One hot and steamy day, I decided to go inside and let my mom know I was there as opposed to waiting for her in the car. She was a social worker at a nursing home at the time and I can still smell the antiseptic and the pudding that combined in the air to make a unique smell. To this day, I equate that smell with old people and it's not fair because that smell is really not at all what people of any age smell like.
My mom was happy to see me walk in and introduced me to some of the residents. Most smiled and nodded and some were even excited to meet me. There was one old cranky man, though, who did not share their joy. He took one look at me and asked how someone has small and petite as my mom could have such a chunky and fat daughter. I was crushed. She was mortified. I left in tears and my mom reassured me for months and years later that that man was just a miserable old human being and he lashed out at anyone and everyone and she begged me not to take his words to heart. I do not remember his name but I bet my life that she does.
I shrugged. I was not offended. Unless...unless...oh my god...do you think I am that fat, a voice in my brain said? You think I am a gross, cartoon character of fatness?
I smiled and made it through the rest of the dinner. At one point, I excused myself to go to the restroom where I sat in the stall, lid still on the toilet, and wondered how I got here. How did I gain enough weight back that I could be viewed as fat again? How did I allow myself to be in a situation where I did not see the insult coming? What do I do now?
The first thing I had to do was pay the bill. The second thing I had to do was get home. The third thing I had to do is cry. I did not do them in that order. The tears came before I was home.
No one deserves to be fat shamed. No one deserves to be any kind of shamed. I am embarrassed but my weight and it has been my cross to bear since before high school. I struggle daily, whether people see it or not. I have an addiction to food just like some have an addiction to alcohol or drugs. I am working on getting the help I need.
I do not want to ever feel ashamed about my weight again. More importantly, I do not want my daughter to ever live through the kind of struggles that I have had to deal with my whole life. Please, please, please...think before you speak, say what you mean but be kind and never ever think you know someone based on the face they choose to show you.
Let's be kind to each other - if not just for us, then for our children. Then maybe some of the pain will be worth it.