I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. My family refers to it as my “condition”. A convenient euphemism so that they don’t have to talk about how much what I am embarrasses them.
People say that this is my fault, that it is a choice I made. If I made a choice, I made it before I can remember. How can anyone hold a “choice” I made when I was a toddler against me for the rest of my life? But they do.
When I was 12 my parents sent me to a special camp where they tried to “cure” me. I put on a good show for a while to make my parents happy, but there was never any permanent change. I was always going to have this “condition.”
The kids at school used words that describe me as insults. When they weren’t beating me up or teasing me about my “condition”, they were talking about how they would rather die than be like me.
People like me show up on TV now and then. They’re either gross stereotypes or reality shows about trying to cure and eliminate the “condition”. There are hate groups dedicated to eliminating the “epidemic” of people like me.
It’s a disease. It’s a choice. It’s an epidemic. But I am a person. I never wanted to be any of these things. I never decided to be this way. This isn’t a thing I did. It is a thing that happened to me. And now my life is hell. As others have said, if it was a choice, who would ever choose this life?
I once went into a shop and before I even got a chance to look around, the clerk walked over and told me, “We don’t have anything for people like you here.” I told her that I had money and I was a customer like anyone else. She said, “We don’t want your money. Our business has a reputation to uphold, and we don’t want anyone to see people like you shopping here.”
Once in school, I bumped into a boy in the hallway. He screamed, “Ew, I touched it!” and ran away. It. I’m not a person. I’m a thing. An unwanted monster or an animal.
People tell high school kids that it gets better. Maybe for some people it does. That has not been my experience. In school, the other kids were cruel to me. Now that I’m older it’s my co-workers who are cruel, on the rare occasions that anyone will hire me at all.
On buses, trains and airplanes I pray that no one will make a scene over me. I pray that no one will complain because they don’t want to sit next to “one of those people.” Doctors have refused to treat me, telling me that every health problem I have is my own fault because of my “lifestyle”.
People like me are held up as an example of everything that is wrong with America today. We are told that we are immoral terrible sinners, and our sex lives are called a perversion or a fetish. We can’t join the military. We can’t adopt children in most areas. Some countries won’t even grant us visas.
This is what it is to be fat.
*Note: the story above is a fictionalized account based on my own experiences combined with accounts from other people in the fat community.