Wednesday, November 4, 2009


As I've mentioned before, in my last year and a half of college, I lost a lot of weight and became much more attractive. The rest of my family remained greatly overweight and continued to eat the pounds of potatoes, junk food, and fatty foods that they always ate. They also did not exercise.

I distinctly recall judging them for their behavior and thinking that they could change just like I did if they were strong enough or had the will. This memory of my attitude makes me cringe and I am very ashamed of myself for having had it. The arrogance I had at that time was not too dissimilar to that which many thin people display toward me and those like me now.

Years after I'd regained all the weight I'd lost and more, I wondered if there weren't some sort of just desserts for me in my "downfall". Though I never said anything to my family members about how they lived their lives or criticized them for their weight (and I still loved them all), I had the sense that regaining weight was a karmic payback for my lack of compassion and understanding at that time.

The interesting and very useful thing about what happened to me is that I also understand just how easy it is to lose weight easily or to suddenly stop struggling with food and then become judgmental. In a very real way, the fact that it was relatively easy for me the first time blinded me to the true hardship of overweight people and it took falling back into the difficulty of it all for me to really understand and have more compassion. It also helped me see how people who do not suffer a problem (or don't suffer it for long) can't develop empathy for those who do suffer.

I don't feel that being fat and suffering health issues as a result for the last 20 years has really been the best thing, but I do believe that something of value emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually has come of it. I can't be happy with the damage I've done to my body, or the pain I've suffered (and continue to suffer), but at least I can see that I've grown in some ways of value.


dlamb said...

I always think that no experience is wasted, if one learns a good life lesson from it. What a wonderful way for you to conceptualize your humanity, both when you lost the weight and when you regained it.
I will share my own human foible re. my impatience and judgement of people who have not experienced a certain condition (i.e. injury or chronic pain) and they cannot fathom the loss of motivation, physical and emotional drain and depression leading to inactivity of those who suffer it.
I cannot say that I rejoice or even mildly enjoy the comeuppance of such individuals when they have their first experience with such injury or pain. I DO have to refrain, however, from asking if they still believe that one should crawl, hop and drag herself on bloody feet, do what it takes but get out there and run and stop with the excuses.

screaming fatgirl said...

The whole "do it even if it hurts" thing never sits well with me. Generally speaking, I think people who say that have never experienced the type of intense or chronic pain (or crippling fatigue) that others have felt. They do need to walk a mile in those shoes before they judge, but they really aren't interested in anything but their agenda and validating their worldview.

Unfortunately, most people see it that way about nearly everything. One of my mental exercises is to attempt to validate other people's viewpoints about a variety of topics even when they are very much in opposition to mine. This is extremely hard and sometimes, I can't do it, but I try!