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Weight Shaming

Pauline's graduation picture

This was me back then. 🙂

A week or so back I went to the doctor for a sinus infection. I was one miserable human being. If you’ve had a sinus infection, then you know what I was suffering. I’m not exactly sure why the doctor decided this was a good time to grill me about stuff not at all related to my sinus infection.

So I’m sitting there, leaning my aching head on my hand, working my way through my (boring) medical history when suddenly I get this question:

“What is your weight loss program?”

I looked up. “Excuse me?” Question is repeated. Before I give you my answer (and no, I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to tell her to pound sand), let me give you a little history of me.

I used to be very thin.

I’m not that thin now.

Photo of Pauline

This is me now. Well, me a week ago. Gravity and time show no mercy.

I quit using a scale a few years ago. Now I use the “do my pants fit?” measure. If they fit, I’m good. If they get a little tight, stress usually pays a visit and takes care of that for me.

But since my little chat with the doc, I’ve been mulling things like weight and body image and being a woman who isn’t getting any younger.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the question…but that isn’t the point of this blog. I don’t think it should have been asked. At all. If I’d asked her about my weight, then the question would have been appropriate. But until I asked, or unless it had direct relation to my current health situation…not her business. Out of line. IMHO.  (Note: I’d just had my yearly physical about a month ago and my regular doctor didn’t ask any of the questions I found both intrusive and out of line.)

I realized, after much mulling…that perhaps because I was thin in high school my mental image of myself is..thin-ish. We can debate my reality all we want, but the fact is, we all have a mental image of ourselves and often those images aren’t based on reality. We have “thin” days (we hope) and we have “fat” days (we hate). What we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror is a moving target that is affected by our mood, by how we slept last night, whether we had a fight with our SO, by the time of the month or the fit of our pants…

Even the camera doesn’t give us a clear picture, because hey, it adds five pounds.

This is one reason women have body image problems. We’re constantly being told we need to “get over them,” but then society doesn’t do a lot to help us with that. Right down to busy-body docs who think its their job to fix problems we didn’t ask them about.

There are a lot of reasons women, people, gain weight. And a lot of those reasons are affected by our genetics. I should be a lot heavier than I am, but I scored some genes from my family that helps me out, not just with weight, but with cholesterol and my heart. I have no control over my genetics. None.

So what did I say to the, um, er, doctor?

“My weight loss plan is to be happy with who and what I am.”

Was I lying? Maybe a little. I have my days, but for the most part, yeah. I just want to be happy with my life, be happy with where I am in my life, and be happy with who, and how I am. It is a choice I make, because I don’t have that many years left and I’d like to spend them happy.

The fact that this doctor couldn’t let it go and kept pressing me for my ideal weight…she’s lucky I was too sick to think clearly that day…

I wish I’d told her that my ideal weight is what I am right now. I didn’t. And she pushed with a lot more stupid questions that clearly upset me, but didn’t stop her. Even though my answers got more ridiculous and confrontive.

When I left, armed with meds that made me start to feel better, I got increasingly witty and clever and yes, cutting. I hate that. I wished I’d said all of it then. Especially this:

I have no clue what my ideal weight should be, but probably won’t “achieve it” until two weeks after I’m dead.

I’ve felt a lot of different things since that visit–though mostly I’m pissed. I’m pissed that I got kicked when I was already down. I’m pissed that someone with a different, more challenging body image might have to go through that, too. I’m pissed about being judged by a number (that I didn’t ask for, btw) and not by my life and how I’ve lived it. Not by all the ways I’ve managed my challenges instead of just by the one (comfort food).

It sucked.

Do people like that really think that we don’t know we’re carrying extra pounds around? That we haven’t noticed? And do they think that weight shaming helps build us up so we’ll be “strong” enough to lose it? That making someone feel worse about themselves will help? Or drive some people to fad diets? Which they also like to shame, btw? Or straight to cookies? (My personal choice.)

Some of my favorite people on this planet struggle with their weight. Does anyone really think that if they can’t love people as they are right now, that they can love them if they are suddenly thinner or just different? That weight loss somehow makes us, what, more worthy of love? Or actually different inside?

The people who can’t love us as we are right now, don’t deserve us.

Thankfully, the important people in my life love me for who I am. Not thin. Definitely aging. Lots of gray around the edges. A lot of wear and tear from life. And happy with who and what I am. And I’m so proud of all the people in my life who aren’t perfect, but who are so amazing. They enrich my life in wonderful ways and I love them. No change necessary.

So, have you ever been blind-sided by uncalled for weight shaming? (Like there is called-for weight shaming!) Or felt judged/slammed by someone out of left field? Feel free to vent with me. All comments are loved and entered into my drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket of yummy soaps and stuff ($20 value). Winner is announced my first blog post of the new month. 🙂

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, Project Enterprise

Perilously yours,

Pauline

Pauline likes to write characters who aren’t perfect either. Though they are often tall. Pauline has always wanted to be taller. Since she can’t be, she makes her characters on the tall side. 

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