I will mark this day in my calendar. May 12, 2017 – I am no longer “Morbidly Obese;” I am no longer “Obese;” I am no longer “Overweight.” For the first time in my life I am now considered “Normal Weight.” How long will this last? I have no idea. Maybe just for the next hour, maybe for a day or so, maybe a month, or maybe I’ll become “Underweight” some day, although this is highly unlikely. But the point is that I am now considered normal. Because, you see, if you’re even the slightest bit bigger than what society says you should be then you are far from normal.
For the past 64 years, 10 months, and two days I’ve been told that I wasn’t normal by the actions and remarks of family, friends, and total strangers. “Sharon, you have such a pretty face, you should lose weight and show it.” “Sharon, you should lose weight because your uncle doesn’t like fat people.” “Hey you fatso, eat a salad and lose weight you lazy bitch.” Those words and much worse were said to me throughout my life. My aunt said that thing to me about my uncle when I was 12 years old.
A cousin lectured me about my weight when we were both in our twenties. She said that losing weight was easy. Yeah, it’s easy when someone who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet is saying it’s easy. When she turned 45 or 50 she started putting on weight and became “obese” and then called me to tell me how hard it was to lose weight and no one understood what she was going through and all everyone did was lecture her. Really? I thought losing weight was easy.
I was working at a company that put out the Yellow and White Pages back in the 70’s. One day I had the nerve to put a hard candy into my mouth. A co worker, Maria, said, “I thought you were on a diet.” Why did she think I was on a diet? Because I told her? No. Because she was part of the diet police? Or maybe it was because I was fat and not allowed to have a piece of hard candy.
In the 80’s I was an editor at a big financial institution and was eating lunch at my desk and one of the secretarial supervisors looked at what I was eating and told me that I should think about eating better. I had the nerve to be eating some tuna fish. Guess tuna fish isn’t allowed to be eaten either when you’re fat. Let’s start making a list: no hard candies or tuna fish allowed. Another 100 pound when soaking wet person who ended up obese when she got older heard from.
Now I have to talk about my grandmother. My cousins are not going to like this because they never saw the grandmother that I will describe. She hated me and my sister and I suspect my mother too because we were all obese. She might have included my father on her hate list just because he married my mother. He wasn’t obese.
My grandmother would constantly make comments to my sister and myself about our weight and not the nice comments but evil ones. The kind of comments that made you want to stay away from her forever, which my sister ended up doing. When grandma tells you how ugly you are and how you don’t chalk up to the rest of her grandchildren because of your weight then you don’t want anything to do with grandma.
How about strangers? People who you never saw in your life feel they have the right, more like “morally obligated,” to lecture and call you names because you’re fat. They’d tell me how unhealthy I was because of my weight. Duh, yeah, I know, fat equals dumb and I would never know that being fat was unhealthy. Thank God some stranger felt they had the right to tell me this otherwise I would never have known.
My sister died from colon cancer. The last three months of her life all she could eat, when she could eat, was yogurt and ice cream. We were alone, our parents were dead, of the few family members who knew of her dying no one called or helped out at all except for one or two. I was a mess trying to figure out how I was going to survive after watching my sister die this horrible death.
One July day my sister asked me to buy her some ice cream, the kind that had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I was happy to do it and a little relieved that she was hungry for anything. I went to the corner grocery where the owners and people who worked there knew about my sister dying. The owner always gave me yogurt for her without charging me.
But this one July day I was online to pay for the ice cream when an older man looked and me, looked and the ice cream and started yelling at me. “You’re too fat to eat that. It should be illegal to allow people of your size to buy and eat ice cream. Put that back and do something about your weight.” I stared and this man and wondered if I could get away with hitting him. I wondered if I even cared if about the consequences of such a violent reaction, when the clerk who was ringing up the ice cream called over the owner and said something to him in Russian. The owner took the man aside and started yelling at him in Russian and kicked him out the store. Then the owner came to me, apologized profusely, gave me the ice cream for free, and handed me a ton of yogurt for my sister.
When I got home my sister saw how upset I was and asked what was wrong. I said everything was fine and that it was just hot out. I gave her some ice cream and she wanted me to eat some with her so I put some in a plate and sat on her bed with her and we talked. Yes, I ate the ice cream but I never told my sister about what happened in the store. She died three months later.
So I want to say to all you “caring people” who feel obligated to make remarks to fat people for “their own good” to mind your own business!
Back to this morning when I weighed myself and saw that after one year, nine months, and 12 days of struggling I’m finally considered normal weight and with the right BMI. I then slipped into my pants which is sized at an 8/10. I lost 176 on my own. No surgery. No real help except from my cardiologist who was my main cheerleader as the pounds came off. He’s prouder of me than I am of myself.
This isn’t my first time around the block with losing 100 pounds or more. It’s my third or fourth time around. For those of you who don’t know, which is most of you, losing weight can be easy, keeping it off is the hard part. That’s yo-yo dieting. You do well losing weight and suddenly you stop losing weight. The body is fighting the weight loss and the hard part is to keep going and not give in to the anger and hunger you feel as you still exercise, stay within your calorie limit, and still see no progress and sometimes even some weight gain. Yep, I have gained weight at times while maintaining an 800 calories eating plan.
You might say, “But Sharon, isn’t the struggle worth it? You must look great.” I don’t look good. I look like a walking clothespin. My face looks drawn, my skin is sagging, my shape is gone. No more curves at my hips or at my bust. My breasts hang on me like two flat pancakes. I looked better when I weight 30 pounds more than I do now. But I want my doctor to see me at this weight and let him decide.
Am I happy being a “normal” weight? Yes and no. Yes because I blend into society better now. No one feels the urge to stop me in the street and abuse me because of my weight. No one knows I’m there.
I’m not happy about this new “normal” weight because people who’ve lived in this neighborhood with me for years are now friendlier to me. “Hi, how are you?” they ask. Why didn’t they acknowledge me like that three years ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago? I was friendlier then. Now I’m mean and my face shows it. I don’t talk to them, or anyone really because I’m in a perpetual state of anger, or is it hunger? I don’t know. But I do know that if and when, I gain the weight back they won’t give a damn about how I am and will go back to making nasty remarks.
Nope, losing weight has done nothing much for me except to allow me to become invisible in a world where invisibility might be best.
Signed – Hungry old lady