How I've handled fat shaming in my life

Saturday, October 19, 2019

I think it’s a waste of time to get upset, especially over things you can’t do anything about. Being upset can be a useless emotion. If you get in a car crash, for example, that sucks. But there’s nothing you can do about it. You can either choose to be happy or upset about it. It won’t change the circumstances, so might as well try not to stress about it.


However, emotions are emotions, and we feel what we feel. This is not to say I’ve never gotten upset, sad, heartbroken, snappy, stressed, or moody. Because I do all of the above. In fact, right now I'm a little moody because I haven't had breakfast and it's 1:40 P.M., but I'm too lazy to go to kitchen and cook something. Anyway. I’m just saying, on the general basis, I stir my emotions towards happiness, and try to choose how I respond to events based on things I can change and things I can’t change. If I can’t change something, I try not to worry about it. And if I absolutely have to be sad about it, I take the time to feel my emotions, heal, and then turn the page. I’m the kind of person who is pessimistic but positive at the same time. I go: “Yes, for SURE my plane is going to crash, I FEEL it, I know it will, I mean- I hope it doesn’t, but if it does, what snacks should I enjoy one last time?” You know, worst case scenario but make it positive.


With that being said, today we are not going to focus on positivity. Today, we are going to focus on the negativity. I want to talk about my experience with fat shaming & fat phobia, and how I chose to handle these situations.

Vulnerability, EW. Emotions, EW. Opening up, EW.

7 years old 
The first time I felt fat shamed, I was about 7. I was wearing my I Dream of Jeanie costume, on Halloween, and walking around my neighborhood with my friends. Boys my age walked by us, and went “What a big belly”… I’m not sure if they were talking about me, but I felt self-conscious about my stomach then. So I immediately assumed they were talking about me. I remember, even at that age, thinking “Well... It is what it is” and I kept asking for candy to continue feeding my belly. Maybe because my parents had done a good job convincing me that I looked SO CUTE in my I Dream of Jeanie costume, that I didn’t really care what anyone said. Or was it Jasmine from Aladdin? Ugh, can’t remember.

12 years old
At 12 years old, I was living my best life in middle school. My friends were all tiny and skinny, and I was bigger than all. I didn’t feel any less beautiful because of that, but that was something I was aware of. No one ever said anything directly to me about my weight at school, but there were little jabs here and there. I think it was when I was in middle school that I really began to take notice of weight in general because I was recommended natural juices to lose weight, and the way people would talk about their own bodies made me feel uncomfortable. I chose to continue living my life and wear whatever I wanted to wear.

13 years old 
I was in high school, 9th grade, Spanish class. I befriended this kid who sat behind me, who I knew was shallow, judgmental and into his looks. But he was funny and seemed cool, so I wanted to be friends with him. Every day he would make a comment about people’s appearances- never my own. Until one day, he asked: “Aren’t you embarrassed to go to the pool?” For a brief second, I didn’t understand why I would be. Then it hit me. My weight? But wait, surely he couldn’t be asking me that? We are friends, right? I said: no, why?... he said something along the lines of because he was overweight too and he felt embarrassed to take off his shirt in the pool. I felt that was saving face for the uncomfortable question he had asked. I said I didn’t feel that way. That conversation stuck with me for a while, but I ultimately decided I felt sorry that he felt that way about himself and big bodies. I felt lucky I didn't feel that way. I got to enjoy the pool with my friends over the summer and not care. I was thankful I didn't care.

16 years old
Perhaps this is hardest one to write about. I was on vacation with my family and extended family, and it was a lovely one. I've always gotten along with all my family members, and I'm close to them. One particular day, for some reason, a family member was arguing with my mom, and this person blamed my mom for how I looked. "That's why your daughter looks the way she does", they said. Which, as you can imagine, was heartbreaking for me to hear as I was sitting next to them. It was hard because I felt betrayed. I had felt good about myself up until then, and the vacation had been going so well. I didn't realize that's what this family member thought of me.
Thats why I looked "the way I did"? How did I look?... It made me feel sad. I felt betrayed because I felt like I was accepted by my family for who I was, whether I was overweight or not, and then I realized that maybe that wasn't the case and this person had been judging my weight the whole time. I put my headphones in, turned the volume up, and tried to hold back the tears. It hurt my feelings a lot, but I didn't say anything because I just wanted the moment to be over. I turned the volume up as loud as I could because they were still arguing over this. Later on, another family member heard about the incident and bought me a chocolate.  That tiny chocolate meant the world to me. That made me feel accepted and loved again, and I liked that, so I chose love. I chose that. I chose feelings of acceptance, and self-love, and trust. However, the sad interaction taught me a lot about myself because I cut emotional ties with this family member. It was an automatic reaction to shut this person out by putting walls up and that relationship never went back to the way it was. It felt like losing a family member that I was once close with and really loved. There was never a fight, I was never unkind to them, I've seen them plenty since then, and I've always been polite. Many many years later, they apologized for it. They said they've always felt guilty about it. I accepted the apology. But that didn't change anything. When that happened, I said: I don't like how this made me feel. I don't like how this person made me feel. So I'm gonna make sure I never feel this way again. And instead of taking it out on myself or my self-esteem, I decided the problem was that person,  and I cut them out of my life emotionally. 15 years later and there's still 0 emotional attachment there. Don't know how I did it, but my 16 year old self didn't play those type of games.

20 years old
My grandma asks my brother to help me lose weight because I don't look good, and she thinks I won't find a decent job in my life if I continue being overweight. I chose to ignore that comment because I respect and love my grandma, and understand where she is coming from. However, I'd like to state that I got my current job at 245 pounds as an event planner in the education field, planning conferences, workshops and events. I've nailed every job interview I've done in my life. I've always gotten the jobs I wanted. I'm doing just fine.

26 years old
This is the last incident I can remember. I was fat-shamed by a whole water park. Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach. I was about 210 pounds and some of the rides have a maximum weight limit of 250 pounds. I didn't know this. I can't say there are signs in the park to give you heads up, but I didn't see any. I got to the top of a ride, with my family, and an employee pulled me aside to- get this- WEIGH ME before jumping in. In front of everyone. It was mortifying. It was a blur. I understand safety first, but there has to be another way. He was off by 40 pounds. It felt mortifying to be picked out from a group of people because I could be too big to get on a water ride. It wasn't even the best ride ever. I let it get to me for a few minutes, and then said: "It happened, there's nothing I can do about it, I'm a little shook over it, but I'm turning the page."

Those incidents weren't the only times I've felt fat-shamed. But those are the only ones that stand out to me. If I think of more, I'll do part two.

After the incident when I was 16, something changed in how I looked at my weight. I could either let self-doubt, insecurities, and sadness win, or I could choose to be happy, and loved, and confident. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but it was how I reacted to fat-shaming. I understood early on that fat shaming was a social problem that had nothing to do with me and had everything to do with a superficial society that tries to sell the idea that thin is the only way to be beautiful. I was not going to let social standards determine my worth or self-love. I would love myself, and whoever accepted and loved me for who I was, then I would love right back. And whoever didn't, well, that was their problem, wasn't it? I'm cool peeps. Whether I'm 245 pounds, or 173 lbs.

Thanks for reading. It's 2:30 PM and I'm off to have breakfast.

Be kind to people.

-Cabi

9 comments

  1. I absolutely adore you and your positivity, reading this made me want to cry as it takes me back to times I've been shamed. I am truly sorry you've ever had to feel that way. You are such a strong and resilient woman, definitely one of the most honest about the weight loss journey. Proud of how you inspire and empower 💪

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so so much for this kind message! It's all good. Choose love, and turn the page. Love to you!!!

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  2. This wa as amazing Cabi. Thanks for being vulnerable ans sharing. I have enjoyed watching your journey. Continue shining your light. You are inspiring so many people just by being your authentic self ❤

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  3. I absolutely love this post! I have gained a lot of weight in the past two years and I have gotten a lot of subtle yet obvious remarks about my weight, ESPECIALLY from my family members. I did let it get to me for a while. But i'm working on dealing with it and having a more positive outlook. Thank you Cabi!

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    Replies
    1. We can't escape those remarks. Turn the other cheek and focus on your self-love! All the love int he world to you.

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  6. I like your smile.Your smile is too good keep smiling 😊😊 you look good,I can say that you are good human being also

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