I’ve been overweight my whole life until recently. When I was a kid I was a fat kid, when I was a teenager I was larger than any of the other kids in my school. In my twenties I was morbidly obese. And that entire time, all I wanted was to be normal. I wanted to lose all of the weight that made me such a pariah socially and my life so inconvenient physically. So I read every article and book I could get my hands on about weight loss, and I started to notice this one trope in particular came up over and over again, somewhere in any article or book this on particular statement would appear, regularly enough that it started to really bother me. Here it is, tell me if you’ve never seen it before, it went something like this:
“Losing weight isn’t going to solve all your problems, you know. You’ll still have problems after you lose weight. Losing weight won’t make you happy if you’re not happy already.”
I saw this almost every time I read any materials about diets or weight loss. I don’t know why, but the people who constantly ram it down your throat that you need to lose weight (ahem…women’s magazines, I’m lookin’ at you) also, for some reason, feel the need to remind you that, honey, you’ve got bigger problems than being fat.
So which is it, media experts? Am I miserable because I’m fat and if I’d just get thin I’ll be happy and sexy and everybody will love me? Or am I miserable because I’ve got big life problems that being thin won’t solve?
Well, let me tell you something, whether you’ll still have problems or not after you lose weight really depends a whole hell of a lot on the kinds of problems you have when you’re overweight. Here’s a list of the kinds of problems I had when I was at my highest weight, you tell me if losing weight was going to solve those problems:
- Hated going to movies because I was too big for the theater seats.
- Mortified by flying (and therefore avoided it) because I was too large for an airplane seat.
- Hips and knees hurt constantly because of the strain my weight put on them.
- Trouble making friends because of the social stigma against obesity
- Hated self because of the constant barrage of media telling me I was awful and stupid and inferior due to my size.
- Finding clothing was a nightmare since I had grown past sizes that were commercially available.
- Couldn’t participate in any social activities of a physical nature due to being embarrassingly out of shape.
- Broke the seat slider in my car due to weight. Too embarrassed to get it fixed.
- Constant heartburn.
- Yelled at by passersby in the street to “Hey fat lady, lose some weight!”
Actually, allow me to end the suspense and answer my question: Yes, losing weight solved all of those problems. It was a goddamned panacea for the kinds of problems I had in my life. And once I lost the weight and didn’t have those problems anymore, yeah, I was pretty gosh-darned happy.
I don’t know, and I don’t care really, why it was so important to people who sell diets to state so many times (and so emphatically) that losing the weight wouldn’t solve my problems, but I suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that the kinds of people who have jobs writing for women’s magazines and diet program materials aren’t the kind of people who’ve ever had those kinds of problems. So perhaps they should shut the hell up on topics they know nothing about.
I don’t know. Just a thought.