popped into my head: it was me, inside a fat suit. I pictured walking into that party and unzipping the suit, as everyone watched the real me step out of it. That was when I realized: I am not fat. It's not who I am. It doesn't define me. The real me is fun and vivacious, full of energy, and confident and comfortable enough to do all the things that "skinny" girls do. She's just trapped inside a fat suit that slows her down, saps her energy, and limits her ability to do certain activities. Somehow I had to find a way to "unzip" that fat suit.

Fable #2: I have low self-esteem. Correction: I have a realistic self-image.
I was talking with a friend a few months ago about my upcoming treatment with Dr.Z. She was so sweet and so excited for me. She told me how proud she was of me for even trying it, and then she said, "And when it's all over, won't you be so happy to feel beautiful again?" Yeah. I was completely flabbergasted by that comment. I had never thought of losing weight as making me "beautiful." I don't feel un-beautiful now. As a matter of fact, there are a LOT of things I like about my looks. Of course I have days when I hate my hair, and I feel like a bloated cow. But I have a feeling all women of all shapes and sizes have days like that. For the most part, I like myself and the way I look. However, I am not blind. I do see myself in the mirror, and I do see the numbers on the scale. I recognize that things need to change. But do you know what excites me the most about this change? I get to play sports with my husband. I get to have a chance at a long life - to see my grandchildren. I get a wider variety of clothing available to me, including dresses! Do you know how long it has been since I've felt comfortable wearing a dress?? I'm so stinkin' excited!

Fable #3: I'm uncomfortable talking about my weight. Correction: Other people are uncomfortable talking about it.
In American culture, when someone says, "My hair looks awful," the natural response is to say, "Noooo, it looks great!" To "My makeup is too thick" we say "I think it looks fabulous!" So, naturally, when someone says "I'm fat," the instinctual response is to say, "No, you're not!" But you can't really say that to a person who is obese because, well, everyone - including the obese person - knows it's not true. There is no scripted response when that person talks about his or her weight. There's no obvious reply. People shift in their seats. They look at their feet. It's uncomfortable. I know. Don't worry. Here's all I'm tryin' to say with this fable: I don't talk about it in public because I know it makes people uncomfortable. But this whole weight-loss thing is an important part of my life right now. It's changing things (I hope). It's giving me a healthier, longer future (I pray). It's an area of bondage in my life from which God is actively working to free me. That doesn't make me uncomfortable. It makes me excited. So ask me the difficult questions. Talk to me about it in casual conversation. I'm coo' wid'dat.

So that's it, y'all. That's pretty much all I have to say on the matter... for today.

Here's hoping for a great week and lots and lots of yummy, healthy food...


End of week 2: 14.5 pounds lost!


Anonymous said...

You tell em' sister (daughter)! I love you and I'm sooooooo proud of you!
P.S. You're a good writer :)

Jessica Ham said...

Thanks for being so real and honest. I love it!

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood