When I was a little kid, I was always the smallest person in my class. I was very short, and having scoliosis made me even shorter. I also was very tiny. All of that changed between fourth and fifth grade. I have a progressive muscle disease that is called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and not only was I diagnosed with asthma at the age of eight, but SMA can also limit lung function. I spent some of my childhood getting breathing treatments at the hospital, and fighting pneumonia.
When I was in fourth or fifth grade, after a horrible bout of pneumonia, my pulmonologist put me on steroids to help my lung function. I remember this being one of the most difficult periods, because the medication tasted horrible. I had to be woken up in the middle of the night to take a dose, and my parents had to sit there and convince me to take it. Sometimes it took hours. After a lot of tears, I would gag it down, and beg them not to give it to me anymore. Note: I should mention I’m a severe emitophobe, and the pill made me nauseous, so it was a specific kind of torture which kept me from taking it in a timely manner.
While the medication helped a little bit with my lung function, it also made my weight double, in a matter of six months. At that time, I went from a small 60 pounds to an overweight 120 lbs. Instantly, my already cruel peers, people who had spent their lives attempting to shame me for having a disability, started shaming me for being fat and for how I dressed as a “fat” person.
I was called fatty, blubber butt, whale, cow, piggy, you name it I was called it. It didn’t matter how I became fat. I was fat, and that was enough. From there, I continued to consistently gain weight, and where I never really had to watch what I ate before, it no longer mattered. I was unable to exercise much and everything made me gain.
Junior high and high school were unbearable. Being fat made me ugly, and people treated me that way. They began to police everything they saw me eat. It didn’t matter that my favorite food at the time was salad, which I ate a lot. If I ate some french fries, I was a fatty. If I drank something other than water, I was a pig. If I ate a cupcake, I was making myself fat.
When people deny that fat shaming is real, they invalidate the experiences of those of us who have struggled with our weight. I always looked a little bigger, but I never really looked fat until college. I don’t always eat healthy, but I never lose unless I have some health issue…that will make me drop a lot of weight. I don’t have the luxury of going out and working out, because I can’t. I am unable to move myself enough to make a difference. I spent a lot of time blaming myself for this, but it is no one’s fault.
At my biggest, I weighed 300 pounds. I’m only around 5 ft 5 inches these days, and most of that has me scrunched in a wheelchair, so I look fat. I spent a lot of my life hating myself, for how I looked, for how people perceived me, and because I spent many years believing the lies about me. I struggle to find a sense of self esteem and self worth, because I’ve been told my whole life I’m worthless because I have a disability. I’m worthless because I’m transgender. I’m worthless because I’m fat. I’m working hard to make sure these things do not define me, but it is hard, because there is always someone judging me.
To the people shaming those of us who are fat, you don’t know our journey, you don’t know our story, and you don’t have the right to judge us. Worry about your own life. You can only control yourself. If you spent as much time worrying about yourself, and making you better, instead of worrying about the lives of others, I believe the world would be a better place.
You can say you are not talking about people like me, who have legitimate medical conditions, as an afterthought, but people consistently assume those of us who are fat, even those of us in wheelchairs, choose to be that way. Those same people believe it is their right to assume we’re just lazy, and make judgments and comments that are disparaging, because of this.
Today, I weigh under 200 pounds, but people still notice I’m fat. It shouldn’t matter what I eat or what I weigh. My weight does not define me as a person. It shouldn’t matter what I do. Who I am or how I look is not your business to criticize. Making fun of people who are overweight does nothing to help them. If you truly want to help, why not try be their friend, and value them for the person they are, not the person you want them to be? You could be helping make the world better, by treating others with human decency. Instead you’re just showing the world you’re an uncaring bully. I don’t have time for that, and neither should you.