A Weighty Issue

Flattr this!

I have a dirty little secret. It’s not a secret to those who have seen me–far from it! But theoretically I could keep it a secret from my readers forever. Because they can’t see me. Therefore, they don’t know that I’m..<shudder>… fat.

Meghan McCain (yes, that one’s daughter) has been writing for The Daily Beast for a few months now and doing it rather successfully from what I gather. I don’t know the specifics but apparently a woman named Laura Ingraham recently criticized her for being overweight, as if being fat and having a brain were mutually exclusive. Now, McCain is normally a size 8; sometimes she gets really huge and has to wear 10s. OMG! I can’t believe that she would even allow herself to be seen in public!

Meghan eloquently defended herself in this article. She doesn’t need any help from me. What I want to talk about is my own weight. About the way that I am made to feel marginalized because I am a person of “size.” I’m tired of walking around feeling as if everyone who looks my way immediately dismisses me because of my weight. But I can understand it. I’m so influenced by this culture, I do the same thing. I judge fat women all the time and find them wanting. They’re undisciplined, I think. They don’t care what they look like. It’s almost as if I think that their presence is an affront to my aesthetic sense.

But I’m one of them. So whatever I think about other fat woman I think ten-fold about myself. It’s always there, lurking underneath the surface: the conviction that I’m worthless and disgusting because I wear a size 16. And to add insult to injury, I’m also getting old. Soon I won’t be acknowledged at all.

I admit it: I don’t do everything I can do to lose weight. But there are complex reasons why I don’t. And those reasons are rooted deeply in the feelings of unworthiness that I have about myself. I’ve been struggling with my weight all of my life. The skinniest I’ve ever been was a size 8, and that was a long time ago. And I was really skinny. The ironic thing is, I’d give anything to be as “fat” as I judged myself to be when I wore size 12. But it’s frustrating to think that even then I’d be considered overweight by the standards of our society.

This is just insane. And the crazy thing is, most of the people who are doing the judging are, like me, overweight themselves. There are just not that many women who wear size zero. And a lot of them who do think they’re too skinny (unless they’re a celebrity). But when a woman who wears a 12 or 14 is considered “plus-size,” what chance do the rest of us have?

Keely Shaye Smith Before and After
Keely Shaye Smith Before and After

Here is an interesting picture of Pierce Brosnan’s wife before and after they married. I include it as a kind of litmus test. Look at it and see if you can manage to think positively about Ms. Smith (Keely Shaye Smith) now that she’s “let herself go.” And then read some of the comments. One person applauds Brosnan for sticking with her. As if she has committed a heinous crime. Or has the Elephant Man disease.

I know I just wrote a [intlink id=”big-women” type=”post”]post[/intlink] about this issue a few days ago. It’s hard to not be obsessed about the weight issue when you live in this society. And especially when you’re fat yourself. How I wish we didn’t judge people–especially women–by their appearance. But I wish even more that I didn’t judge myself.

Published by

Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

5 thoughts on “A Weighty Issue”

  1. I’ve come across those same idiotic comments too, about how Brosnan is “so heroic” for sticking by Smith. It’s utterly ridiculous – as if simply gaining weight after marriage is a perfectly justifiable reason to leave your partner (of whom you’ve committed your life to).

    Perhaps what bothers me even more is that men/husbands rarely get the same societal response when THEY are the ones who start to bald and gain weight after marriage. Their girlfriends/wives are almost NEVER praised for “sticking by their husbands.” Instead, their loyalty to their husband is taken for granted, as if unconditional loyalty is expected of wives, but not husbands. (And thus, this societal mindset fosters the attitude that men must therefore have a “heart of gold” when they “freely choose” not to leave their wives.) It’s all bullshit sexist double-standards that are meant to give married men an easier time.

  2. it shouldnt matter what other people think about you, it should matter what you think about yourself. Personally i was 180 pounds and was not comfortable with my body today i am 126 pounds and i am much more confident with myself. if you really wanted to lose weight you can do its not too hard you just have to really want to do it. i am not saying there is anything wrong with being bigger then what i was i am just trying to say be comfortable with yourself or you will never feel happy.

    1. But you yourself say that you weren’t happy at 180. Neither am I. But why weren’t you happy at 180 and why are you happy now if size doesn’t matter? I’m happy for you, either way.

      I don’t like being THIS big because I have to buy clothes that are for fat women. I want to be able to fit into things that “normal” women wear. I know I have to stop seeing myself as “abnormal.” I guess I don’t want to get skinny, I just want to weigh less than I do now. But I know a lot of what motivates me is that society looks down on fat women. I don’t want to be thought of as a fat woman, like when people describe me: “That fat woman who lives next door.” I know I shouldn’t care, but it’s hard to slough off a lifetime of conditioning.

  3. As I read about your story up there, I felt like I was looking the mirror. As an adult, the smallest I got was a size 8 and looking back at those pictures I really think I look too skinny for my body. But definitely not now. I’m an 18 after having given birth to my son a year ago. Magically after losing the baby weight… my body shape is different enough that I wear an 18 and not the 16 pre-baby. Sadly, my 215lbs body is starting to go bad (did I mention I’m only 26?) I still can’t believe I thought I was fat when I wore a 10-12!

    1. In a way you’re lucky, Jen. It’s much harder to lose weight when you’re my age (58). By the way, congratulations on having a baby! I had all girls, four of them, so it wasn’t until I had a grandson that I got to see what having a boy was all about. Doesn’t he keep you running?

      I think it sucks that we’re so brainwashed that we think 10-12 is plus-sized. Heck, I don’t even think 14 is! I’d love to be in 14s again. Just so I could still shop in the regular women’s department. (The cut-off seems to be size 18, which is what I wear now, too.)

      It seems like the harder I try to lose weight, the more weight I gain. I honestly don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t think anyone else does either. Right now I’m struggling to maintain my self-esteem, but it isn’t easy.

      Thanks for your comment. And you know what? Just enjoy being a mom–your little boy loves you just the way you are!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *