This article couldn't possibly be more correct. I've been overweight most of my life, but I got up to full on cow size at one point. Back when I was cow sized, I knew how little anyone valued me, but I thought it was the same for most people, that people didn't care much about each other at all in a general sense. As it turned out, I was diagnosed with medical condition that didn't MAKE me become obese, but certainly made it harder not to and continues to do so to this day (not that I use it as an excuse).
With this diagnosis came medication, a self-created exercise plan, and a better diet. I lost 60 lbs over the course of a year. Actually, I lost closer to 75 lbs, but only kept off 60, which I've successfully kept off for seven years btw.
The thing that really shocked me was love/hate relationship I had with my new, acceptable appearance. It completely changed the way people treated me. Yes, it was nice to have men actually find me attractive for the first time in my life. Yes, it was nice to have people in general be kinder to me. Yes, it was nice to be complimented about my appearance (also for the first time in my life). Yes, it was nice to have my first boyfriend (in my early 20s).
But it was also horrible. It made me see how little people valued me. It made me see just how worthless I was to everyone, even people I thought were my friends. It made me understand that a woman's looks really ARE the first and only thing that matter to most people. It made me question every relationship I had ever had, and made me put every new one under a microscope.
I had been overweight my whole life, so I never noticed that people never noticed me. I figured people largely didn't pay attention to each other. I thought that I had always been single because I was ugly in the face, and because, although I was socially forward, I was romantically shy. I bought into the "curvy woman" bullshit. I bought clothes for myself all the time and actually thought I looked nice, even sexy with them on. I wore makeup most days. I thought I actually had a chance with guys I was interested in. I had friends that seemed to care about me. I had value for myself. Even though I was insecure about my body in a general sense as all women are, I was pretty secure in my value to the planet. None of that is true anymore.
Unexpectedly, weight loss shoved me way further into my shell than being fat ever even tried! It took a good year or so to slowly morph into the abnormally self conscious (but not obese) person I am now. At first, I was high on the idea of being seen as attractive and loveable for the first time in my life. As time passed, the honeymoon ended, and I saw the raw, naked, ugly truth.
People who I knew personally that never paid attention to me suddenly treated me like I mattered. Friends who didn't try at all to lose weight, but just wanted to be thinner told me how jealous they were and couldn't wait for me to fail and end up back on the fatty farm with them; and I never knew if they were aware of it, but they would constantly try to sabotage me. "Come on, you don't have to leave early for your workout. You can take a day off from exercise, it won't kill you. Come on, just go to Waffle House with us, it's no big deal. Please eat more, I worked really hard to make this." Old friends who hadn't seen me in a long time treated me like a was a completely new (and important) person. People would ask me, "OH MY GOD, HOW DID YOU DO IT? THAT'S AMAZING," as if I had magic powers and would then lose all interest in my story the second I explained, "Diet and exercise."
It's a long process to a painful realization that your outer body matters way more than you ever realized. It's devastating. It haunts you.
To top it off, over time, I also realized, that although I had lost a lot of weight, I still wasn't "thin." I was still considered chunky by most people. At 5'2'' wearing a loose size 8, having a healthy BMI, I was still "fat" in a lot of people's eyes. I was acceptable to a lot more people as I was no longer obese, but I still wasn't "hot" to very many people.
All the frustration finally ate me alive. I stopped trying quite so hard as the irreparable damage to my self worth took its toll. Over the course of a few months, I gained back about 10 lbs. It's especially painful how the first people to congratulate you on how great you look for losing 60 lbs are the same to knock you down the second you gain back five. My mother (who was thin in her teens and 20s, but has been obese MY entire life) even took it upon herself to criticize me by saying, "You know, you aren't that small anymore."
"When was the last time you lost 60 lbs?" I asked her, understandably angry, hurt, and defensive.
"Well," she hesitated, "you're still small, but you're just not as small as you were," she defended herself, poorly.
I gained about another 5 lbs shortly after, but I've plateaued in my weight changes since. I've maintained the same weight within about 7 lbs give or take. I SHOULD be proud of myself for having a net loss of 60 lbs and keeping it off for seven years, but I'm not. In fact, more than ever, all I can do is criticize myself. I don't like what I see in the mirror, but I don't change it. I tell myself that even if I do change it, it won't matter; people will treat (or mistreat) me however they want no matter what I do. I'll never be 5'9'' and 120 lbs. Why bother?
I would like to drop another 20-30 lbs, and I know exactly how to do it, but psychologically, I can't. I've been brought to the light and I can't un-see what I've seen. I can't un-feel my lack of importance to people depending on how I look. I can't un-hear the instant praise for a huge victory, but instant insult for minimal failure. I can't un-realize how little who I am as a human being matters to most people, even those I care about deeply and who, I THOUGHT, returned the favor.
In fact, I've been yo-yo-ing the same 10-15 lbs ever since then because I dread experiencing these pains all over again. So often, I tell myself I should have just stayed fat.