Friday, July 23, 2021

Fat Friday: The Identity that Others Give Me


Free-use image from Pixabay

These thoughts were inspired by this post.

At times it's hard to determine who I really am as opposed to the identity that other people have given me. The author of the post above speaks about being multiracial but having others insist that she should have a monoracial identity, so when she was younger she attempted to behave like a stereotypically black individual.

As a pasty white person (the very tiny smattering of Kickapoo Indian in my ancestry is too diluted to offset my pasty whiteness) and a U.S. native, I have never experienced institutionalized racism. I have experienced prejudice because of my race. The Latina girls in the school I attended between the ages of five and ten often beat me up. They assumed that because I was white my life was better than theirs, and it made them angry. 

The truth was, my family lived in a high crime area in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a rundown house that we shared with very large cockroaches approximately the size of school buses, and with black widow spiders the size of the Hulk's fist. We ate boiled soybeans several times a week because they were cheap and high in protein. If I never see another boiled soybean, it won't be too soon.

Even though those girls beat the crap out of me, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to allow myself to be prejudiced against Latinos. I had several nice Latina friends. I don't know how, but I knew what these girls were doing wasn't really about me, it was about the prejudices that their own families faced. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and my skin was the wrong color.

Although I didn't get beaten up as often when my family moved to Colorado, the bullying I endured from the time I was ten years old on was worse in some ways. I was always very shy, and I got bullied for being weird. When I was in the sixth grade, there was a big girl who enjoyed beating the snot out of me, but she also beat the snot out of everyone else, girls and boys alike, so I didn't feel singled out by her. I really don't know why the adults didn't do something about her. Maybe they were afraid she'd beat them up too.

I spent a lot of years having people make assumptions about me. For some reason, when I was in junior high, a bunch of girls spread the rumor that I was "loose." According to them, I'd had eight abortions by the time I was in the eighth grade. The truth was, I was so ignorant about sex that I thought a blow job meant blowing in someone's ear and I wondered why the hell anyone thought that was exciting.

 This didn't mean I hadn't been sexually abused, however. I had, but because there was no penetration with a penis, I assumed it wasn't sexual assault. A couple of the perpetrators were other girls in my old school. When I look back on it, I wonder what was happening to them that they would think of doing such a thing.

As I got older and my endocrine system got worse and my years of yo-yo dieting wrecked my metabolism to the point where I couldn't lose weight unless I were to develop a terminal illness, people made a lot of assumptions about me because of my size. People still do. 

Imagine thinking that it's okay to say to your neighbor, "my wife was like you. She was obese. But at least you're trying. She didn't try, so she died."

My neighbor actually said that to me.

Imagine not listening to people when they tell you "don't use that term, it's insulting." People think it's perfectly fine to say "obese" regardless of how offensive others find the term because fat people are too stupid to know what's good for them, apparently. 

Imagine saying "being emaciated causes (list multiple health conditions) so those who are emaciated need to eat more and gain weight, otherwise their illnesses are all their own fault." It doesn't work like that. Yet people think it's perfectly okay to assume that larger people are all "eating themselves into an early grave."

I don't binge eat, and I don't know any larger people who binge eat. I do have an eating disorder. I go through periods where I don't eat because I'm so used to being praised by my abusive partner ED (short for Eating Disorder) when I starve myself. I've been bulimic in the past, forcing myself to vomit after meals. It didn't make me lose any significant weight. 

I get so sick of people assuming that I got fat because I gave up on myself, I got fat because I didn't try hard enough, I got fat because I ate enough food for a family of 200, and so it's okay to psychologically abuse me because I "brought it on myself." Fuck a whole lot of that shit.

I gained weight because of underlying conditions (a trash fire endocrine system) and because of yo-yo dieting. Dieting only works long-term for a very small percentage of people. Most people gain the weight they lost back and when it returns, it brings friends. 

This is a decent article about how the contestants from the shit show "The Biggest Loser" regained the weight they lost on that abusive mess and why.

People assume that they have the right to abuse people my size because they have given us the identity of a lazy slob who is using up all their resources and needs to be bullied and shamed "for their own good." This mindset, unfortunately, is what healthcare providers are taught as well. Nursing school was one of the worst environments for size shaming that I've ever had the misfortune of being part of.

Being hateful to larger people does not force them to lose weight "for their health." It just makes them reticent to seek health care unless a problem becomes critical.

"The goal of patient care is improved health and well-being. However, the current dominant weight-centered paradigm has been shown to be not only ineffective, but harmful. Shifting to a weight-inclusive approach encourages optimal care and well-being for individuals along the entire weight spectrum and improves health equity." --Michelle May, MD

Long story short, we need to stop projecting identities onto other people. Let people reveal themselves in their own time. 

~Ornery Owl Has Spoken~

Fat and Ornery
Free-use image from Open Clipart Vectors


  1. I have enough trouble with my own self labelling tendencies without accepting the ones that other people pin/staple on my back.

    1. Same. If I'm to be honest, I'm really horrible to myself a lot of the time. But I learned the words I use against myself from other people.


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