The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

The Self Involvement Of Others Is Vaguely Comforting

on December 31, 2013

I was reminded recently that people are primarily concerned with themselves and their own well being.  They may stop and think about someone else, be it critiquing an outfit or admiring a haircut, but they quickly turn back towards their own needs, wants and desires.  It’s not mean, it’s not unkind, it just is.

For someone who has been bullied and who has felt the judging eyes of others this is hard to appreciate.  For many of us who fit into the “plus size” category it can feel like all eyes are on us when we go out to events or parties or even just to the grocery store.  The feeling can be so strong that it keeps us from working out or worse donning a bathing suit and going swimming and I won’t lie to you, people are looking and many are passing judgement, but then they go back to their own thoughts.  As much as I have wanted to crawl under a rock at times or be swallowed up by the floor beneath me for feeling judged or maligned in some way, no one has ever physically attacked me for being fat and not since grade school has anyone said anything that I couldn’t handle having hurled at me.  I may not like it, I may hold on to things that are said to me for days and days and I’ve wondered how anyone could be so thoughtless and cruel, but at the end of the day I have to remind myself that what I’m holding on to and obsessing about they forgot about minutes after it happened. In situations where I am uncomfortable I try to remind myself to  “dance like no one is watching” and yet in my head there is always the addendum “if you are thin”.  The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what you look like or how you carry yourself there are going to be haters in every situation and then they will turn back to their incredibly deep thoughts about their hair or their shoes and they will leave you alone.

Recently I’ve been streaming a show made in the UK called Fat Doctor.  The show introduces the viewer to people who are extremely overweight and who have in many cases given up on life. They are followed from the time they are approved for gastric bypass surgery to several months after the surgery when they have lost weight and are more active and fit.  My personal feelings about bariatric surgeries aside, one of the most interesting things that I’ve noticed about the show is that people have the surgery and almost immediately they are in the gym and and putting on exercise gear and talking all about how people are treating them differently since they’ve lost the weight.  And let me tell you some of the stories they tell about people slinging slurs at them and staring openly as if they are circus freaks are heartbreaking.  What’s most interesting however is that many of these people are out and about walking and swimming and going to the gym and being seen in public and after losing only a fraction of their body weight.  Certainly they feel physically better, imagine carrying around fifty pounds of potatoes every day all day and suddenly you can put it down and go on your way. No doubt they feel great, plus there is the satisfaction of knowing that you are taking care of yourself and extending your life span, but truth be told if you weigh five hundred pounds and you lose fifty or sixty pounds you are still over four hundred pounds and you will be judged as fat by passersby.  The difference isn’t the weight loss, nor is it the behaviour of others, though some may compliment their efforts, rather it is the participant’s interpretation of that behaviour.  Other people simply didn’t care that much about their issues or their looks to begin with.  I remember a few years ago when I lost a lot of weight and I felt really good. I was walking on air, I was happier than I’d been in many years and then a complete stranger called me fat and I had to agree that he was right. Despite losing eighty pounds I was still way above the weight range for my height.  Despite my success, that stranger’s perception of my weight had not changed, even though mine had changed drastically.

One of the reasons I rarely eat alone in public is because I think people are looking at me and judging me.  I might eat in my car, I might eat in a restaurant with friends, but only twice can I think of a time that I sat in a restaurant and broke bread all by myself.  Once I was early for an appointment and I sat in a little coffee shop in a hospital and the other I was travelling to Florida and wanted something other than drive thru and so I sat in a Cracker Barrel armed with a book and I ate my pancakes in silence.  I survived both instances, but I was incredibly self conscious and self aware and I don’t think I even tasted my food because I couldn’t bear to be on display, and right there I just proved my own point. I was so self absorbed that I thought everyone else was looking at me, thinking about what I was eating, and equating my being alone with being lonely or friendless when in fact it’s quite possible that they acknowledged my presence, perhaps even contemplated why I was sitting in a restaurant alone and then went right back to their own breakfasts and didn’t give me another thought.

anxiety

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There are times when the self serving behaviour of others really rankles me and I wonder how people can be so self absorbed to not consider how their actions affect those around them, but as the fattest chick in my aquafit class I’m glad they are more worried about their own issues and don’t worry themselves too much about my cottage cheese thighs as I get into the pool.

– the Goddess

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6 responses to “The Self Involvement Of Others Is Vaguely Comforting

  1. Amy says:

    You reminded me of a research study I read a long time ago about students wearing an embarrassing t-shirt into class and thinking everyone is looking at them, when in reality only 25% even notice. I remind Leah of that when she is feeling particularly self-conscious.

    • Thanks Amy, I’ll have to look that up. I doubted the person who was telling me this and then she asked me what she was wearing the last time we talked. I said oh it was a black, sort of suit I think. She told me that wasn’t likely since she doesn’t own a suit. Point taken.

  2. nancytex2013 says:

    Very well said, Cynthia.

  3. tinfoil27 says:

    I had to go back a bit and there are still a few of your blogs I have not read yet. I really liked how you spoke on the time you lost a lot of weight and how a stranger called you fat and how your perception changed but others did not. Once in High School when jumping on the band wagon loosing like 40 pounds nearly starving myself to see 149 on the scales,which in High School is still really fat I suppose but I had worked hard you know. I fell on top of someone when playing volleyball who was like a hundred pounds soaking wet anyway later heard her over talking in the hall about me and what had happened and how a squished her…… After all that hard work she still basically called me a fatso. Any way things stick with me I will not lie but you are right by saying after that they most likely went about there business, and thank you for helping me look at this subject in a different way.

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