Trauma / Fatphobia
Today I watched a TikTok of a girl who was talking about traumas. In this TikTok, she said “you’re grateful for your trauma? Because it made you who you are today?”. As soon as I heard that, I was triggered. I never realized that hearing that statement would send me into a blind rage. I’ve always struggled with that statement. Yes, the trauma’s that I experienced in my life contributed to who I am today, but they didn’t make me who I am. I did. I had to work past all the traumas to get out of the dark hole I was in. My traumas prevented me from being able to enjoy so many things in life because I was too scared. Too scared to get hurt, too scared to fail, too scared to feel good again because I knew it wouldn’t last. I feel like my innocence was taken from me.
People have told me that losing your innocence is just part of growing up, which I do agree with to a certain extent. When I was in grade 1 or 2, our school had a “Fun Fair”, and there were pony rides. I remember standing in line, anxiously waiting to have my turn. A man asked if his son was too big to ride the pony and he said, if he’s under 50 lbs sure. The man running the ride points to me and says, “see her, there’s no way she can ride because she is definitely more than 50 lbs, she’s way too big”. I remember my stomach dropping, my face turning red, and I ran out of the line as quickly as possible. From that moment on, I kept asking to go home and my mom didn’t understand why. I never told her. At that point in my life, I was only 6 or 7 years old.
All my friends were skinnier than me, but I didn’t really put two and two together until that man pointed out that I was significantly bigger than all the other kids in my grade. I remember a classmate telling me that she had asked her mom why I looked different than her and her friends. Her mom told her that I was “more developed”. When this girl told me, mind you it was in front of all the skinny girls, again, I felt my face go red, I felt sick to my stomach because I knew everyone was noticing that I wasn’t skinny like them.
I can’t even begin to count all the times that someone either made a comment on my weight, called me fat, called me gross because of my weight. This is something that I have dealt with all my life. From what I can remember, it started at only 6 or 7 years old… It may have even started earlier, and I was too innocent to even realize it. It blows my mind that anyone that young must face such hurtful comments about their appearance. It makes me very worried for future generations, since the generation that is having kids right now are the ones that clearly weren’t taught any better from their parents, but I digress.
I have struggled my whole life dealing with fatphobia. The amount of times I would be rejected, openly called fat, talked down to because of my size. It takes a toll. Even to this day, I find myself still feeling embarrassed or scared to do things I want to because of my size. I used to settle for less than I deserved because I felt like that was the best I could get. I will never forget when I was talking to a guy who honestly looked like he was homeless. He had nothing going for him but because he was kind of showing me attention, I tried to pursue him. When he rejected me, I hit my breaking point. I stopped “dating” and focused on losing weight. I ended up dropping 50 lbs over about 4-6 months. I went from being a size 3x to a 1x and at times an XL. Everyone kept telling me how great I looked. Guys were hitting me up like crazy, ones that never even looked my way 50 lbs ago. Even though I lost the weight and looked great, it pissed me off that it took losing weight to get attention and love. It boggles my mind, I was still the same person, just a little lighter.
When Brandon and I got together, I felt all of my insecurities disappearing. He told me everyday how beautiful I am and how he loves me the way I am. Even as I gained weight over the years from Covid, wedding planning stress, work stress, he still managed to make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. He has never ever made me feel self conscious or ashamed of my body. I thank god I have him every day. Everyone deserves to have their own personal cheerleader. Someone who will love them no matter what state they’re in.
I know that I am at the heaviest I have ever been at this point in my life. I am noticing it is becoming extremely difficult to lose weight. The older I get, the harder it gets. I wanted to lose more weight for my wedding, but my body just simply wouldn’t. I tried changing my diet, cleanses and adding in some physical activity. The most I could lose was 15 lbs.
Around the time I lost the 50 lbs is when one of my “best friends” made me feel very insecure as well as that my accomplishment of losing weight wasn't as big of a deal as I thought. I feel like this story needs some historical context. Growing up, this “friend” of mine, always made me feel like she was the prettier one, smarter one, skinnier one and overall just better than I was. She was never genuinely happy for me when something good would happen in my life.
I was at her house as we were getting ready to go out downtown. I brought some clothes with me but I wasn’t loving my outfit. I took a look in her closet, as I always did. I remember pulling out this black lacey bomber jacket. It was a size 2X. Keep in mind, at that time I was between an XL-1X. I took the bomber jacket off the hanger and tried it on. It was pretty oversized, but I liked it. My “friend” looks at me and says in the most frantic tone “ Oh my god, please take that off!”. I asked her why? She said “Because you’re going to rip it! It’s clearly too small for you”. I stood there in disbelief as it was visibly baggy and over sized. I shook my head and took it off, and thought maybe she had some weird attachment to this jacket and didn’t want me to wear it. About an hour later, she left the bedroom and left her phone unlocked and opened to a conversation between her and one of her friends. It was right out in the open and I could see they were texting about me. They were texting back and forth about me and the jacket. My friend said “Emily thinks that she’s all hot and skinnier than me now that she’s lost weight, she thinks she can wear my clothes.”. Her friend replied “She will never be hotter or skinnier than you, don’t worry. Tell her to take it off before her fat ass rips it !.”
The moment I read those few messages, I felt gutted. She was supposed to be my best friend. She was supposed to be happy for me, support me and encourage me. Instead, she belittled me, insulted me and betrayed me by talking badly about me behind my back. This is one of the many reasons why she is no longer in my life. Maybe we can touch on that in another blog lol. Needless to say, I pretended to feel sick and went home. I couldn't pretend that I wasn't hurt and upset that night.
That being said, I have become more self conscious when I am out in public. I try to listen to all of those TikTok videos saying “wear that dress”, “wear the crop top”, “love yourself”. I still find myself covering up. I still automatically assume that people are looking at me because I am overweight. I am always scared that when someone walks past my house, and I am sitting in my garage, exposed to the sidewalk, that they will make fun of me for wearing shorts or a tighter tank top. It bothers me that I allow myself to feel this way. It bothers me that it even happens when I am on my own property, in my private space. Even walking past people sitting down in public is terrifying and it shouldn’t be.
I fear for the day that a mean comment actually happens. I don’t know how I will react. The old Emily used to get upset and cry, now, I feel like I would get confrontational. Simply because I am so sick of this feeling. I am so sick of fatphobic people using “fat” as an insult. Why is that the first thing people throw at you? But why does it hurt so much? Why have we as a society allowed this to be the ultimate insult? I don’t understand why being overweight makes you less of a person. In my eyes, someone who uses “being fat” as an insult, makes them less of a person.
This past weekend, the hubby and I went to RibFest in Bowmanville. It was honestly such a fun time, we went with some friends and family. I wore my new cute black tank top with big sunflowers on it because it was going to be hot. I found myself holding onto Brandon so tightly because I was scared that people would see my stomach or my back fat and make a comment. I hated walking past people with food in my hands. My first thought was that they were thinking “oh there goes the fatty with a mountain of ribs to inhale”. I normally would have gotten something from the fry truck, but I didn’t want to because Brandon and I had already shared some ribs. I didn’t want to be looked at walking back to get more food. A friend’s girlfriend made a comment when Brandon was finished eating, and I was taking one more bite… she said, “ don’t you dare close that, there’s still a tiny bit of pulled pork that needs to be eaten”, as if she were speaking to him for me. I may have taken that as a shot because she is extremely skinny. So skinny that she has suffered from anorexia. Whether it was a subtle “fat comment” or not, I still felt embarrassed.
Something that I am working on in therapy is restructuring my thoughts. I have several cognitive distortions that alter my thinking patterns. My biggest ones are...
Jumping to Conclusions:
MIND READING : Know what others are thinking. Assumptions of their intentions occur with no evidence
FORTUNE TELLING : Make conclusions and predictions with no evidence and can have negative outcomes
MAGNIFICATION : over exaggeration, which leads to worries escalating to the worst-case scenario
MINIMIZATION : Minimizing positive experiences. The importance of positive qualities is diminished
Emotional reasoning :
Any feeling must be true in their mind. The emotion is accepted as fact because all logical reasoning is blocked out. Incorrectly assumes the negative feeling is the only truth
I will post the 15 Common Cognitive Distortions at the bottom of this post if you are interested to see if you have any.
In this case, jumping to conclusions has been my biggest distortion. It generally always has been. An example of how my therapist is helping me redirect my thoughts to positive thinking is this…
I started with this story. “ I forgot to pack lunch for work today, so I ordered from Wendy's for a mobile pickup order. When I walked into the store, there were about 4 or 5 people in line waiting to order, and one or two people waiting along the side for their food. I walked up to the mobile pick up area and told the man my name. He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, it will just be a couple of minutes’. I said, ‘Okay, no problem’ and I stepped back. Not even a minute goes by and he looks at me and says ‘don’t worry, your food will be ready soon’. I nodded and smiled. I was confused since he had already told me that. However, my brain instantly thought, why is he telling me this? Do I look concerned that I'm never going to get my food? Is he only telling me that because he thinks I’m scared I won’t be able to inhale my food right this second? Is he reassuring me because I’m fat? ”. My therapist asked me some follow up questions.
How does this make you feel ? Answer- Confused and embarrassed
How does this make you want to behave? Answer - I wanted to hide under a rock or run out of the store.
Do you have any evidence to prove that is what he was thinking? Answer - No
Do you have any evidence to prove that is probably not what he was thinking? If so, what is it? Answer - Yes, because I am self conscious and made it up in my head
What is most likely the reason he said that ? Answer- maybe because it was lunch time and it was busy, so he wanted to communicate that he didn't forget about me?
Focus on what is most likely true and not what your insecurities are trying to tell you.
The hardest part of redirecting your thoughts is catching yourself in the moment. It sometimes can be hard to realize that you are even creating a negative thought. Once you can identify when you are doing it, the next steps you take are asking yourself the most important question… Do I have evidence to support this thought? If not, then it is most likely a cognitive distortion. This is definitely taking me time to get the hang of, but I hope that it will just become a habit to me one day.
If you want a better idea of how to challenge/redirect negative thoughts, I will link a step by step mini questionnaire to help you out in the moment. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself. It's not going to happen over night.
At the end of the day, I am forever working on myself to make myself the best I can be. I wish that I could simply just erase all the bad memories, insults, bullying and traumatic experiences, but I can't. I just need to keep working and remind myself it's okay to feel the feelings I am feeling, just don't let it consume me and don't let those emotions keep me in the dark place I am fighting so hard to get out of.
Challenging Negative Thoughts
15 Common Cognitive Distortions