Disclaimer: Our culture has a distorted view of beauty. That topic is for another blog. Here I address the actual need for weight loss and how one might treat a person who is overweight.
This morning I slipped into some jeans I’ve not been able to wear for 3 years. Thyroid cancer made my life miserable. And still, with help from God and the people in my life, I figured out what I needed to do, and here I am, where I wanted to be. It’s the most amazing feeling to wear pants that fit the structure of my body. While soaking in the comfort of the thing, I knew I had to write. Here are a few tips, in case you didn’t know, on how to treat the fat person in your life.
Fat people know they are fat.
You don’t have to tell them, remind them, or point it out.
Fat people know the difference between good food and bad food.
Telling them will not help.
Fat people know that being overweight is bad on their health.
Fat people don’t need to be made fun of behind the back or to their face.
Fat people need acceptance. They need to know they are adored, AS IS. Adored in public and private. Adored while eating. Adored while walking. While sitting down watching a show. Adored. Because fat is A WALL, FOLKS. Fat acts as a barrier between the fat person and ALL THE DANGEROUS UNKIND JUDGMENTAL VULTURES out there. Feelings of anxiety and feelings of hunger land in the very same spot on the body. Each time anxiety is awakened, so is hunger, and vise versa. Giving a fat person more anxiety gives them more hunger. Each time you point out how fat your “loved one” is, you’ve given them more reason to pack on the fat. Did you take that in? You might be the very reason your loved one is fat in the first place.
Fat gives DISTANCE between the vulnerable one and yourself. Fat prevents a whole host of activities, including love-making which by the way requires TRUST and INTIMACY. Trust and intimacy can not be established alongside SHAME. Not possible. You might be blaming a lousy love life on the obese person in your life. Lovers are made to love. Bodies are built to heal. The fat person has work to do, no doubt. However if the fat person is living with an unsafe person, the fat will remain or return.
Fat manages vulnerability. And therefore every time you find it necessary to identify how fat he or she is (yes, it goes both ways) you are causing stress in which, even if your loved one wanted to, couldn’t release the weight. Seriously, how many times have you known someone who found a lifestyle for healing and lost all their weight only to put it on again? Have you ever wondered why he or she was almost driven to pack it back on, when they loved the weight loss so much? Of course there are medical and life reasons weight returns, such as surgery, childbirth, thyroid issues etc… When there are no good reasons and still the body reactively drives toward weight gain, that is when it’s time to start noticing how anxiety producing thinness is, and how comfortable obesity feels. Either way, if there is weight to release, there is call for a healthy environment in which weight loss will be a good thing for all parties involved. It’s the obese person’s job to learn to manage his or her vulnerability, however you can sure make it easier.
Here are some things you can do and say:
Write down things you have done and said that were not safe.
Ask God to change your heart toward the heavy person in your life.
Tell her you have been an unsafe person.
Tell him you are done pointing out, criticizing, correcting and suggesting.
Tell her about your fears, that you don’t want anything to happen to her, that you are worried.
Tell him you have decided to work on your health, including your emotional health, and want to be a safe person (please see the book Safe People by Henry Cloud and John Townsend)
Tell her often all the things you love about her, and what attracts you to her. If you can think of nothing, you have grown a very hard heart. Attraction is something we build and work on, not something that hits us sideways from outer space. No wonder she doesn’t feel safe. Pray. I will guarantee you, God will give you a very long list of things to desire and enjoy about the other person. Because that’s how God sees us – our proud papa. We are his adored children. Prejudice, bigotry, and judgmental abuse cloaked in joking and jabs is a hard habit to break. If not that overt, still, we our bodies are made to pick up subtle disregard and disgust. What will change you is to have a good hard look at who you are. You will notice what is ugly about you, and how God loves you anyway, and this will change your heart about the people in your life.
Remember, if your loved one has been harmed by you over and over throughout the years, he or she will have a hard time believing you are for real. Allow time for distance, anger and sadness. Yes, anger, and lots of it, toward you. Grief takes time. Trust comes along much later. Time. Let this healing take time.
My family and the family I married into who are the worst about this issue. I somehow managed to marry a man who, though not perfect, gets it. He often tells me I need to eat more, that the reason I’m heavy is because my body is starving. When I’m eating something not great for me, he tells me to enjoy it. When I work hard at getting healthy, he tells me I look just as beautiful to him as I did before. I’ve been obese (see picture) and thin ( now about 12 sizes smaller), and loved both ways. I would have never lost weight if he had rejected me as a heavy woman. He made it safe for me to get healthy and strong. And I won’t ever take that for granted, because I know my situation is not the norm.
By the way, the body gravitates towards thin. Make a safe-haven. Learn to love the one you’re with. Making these changes will make you both stronger and more healthy. I guarantee it.