I recently shared a Daily Mail article on my Facebook page, about how women are fat-shamed three times a day – a sad reality.
The outpouring of comments that I received truly touched me, because so many of you have dealt with being humiliated based on your sizes, just as I have in the past.
I was tormented by my peers in grade school. I endured teasing, name calling, cow noises… You name it. And when I look back, the saddest part of it all was the brave face I had to show till I got home and could cry into my pillow.
I thought the bullying of my school days was behind me, until coincidentally, last night I was publicly, and directly FAT SHAMED, while enjoying one of my favourite unhealthy treats, poutine; and for those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a sinful Quebec specialty, consisting of French fries smothered in gravy, and curd cheese – definitely not waistline friendly, but it’s my weakness. That and an ice cold Coke.
I posted about it on Facebook almost as soon as it happened, because I was just so taken aback by it that I felt an overwhelming need to share it with all of you.
As many of you know, I recently shared an article on fat shaming, and your wonderful, and heartbreaking comments blew me away and really touched my heart. I haven’t been TRULY made fun of in many years, and just tonight, while eating out (poutine of all things) a drunk jerk made waddling and fat belly gestures at me and yelled out “oh yeah, eat that poutine” (in French). I thought I would have been less humiliated than I was, in all honesty, and while I’m not upset, I was really embarrassed, and felt like finishing my food in my car. I didn’t, but the fact that I thought about going to hide to finish my meal makes me realize I still have a lot of work to do.
Just thought I would share…
It felt like elementary school all over again. That feeling of being mortified doesn’t change. Same anxious ball of stress in the pit of my stomach, same feeling of fighting back tears, same anger. I had forgotten what it felt like to be coldly, and deliberately humiliated. I’ve been embarrassed in other life situations, due to my size, the mortifying airplane seatbelt check, for one; and people have made comments or assumptions that have bothered me. “You really shouldn’t eat that”, or servers in restaurants asking me if I want Diet, when I odered a Coke – like, would you ask a skinny person that if she ordered it? Maybe, but when you ask me, I can feel your judgement as I say “no, a regular Coke, please”. Is it so unbelievable that I would want to treat myself to something that I love?
Now, I know that the server could have just been checking, to make sure she got my order right. And yes, it’s possible that it had nothing to do with my weight; but here’s the problem – fat shaming has now become so ingrained in people’s minds, that they do it unknowingly, without even realizing that they’ve been programmed to see us as weak, undisciplined, incompetent, and unworthy.
Big words, I know. And I’m sure my server had no idea how she was making me feel, and probably never thought of herself as someone who humiliated fat people, because society as a whole had told her that viewing me that way was normal.
The @#$hole last night, was doing it on purpose, his buddies snickering along with him, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but all I could do was look down and pretend I didn’t hear them.
Like is said,
I still WE STILL have a lot of work to do, because through years of humiliation, we’ve learned to just accept being laughed at; and I know we’ve probably all been the victims of our own imaginations before, but the double takes in the street for eating an ice cream cone, or when you can’t fit in the booth at a restaurant and the other patrons can’t help but steal a second glance at the fat girl trying to squeeze in, the walk of shame to a different table as people whisper amongst themselves, they’re real. That @#$hole in the street – he was real.
But we’re real too; and we deserve to be treated just like everybody else.
Although I’m disappointed in myself for not speaking up last night, I know that I’ve come a long way. The journey continues, and I’m so thankful to have all of you, my amazing followers, alongside me for the ride!
What are we teaching our children when we call ourselves ugly? What are we showing them when we look in the mirror and criticize our imperfections? I had never given it much thought until I started noticing one of my own children putting herself down.
This is my daughter. She is almost 11 years old, gorgeous, a little bit chubby, and is already showing signs of low self esteem. She’s already starting to call herself fat; and not the “I am fat girl, hear me roar” kind of fat… But the “I am worthless because I have a pudgy belly and round hips” fat. I’ve always told her she was beautiful, told her she had value, told her not to listen to those who tried to bring her down; but what had I missed? The answer is, that I had overlooked probably the most important factor of all; myself.
My daughter LOVES clothes, just like me. She loves makeup, just like me. She loves shopping… I think you get the point. It’s obvious that I’ve influenced my daughter greatly. So why weren’t my words of encouragement working? Why was she using the word fat as an insult to her own body? The answer: Because that is what I had taught her.
All those times that I criticized myself in the mirror, sucked in my tummy, called myself disgusting; she was there. All those times that I refused to wear sleeveless tops because I said my arms were too flabby; she was there. All those times that I was depressed because I thought other women looked better than me; she was there… A silent observer, taking in every bit of what she saw.
When I finally realized the answer to my question, it was so simple. I felt like such a failure for having exposed my beautiful girl to all of the things I had tried so hard to save her from. I felt guilty. Through all of my efforts to boost her confidence, she had watched me destroying my own. Not only had I taught her the behavior, but I had also ruined any credibility my words of encouragement to her had had; for how could she take me seriously when I was being such a hypocrite?
The day I realized what I had been doing to her was the day I decided that I would stop letting my flaws define how I talked about myself. I would stop obsessing about what I wanted to change and start focusing on what I liked about my body.
I had already learned to love my face (oh, how many headshots my Facebook friends had been exposed to over the years; smiles, intense stares, and yes, even a few duckfaces). But more recently, because of my reality check, I learned to accept my body for what it was. I stopped wishing I had a flat tummy; I stopped saying ‘if only my ______ wasn’t so fat’. I started truly appreciating my curvy hips, my defined waist and my great legs, among other things. And it was funny, because oddly enough, I ended up liking more things about my body, than not. Through it all. my daughter continued to observe me; and she still does.
She now watches me as I look in the mirror admiring my curves instead of trying to cover them up. She sees me taking pictures of myself and she reads my blog (she is super proud of me, by the way). I have explained to her that I will never let the word FAT insult me or use it to insult myself again and that instead, I will use it with pride. Most of all, I have promised her that I will be a positive example from now on.
My hope is that the damage can be undone; that she learns to love her body the way I have. I pray that she realizes that she is beautiful; that she trusts me when I tell her so and that she never has to spend another moment believing that being fat means being worthless.
Baby girl, this one is for you!!! XOXO