You can't hide the fact you are overweight. The only way to hide as an overweight person is to stay inside, and for most of us that isn't practical or fun. You can't hide behind baggy clothes or big hair, although at 300 pounds, I did try. If you have trouble eating the right amounts of food as I did, it is hard to camouflage your problem. People who smoke can chew gum or spray perfume to cover up the smoky odor. People who drink alcohol to excess may employ different techniques to mask the alcohol smell, but overweight people have to just let it all hang out.
When I was obese, I tried hard to act like my weight didn't bother me. I'd joke about problems only fat people understand, like worrying that the elevator would fall down if I got on it, or being concerned that the rubber-band holding my waistband together didn't show. I'd even point out my flaws to other people so they wouldn't have the chance to say anything about them first. My friends were generally kind to me, but I always wondered if they felt like they were doing me a favor by being my friend.
Public problem or not, being overweight doesn't have to be a permanent problem. Eventually, I got so tired of being heavy and not being able to do all the things I wanted to do, that I got serious about my weight problem. As I lost weight, the public's perception of me changed. Over time I went from being known as the “fat and funny Diane,” to just Diane. As the fat, funny Diane, I was often humiliated by my size, and embarrassed by other people’s comments. When I was just Diane, I quit worrying about what people thought, or whether or not I might just split my pants up the back (which had happened before.)
I think it's sad that so much of our first impressions are appearance based. In the perfect world, my acquaintances would have held me in the same regard whether I weighed 300 pounds or not, but in some cases that just doesn’t happen. If being overweight did anything for me, it was giving me a great empathy towards those who struggle with their weight. I am very careful not to judge people based on their physical size or appearance.
I want to encourage you to not base your self-worth on what other people think about you, no matter what you weigh. It’s important to learn to love who you are – right where you are right now. It wasn’t easy for me to accept who I was as a 305 pound morbidly obese woman, but realizing that I was worth fighting for was a tremendous step in the right direction. Over time, my self-esteem and confidence increased, and I was able to put the insensitive and hurtful comments behind me.
Public perception is not an easy issue to overcome, but finding your own self-worth amidst your struggles is not only possible, but has the potential to be life changing and affirming.