Shrinking people

Posted by Paola

I realised something recently: I’ve never known anyone who, over a period of months, has lost significant weight.

I have never seen someone in a state of physical transition in the same way I am going through. It must actually be a bit weird to see me decrease in size if you only see me a few times a year.

And then I got to thinking that I don’t actually know very many fat people. My mother is very big (at the end of my diet, she’ll be more than twice my weight) plus a woman and a couple of guys I know through work are big. I can’t think of anyone else.

In the same way that I walk into a room full of people and realise that I’m the only non-white person, I also invariably notice that I’m the only person who’s overweight and that has not been a nice feeling.

I reckon that there are some places in America that such a scenario would sound alien.


6 thoughts on “Shrinking people

  1. Well, in US and Canada, the bit about ‘I am the only non-white’ is very prominent, specially where I am. Of the 300+ working in our office, I can count 3 who are non-white. Re size, there are PLENTY a lot bigger than I am. In fact, I don’t feel big when I am amongst them, I feel pretty petite!!

    My mum has always been big too, as you might remember, but at the moment I weigh more than her. My sister has always referred to me as the ‘ugly sister’ due to my weight, as she has always been skinny and tall. We can’t change our family genetics.

    With time, and as you lose more weight, the self-consciousness about size will disappear. I know I will find it very weird when I next see you, as you look like a different person.

    But good on you!! You have done a fantastic job and have inspired so many others!!! Keep it going girl….

  2. I remember talking to an exceedingly overweight American in London (the largest person I have ever met). She said she loved being in England because she wasn’t judged by her weight, people really focused on her. My feeling was that the people she was meeting were simply polite enough not to make it obvious – but then, where the people she knew in the US (hmm, Virginia I think) really that rude? It was odd.

    One thing I’ve always remembered about her is the disconnect between her food intake and her perception of it. She made a big fuss about how small her portions were at mealtimes and that she was eating the same or less than any of us, thus it was clearly a metabolism problem. What she didn’t see was that she was constantly eating between meals – I never saw her without a bag of crisps or some fruit or a chocolate bar. Then she’d pack away the snack food for a meal and get it out again after.

    I grew up in California where being overweight was a big deal. I would certainly expect to be at the top end of the scale when walking into a room full of people.

  3. re: rude, Jennifer and others have blogged about the comments people make to her on the street. It seems to be more common in America to get comments on one’s weight. That said, my mum said she was shopping in Budgens a few years and a woman said to her “I feel sorry for you,” going on to explain “because you’re so fat.”

    re: the disconnect, yes, I recognise that. Although I never thought I had a “metabolism” problem, it did take an awfully long time for me to take responsibility for what I ate.

    And, finally, knowing that people MUST have been thinking “why’s she eating so much?” is why I thought online food diarying would work for me.

  4. When I lived in California (between August 2006-May 2008) I was really surprised to find that unlike in England, I suddenly felt like a huge elephant. (I’m 5’5″ and 140 pounds so overweight but not massive) I lived amongst mostly Chinese people who were petite and smaller in build in every way. When I came back to England, although I wanted to lose 10 pounds or so, I found I had lost that hideous, crushing, desperate feeling that everyone in every situation is so much more beautiful that you are. I found I could buy clothes again. I could actually go into dressing rooms and look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t spend the entire day trying to catch a sneaky peak at myself in plate glass windows to see if I looked fat in what I was wearing.

    Now that I look back at those two years in CA, I almost can’t believe that I felt that way. I’m a confident, intelligent person. Why was I so influenced by other peoples’ looks?

  5. You have been trained well, my dear.

    But, really, what do you expect? Every single day, from TV, magazines, TV, film, music, ads at bus-stops, ads on trains, ads in stations – they all reinforce what is expected of women: to be “beautiful”. After several decades of this constant and relentless onslaught, it’d be surprising if you WEREN’T affected by it.

    Think of it another way. How old was Lucy when she started talking? Did you sit her down and try to teach her to speak from day one? Probably not. After being around people every day who talked, she eventually started to imitate, then to understand and then to speak. That took, what, a couple of years?

    Now compare that with all the stereotypes you must have been exposed to your whole life.

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