And, yet, it often does.
And, so, it's hard to talk about.
I have re-gained a lot of weight. My estimate is 30-40 lbs, not that it makes a difference, but somehow I feel like I need to justify the significance of saying "weight regain." Because it's this big elephant in the room that nobody will talk about. It's not a few holiday pounds, or a bit of bloat. It's real, and it's a lot, and it's impacting me. Everyone was eager to comment when I lost weight. It's a different story on the way up than on the way down.
Talking about weight is a delicate and tricky subject. Bringing it up is really not a good idea, because no matter how genuine you feel your intentions are, the result is often negative. Trust me. Fat people know we're fat. We know when we're putting pounds on. We all feel how well our clothes fit, or don't. There is no need - ever - to have an international Warn A Friend They're Fat day, as one doctor was trying to do in the U.K. last week. There have been studies done on the effect of fat shaming (which this very much is), and what was found is that the worse people feel about themselves, the more likely they are to GAIN weight, not to lose it. Well, duh. Anecdotally, I can verify that this is true. The more people tried to tell me what I needed to do, the more "concern" they showed, the more I dug in my heels and went "screw you, it's MY body." And when I did make attempts to fix that body, it was with the understanding that it was because it was unacceptable and had to be changed to be okay. I knew, because people told me so. Not helpful. Not healthy.
But there's a flip side that I'm experiencing. I don't need friends and family to warn me that I'm fat, but if and when I bring it up myself, I need it to be acknowledged. I've gained weight. That's not an opinion, and that's not a put-down. It's just fact. Denying it is not any more helpful or useful to me than pointing it out is.
Perhaps it's because they've become used to how I talk about myself, which is often self-deprecating or downright mean. So the knee-jerk reaction is to say "stop hating on yourself" or "you look just fine" when I mention my expanding belly. But, what I'm really saying is simply "I. Have. Gained. Weight." I'm working on turning that around. The why of the weight gain, and the how, are what the conversation should be about, but the focus is on "no, no, you haven't" or "don't worry, you look okay."
You know, being morbidly obese makes you invisible. It's a contradiction, because you take up more space than the average person, but you stop being seen. I need for the weight gain to be seen, because *I* need to not be invisible.
So, it's a fine line, isn't it? Rule of thumb: don't tell anyone they're fat. If they are, they know. But if they bring it up to you, listen to the words that are used. Are they talking emotionally or literally? I "feel" fat is different than I "am" fat, which can also mean something different than I "have" fat. It's great to point out when they are using words that imply shame or loathing or negativity about weight. I fall into that trap, too. Friends don't let friends "fat talk" and put themselves down. But if, like I've done a few times lately, we're having a conversation about exercise, health, and/or weight, and I pat my belly and say "I'm still exercising almost every day, but I'm enjoying beer a little too much. It's all about the eating," then it's just an acknowledgement of reality. It's an opening to talk about food, perhaps. Or to talk about why. Or to talk strategy on how to deal with it. Friends don't let their friends live in denial, either.
Being fat shouldn't automatically mean an insult. Listen to what's really being said.
See with your eyes. Listen with your heart.
If we can learn to talk about it openly and honestly, it might go a long way to helping reduce much of the shame that is associated with it. And that's got to be better for everyone's health, in the long run.