At the Expense of Others
I'm Still Capable
I celebrated Independence Day by going to a fireworks show in my hometown. The show was huge, not in terms of fireworks, but in the number of people in attendance. Held at the beach on the shores of Lake Erie, this event featured food vendors, volleyball games, and horseshoe competitions. It was a delightful, festive atmosphere.
Thousands of people in all shapes and sizes were there, some in bathing suits and others in t-shirts and shorts. This is important because I realized something startling: Not everybody is as obsessed with their weight as I am. I’ve thought for a long time that it was “normal” to worry so much about my appearance and how I look in certain clothes. But many people seem quite content with themselves. I saw men and women of all sizes in bathing suits, a garment I haven’t even owned in years. I saw an equal number of women in tank tops and sleeveless dresses, and not one of them appeared self-conscious in any way. They seemed to be having a good time without regard for their bodies, laughing and talking as they waited for nightfall.
I envied their carefree behaviors.
It may be a long time before I feel comfortable enough to don a bathing suit, but I can learn something from this experience. The world has never once stopped turning just because I’m overweight. I need to follow this same approach and stop acting like my life is over just because I can’t get into a pair of size six pants. Nothing has changed except my body, which is bigger than it used to be. I’m still breathing, and I’m still capable. Maybe if I start accepting myself others will too.
The second lesson I gleaned from this experience is not quite as positive. I overheard two of my friends the night of this show making fun of overweight people. “She sure doesn’t need to eat for a few weeks, does she?” one laughed, as he watched a particularly large woman. The other pointed to a man and declared, “His stomach is so big it looks like it’s going to burst.”
These comments were cruel and crude, and they made me realize why I think so poorly of myself. I have heard remarks like these millions of times before, and now fear that people say similar things of me. It’s always in the back of mind that somebody might be looking at me and thinking, “She never should have let herself go and get as big as she is. She looks terrible.”
But people like my two “friends” exist everywhere. They will always find ways to belittle others because they don’t have enough sense to talk about anything interesting. Their idea of a good time is making jokes at the expense of others. Why should it really matter what they think?
Whether their comments matter or not, I know that people tend to look down on those who are full-figured. We are dismissed as lazy and over-indulgent. But I don’t need to conform my behavior to these beliefs. I don’t have to be afraid of how I look or think less of myself because my body isn’t perfect. I just need to be me and approach life like those at the fireworks show. Let people talk… they’ll do so whether I care or not.