NaBloPoMo Day 5: Well-Meaning Thin People
By toledolefty on November 05, 2011
I thought I'd write today about some things said and done by well-meaning thin people that have triggered me lately. I know that most people mean well, and I am equally sure that I unintentionally hurt people way more often than I realize, so please understand that I am not blaming the people involved for the way I feel. These are just things that I have noticed lately that make me realize that I need to either change the way I feel about myself, change my weight, or both. I appreciate my body for all it does for me, but it's kind of like driving around in a reliable, beat-up old Chevy. You're happy it gets you around, but you wince a little if you see someone looking at it too closely. I have tried talking myself out of those feelings, but the part of me that feels this way doesn't seem to listen to reason.
I was inspired to do this post after yoga today. The (buff, male) instructor was trying to help show me how to do a challenging pose (Eagle). He wanted me to let him support my weight while I tried to position my body correctly. I realized that it was very hard to do this partly because I was afraid he might drop me and partly because I didn't want him to realize how heavy I am. I feel really sad that I walk around feeling like this all the time. Then I thought about some of the other things lately that have gotten to me.
"If your husband loves you the way you are, why should you worry?"
This was said by a gorgeous, curvy friend who wears a size 4 (yes, you can be curvy and slim. Unfair?). First of all, of course, there is my not-so-secret fear that my husband is, daily, comparing me to all of the thinner and more beautiful women around, even if he says he loves me the way I am. And secondly, the reason I want to be thinner is not to attract men, but to feel more "normal" and be able to get dressed without anxiety.
"No, stay behind the desk."
Recently we had a faculty photo shoot (I never thought modeling would be part of this job) and I was getting photographed for a brochure. The photographer had me in front of the staged classroom, doing something on the computer. He said, "Pretend to teach," so I asked if I should step out in front. "No, stay behind the desk," he said. The other (thinner) faculty members were photographed walking around the classroom. It reminded me of how Carnie Wilson was always behind the piano in every Wilson Phillips music video.
"Have you ever thought about Weight Watchers?"
I am pretty sure that overweight people are much more aware of the existence of Weight Watchers than most thin people are, but I got this from my amazing, tiny Pilates instructor. I tried to explain that not only had I tried it, I did it off and on since 2002 and am even "Lifetime." She didn't seem to understand how I had so much trouble with it. I don't know that I understand either.
"I really need to lose weight"
I saved this for last because it's the real hall-of-famer. When someone who is much smaller than I am goes on and on about everything that's wrong with their body and talks about various diets they might try, it makes me want to cry. I understand that they very probably do want to lose weight, but it feels like they are calling me out by default. If I am smaller than you and you don't think you're acceptable, where does that leave me? And I realize that by putting this in writing, I may be triggering my blog readers. Really, you are fine. I am just not happy with me, which is probably what the Well-Meaning Thin Person would tell me if I asked.
I don't have only bad experiences, and I don't walk around feeling bad in my body all the time. That's why I noticed it today, because it's not how I feel the majority of the time.
When I was getting evaluated by my male physical therapist, he had to look at my spine. I said, "I feel really self-conscious of my back fat." He said, "Don't be, I like back fat!" in a way that made me smile. Maybe the thing to do in some of the situations with people I trust would be to be honest when I'm feeling upset, but I'm not sure I want to admit to the way I feel. It is bad enough that I know about it.
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