Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bariatric Betty looks at Sticks and Stones

...but names will never hurt me.  Right.  I am confident that every person on this planet has been teased, tormented, or verbally abused at some point or another.  And we all know it hurts. 

Being overweight seems to attract insults like a magnet.  Somehow our society thinks it's acceptable to laugh at someones weight,and some even call them names to their faces.  I have always hated the train of thought that says people need to develop thicker skin, or take it as encouragement to make a change in their lives.  Yes, there is definitely something positive about being able to assimilate into society and it's standards.  But why is it so hard to accept someone overweight? 

I think that many people continue to think that people are fat because they are lazy.  Or stupid.  That we don't know that eating too much and exercising too little makes us fat - or that we don't care.  Don't they understand that nobody WANTS to be fat?  That all of us have dieted.  We have all lost weight.  And most of us have gained it back.  Plus more.  That many of us would remain overweight if we even ate just the 1800 calories in the USDA recommendations.  In the case of those of us looking at bariatric surgery, we will be committing ourselves to eating under 1000 calories for 1-2 years.  And even later, we will probably not eat more than 1300 calories for the rest of our lives.  That doesn't seem so simple, does it?

I think what really bothers me is that people make judgements about others without having a clue about them.  Do they know that you've been exercising every day for the last month?   Or that you are losing a pound every week?  Or that you are going to have surgery to try and have success for the first time in your life by sacrificing your diet, your time, your money, and addressing your deepest issues.  No, they make assumptions based on your appearance that you are less worthy of their respect and kindness.

This reminds me of a story I read a long time ago.  Paraphrasing to the best of my memory:  It was about a man riding home on the train or bus.  Some kids were running loose; screaming, laughing, and falling into other passengers.  Through it all, he notices that the father is sitting there, doing nothing about their poor behavior.  Eventually the father catches the upset look and quietly says "I'm so sorry, I know I should tell them to sit down and be quiet.  But you see, we've spent the whole day at the hospital with their mother.  She's dying.  And after they were quiet all day with her, I just don't have it in me to be mad at them and tell them to be quiet again."  I've always remembered that story - that we DON'T know the story behind other people.  What they gone through.  What they are going through right now. 

Instead of being viewing fat people as funny, disgusting, or sad - think of them as brave.  Every step they take uses more energy than a healthy person's step.  They have frequently gone to work or bed hungry even with food in the house, in hopes they could be healthier the next day.  Their brain has different reactions to even images or descriptions of food - behaving much like an addict's brain when it is on drugs.  Those of  us who have considered or gotten weight loss surgery like a gastric bypass have risked our lives with major surgery to get healthy.  Most of us would probably consider brain surgery if it could cure obesity. 

Instead, look at us and somewhere inside you, think "Good Luck". 

And if that doesn't make sense, think of it this way.  Most of the adults in the U.S. are at least overweight now, and unfortunately more are gaining weight all the time.  Hope it won't include you and your loved ones.  Or that one of us doesn't sit on you ;)

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