Author: Heather Anne
A stranger called me fat. And I cried. I cried a lot. Not because I cared about his opinion, but because he was right.
And sometimes the truth hurts.
His actual term of endearment was “chunky.” I’m not really sure if that is better or worse than “fat” but I’m pretty sure they are just about equal on my list of things I’d rather not be called.
It was my husband’s birthday and I had hired a baby sitter, planned a big birthday dinner party and, of course, bought a new outfit. I had actually bought the outfit several weeks before when I saw it on sale and I said to myself “eventually I’m going to fit in to this.” So, needless to say, I was very excited when the morning of my husband’s birthday party I tried on the outfit and it fit! It wasn’t perfect, I still had a “mommy tummy” in it, but after some convincing from my husband, I decided to cut myself some slack and go out feeling confident.
And I did. I felt great. And we had a great time. We ate, we danced, we drank and then we went out to eat a little bit more. We stopped at our favorite late night taco stand and that is where I encountered the fat-shaming stranger.
He himself was overweight, and probably about 23. And wearing a fraternity t-shirt (nothing wrong with frat boys, just trying to paint the full picture.) He looked me up and down and preceded to say, “you’re kind of [explicit] chunky.”
To say I lost it would be an understatement.
After 5 months filled with sweat, hard work and kale, here I was, on a night that my confidence level had been at its highest, being sized up by a complete stranger. I ended up being thrown over my husband’s best friend’s shoulder and dragged away from the guy who I wanted nothing more than to punch in the face.
And then I cried. Lots and lots of leechi martini filled tears. The whole way home. And then the next day. And then the next day after that.
And then 3 days later I found myself sitting in front of a basket of fries and hating myself. Once again I was emotionally eating and I was letting a pimple-faced frat boy fat shame me into overeating. See, I’ve always been an emotional eater. When I’m happy, I eat. And when I’m sad, well… I eat even more. And that’s what I was doing. I was letting the words of a stranger affect me to the point that I had lost sight of my progress.
Because there has been progress. Lots of it actually.
It’s been about 18 months, and roughly 80lbs, since I’ve looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. They say the glow of pregnancy is the most beautiful thing in the world. But for me it wasn’t. I’m not going to blame all 80lbs on the baby, because honestly, a lot of it was there before she was. I got married, I got happy, and I got fat. And then I got pregnant. My belly swelled, my thighs expanded, my ego deflated and I felt defeated.
But then I decided to do something about it. I started exercising, I started running and I started eating right. The eating right part was the most recent development in my healthy journey. But within 2 weeks of completely changing my eating habits I had lost an additional 12lbs and I was thrilled! I was eating good, whole foods and actually enjoying doing it. I was sure that I had set a plan in motion that was going to lead me straight to the results that I wanted.
But then I let a stranger stop me in my tracks.
What’s the moral of this story? I don’t really know. I don’t know if I have one. I guess the moral is that I pulled myself away from that basket of fries and I made myself my favorite healthy chicken salad for dinner that night. I guess the moral is that I know what it feels like to be fat shamed and to begin to hate myself based on someone else’s opinion of me. But I’m not going to let that happen anymore. I’m not going to let my personal worth be devalued by the words of a stranger, or a friend, or an enemy, or well… anyone. And you shouldn’t either. Maybe you are reading this and you can’t relate. But maybe you have been there; maybe you know exactly how I felt. Maybe you feel that way right now. And maybe, but hopefully not, you are going to be put in a position where you are made to feel that way soon. And if you are, stick up for yourself. Tell that person where they can go. And make it some place horrible. Like hell or Ikea on a Saturday, because they are basically the same. Because honestly, no one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself. So don’t let them.
Frat-boy fat-shamer didn’t know how hard I’m working. He doesn’t know about the miles I’ve been pushing myself to run, the calories I’m counting, and the clean meals I’m eating. But telling myself that he didn’t know any of that doesn’t mean his words don’t still hurt. Because they do. But they are starting to feel more like a sting rather than a slap.
Am I overweight? Yes. Have I lost weight? Heck Yes. Do I still have more weight to lose? Oh God Yes. Can I do it? HELL Yes.
[Oh… and that healthy chicken salad, I posted the recipe for you. You’re welcome.]
Avocado Cilantro Chicken Salad Recipe