‘I’m not pregnant, just fat!’ Thoughts on weight, health and fat shaming 

I recently lost almost 40kg. People keep telling me how wonderful I look and complimenting me. While this is nice it has me thinking about weight and how we tend to view body size in our society. The idea seems to be that being fat always equals being unhealthy plus there is a lot of judgement involved in relation to weight and body image. There is often an assumption that being overweight is the result of being lazy or ‘letting yourself go.’ In my experience my weight gain related to trying to be healthy rather than unhealthy as it was the result of taking medication to manage my schizophrenia. If I didn’t take the medication I would ahem been a lot less healthy than if I did! I wonder how many larger people there are who take psychiatric or other medications which make them gain weight? 

Another issue around weight and attitudes around it involves gender. Women seem to be more criticised around their weight than men, although men face can judgement too. When actor Rebel Wilson lost a lot of weight recently media outlets were more focussed on it than they were about a hostage situation Rebel was impacted by at a similar time to the weight loss. Apparently weight loss for a female celebrity was of more importance than them being victimised overseas. Why is weight loss even noteworthy? If someone in the public eye did something else to boost their health is would not be newsworthy but losing – or gaining – weight is apparently worthy of headlines. 

Larger women can also be on the receiving end of some predatory behaviour. I knew a man in the past who was in the military in another country. He told me that his comrades and he would go to a bar and try to pick up the largest woman there and take them home. At the time he told me this I myself was quite large and was horrified by what he said. He lost my respect at that point but apparently this sort of thing goes on all the time. It is not at all OK to objectify anyone like this.

The reason I lost weight was part due to style part due to health. I was never ashamed of being large but it had some health implications and I couldn’t fit into the sorts of clothes that I wanted to. I do not judge people on the basis of their weight and I did not judge myself. It makes me sad when people get caught up in thinking about weight – particularly others’ weight. For me I feel healthier, have more energy and can do things I struggled to do and I am proud to have been able to lose weight as it was difficult but I loved my large self and I also love my smaller self. 

I think that weight is something of a feminist issue and I think that thoughts and feelings around weight can be dangerous. Eating disorders are among the most dangerous medical conditions out there. I don’t think an eating disorder is just about weight on its own but I do think a lot of the societal expectations and stigma around being larger can contribute to mental health issues including eating disorders. It is not ever OK to fat shame people. Even the notion that weight and health are linked can be problematic. Larger people face a lot of discrimination and judgement related to their weight apparently being detrimental to they health but in fact being overweight does not always have an impact on health. And other activities which are bad for health like smoking or excessive alcohol use do not seem to be judged in the same way that being overweight is. And some people are more susceptible to weight gain and even of they don’t eat a lot of sugary or fatty  foods they gain weight. I am one of these people due to my medication for schizophrenia. If I ate what many thin people eat I would be very large so in order to stay the weight I want to I need to be very aware of what I eat. Most people do not  seem to be aware of this.

Being large should not be a reason for judgement or prejudice. We are all different body shapes and sizes and that is OK. Being healthy is important but weight doesn’t always mean anything in relation to health – you can be large and healthy or small and unhealthy. When I was 21 I had a major drug issue. I was tiny – 45kg. This was probably the most unhealthy – physical and mentally – than I have ever been before or since. Now I am 92kg and feel really good. Also another person’s weight is really nobody else’s business. So reserve the judgement as  it doesn’t help. I have been subject to fat shaming in the past and it was very unpleasant and mean. I will end with a typically Autistic Yennski response to a thoughtless comment… When I lived in Melbourne in my late twenties I got on a tram and a woman asked me ‘when is your baby due?’ I said ‘Oh, I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat!’ The woman didn’t know what to say and I thought it was totally hilarious! It’s true. I wasn’t pregnant, just fat and that was perfectly OK. 

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