Whenever people encounter my mom’s one dog, Katie, it seems they cannot help but comment on her weight.
“Wow, she’s a little butterball, isn’t she?”
“What a beautiful dog! She’d be gorgeous if she lost a few pounds.”
“Your dog is fat! Why is she so fat?” (That’s my favorite tactless statement.)
Sure, Katie is a bit tubby, but why do close friends and even perfect strangers mention it when they encounter her (and of course, my mom, since Katie doesn’t wander the streets alone)? It just doesn’t seem to be good etiquette to comment on a new acquaintance’s fat dog.
Not only that, but for people like my mom and me, it drives our suspicions about our own struggles with weight deeper—that when people look at us all they see is a big ball of fat. They don’t see a person with a name and a history and a personality and a love of books and the outdoors, just fat. Each of the statements people make about Katie can easily be said to me. In fact, they have been said to me.
“You have such a pretty face. If you lose some weight, you would be beautiful.” (Because apparently I can only date the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man right now. I mean, he doesn’t seem to be much for conversation, but I guess he’ll do.)
“Do you really need two cookies?” (No, I don’t. But I had a bad day and I’m cramming the extra cookie down my throat to make myself feel better.)
“Lose weight and you’ll find a husband.” (Uhhh…who says I want a husband? Maybe that’s just not part of God’s plan for me. I am painfully aware of how many guys view fat chicks, especially those who sport “No Fat Chicks” t-shirts. I am told that confidence is sexy to guys, but haven’t actually found that to be the case.)
And I know people are just dying to say, “You’re fat! Why are you so fat?” I don’t know! Because I ate two cookies? Because I don’t exercise enough? Because I’ve only been able to effectively lose weight by eating grass (it was salad, but it tasted like grass) and chicken noodle soup?
I know I need to lose weight, not so I can nab a husband, but so I can feel better and be healthier person. But I do not need to be reminded of the fact I need to lose weight by well-meaning friends and family members. It’s not like I woke up one morning and “forgot” I’m fat. I am aware of it all the time—when I don’t sit on flimsy lawn furniture for fear my girth will break it, when a store doesn’t have clothes in my size, when I look in the mirror (or avoid looking in the mirror), when I don’t pretend it bothers me. Believe me, I know better than anyone that I’m fat.
Then why don’t you do something about it? (Another fun question.)
It takes time, lots of time. It took a lifetime to get like this, but it won’t take a lifetime to undo it. There are physiological, psychological, physical, mental, and personal issues at play. Sadly, eating salad and exercising isn’t as easy as it sounds due to financial limitations (healthy foods cost more), emotional issues (food is comforting), mental health issues (depression and anxiety suck the energy right out of you. Plus, my fear of open spaces and crowds doesn’t help at all), and medical issues (my medications make it hard to lose weight.)
But I know this woman/man/horse/what who (fill in the blank with weight loss tip) and lost 80-100 pounds!
Everyone knows someone who lost a massive amount of weight and that’s great for that person. I am not getting weight loss surgery (as it could *kill* me), trying a fad diet, joining Weight Watchers (can’t afford it), signing up for Jenny Craig (can’t afford it and their commercials are incredibly annoying. Their commercials alone make me want to stay fat. Sometimes people who have successfully lose weight are most annoying) or Curves (can’t afford that either).
I am going to do this thing my own way—slowly as I learn to enjoy food, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. I am not going to trade one problem for another. I am going to trust my therapist and my doctor to treat my eating disorder, those close to me (who someone don’t even see my fat), and my God to make it through.
So, instead of focusing on whether or not I take one or two cookies, how my fat has ruined my chances at love, and why I’m fat, maybe you should take a look at that plank of condemnation in your own eye. Hear that rattle? The skeletons in your closet are calling. You just don’t wear them on your physique for all to see and judge.
And while you’re at it, stop calling my mom’s dog “fat”! Animals don’t like it either.
(Note: All thoughtless remarks, insulting comments, and diet tips will be deleted. Remember, I am Backseat Writer’s benevolent dictator.)
What is something you wish you could hide? (It doesn’t have to be physical.) What thoughtless remarks are repeated to you by people “just trying to help”? (And how are you dying to respond?) Do you think my mom’s dog is *that* fat? (I think she’s cute. By the way, I groomed her myself.) Do you have a fat pet? Do people comment on your fat pet?