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To the People Who Watch Me Eat

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Call me fat, call me morbidly obese, but please keep your comments to yourself while I’m trying to eat. It’s absolutely terrifying eating in public alone, worried that you are judging me.

I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I want to, for my own sake, and for others like me. Please know it wasn’t my choice to look this way. I didn’t wake up every day for years and say “today I am going to work toward weighing 400 pounds.” In fact, most mornings since I was 10 years old I would wake up and immediately wonder, am I going to starve myself or am I going to binge today? I still fight those thoughts most mornings, but something is different now.

I now know I deserve to eat because I deserve to live. 

For years, my life has been consumed by the power I allowed food to have over me. These behaviors would range from bingeing, over-eating, sneaking food, obsessing from the second I woke up about what I would be eating that day and when. As I got older, that fight turned into if I should eat anything at all or eat everything in sight. It could go either way depending on the day, the moment, the second. 

I now know I have choices. The choice I make is recovery — to stop using food as an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Recovery right now, for me, looks like eating a balanced meal every four to five hours whether my eating disorder wants to or not. Sometimes that means I have to eat in public. I’m allowed, just as much as you, to eat my lunch in the park. I can eat fast food from time to time. Just because I’m obese doesn’t mean I should be starving myself. 

So if you see me, or any obese person eating, remember how hard of a struggle it may be for them to be eating in public or eating at all, and your stares aren’t helping. I know you think your intentions are pure with side comments to friends about diets or even confronting me about what diet I should try, but it really does more harm than good. I already know what I need to do to have a healthy relationship with food and hopefully to lose weight in the future.

I want you to know I’m trying my hardest despite what assumptions you want to make about me. Think before you speak. Counter the judgments your mind makes about obese people. You don’t know what battles they are facing.

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Originally published: May 3, 2016
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