I was overweight or obese most of my life. I only vaguely remember being normal size before the age of 6. Everything I really knew about myself was centered on my size. Here are a few perceptions and observations I personally encountered after my drastic weight loss five years ago.
1. People generally treated me with more kindness.
I lived in a neighborhood that had a small grocery store. At the grocery store, the same cashiers always seemed to work there. The cashiers pretty much always ignored me when I weighed 300 pounds. I was never greeted with a “Hello, how are you doing today? Did you find everything OK? Any fun plans for the weekend?” Even just saying “Hi” would have been nice. I grew to dislike shopping there.
After I took the weight off, the cashiers were warmer and kinder to me. These were the same cashiers as before, but they were friendly to the smaller me. The only thing that changed about me was my size. I didn’t become friendlier as a result of losing weight to elicit their welcoming interaction with me, yet they were friendlier to the smaller me anyway.
2. Men paid more attention to me.
About nine or 10 months into my weight loss, I noticed a lot of unwanted attention from males. For many months, I felt like I was almost being stalked and I had to guard myself. I even improved my running speed in the hopes that if I was ever approached by a scary man, I could run away from him. I was briefly stalked by a man in a car following me for a few blocks as I walked around downtown one day alone and that was it.
At that time, I seriously believed that all men who greeted me with kindness were total creeps and I had to always be on high alert. Being obese kept men away from me, mostly. I was familiar with hearing farm animal sounds projected from cars as they drove by on the street. This was much different from hearing catcalls. This led to short-lived moment of considering gaining some weight back to avoid the attention, but I’m glad I didn’t.
3. Some people viewed my weight loss success as a threat.
After I lost around 100 pounds, some of the people that seemed to be supporting me in my journey were now asking me, “Do you really need to lose any more weight?” They supported me in being less fat, but didn’t support me in wanting to get fit and lean. I became a threat to some people.
Usually these remarks were masked in inauthentic concern for my health and well-being. I started to question if I was going too far and wanted too much for myself. Eventually, I realized that people will support you only until you become a danger to their egos. So I lost some relationships during this time in my life.
4. I felt like a stranger to myself.
I often caught a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror as I passed by in a department store or in a photo and question, “Who is that girl”? It wasn’t for a lack of having mirrors in my house and not seeing my reflection on a regular basis. My old mental programming still thinks of myself as 300 pounds. Even five years after losing all of the weight, I still catch myself thinking, “Who is that?" When I'm not expecting to see myself in a reflection or photograph, it’s a total shock that I look the way that I do. I’d like to think that this is something my mind will eventually get used to, but after five years, it still hasn’t.
5. I stopped settling.
I’ve only had a handful of romantic relationships in my life. The fat version of me settled for guys who showed interest, but who I didn’t really like. I married my first real boyfriend when I was 20, and he was a total loser. That marriage ended quickly. I also dated a boy who was slightly younger than me and lacked ambition. We had nothing in common, but somehow stayed together two years. After I lost my fat, I lost that boyfriend.
Being single and seemingly attractive with a bit more confidence in myself, I finally attracted the right partner to me. Because my self-worth and confidence had increased as a result of losing my fat suit, I stopped settling on the first person who showed interest in me.