Ladies: Have you ever been to a store where the staff looks at you as if you are some strange being from another planet? Do they make comments which make you feel like less than a human being? It happens more often than you might think.
Facebook hosts all sorts of videos that teach morals about treating one another fairly, which have been called fake, non-realistic, and other negative labels. While these stories might seem far-fetched or exaggerated, the fact of the matter is it still happens. It happens to many types of women, including those who are overweight. Allow me to give you an example from personal experience.
A few years ago, I was 410 pounds and was not excited about leaving my house. However, my love for Lane Bryant and Bath and Body Works would get me to go shopping a handful of times each year. I remember one day going to the mall with my husband and going into Bath and Body Works. There were young, thin women working that morning and they did everything possible to avoid me. It took me ten minutes to get the attention of these women after following them around the store, saying “excuse me” in a loud voice. One rolled her eyes, and when I asked her which products I had in my basket applied to the sale advertised. She replied that I should learn how to read the sign, that it tells me everything I need to know. As I am walking away, I heard one say to the other, “look at how fat she is. No amount of product can make that blubber smell good”. I put down my basket and walked out of the store.
My husband ended up speaking to the manager, but it was too late. I was mortified. Yes, I am overweight, but I take two baths a day. There was no reason for them to judge me on my size. However, it is the same situation, just a different day.
I think to myself about how many job opportunities I missed out on because of my age, weight, or for some other reason. Currently, I am 322 pounds and losing more, but I still feel like everyone judges me on my size. I worked for law firms that staffed with nothing but physically attractive women, and I was the odd man out. I was initially judged to be lazy until they see how strong my work ethic is. People also criticize me because my husband and I are unable to have children. You try to adopt a child, and your weight can be used as a reason for denial. Your parents, in-laws, and other family members say you are not a real woman unless you have a family. However, I have seen women passed over for promotion because they had children. It is a double standard for women, and when you live in a state that favors the employer, there is no point in claiming discrimination.
We need to understand that discrimination did not end with the second feminist movement. It is still alive and well. Women do it to one another all the time. We stare at the overweight woman at the gym and do nothing to encourage her to keep coming back. We talk about women who are too skinny and tell her she needs to eat more. When women feel the pressure of society getting to her, other women say suck it up, get over it. Just have a glass of wine, or whatever to avoid talking about the problem. Until women stop hurting one another, this problem will continue to exist.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. While obesity is a problem, stop, and consider how difficult it is to change one’s lifestyle. Telling an obese woman she needs to quit eating so much only makes the problem worse. From personal experience, it just makes me want to eat even more.
The difference is showing the person you honestly care about them. Ask them if they want to talk and listen. Sometimes for me, all it takes is someone taking a few minutes out of their day to say hello. Offer to go with the person to exercise. If you see an overweight person at the gym, go tell them they are doing a good job just by coming and trying to exercise. Offer to work out with them. Make that person feel like they matter. I know that in my case, my eating problem started from not feeling like I was worth anyone’s time. You would be surprised how many people begin to realize I had a lot to offer once they talked to me.
Just remember, ladies, for all the times you have felt discriminated against for some reason, others feel the same way. If we continue to be silent nothing will be resolved. However, if we stand together and support one another, we can move mountains together. In the words of the late singer Prince in one of his songs, “It’s only mountains and the sea, there’s nothing greater than you and me”. Indeed, there is nothing better than the power of women supporting one another.