Being that I’ve been spending more time at home since I’m due in about 6 weeks I’ve been doing more reading online and one of the things I’ve discovered about people (at least on the internet) is they have a deep and quite disturbing dislike for overweight people.
I’ve read more than one article, comment and blog post lambasting people for being fat, for being (supposedly) unhealthy and for (supposedly) eating nothing but fast food and (supposedly) never exercising or taking care of themselves. And then there are all the supposed costs that come with being fat, especially the healthcare costs.
Here’s the thing, it is impossible to look at a person and judge what kind of life they live, how healthy they are and whether or not they take care of themselves just by judging their size. While I plan on writing a whole lot more about how body size does NOT equal health that is not the point of this post.
What I want to talk about now is food. I’ve been very candid on this blog about my weight and my struggles and I’m not gonna stop now. Before I got pregnant I had worked pretty hard at losing weight and I had lost quite a bit. When I started I weight 270 pounds when I got pregnant I was somewhere around 210, still not where I wanted to be but I was much, much happier. I was wearing a 14 or 16 depending on brand and I was able to do a lot of stuff I hadn’t been able to do when I was bigger. Since getting pregnant I’ve (obviously) gained some of that weight back. I’m 32 weeks pregnant and I have gained 18 pounds. I don’t really “work out” but I’m active and I eat pretty well. My doctor is happy with my weight gain, my blood pressure and my blood glucose levels. I’ve had three (THREE!) 1 hour glucose tests for gestational diabetes and every time I have passed with excellent numbers, my blood pressure between low normal and normal. In fact, the only thing my doctor has worried about are my iron levels because I’m anemic. I’m putting all this out there to first point out that I am medically healthy and so is my baby.
During the course of my pregnancy I have received a lot of unwanted advice, comments and just plain rude behavior by people who assume that because I am fat and pregnant I must obviously be unhealthy. I’ve been told what to eat, what to do and that whatever I’m eating or doing is wrong and harmful to my baby, by complete strangers. Most of these comments are aimed at me while I’m grocery shopping, I buy food not just for myself but also for Ben. There are a lot of things I buy just for him because he wants them and he’s an adult and is capable of deciding what he wants to eat.
Most of the food I buy consists of lean meat (usually chicken because I have a hard time eating red meat), various frozen vegetables and some fresh ones, fresh fruit depending on what I can afford, whole wheat bread, low fat milk, cheese (usually cheddar and mozzarella), unsweetened applesauce, canned beans and green chile. I cook 95% of our meals at home. The ones I don’t we either order pizza or we’ve been invited somewhere for dinner. We don’t keep soda in the house and the only juices we have are 100% juice. Despite the fact that we both eat the same things while we’re at home people assume Ben is much healthier than I am because he is thin and in very good physical shape. He’s got a super fast metabolism and is one of those people who has trouble gaining weight. I’m the opposite, my metabolism is much slower and it is easier for me to gain weight. We’re both healthy, we both take care of ourselves but because I weigh more the assumption is that I’m unhealthier.
On the occasion that we do get fast food if Ben is the one ordering it he is treated entirely differently than if I am ordering it. Even if he orders an insane amount of food (as he’s sometimes known to do) he gets treated with more respect than I do, even if I’m just ordering a small french fries (I’ve craved them a lot while I’ve been pregnant). Ben will actually be the first to say I eat better than him. He loves fruit and veggies but he also can (and sometimes does) eat 6 cupcakes in a row. I can’t eat more than one and I don’t really want to. But he’s still healthy. He’s got excellent blood pressure, no diabetes and his cholesterol is well within the healthy range.
My point is this, unless you are someone’s doctor you have no idea what their actual health is and even if you “know” what that person eats you have no idea whether they are healthy or not. Judging a person’s size or judging what you observe them buy on a single trip to a restaurant or grocery store is in no way indicative of their overall health.
The other point I want to make is about the way people describe food. I’m gonna just say this once: Food is not inherently evil. Eating a cupcake isn’t evil, even eating 10 cupcakes isn’t evil. Eating carrots doesn’t make you a good person, neither does eating whole grains or drinking fat free milk. Food has no bearing on whether or not a person is a good person or a bad person and eating certain foods doesn’t make you good or bad.
I like cupcakes, I love to bake them and eventually I want to open a bakery that specializes in (you guessed it) cupcakes. Does that make me “bad?” Am I evil because I happen to love miniature cakes? Nope, it doesn’t. Just like it doesn’t make me inherently unhealthy.
I have reached a point where I have had it with people who think it’s acceptable to hate someone, to harass and potentially harm someone just because of their body size. I have lived the majority of my life bigger than what everyone around me thought I should be. I’ve starved myself, hurt myself and done any restrictive diet you can think of. I’ve also spent most of my life being depressed because I didn’t fit into what society deems acceptable. I know I’m not the only person who has felt those feelings and I know I’m not the only one who has reached a point where it is no longer OK to treat people the way a large number of people treat people with bigger bodies.
Here’s what I propose. Mind your own business, worry about your own body and let everyone else do the same thing. Treat people the way you would want to be treated and learn to accept that people come in different sizes and being thin does not make you a better person.