Feb 04, 2019
To get the weight right, I guess, I’m going to have to get into the psychological nitty-gritty. If you don’t want to know the innermost workings of my mind, by all means skip ahead.
My current status is Know-It-All. I’m that person at the dinner table who will inevitably start a conversation along the lines of potatoes not being a root vegetable, but an edible tuber. Never won me any popularity contests. Not that I was trying to win them.
I was the kid at school that was isolated and shunned. Didn’t drink. Didn’t smoke. Never went out. Not that I didn’t want to go out. I always assumed that if I were to go out it would be with an invite: someone asking me ‘would you like to join us at the bar’ kind of thing. I was bullied by isolation a lot. No invites, I only went to birthdays because the entire class was going: I was inevitably on my own. So, I naturally developed the belief that I wasn’t worth time, therefore, others were not worth my effort.
I had been a thin kid, photos prove this. I wouldn’t have believed it. Under the guise of care, my mother used to fuss about my weight. A clear memory was of sitting on a bin in primary school (this for some reason was the height of cool, because you, a five to six year old could climb up a bin that was taller than you, and conquer it by sitting on it), finishing a yoghurt and watching my school fellows playing cops and robbers with a chocolate waffle in their hands when a thought crossed my mind:
It doesn’t matter what I eat. I will always be fat.
Anyone believing in the law of attraction will tell you that these are core beliefs that will merely serve to act as a concrete block upon which my ego will be built.
That gives us a total of
Couple that with the fact that till this day, people feel able to just comment on my weight, it’s no wonder my mind can’t handle reality some days. I’m not talking about family or close friends. I mean random people on the street, or in the gym (twice a week, for an hour), who, either vocally, or in a way that makes little to no sense, tip me off that I’m fat.
I’ll give a perfectly good example of both scenarios.
Scenario 1: My boyfriend and his friend from India are spending the weekend in my flat, so we do the usual trick with first time, overnight guests: sightseeing around my home city, before coming back home tired, but cheerful, prepared to jabber into the evening about what we’d seen, where we’d been, what we’d done. This was the plan.
In order to do this, this being a city, we decided to take public transport. If you’re American, we took the subway. If you’re British, we took the tube. If you’re from nearly the entirety of the European continent, we took the metro. As I live on the European continent, I will keep with metro.
We get on the metro. Nothing to report, we decide to stand rather than sit, in a little cluster near the door, next to a separate cluster of older ladies. These ladies were Muslim, which only adds to the fact that you could not define their body types, and I’m particularly bad at guessing people’s ages. Let’s say they weren’t thin, and they were anywhere from late forties to mid-fifties. The wildcard: a middle-aged man, thin, in the corner between the door and the seat. I had gotten onto the train through a different door to the guys, so I walked the few metres between to stand with them. As I do so, Mister Wildcard barged past me to stand at the other door, knocking into me. That was the only reason it registered. During the train ride, he came back to his original position, takes out his phone and starts pretending to have a conversation. How can you tell: he didn’t pause for breath, and there was not enough time between contact with ear and the beginning of the diatribe for someone to have actually picked up on the other end. And he’s muttering in French. I’m a fluent speaker, but given the noise of the train, his conspiratorial stage whisper and my chatting within my cluster, I catch the words ‘fat women with their fat arses.’ I know full well I belong in the category, but as I said before, I wasn’t the only non-stick-thin woman in the area. However, once the cluster of Muslim women left the train, he swapped languages: first to German, which I do not understand, and then to English. In English, he proceeded to relate to the phantom party how he was ‘sick of being confronted by short, fat, ugly women.’ And I’m the only woman around now. My boyfriend jumped to my defence, and when the man followed us off the train, he told him to watch his step.
Consider my day ruined, because someone decided they had the right to throw into my face something which I’m painfully aware of.
This leads to
Scenario 2: At the beginning of 2018, I decided that maybe it was time to throw money at the problem. I didn’t think I was bad enough for surgery, I was fed up with the latest fad diets. Nope. I was going to get a personal trainer. Everyone now thinks I’m loaded. I’m not. I decided to try and invest in myself. And having haggled with said trainer, I was in.
The gym where I train can only be described as the Ryanair of the gym world. You pay a rock bottom monthly rate for membership that has to last you a year. Any add-ons are purchased separately. Therefore, setting up with a personal trainer means that you pay their fee, and it’s easy enough to haggle or to arrange for a budget.
So we started in January/February 2018. It was going well. However, there is a guy on the desk who gives me the creeps. Maybe it is because when I was with the trainer, he’d come and sit and watch everything. Like he was entitled. I can’t say if this was a regular thing with other clients, or if it was just the fact that ‘fatty’s deadlifting again, this I’ve got to see’ and his biggest regret was that he didn’t have a bucket of popcorn to enjoy with the spectacle I was making of myself. Regardless of whether or not this is true, that is how it felt. And there were other people who were allowed to just hang around, like X’s girlfriend, Y’s mate, Z and a million and one other people. At one point, I was so self-conscious because I was asked to run down a corridor in front of other people during circuit interval training. This corridor got longer and longer till I was in full view of the treadmills. I have never felt more humiliated in my adult life. It was like gym class all over again, but this time, I was proving why I was always last pick. Fortunately for me, I was able to change trainers without hassle or bad feelings. I’m happier now.
Scenario 3: I know this was not mentioned, but this is where family can hurt you worst and they can’t even begin to understand why. They can only see where they’re coming from and not where their comment is going.
I am a sensitive person. Might have been obvious, might not have been. My mother feels she has a right to say exactly what she thinks about everything and not have to sugar coat it on the basis that she is family and I’ve just got to take it. This is the basis for this story.
My contract was coming to a close, I needed to find a new job. I was called to interview for a very large fashion company. I had the interview. I called my mother, did the usual question-answer relay of how it went, what was asked, when would I start. At a given point, she just says ‘I wish you were thinner’. I blew up. It is a harsh reality that everyone can look at your achievements based on your looks. If you are presentable, you’re in with a shout above the rest. If you’re heavy, something is perceived as being wrong with you, mentally, health-wise, a lot of different ways. You’re not thin, so you clearly hate yourself. Or at the very least don’t value yourself.
What’s upsetting is that I have a degree, I have a Masters, I have five years work experience scattered around in very different areas, around Europe. All of these achievements mean nothing due to the unhideable weight.
It is lamentable that in this day and age, I can think of no TV shows, films, with a significantly heavy person playing a lead. Everyone is thin and beautiful on Television, unless they are the dumpy best friend, or hated person (How I Met Your Mother: Patrice), Extra. If you’re not beautiful, slender, muscly, you’re not enough. There are some famous heavy people and film characters: The Nutty Professor, Big Momma, Fat Man Scoop, Nicole Byer. Their personas have to be labelled as heavy. They are a laughing stock because of their size, or else they have to own it, or play the buffoon.
It is simply unfair.
What makes it unfair is that it’s not like I haven’t tried to be, as a very good friend described it, ‘indisputably hot’. For years, I did six hours of martial arts a week. I can hear the titters now, but the sensei was a national sparring champion for years. Jumping up and down and kicking a man head and shoulders, often head to elbows taller than me in the face, is no mean feat. Never enough. As I said before, one year of a personal trainer. Years upon years of yo-yo dieting, because guess what, I don’t want to have to deprive myself to enjoy a meal with friends, family, anyone. I don’t want to have to worry about whether or not I can afford a slice of birthday cake. I don’t want to crack and then think I can get away with it and then have to face the deep guilt that brings you back to where you were, and further away from where you want to be, and then to top it off, forcing you to hit repeat. To feel like people look at me and see something that they think they could love. Because that’s what we want, right? To attract people. One thing I have succeeded in, though. I have a partner, who I love to bits.
Add to this a healthy dose of health scare and you have a picture. In 2017, I was told I had high blood sugar, and a real risk of diabetes. Diabetes, heart disease and osteoperosis lie thick within my mother’s family. Add to that an insulinoma and pancreatic cancer, both of which can be caused by obesity: I’m both terrified that it will happen, and in denial that it could. I’m 26 after all.
This is the basis for the decision I have made.
I have so much to offer the world, I’m just not getting my break.
Until next time.