Minding One’s Own Pounds

7 12 2009

When I was a kid I was a lard ass, and this abundance of fat stuck around into adulthood. When I was really little, I guess it was cute. I was one of those kids whose cheeks were always getting pinched. I remember the day when it turned from cute to embarrassing. It was the day I had my first ice skating competition. I won a gold medal. There were only two of us competing at that level, but still I was beyond proud. I was so proud that when they took a picture of the two of us standing there on the platform with our medals, my entire torso was puffed out in all its glory. I was proud. My mother was mortified at the size of my stomach. Thus began my first diet and a lifetime of yo-yoing weight.

When I look at the offending picture as an adult I wasn’t really fat, but this started me on the path to fatness. Dieting taught me what it felt like to be so hungry that when you finally ate you had no sense of when you were full. It was dieting that made me fat. And as I got fat, people got interested. Instead of “hello” and a hug, I got “hello” and a pinch of my waistline to see how much it had grown since the last time someone saw me. People recommended different exercise programs and sports that were sure to solve my issue. Everyone had ideas about what I should or shouldn’t eat. Suddenly it seemed as if my body was everybody else”s business.

When I became pregnant, this whole childhood ordeal came rushing back to me. I was acutely aware that people were staring at me and thinking things about how much I’d gained. And, just when I convinced myself that I was being paranoid, my aunt would tell me I had gotten so fat or a perfect stranger would ask me if I was having twins as I walked by her on the way to work. It was embarrassing and humiliating, especially in the context of my life at the moment which consisted of getting weighed and having my belly measured every two weeks. Luckily I soon had a darling little newborn to distract me from these troubles.

Now over a year later, the weight has mostly come off, but it’s been replaced with a little anger. What makes someone think it is acceptable to make fun of a coworker’s weight in front of the rest of the company? Why would a person feel entitled to ask someone if they “really should be eating ‘that'”? When did one’s weight become anyone’s business but one’s own?

Last night I was recounting to my cousins how one of my aunts used to feel my belly every time she saw me to gauge whether I had gained or lost since the last time she saw me. After more than a decade of this, I finally lost it and told her to mind her own business and keep her hands off me. That offended her enough so that she didn’t talk to me for a very long time. The question I still have is how did I offend her? She started it, right?

Right? Well, maybe, but my behavior was wrong. When all else fails, I turn to one of my heroes, Miss Manners. “When one is treated badly, behave courteously.”  After all, I am only the master of my own behavior. I cannot make other people mind their own waistline instead of mine, but I can watch that I am not guilty of judging others for their size. And I can, as Miss Manners suggests, dismiss such inferior behavior as coming from inferior people. I may be fat, but damn it, I’m not rude. And that makes me a better person.




6 responses

7 12 2009
Michelle Garrison Hough

If you say you are fat, I guess I have to believe you, but I doubt it… you run!! And anyway, people have always made negative comments about my weight too, and I was never “fat” except for just following my two pregnancies. Now that I am back to normal after 17 months, I get these comments: “Why are you losing weight?” “Do you have a thyroid problem?” “Are you dieting?” “You are too thin now. Take better care of yourself.” People suck. 🙂

8 12 2009

I hear you, Michelle. I actually don’t think I’m fat anymore. It’s weird, but pregnancy cured me of that. I now feel normal. Not thin, not fat, just normal. And that’s fine with me. I also heard negative comments when I first lost weight. “Are you anorexic?” “You look too thin.” etc. You really can’t win. One day recently, I realized that I’m actually not trying to win anything. I’m just trying to be healthy and happy. That helps me ignore people when they make the comments, and I really do ignore them. As in, look away and change the subject.

8 12 2009
My Persian Kitchen

What is it about Persian people and always having to comment about one’s weight? More than anything, they don’t ever think that they can hurt people’s feelings. My cousins often called me “Topol” when I was very young, one of them even went as far as calling me “Topolovsky.”

I don’t ever comment on anyone’s weight, as it is no one’s business!

8 12 2009

Yes! I am still “Topol” to my aunt. Even after I lost about a hundred pounds in my 20s and was a size 2, she still called me “topol.” Like you said, they just don’t realize that it hurts. p.s. I’m no longer a size 2, but I still don’t think I’m fat. 🙂

8 12 2009

You are NOT fat. And your aunt was terribly rude. I think some people simply have no filter on their words or actions. They don’t spare a single thought for how they might affect others. It’s unfortunate, but I’m really glad you finally stood up to her, even if it did mean she didn’t talk to you for a while. Sounds like that might not have been such a tragedy anyways. As I always say, just because they’re family does NOT mean you have to like them.

8 12 2009

Amen, Cara! I read a post on a discussion board recently from a woman who just had a baby and was taking a solo trip to the grocery store. A woman looked at her cart and noticed some treats she bought for her family, and actually asked her if she thought she really should be eating stuff like that. The nerve! A perfect stranger. I will never cease to be amazed at the gall of some people.

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