In 2017 I put on a lot of weight. I didn’t buy any new clothes, so it was clear to other people that I was overweight. In the interests of honesty I’m going to express here that I received different reactions to my overweight status. People that were overweight liked me that way and didn’t tell me I had put on weight. People that were weight conscious and health conscious; in other words, people that actively worked to stay at a healthy weight did comment. Some of them were quite loud about my weight gain, others attempted to gently steer me away from unhealthy food; some were rude. I noticed that fatter men found me attractive, at which point I realised I was overweight. This had never happened before.
I’m quite small, 5 3″ – so the weight shows; you get a double chin, flabby arms, and a wide middle. You can’t wear trousers anymore, except the ones with elastic which are kind. Don’t get me wrong, I think “fat” people look beautiful. The point I’m making is that I have experience of being overweight and feeling down about it. If you are overweight and happy; many people are, then this blog is still for you because it’s about perception, not being “fat” per se.
I hadn’t changed; I was exactly the same. It’s just that some people; those people who were subconsciously judgemental perhaps, saw something in me they didn’t like and couldn’t help their reaction to it.
I’ve written in another blog entitled On Beauty, about the opposite reaction to being fat, which is the reaction I got at work for being slim and looking ten years younger. I was interested to hear a comment on Radio 4 today from a woman who was mistreated at work for being slim and not eating cake because that was my experience too in a job I resigned from because I disliked the culture, and this was from people who worked for the NHS who should have known better. I’ve never mentioned this before as specifically as this. Although I feel that some ingrained attitudes are now changing in the NHS so it’s safe for me to comment. I should mention that never in the private sector nor the not-for-profit sector had I been as well looked after as an employee as I was in my public sector NHS role; I was truly astounded by the level of care which the establishment exuded by comparison to my many experiences elsewhere as an employee. British Shoe Corporation being a close 2nd. But I do feel that cultures of bias should be challenged, and I was articulate about my displeasure and actively seeking to change things whilst in my role; if you do not speak truth to power you end up becoming part of the problem.
It’s very easy to blame other people for our status and predicament; it gets us off the hook. The trouble is when we are working with someone who doesn’t fit the mantra of “middle age spread” and who doesn’t walk the walk, we may bully them because this is a natural tendency in group cultures; it’s basic A Level psychology.
This is why, today, I want to thank my partner for buying me salad everyday. And if I forgot to mention that then I’m sorry. I was focusing on all the negative things that got me into this diabetes mess and forgetting about the positive habits which, if I focus on them, will help me get back up after a difficult year transitioning into supporting teaching in 2017, and being so poor that I made the wrong choices about food.