At 5’3″ and 285 pounds, my BMI is about 50. That’s 10 points over the threshold for class III obesity and 25 points over healthy.
Every day, I’m constantly reminded that I’m fat and that it’s not okay.
If I mention anything, anything, about my weight, people rush to comfort me. I’ve had people respond “Oh, no you’re not!” as though I can’t just look in the mirror and know that I am! They’re convinced that instead of simply being realistic, I’m being self-deprecating and they should ‘support’ me.
If I want to sit on the subway, I have to second guess myself — I take up more room and I have heard at least a million jokes about how terrible it is to sit next to fat people — will I be the butt of the next joke? I’ve seen people flinch when I sit next to them or just refuse to sit next to me entirely. I’m terrified of the idea of having to take the bus, train, or airplane with someone forced to sit next to me.
Strangers have felt that they for some reason have the right to comment on my food choices, as though they know anything about me. But really, they just see a fat woman eating a burger and assume that it’s all I ever eat, when that’s not at all the case.
Any health concern that I have is first blamed on my weight. And while I readily accept that my weight is a significant risk factor for many health issues, it is not the only possibility. I have to fight to rule out other possibilities and have people take my concerns seriously, despite my weight. Maybe my knee pain is caused by the strain of my weight, but also, maybe it’s not… So could we find out for sure?
Public restrooms are a nightmare — some stalls are so small that I literally struggle to fit in them. Wonderful.
When I walk down the street and someone looks at me, my first thought is that they have something to say about my weight — who knows, maybe they just like my dress, but I can’t tell.
The reality is that my weight is more complicated than just eating too much or eating the wrong stuff. I have Binge Eating Disorder (BED), an eating disorder that leads me to use large amounts of food to comfort or calm myself. Over the past five years, this behaviour has led to periodic episodes of dramatic weight gain.
And for me, losing weight isn’t as simple as just eating less — because restricting my diet like that is a big trigger for me and usually leads to so much binging that I end up gaining weight instead. So, right now my focus is on keeping my weight stable instead. (And it’s working.)
I’ve been binging less, and I’ve actually lost about ten pounds. My binging is doing a lot better, but unfortunately, that’s not reflected in my body. My body looks just the same as it did when my BED was at its worst, so every time I catch myself in a mirror, or see someone wince when I sit down, or have to worry if that chair will support me, I’m sent right back to that place.
I feel gross again. All the post-binge feelings start swirling around when I have to buy new clothes because the old ones just don’t fit anymore or I have to adjust my position again because my belly is in the way. Even though my BED recovery is well underway, my body, and others’ reactions to it, don’t reflect that.
I feel gross just for being fat.
I feel gross because I’m the reason that I’m as big as I am, and I feel gross that it will take me years to work off the weight. I feel gross because other people, who don’t know any of this, feel as though they should let me know that I am gross.
My body doesn’t reflect anything about me. My hair shows my fun side, my clothing shows my style, my makeup shows my creativity, but my size is just a symptom of an illness, and I’m so tired of it having to be the first thing that people notice.
But I’m trapped inside anyway.