As someone who spent the first 25 years of her life as a plus-sized individual, I can tell you firsthand how often plus-sized people are scrutinized and frowned upon by the general public and media. Most of the judgments and accusations are made by folks who have never been overweight themselves.
Having lived on both sides of the weight spectrum — losing 125 pounds from a starting weight of 300 — I can tell you there are many disturbing things I figured out from having both perspectives, but I would never take back the fact that I spent at least a decade of my life weighing between 250 and 300 pounds.
That may seem like an absurd statement, but there are some valuable life lessons I gathered from living as a plus-sized woman during the first part of my life.
1. I had to work hard to earn the respect of others.
The truth is, being slim and attractive has many advantages. People tend to do you more favors and admire you when you look pleasing to the eye. Being plus-sized, I was easily overlooked and pushed aside if I didn't find a way to stand out.
I had to work and think harder to earn any kind of success and recognition. I firmly believe that my determination led to me being a stronger, more responsible individual. Successful plus-sized folks are some of the most passionate, diligent people I have ever met because they've had to work twice as hard to earn what many people attain easily.
2. I don't take physical activities for granted.
Average-sized folks without physical disabilities often don't take the time to really appreciate the things their body affords them the opportunity to do.
I value the fact that I've been able to run in races since my weight loss. I treasure that I was able to go sky diving on my honeymoon. I'm grateful I had the ability to hike a mountain this past summer. I am also thrilled that I can do something as simple as walk up a few flights of stairs without taking a break to rest my legs and catch my breath.
3. I developed a thicker skin.
Name calling and bullying is often a prevalent — though in no way right — part of life for plus-sized individuals.
I grew accustomed to the farm animal sounds shouted at me from passing cars and the off-color comments strangers mumbled under their breath. I recognized very quickly that not everyone was going to like what I did, said, or even who I was — and I accepted that.
It's not that I expect to be insulted at any given moment, but it doesn't come as a shock to me when it happens. The sting of verbal abuse doesn't hurt as much as it might hurt someone who hasn't dealt with harassment on a regular basis.
4. I have a pretty good sense of humor.
For many plus-sized folks, being able to make others happy with laughter is a way of gaining attention and acceptance. Heavier people are some of the most hilarious people I know. Who doesn't love someone who can make them laugh until they cry?
In my humble opinion, plus-sized people own this skill better than most average sized people. Carol Burnett is famous for saying, "Comedy is tragedy mellowed by time." I wouldn't say I'm a comedian, but I've learned to turn just about anything into a joke.
5. I'm not bothered by eating in public.
Being obese, I was used to people gawking at me as I ate in restaurants. If I chose to load up at an all-you-can-eat buffet, people gave me disgusted looks that clearly said, "See, that's how you're slowly killing yourself." If I opted for a salad, strangers rolled their eyes and laughed as if saying, "Who is she trying to fool?"
I couldn't win either way, so I just chose to enjoy my food. This mindset stays with me today — I'm simply not bothered by other people's judgments about what I do or do not put in my mouth.
I don't feel the need to justify my food choices to onlookers. I don't have to tell everyone that I'm on a diet or that I have a food allergy or that I am celebrating a big event in my life with a piece of cheesecake. There will always be people who judge what you decide to put in your body, no matter what size you are, so what's the benefit in giving them any power?
These are just some of my personal favorite revelations about being plus-sized. Obviously, my story does not speak for everyone. Do you have some lessons that you'd like to share?
Photo courtesy of the author