Your Scars Are Who You Are, But Not All You Are

Fat cats make me happy.

Fat cats make me happy.

Yesterday while wasting time on Facebook, there was a headline on the “trending” sidebar that said something like, “#DearFatPeople Video Generates Viral Response.” Earlier in the day the “Dear Fat People” video had crossed my Tumblr feed full of comments like, “Hahahahaha! Harsh, but needed to be said!” “Hilarious!” “Right on!” “She’s not wrong though.” I knew watching this video would make me want to punch someone in the nads, so I thought it best to avoid it as long as possible. I managed to hold out until I saw Shawn Halpin’s hilarious response. He hit all the points- hacky jokes, crappy acting, poor content, and lack of empathy- better then I ever could.

But as funny as the response was, I could not get her stupid video out of my head. It left me unsettled. That just pissed me off, because I know that’s what this narcissistic loon wanted. I think it’s because her rant gave a voice and a face to what I assumed that everyone was thinking about me when I was heavier. That I was lazy, dirty, smelly, that I was stupid and demanded special treatment. To be honest, there is a part of me that still assumes that is what people think of me. She starts off by saying, “Fat shaming is not a thing,” but then shames someone who sat next to her on an airplane (which I’m sure was a joy for him, as well). Look, I can only speak to my experiences, but all I know is that when I was 95.4 pounds heavier I didn’t get nearly as many doors held open or people making eye contact with me as I do now. I’ve previously written about the vendor at a Ray LaMontagne concert who wouldn’t show me women’s sized t-shirts. Those are just the things I’m comfortable sharing.

jon hamm sure

The original video creator claims to “love” and be “concerned” for obese people. Later she was bragging about all her new Twitter followers. Then shut her You Tube channel down, falsely claiming You Tube shut it down and was “censoring” her.

In the springtime, my friend and I were crossing the street and this guy was walking towards us smiling. I thought, “What the hell is this guy’s problem?” and glared at him. He did an awkward glance down at his shoes, a hard exhale and dropped his smile as he passed. Literally six hours later I realized that he was smiling at me and I looked at him like he was going to steal my purse! Sorry, random guy crossing Erie, but that’s the screen I’ve come to see things through. The comments that hurt the most usually don’t come from hostile faces. They come disguised behind smiles and a thin veil of trust that throws you off balance.

I do not know one single woman who has no body image issues. I’ve never heard any woman say, ‘YEA!!! Bathing suit shopping!!” But I have heard a lot of, “I don’t wear shorts/skirts/tank tops because my thighs/legs/arms/butt.” So hearing another woman who presumably knows the pressure women are under to be physically perfect and 25 forever use those expectations with the intention of hurting others is exceptionally disappointing. I know men aren’t immune either. A couple of my guy friends won’t let the doctor tell them what they weigh. Not because it’s high, but because they aren’t built like Thor. Society is hardcore fucked up in this area.

The bottom line is that no matter how much I lose and no matter what I look like, things like this will always hit a nerve in me. I’ll always carry the scars of the words and actions that I let hurt me. However, the difference is between me 5 years ago and me now is not so much the number on the scale as it’s a mental shift. Five years ago I would have thought, “Really? This is what people think of me?” and cried. Me now thinks (most of the time), “Really? This is what people think of me? Sucks to be them.” I hope the video creator finds peace or fame or whatever she’s looking for.

And I don’t give a fuck if you think I suck, because I know I’m amazing.- “Amazing’, Hi Fashion

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Get Confident, Stupid! or How I Learned I Was Not Alone In The Sea of Suckage

In my circle of friends, I’m totally the weird brother in-law from The Hangover.

My friend, we’ll call her, “Jolene” (because that’s her name) and I spent a truly nightmarish amount of hours together while we were in school. We saw each other more then we saw our families for probably three months. Because of this, people seemed to think of us as a single unit. A woman in the student life office said, “In my mind, you guys are best friends, live in the same house, cook and do everything together!” So…she thought we were married? To each other? Maybe this is why that guy implied I was a lesbian in a job interview.

But the funniest was when our student group advisor wanted to talk to Jolene and I, but got pulled into a meeting. We’ll call him, “Dave” (that’s really his name, I’m bad at this pseudonym thing). Jolene and I had to leave, so I sent him an e-mail that said, “We had to go, but we’ll talk tomorrow.” A little later Dave calls my cell phone. I told him I was on my way home, but what’s up. He said, very seriously, “Is Jolene with you?” I giggled and thought, “Jesus Christ, do people really think we live together?” My inner smart ass became my outer smart ass when I said, “Now, Dave, Jolene and I do not actually live together.” Silence. Um…okay. Clearly Dave was not in a very Beth place that afternoon. I straightened up and put on serious businesswoman face. “No, she’s on her way home, too. Do you want me to tell her something for you?” For the record, he recovered and found me hilarious again the next day.

A visual representation of trying to find myself in the world after school was out.

I thought of this story when one of my friends was lamenting how much longer he had left in school and I gladly offered to change places with him because I loved school and miss it almost every day. He said he couldn’t relate, but asked why did I miss it? Honestly, no one had ever asked me that before and aside from, “it was awesome,” I didn’t know how to answer. Thinking about it for a while, it boiled down to being in a kind of insulated, supportive environment. Even on bad days, I knew there were a bunch of people who had my back and that I could turn to when things got rough. If nothing else they were there say, “Guuuuuurl, I know.” Then they’re just gone. Suddenly it feels like you’re floating alone in this big sea of suckage where no one gives a shit about you.

But then I started thinking, is that really true? I mean, just because I feel like it’s true doesn’t mean it is. I believe a lot of stupid shit, plus feelings are kind of dicks and lie. A LOT. Can I call up those same people, get advice, share victories, or just vent and would I do the same for them? Absolutely. I do it all the time (much to their dismay). They’re the people I want to do everything with and if we could move into a compound and hang out all the time, I totally would (no, I wouldn’t) (yes, I would).

So, just because we aren’t forced to be in a teeny room with each other for an ungodly number of hours every day doesn’t mean that there is less support. Yes, people get busy and have to do their own thing, but I know that I’ve got an awesome support system around me. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it.

Learn From My Fail

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a self-help book junky. Maybe self-help isn’t the best term- more like self-improvement. Recently I’ve been trying to improve my communication and social skills. Considering how in the last week  I managed to unintentionally give one of my teachers a complex about his winter coat and  accidentally convince another that I either have raging crush on him or am attending school on a day pass from the local psychiatric facility (or both), I’d say communication is probably a good area for me to focus on.

Despite my apparent gift for making teachers uncomfortable, some of the lessons from my self-improvement library have actually sank in and have helped me over the years. To be honest, all I really needed was one good self-improvement book, because unless you are focusing on a specific area, most of them are the same. They are sort of like diet books that way- a little bit new of new info, but the basics don’t change. Here are the main two thoughts behind every self-help book:

Everyone is afraid, but fear is only temporary and can’t hurt you.  Someone who isn’t scared at least once in a while, probably isn’t doing much living. But the fear is just an emotion and has no inherent power. Just move through it and it may not completely evaporate, but it will definitely lessen. Fighting through the fear is so empowering. Think about it, what things mean more to you, things easily achieved or things you had to fight for? Feel The Fear…and Do It Anyway is an amazing book all about this very subject.

In general, most people are way too concerned about their own problems to care about what you are doing. In other words, stop taking things personally. I’d love to say that this is not an issue in my life, but it is something I struggle with. Almost everyone has that inner voice that says, “What will your family/friends/neighbors/coworkers/mailman/random guy at the gas station think if I _____.”   The reality is, everyone is way too preoccupied with their own lives to be concerned for more then a few minutes with what others are doing.  We don’t even know if these “others” will actually approve or disapprove of our actions, but just the mere idea of their disapproval is given so much weight that we let it control our actions. Here’s the ironic part: most of these “others’ that we are worried about aren’t even people we like or trust! Think of a person who said something that made you feel bad about a choice you made. If you were going on vacation, would you toss that person the keys to your house and say, “Hey, I’m going out of town. Will you feed my dog and get my mail?” Of course not! Then why give them space in your mind, which is so much more precious?

So, there you have it- the info contained in 85% of all self-help books for free. Hopefully I saved you $20 (or $11 for the Kindle Edition). I’m currently reading one called, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff that is helping me learn to be a little easier on myself. I never even realized how much of a perfectionist I am until I started back to school. But that’s a post for another day.

My design page is updated with a new project that fits really nicely with this post. Click it to view it enlarged, because it looks a billion times better that way. As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!