I read an article on the The Huffington Post last week and it definitely struck a chord with me. Take a look at this excerpt—and I encourage you to read the whole article, if you have a minute:
I am amazed at how inferior I feel now. I feel invisible. People avoid eye contact with me. I am often treated rudely or dismissed. I live in daily fear that my weight will be the thing that results in my long list of fears, which now rule my every thought. I fear things like being let go from my job because “I don’t represent the company well,” or of never finding a man to love me again because I am no longer attractive. I wonder if people are embarrassed to be seen with me. I fear that someone might say something horrible to me like, “stay away from the donuts, fat a**,” or complain loudly that they have to sit next to me on the airplane… again. And yes, the big one, will I die young because of the fat on my body?
…people dismiss me or are rude when they see me in this body. They don’t want to know me because they assume that I am something different than I am. The key difference is there are laws and social pressure against racial discrimination (which is still far too prevalent!). Discriminating against fat people is still socially acceptable, and in fact, it is done all the time.
Brooks says that her excess weight isn’t due to a lack of effort on her part—although she knows most will assume that to be the case—and she worries that she’ll never be able to accept living in her new body on a full-time basis because, despite her numerous attempts (diet, personal trainer, etc.), she simply has not been able to win the battle against her scale.
I empathize with Kathleen. I cannot imagine what it would be like to know that the body you now inhabit is not only the one you don’t want, but could be your new normal—no matter what you do, your stuck looking at an image that will likely never be what it once was.
That said, as someone who is admittedly committed to maintaining a consistent level of fitness, her story made me stop and think about my own moral compass: am I too judgmental? Do I make others feel uncomfortable? Am I truly connecting with my clientele or just accepting my own success as the gold standard for what should work for everyone?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look down on those who are not what society deems an “ideal” size, but I certainly recognize the confidence and comfort level that comes with a body that you feel good living in.
It’s of the utmost importance that we all understand that while every journey is different, they don’t all end at the same destination, and the old adage of “walking a mile in another’s shoes” isn’t just meant to be read on a bumper sticker. Empathy above all else should be the goal in most every case because you just never know the story behind the face.