Being The Fat Guy is Like Being The Insecure Teenage Girl
My sophomore year in high school was very interesting for me. To be honest I barely remember it but only because I was barely at school. There were many changes in my personal and home life that caused going to school just not worth the energy, and now before my mother gets criticized there were many days she did not know I was not at school. One thing I remember clearly though was my English final, an in class essay on the book Black Boy by Richard Wright. Between missing so much school and my lack of appreciation of reading and homework at the time I never even cracked open the book, so I did what any other person in my position would do and read the back cover. It didn’t really help me one bit but it gave me an idea. I assumed the book had undertones of racism therefore I decided to write on the racism I have experienced in my life with being overweight. I am sure eyes are rolling.
This is not a pity me moment.
Before I begin I will explain where this idea came from.
As I was getting out of my car this morning I was making all the proper adjustments; making sure my pants were right because I am big and short I have a natural sag, shirt wasn’t awkwardly clinging and exposing my belt line, and it was in that moment I realized that how much I go through to not be seen as the typical “fat person”. Though I am a big guy does not mean I don’t want to be seen as attractive, well dressed, or that I care about my well-being.
As far back as I can remember I have been overweight. My mom would say she noticed that it began to get really bad around the age 7 or the time when my tonsils were removed, I don’t really know. But I haven’t really seen a bunch of obese tonsil-less children walking around. And as far back as I remember I have used my wit, humor, and intellect to diverge attention from the elephant in the room, every pun intended. I am sure it is no surprise that the playground can be not so friendly place at times but it was in those environments I excelled because I was smart and very quick to respond, it was survival of the fittest so to speak.
Now just like every other kid I wanted to be accepted, to be a part of the cool kids and so I did what had to be done. There was one time I had just moved into the area and I walked up to a group of kids standing around, they asked me to come be a part of them but first I had to do something for them. There was a kid they didn’t like and in order for me to be their friend I had to not like the kid too but I also had to take it one step further, I had to fight the kid. I was around 7 years old and the other kid 11 or 12, he was playing tether-ball on the playground and I just walked up to him and punched him. The fight lasted just that one punch and from there I was accepted.
My sense of humor became my defense or barrier, this allowed me to slip into the crowd without the acknowledgement of appearance but the acceptance of my jokes. If I could make fun of myself before anyone else could say anything I was safe. I became the funny guy to avoid being the fat guy. Truth be told though I was never comfortable with myself because of my weight. I would hear the whispers of people as I would walk by and as much as I would try to ignore them they still would reverberate through me. But really, how am I suppose to ignore or brush off “too bad you are fat, you would be good-looking”? Though I was able to laugh about it then does not mean I don’t still feel that today as I go through the rigorous process of finding someone to share life with, for years that statement has eaten away my confidence but I carry on.
Again, this is not a pity party but an honest confession of the internal thoughts and feelings of someone who for years pretended that sticks and stones may break my bones but those words never hurt me.
The general assumption is that because someone is overweight they are lazy, eat horrible, and little to no ambition. Some of this may be true for some but not for all. Now I can only speak from my life regarding the matter. When I was younger I played football, wrestled, tried various diet changes, and all with little to no results. I knew there was an issue and I tried changing it, so not all those who are “big-boned” are lazy or horrible eaters. Hell, just ask a fat person and they will tell you more about nutrition than the average person could.
Doctor after doctor has tried to narrow down the issue with my weight and much to their surprise the only thing medically wrong with me is my weight. I have been very fortunate to not suffer from the typical health conditions of being overweight. A few years back my mobility was severely hindered due to a knee injury from jumping off of a stage, today that limits my overall ability to run, walk long distances, or even bend in certain ways. I try to be active as much as I possibly can but at times the pain and discomfort get the best of me. In 2006 I was going towards gastric by-pass surgery and the head of medicine for South San Francisco had to do a psyche evaluation with me to figure out if I was using food as an emotional crutch, again surprise to her I was not. I did decide not to go through with the procedure because at that time it was still very new and many endured complications. But if I was to be completely vulnerable, I want to lose the weight, I have to. So I guess this is not only a confessional and in-depth look into my life growing up being overweight but it is a challenge to myself and anyone to make the effort to do something about this.
My hope is that you take away that not all fat people are lazy and just eating a bucket of chicken on their couch while finding out who is not the father on the Maury show. Some of us are trying. Please love us for who we are and not what we should be. Frankly, telling us what to eat and to go run is not encouraging but pretty damn annoying but instead when you see one of us trying cheer us on. Please do not make a public spectacle of it but if you notice we have dropped a few pounds or a chin tell us, sometimes we are own worst critics.