I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while. As a fat person, who gained weight only in recent years, I’m noticing more and more microaggressions about my weight.
Just so we are all on the same page, “microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment.”
Are fat people a marginalized group? I would argue yes. Here are just some of the microaggressions I’ve experienced over the past year:
- Every time I go to the doctor I am asked if I have diabetes. This strikes me because this was not the case when I was thinner.
- When I recently had surgery on my wrist, I was asked MULTIPLE times if I have diabetes even though I had already said no.
- Multiple times I’ve had nurses stare at my arm trying to figure out it they can use the regular person blood pressure cuff or if they need the bigger size.
- A colleague of mine, who is well-intended, is determined to get me to go for walks with her at lunch time. She hasn’t asked anyone else, just me, her colleague with the biggest body.
- In my line of work we discuss combating issues like obesity. I always feel hella awkward as the only fat person around the table. This may not be an actual microaggression and more of an insecurity on my part, but I always wonder if they are judging me when we talk about these topics.
- I overheard another colleague talking with a disgusted tone about how just getting obese people to walk more and drink more water isn’t going to solve the problem.
Fat people are people just like everyone else. Our feelings get hurt by this kind of stuff and it only deepens my self-loathing about my body. For me, I don’t want to be fat. I’m not happy at the weight I am. I love the idea of the body positive movement but I haven’t gotten there myself.
My personal body hatred runs deep. I feel disgusting. I feel like I don’t even want to go in public sometimes. I hate that I equate my outward appearance with my self-worth. I *know* intellectually that my body does not represent who I am as a person, but living my whole life in a society that says otherwise wears me down from time-to-time.
And the last thing I need, when I already feel sensitive about my weight, is the subtle judgment of other people about my body and health.
So please, dear readers, just love your fat friends and colleagues as they are. If we want to go for a walk, we will.