In the news recently, there has been a push for ‘fat acceptance’ perhaps due to the fact that the average waist size in the United States is now almost 40 inches or maybe due to the fact that people are trying to steer the public away from the current body culture which is directed towards extreme thinness. I think that sexy, curvy women should flaunt their curves all day and all night, and men with a little extra pudge make fantastic cuddle buddies. But as someone who used to wear a pretty hefty US size 12/14 (UK size 16/18), I can confidently tell you that being fat sucks. When I was borderline obese, I hated myself and spent most of my time wishing I was slim. In fact, many years ago when I used to go to church, I actually prayed to God every single day to make me lose weight. Looking back, this was pretty desperate and I cringe when I remember how much of an anguished teenager I was. But at that point, I didn’t think I could do it on my own. Now, I am so glad that I did.
Today, I love watching TV shows about fat people. It reminds me why I never want to get fat again. There is a show called ‘Secret Eaters’ in the UK where cameras film overweight people during a typical day to see what, and how much, they eat. These people stand there in front of the film crew and say, “I don’t know why I am fat, I mean, I just don’t think I’m that bad.” Then the cameras catch them eating a croissant for breakfast, a sausage roll pastry and a coke for their mid-morning snack, a club sandwich with chips for lunch, a bar of chocolate, and then maybe a pizza or a Chinese for dinner, all washed down with a bottle of white wine. Where is the green? Where are the vegetables? Where is all the good stuff? The only thing the cameras cannot truly capture is how that person truly feels. It is only on shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ where you truly get a glimpse into what it feels like to be fat. These contestants are drenched in sweat, their hearts are racing, they are panting like a dehydrated dog, and sometimes they even throw up, all after trying to do a gentle jog up a hill without stopping; a physical activity that most ‘normal’ people would do with ease. They cry as they struggle with their low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness. The emotional breakdowns may be a source of entertainment for many viewers, but when you sit back and think about what these people are going through, it’s pretty traumatic.
What is the worst thing about being fat? To put it simply, you just feel big. Whether it is trying to squeeze past people in the narrow aisle of a bus, or trying to sit on one of those tall skinny bar stools like an elephant on stilts, or going to the beach and trudging across the sand like a penguin, or going shopping for swim suits and trying to find one that is ‘slimming’. In the winter, it is easy to hide your body behind big sweaters, leggings, and UGG boots. However, if you are in a bikini or a pair of swimming trunks, there is absolutely no way to camouflage those fat rolls. If you have ever been fat, you know exactly what I am talking about. There are crafty ways to hide your fatness in photographs and in public as you wear shapeless clothing that you can elegantly drape over you so that only your skinny ankles or wrists are exposed. You just feel like a mammoth in a field of deer. And it is as if everyone is staring at you. Maybe they aren’t, but it sure feels that way when you know you are bigger than average.
Now, I have to be totally honest about something. I don’t know if I will ever feel confident in a bikini. But I am working on it. My point is that, if you are fat and unhappy, just know that there is a way out. You can feel beautiful. You can feel good about yourself. You can feel confident. And you may never be totally happy with your body (I don’t know many people who are) but you can feel a hell of a lot better than you do right now. The feeling of fitting into clothes you never dreamed you would be able to wear is one of the best feelings ever, especially if you love shopping as much as I do. The feeling of going to a restaurant and choosing the healthy option because you want it, rather than feeling like you have to choose it, is fully empowering. But the best feeling of all, and I mean the BEST, is when you can finally run a mile, or two, or three, or four, or even fourteen in my case, without stopping.