Thoughts on Shaming


Within the last month, some lady thought she’d be funny by posting a video shaming fat people. She opened with some muttered comment about not aiming her video at people with medical conditions. This is just for the people who are willfully fat. She was crass. She was rude. She was “in your face.” And she got fired from a gig for her lack of respect.

While I am pleased with the fact that she was called out for her reprehensible behavior—shaming people never makes them better—the whole thing gave me a moment’s pause. She wasn’t talking to people who have medical conditions that cause weight gain. … Who exactly is that referring to?

I mean, clearly, she’s not talking to the people who take medications that cause weight gain. Or, you know, other stuff…? But what does that mean?

For example, about 10 years ago, I was taking care of my grandfather fulltime, and could not afford healthcare. I started having unusual lady problems that needed medical attention, but all I could afford was Urgent Care. I was told that I probably had PCOS, which can cause weight gain, amongst other symptoms. The Nurse Practitioner gave me a pill to fix the worst of the symptoms, and I went on my way.

I researched what this meant, and it made sense. I had a lot of the symptoms. “That’s it!” I thought. “This is why I can never lose the damn weight. I feel better now.” Because, you see, I had a Medical Condition. It explained so much! Now, when people gave me the eye, I could tell them that I had a Condition, and I could see them backing off.

When I was financially on my feet again and had insurance, I went to a doctor and asked for a diagnosis. We went through all of the tests, some of them quite painful, and I found out that I do NOT, in fact, have PCOS. Which means that I must just be a fat slob after all.

A few years after that, I was laid off, and once again without insurance. (All of this was before Affordable Care, you see.) I couldn’t afford COBRA. HELLO! I just lost my job, and you want me to pay you $500 a month IN CASE I get sick? I still don’t get that. Whatever. I started shopping around for health insurance that I could afford. And I got rejected because I was too fat. When I bemoaned my situation to someone I had considered a friend, he told me point blank that he didn’t think I deserved health insurance, although he didn’t say why. I’m guessing it’s because of my weight, though, because he had no way of knowing that otherwise my health is excellent. Blood pressure, blood sugar, all of my levels are within “healthy” range, except for the weight, which is, you know, visible. So what he essentially said to me was that because I was lazy in his eyes, I didn’t deserve to be healthy. Except that he didn’t have a medical license. For that matter, neither did the guy who rejected me for insurance.

A few years later, I started getting More Symptoms. I researched and ran to the doctor, and the conclusion we came to together is that I should not be eating gluten. Celiac’s Disease, once upon a time, was believed to only cause severe weight loss. If you couldn’t see a person’s bones, if they didn’t have the protruding belly, it wasn’t Celiac’s. But medical science marches on, and now they’re realizing that it can cause unexplained weight gain, as well. In fact, there are over 300 symptoms of the disease, and while there are symptoms that are more common than others, it is actually possible to have the disease for years without any symptoms at all. And because Celiac’s is such a complex disease, it takes an average—an average of 11 years to get diagnosed, which means that this could have been going on for years with me not having a clue. Who knows how long? And during that entire time, whether I was dieting or not, no matter how well I ate, or how much I exercised or didn’t, I was constantly losing nutrition and starving my body.

After diagnosis, I admit that I overate. Part of it was because I had an Excuse. Part of it was because I was desperate to feel normal again, so I devoured everything I could find that felt “normal”. Part of it was the Depression kicking in, from losing a huge part of my identity as a baker. At this point, I’ve pretty much worked through all of that and stopped overeating, but it’s going to be a while before you see any results, because I refuse—let me write that again for you to read: I REFUSE to go on a crash diet just to suit anyone else’s concept of what my body should look like EVER, EVER AGAIN. Instead I eat healthfully for my body and let it come into balance on its own.

So here’s my question to that lady, and to anyone else who feels the need to shame some random person on the street over some issue you know absolutely nothing about: Were you talking to the me that thought I had a medical condition, but actually didn’t, the me that HAD a silent and undiagnosed medical condition, the me that knew I had a problem but had other serious medical issues keeping me from dealing with the first, or the me that is doing the best that I can for myself, as I currently know things to be?

Just wondering.


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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Shaming”

  1. You are claiming your right to exist and flourish—still a very political act for a woman in America! I hear your pain (which I as a fat woman resonate with) and I also hear a woman pushing back against senseless and demeaning societal rules.

    I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s at a time where men ate, drank, and smoked as a right (and rite) of their adulthood. Women, by and large, watched their weight, their soaps, and were literally prescribed so much Valium that it was solid by the tons. Fashion was a standard of how well we could conform.

    One summer in college, I went to Europe with two friends and learned that there are many different standards of beauty. I wept through many museums to see zaftig beauty displayed again and again as classic and gorgeous. What a revelation for a young woman in the era of Twiggy! Following closely after those discoveries was the Goddess movement and a serious examination of patriarchal was of viewing the world —another revelation.

    Now we are in an era of one group after another being freed. I wonder when the rights of all body types to dignity and respect will become the norm? In the meantime, I fall back on the beautiful fat women I have known as role models for the world I aspire to live in!

    By the way, you are a beautiful woman and it is so great to see you finding ways to nurture your body and your mind and your heart! You can’t help it if there are jerks in the world but you don’t have to turn your power over to them—–especially when you can speak out so eloquently.

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