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When People Hear My Story and Ask, 'So, Is That Why You're Fat?'

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When people ask to hear my life story, I tell them. I don’t hold back. Every brick that was laid in my life created who I am today, and I am not ashamed. My life has not been that exciting or been filled with a lot of grief. But for some, my story seems to bring a particular question to the surface. A question that has been like a monkey on my back creating deep hurt and insecurity.

Two years ago I was talking to a respected friend on the phone. This friend was particularly interested in some facts she didn’t know about me. One was about a childhood trauma I suffered at the hands of someone else. There was a pause on the other end of the line.

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I heard her muffled tears through the phone. Then came the dreaded line I had heard so many times before.

“So, is that why you are fat? You used to be so pretty.”

Seriously, lady?

Forget the fact that I have epilepsy, forget the fact that the amount of meds I’m on would shock the average person. Forget the fact that I was abused as a child more than once and that I’ve spent most of my life under a fog of depression and suicidal thoughts. All you want to know is why I’m fat? That’s what you took away from my story?

I wanted to hang up the phone. I wanted to scream. The child in me wanted to hide under the blankets on my bed. I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t miss a beat. I told her my weight was an issue I was working to overcome. She seemed satisfied with that answer and the topic was left on the floor.

I have heard this question three times. Three times. Lately it’s been haunting me.

I know what it’s like to be told to change out of my bathing suit because “it’s not appropriate.” 

I know what it’s like to walk into a room and see all eyes on me, giving me the once over.

I know what it’s like to have adults tell me to try dieting as a child.

I know what it’s like to receive praise every time I lose weight.

Eventually you just take it. After a while, the words stop stinging and you just accept that this is how society sees you.

I am getting married in a few months and terrified that as I make that walk down the aisle, no one will be looking at my dress or how happy I am. All they will see is my fat. I’m afraid of the unsaid comments that will most likely be swirling around people’s heads. “She would be so pretty if she just lost the weight.” “What a pretty face.” 

Meanwhile, I will be fighting seizures off with every step I take. I will be willing myself to keep my body upright at the altar, holding my beloved’s hands not just for love, but for literal support.

In this day in age, where body positivity is encouraged, being fat still overrides mental illness. Being fat over rides all illnesses. I try every day to lose weight. I work out. I eat healthy.  I get in my 10,000 steps. But people don’t see the struggles under the surface. And let me tell you that “being fat” generally isn’t one of them.

Willing myself to live every day is what I fight for.

Living a full life despite my disabilities is what I strive for.

I am a warrior who is overcoming the stigma of being a disabled person. But I still long for the day when I will be seen as someone who is more than her body type.

Follow this journey on Beautifully More.

Thinkstock photo

Originally published: May 31, 2016
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