On the same day that I realized I’m too old to go clubbing, I was fat-shamed.
Now, I know fat-shaming happens on a regular basis. I see it every day in the media, on social-networking sites, and on the college campus where I work and attend grad school. I’ve just never had it directly aimed at me before.
I was pretty sure this was a seat designed for me at the Home Depot checkout the other day.
According to the BMI index, I’m considered “overweight.”
I’ve known this for awhile. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in January 2009, and, at that time, my BMI deemed me “normal weight,” although I did look a bit bony and weak at that time. Once I was in remission, and my “miracle drug” was in my system, I’d splurge every once in awhile and eat whatever I wanted, while still trying to eat healthy in the dining hall. (I was a freshman in college at the time.) I went home for the summer, and it became a little easier to eat junk food again. (Junk food is expensive when you’re in college and not working!) Sophomore year of college came, and my eating and drinking habits worsened. I lived in a hotel for a year, which was pretty awesome, but I was given a stipend on the university debit card to eat my meals with. (I was a RA and we didn’t have a dining hall at the hotel. The debit card allowed us to eat wherever it was accepted.) This was fabulous at first, except the only places that accepted the university debit card were fast-food joints and restaurants. I spent a year of my life eating takeout. That definitely wasn’t healthy. Fast forward 3 more years, through break ups and make ups, the death of a friend, and stress-induced depression, and food has become my coping mechanism.
I’m now at the heaviest I’ve ever been.
Recently, I find myself relating to Portia de Rossi’s book, Unbearable Lightness, in regards to my relationship with V. When talking about her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, Portia writes, “I met Ellen when I was 168 pounds and she loved me. She didn’t see that I was heavy; she only saw the person inside. My two greatest fears, being fat and being gay, when realized, led to my greatest joy.”
While I’ve known for quite some time that I’m a flaming homo, having met V at the highest point of my weight gain, and having her love me no matter what, has been both wonderful and terrifying. It’s helped my body image issues I’ve developed over the past year or two dissolve, but it’s also empowered me to embrace my body as-is and not care about my weight.
I didn’t realize how bad my weight had gotten until someone made me feel like shit last week.
I went out dancing with friends. I felt too old to be out dancing. We left the club by 12:30. I hadn’t eaten since 1pm, and, after we left the club, we stopped at Taco Bell, as per someone else’s request. While everyone discussed what they were going to get, I simply placed my order at the drive-thru window.
I ordered a Mexican pizza combo, with Mountain Dew. It also came with one taco that I planned on eating for lunch the next day.
An individual that I don’t know too well started busting my chops about getting a combo as everyone else ordered one or two tacos. (The equivalent of a combo, minus the drink, I might add.) Hahaha, you’re so funny. Yes, hahaha, I ordered a combo. I’m such a fatass! I joked back, not really seeing what the big deal was.
Then the big deal happened.
Over the course of twenty minutes, the same individual made multiple jokes about me ordering twenty tacos, about me ordering “an entire Mexican pizza,” about me ordering so much food that Taco Bell needed to close for the rest of the night. This individual didn’t make one joke at the drive-thru and call it a day. Over a course of twenty-minutes, this individual made ten to fifteen jokes about my order and me being a fatass. One time can pass as being slightly funny. Two times is pushing it. Three times is crossing the line. Anything more than that is bullying.
Being fat-shamed by this individual repeatedly wasn’t a nice feeling. It was bullying. Yet, I allowed myself to be victimized. I didn’t speak up or say anything because I didn’t want to cause any drama or conflict.
I allowed myself to become a victim of fat-shaming.
I have never been so ashamed of myself.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on that evening, and what I could have done differently. I spent a lot of time feeling like I should have ordered a fresco taco, or nothing at all, despite the fact that I was starving.
Then, it hit me:
I needed to be fat-shamed in order to get my life back together.
I’m done with grad school. I’m moving back home in exactly two weeks. (!!!) I need to really force myself to eat healthily and BE healthy if I want to be happy with my weight and myself.
I don’t want to have to go “teacher clothes shopping” and settle for “things that look okay” in my “fat-size.” My “fat-size” has become my “normal-size” this past year, and that is NOT okay. It is not okay for me to not treat my body well. It is not okay for me to binge-eat out of stress or boredom. It is not okay for me to sit on my butt and tweet about how gorgeous it is outside instead of actually going outside.
I want to be a thinner, healthier me FOR ME. Not because I was fat-shamed.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for the schmuck who took it upon himself to crack jokes about my combo meal. The hurt he made me feel also empowered me to want to change my life around.
So, I told V I want to do more active things this summer. I got a job nannying two very active kids. I’m promising myself to take my dog for a run at the park one or two times a week. I’m swearing off fast-food until I deem it necessary. I’m trying to only eat fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and other healthy food items. I’m ready to make the change I’ve been putting off for a few years.
Thank you for fat-shaming me. You’re still a judgmental asshole, but you gave me the kick in the butt I needed to see how much I wanted to change my life around.