Why I Stopped Talking about Weight
By: Lara Farrokh, MSW, LCSW
Trigger Warning: Weight, Body Image, Disordered Eating, Body Dysmorphia, emotionally difficult material, sexual harassment
I want to preface this by saying: we have all done it. We have all made negative comments about our bodies and our appearance. We have probably made comments about the bodies of others as well. Sometimes, we are just being vulnerable with someone about our insecurity. But we never know what others may have experienced. I can remember my first day of middle school; I wore a new dress that I loved with the obligatory 90s flannel shirt tied at my waist. I thought I was so cool. Until one 13 year old boy said “I never saw a butt that fat” , proceeded to poke it and start laughing. Not one of my close female identifying friends has escaped middle school and high school without having some insecurity about her appearance. I am hoping that will change for the next generation.
I could never admit this to myself or to anyone, but my weight and how I feel about it has affected almost every decision I have ever made in my life. It takes up so much brain space that sometimes, I have no room for anything else. Going to a party, hanging out with friends, considering which countries to travel to, when to see family, going to the beach and of course looking at a picture can either be tolerable or send me into a head space where I feel like I am unworthy to breathe. For years I was in denial about it because I didn’t want to be “that girl” who cared so much about her looks; you have to be perfect but not shallow; you have to care about your looks but not act like you care about your looks. I didn’t want anyone to know that I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror or that I would feel literally sick when I had to meet people for the first time. For a long time, I hid my body in big oversized clothes and if that was not available, I would try to make myself as small as possible so maybe no one would notice me. I would rather be forgettable than fat.
Being fat meant I was lazy, stupid and had no self-respect. Every movie I ever watched, the fat girl was never the heroine or even a main character. Fat people were jokes. Fat people were not human, not worthy of respect or love. They chose to be fat. So if you chose to be ugly that means everyone is allowed to make fun of you, belittle you, judge you. THESE were the messages I heard. Men can be ugly but women have to be pretty no matter what or else they have no value. It didn’t matter that I am wicked smart, have a unique and cutting sense of humor, can sing like Adele, am loyal and fun and loving … it didn’t matter. All I thought people saw was fat. I internalized this message: unless you are attractive by societal standards, you are worthless. My body was always my shame. And it didn’t matter if I weighed 120 or 190 or more. It was never going to be good enough. I always wonder what I could have been or the things I could have done if I wasn’t always anxious about how others will judge my body.
I know there are people out there who are going to say that I am trying to blame my own insecurity on society; they will say weight is a part of health and it is something you can control … blah blah blah. I have heard it all. I have said it all. I used to believe that too. But shame does not make people change. Shaming people about what they weigh, how they look, what they eat does not make them any healthier. There are billion dollar industries dedicated to shaming us into losing weight and we are more overweight than ever before in history. How about we love each other instead? Love DOES change everything. Love and acceptance are all we want from others in this life.
So this is why I stopped talking about weight. When I hear people say “I hate my body”, I hear “I hate your body too.” When you judge yourself, you tell me how you may judge me. And I don’t want to be judged because of my body — good or bad. So even when I gain or lose weight, I don’t talk about it anymore. Because I never want ANYONE to feel like they are not accepted exactly for who they are and how they look in this moment. I never want anyone to feel unworthy. I am still working on loving my body and myself; this may be a lifelong journey for me. I am starting to notice my own internal skinny bias. Skinny does not mean healthy (take it from me and phen phen!) and does not mean more worthy or more beautiful, it just means skinny. And fat does not mean ugly or unhealthy, it just means fat. Fat is beautiful too. As corny as it sounds, loving yourself and being kind to others is ultimately what makes you beautiful.
*If this resonated with you and you would like to go on the body positivity journey, I recommend My Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, More Than a Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite. The Maintenance Phase Podcast was recommended to me by my Body Positivity Personal Trainer (yes there is such a thing), Jess Pitts and it is a great listen! If you want to change your relationship with food, I recommend researching Intuitive Eating. I also recommend going to Tik Tok and following all the body positivity influencers — nothing like having a Gen Xer tell you how beautiful you are every time you need it!
About the Author:
Lara Farrokh (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 15 years of experience working with vulnerable populations, especially those that have walked the path of trauma, addiction, anxiety, or loving someone that has had struggles with an addiction. In addition to being an EMDR-trained trauma therapist, Lara also facilitates Untying the Knot, a divorce support group for womxn navigating the unique challenges of divorce and/or separation.