A few months into my journey – I wrote about a conversation I had with an overweight woman who didn’t understand how I could be so confident and well spoken and overweight. You can see that post here. In her mind, those characteristics were so incongruous that it was literally unthinkable. She truly believed that overweight women (herself included) couldn’t be intelligent and well-spoken.
I tried not to take it too personally because in her mind, I was an exception to the rule which lessened the blow of insult at the time. She admitted that she settled after college, she “gave up and married a good man who was crazy enough to marry her.” And after having his kids, she felt like she had more than she deserved.
More recently, after the Southwest incident, I received thousands of e-mails – many of which were written by admittedly obese men and women who openly stated that people who are obese (themselves included) do not, in fact, deserve the same level of respect as thin people in society. Really ? Really?! Am I the only one who has a problem with this?
In my original post, I was floored by the woman’s thoughts, but now I think I understand what she was thinking. And I find myself wondering, yet again, how different my life would be if I looked how I’m supposed to look. I wonder how different life would be if I were skinny.
Would I pursue music more seriously? I have a decent voice. My friend, Kent, recently told me (over and over and over) that I’m so talented and that I should sing as often as possible for anyone willing to listen. And I LOVE to sing. I’m probably not as good as Kent thought I was as we drove up the coast, but I’m better than a lot of people I hear. And when people ask why I don’t pursue it, I say nothing. I just move my hands up and down, signaling that my body is the reason. After all, girls who look like me don’t sing. And they don’t go on TV – unless it’s weight-related TV.
Another question that comes to mind is…would I be married? I’ve been pretty lucky in dating throughout my life. I’ve had several boyfriends, most of whom were not jerks. I’ve actually a few guys who would have made suitable husbands even passing on the opportunity to become a “Mrs.” But the question, more specifically, is…would I have had better relationships if I had been more honest with myself and the guys I dated? I think the answer is, obviously, yes. That being said, I don’t believe I’ve met my “soulmate.” I’m really not sure what I think of that whole concept, but I know what my wish is. 😉 It’s just a conversation of “what-if’s” that have helped me recognize that I don’t have all of the answers.
I’m not saying that I regret the end of previous relationships or my choices not to pursue music. I’m just admitting that, until recently, I failed to come to terms with the fact that my weight has held me back in life. It has, at times, been too obvious to ignore (i.e. every time I’ve passed up swimming with dolphins because I’m too heavy to wear a wetsuit or staying in while it snowed (even though I love snow) because the biggest coat I could purchase was far too small to button or not taking the subway in NYC because I couldn’t fit through the turnstiles.)
I’ve made amazing strides in the last several months including taking the subway to get from point A to point B, applying (and being accepted) to a school where I will go and study what I truly want to learn and sliding down a 3-story water slide while swimming with my family in the Spring – something I would not have attempted at 400 pounds.
But I’d be lying to myself (which I did for far too long) if I said that my weight had not/does not keep me from doing things that I want to do. It has taken me a long time to come to that realization and a lot longer to accept it. But the story doesn’t have to end here. My story does not end here. And the difference between myself and those who don’t believe that a woman can be confident and well-spoken, is that I am proving them wrong. I am not giving up on myself, nor am I giving up on my quest to be the best version of me.
I am well-spoken now. I am intelligent now. I am overweight now. I am worthy now. And I’m going to keep reminding myself until I believe it with every fiber of my being (whether I’m over 200 pounds or under 150 pounds.)
Who knows where I’d be if I had lived through my 20’s being pretty? Would life have been better? It’s hard to imagine that it would have been. I’ve had some pretty intensely awesome moments in my life that I would never had experienced if I hadn’t had a weight problem. See the video in the top right corner of my blog. 😉 And I probably wouldn’t have made the incredible friends that I have now if I hadn’t struggled with my weight.
On the track last night, I was listening to Katy Perry. (Don’t judge me! I like to be mindless when I run.) The lyrics in her song, Firework, struck me in a deep, not-so-pop kind of way. The lyrics were “Maybe the reason why all the doors are closed (are) so you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.” It’s not exactly deep and unoriginal, I know, but it seems to be proving true in my own life.
So while I hope that someday I can be completely healthy and pretty and successful and loved and free of all worries associated with obesity, I’m thankful that I’ve come as far as I have. And I’m definitely thankful that, in spite of my flaws (of which there are many) that I can finally recognize and admit that my weight has held me back far too long because admitting it allows me to change it. And that’s what my whole life is about – changing, growing, learning and being better today than I was yesterday.
What about you? Do you expect to be treated poorly based on your appearance? Do you believe that your life would be different if you liked the way you looked?