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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

'I know it's not healthy to be fat. You really, really don’t have to tell me that'

Reacting to journalist Lindy West’s article about being a “fat” bride, a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous says it gave her hope that even if she doesn’t lose weight, she has a future.


FOR MANY MONTHS now, if not years, I have thought about creating a blog about myself as a person who is, not going to sugar coat it, fat. Shying away from the idea because, firstly, who would want to read such ramblings and secondly, people can be vicious, especially on the Internet.

A few days ago, I was afforded the opportunity to write this piece. I was not going to do it. I thought again about the effects on my emotions of inevitable nasty comments.

Then, I mentioned it to a friend and she said that maybe I could help another person who is struggling or maybe help someone understand a little more. Alas, I channelled my inner Taylor Swift, and told myself that “haters gonna hate”, sat down and started to get my thoughts together.

The word ‘fat’ is sufficiently descriptive

Some background about me. I am in my early twenties, from the Munster region and am obese. But I’m not going to start throwing that word around because, I think the word fat is sufficiently descriptive. I hope you excuse my anonymity; it is simply for my own sanity.

I have always grown up bigger than the other kids, it wasn’t really until I started secondary school that it became a problem for me. I began to over-eat, not exercise enough and focused more on school than keeping myself healthy. Then as the years past, I got heavier and heavier.

A lack of confidence coupled with low self-esteem led me to become a hermit and not want to socialise or simply do things. This lead to my emotions going up and down and my resolution was to eat. It was a vicious circle.

Then I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, among other things, but this, as I found out, would be a contributing factor to my weight gain. It turns out that while I was overeating, the effect of this on my body was greater.

My metabolism was slower and I gained more weight. Thus, starting college, I found myself double the size of some of my new friends. Which I can assure you, is one of the worst feelings ever.

wedding-24-617x500 Source: Screengrab/TheGuardian

Lindy West on being a ‘fat’ bride

How I was asked to write this piece? An article on the Daily Edge was my breaking point. It was about a journalist Lindy West and an article she wrote for The Guardian about being a “fat” bride. I like to refer to it as her being a beautiful bride, because she was and still is. The comments left on the article infuriated me, which does not happen often. Comments were left about how she should be happy but not happy about her weight, as it is simply un-healthy.

One commenter said “Fair play to her, but I really don’t think being over-weight or obese is something to be celebrated or glorified.” Another referred to Lindy as being a “Fat feminist”.

What did I think of the article? Reading Lindy’s article gave me hope. Not hope that someday someone will accept me for being fat and marry me. It gave me hope that even if I try to lose weight and it doesn’t happen, I have a future. Hope, a four letter word with so much power and the ability to change someone’s life.

I don’t have to be ashamed of who I am. Of course, overtime I look in the mirror, I hope to see a change. Maybe my face will look a bit slimmer or I’ll have lost a few inches around my waist. But that day hasn’t arrived yet, and it won’t for some time.

But I have hope that it will.

The image of perfection in our heads 

The pressures put on people these days are horrible. Male or female, there is a certain image of perfection we all have in our heads. Of course, these are increased by the media and their constant inspection of celebrities and people in general.

Shaming someone for putting on a few pounds, or even losing it. I really wish there was consequences for the media and this constant pain that they inflict on society. Or at least the pain this inflicts on young people. Male or female, it doesn’t matter.

For some, they are lucky enough to have a fast metabolism. For others, they enjoy sports and being active. Then there are those who didn’t let life get in the way and stayed healthy. I let my life get in the way, mostly due to exams.

From the Leaving Cert to college, there was always something. I actually do enjoy sports and am quite competitive, but not being able to run 50 metres without collapsing makes it hard to start. You may sit there reading this and think it’s easy. It’s not. It is not just the case of you are fat, thus you are lazy.

The fear someone on Tinder will see me and run a mile 

At my age, I should be enjoying myself, I should be going out there and meeting new people, maybe meeting the one. But I don’t put myself out there because I fear that I will be shot down. Fear that someone will like me on Tinder, but if I was to actually meet them, they’d run a mile.

I know I should give people more credit, but it’s fairly hard. Even lowering my own standards and not swiping left on everyone that takes my fancy, simply because, it’s easier for me to say no to them than to be rejected in the future.

As of late there has been an increase in people, who are overweight, standing up for themselves. But these people are not fat feminists, even if they are, that is not what I get from the many articles and videos posted lately. What I think is that these are simply people. People, wanting to be given a chance before someone judges or comments on their appearance. Given a chance to let their personality shine before someone labels them as FAT. Maybe they are funny. Maybe kind. Maybe they are strong, loving, hardworking, creative, exciting or adventurous.

There are people, myself included, who try and try to lose weight. There of course are also those that don’t. But every summer I have tried, this summer is the third time I have seen some progress for myself, my third success. Which means, I have seen two failures before, I just hope I don’t have anymore.

I know it is not healthy to be fat

I know it is not healthy to be fat, you really, really don’t have to tell me that. But I would really love to see people lift those that make the effort up rather than putting them down.

Something which I didn’t know until recently is that the heavier you are, the more fat cells you have. Even when you lose weight, these cells do not disappear. This means that even if you lose weight, it is very easy for that weight to come back.

In hind-sight, I wish I cut down on the Twirls and the Taytos. I tell you this so that the next time you see your friend, mother, father, brother or sister who is trying, maybe rather than saying “You should go for a walk” say “Would you like to go for a walk”.

You don’t even know the difference that makes to someone. Everyone has had unpleasant experiences in their life. I am not going to claim that they are restricted to fat people, but I thought it important to share one of mine.

One of the most hurtful experiences of my life 

One summer, I went to California, on a J1 visa of course. Best summer of my life, because of where I was and the few people I was with. While I was there, I had one of the most hurtful experiences of my life at a gathering of Irish students. Already extremely self-conscious about what I was wearing and the fact that there were loads of guys around, a drunk guy, shouted out, look at the Munter over there. I knew it was most defiantly not a compliment by the laughs that followed but my curiosity got the better of me and I Googled it. What came up:

Munter: “Most often used to describe an incredibly unattractive female who you wouldn’t touch with a shi**y stick.” (Urban Dictionary)

Before you say it, yes, he was drunk. But that is no excuse. After all, as we all say, “drunk words are sober thoughts”. That one person, took the fun out of the trip.

Then we have a more recent event, which was on the App Yik Yak. An app that allows people to post and comment anonymously. Two posts jumped out at me. The first a person asked, “What do guys consider to be chubby and fat?” The response:

“Chubby is curves. Fat is ripples.”

Now, this didn’t affect me having grown a thick skin to comments on the Internet. But I was hurt for the young people who would read this. Had I read this comment at 15 or 16 years old, I would have taken it to heart.

“Fat girls are either funny or slutty” 

The second post was “Fat girls are either funny or slutty.” I don’t think I need to comment on my disgust for this comment as I hope there is general consensus that it is just horrible.

The thing about all these events, it is actual people saying these things. I respect that everyone can have an opinion, but these days people speak, or type, before they think. I can take most things now. Seventeen-year-old me could not.

One comment by Deirdre Forde, on the previously mentioned article, summed it up for me. “This isn’t about being proud to be fat. It’s about not being ashamed of not living up to other people’s expectations.”

Maybe it’s time people started to encourage rather than put others down.

Read: After too many tearful airport goodbyes, I couldn’t be happier to be home from Australia>

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