By Kelsey Murray
“I just can’t bring myself to trust people in general, after so many years of being absolutely hated before someone’s even spoken to me,” said Reddit user Iratne. “Not everyone’s like that, of course, but the people that don’t judge or dislike me before talking to me are very much a minority.”
Why would Iratne face this treatment from complete strangers? He was responding to a question that was featured on the popular website, Reddit. The question was: What is it like being a fat person?
User Novaterra posted this question and asked other Redditors to explain what daily life as an overweight or obese person is like. Unless you yourself deal with a weight problem, I doubt that you really think about this issue on a regular basis – if ever. However, in a nation where more than one-third of our adults are obese, it might be time we start thinking about it. So, what is it like?
“Imagine you are wearing 4 sweaters and 4 pairs of pants,” phoenix25 commanded other Redditors to do. “It’s hot and uncomfortable. You are sweating in weird places. When you bend your arms and legs, your range of movement is limited. Now throw on a 100-pound weight vest. Walking up hills, going up stairs, everything makes you breathe harder than usual. It seems freakishly loud to you, and it’s embarrassing. You can’t continue a conversation normally.”
“Welcome to my hellish reality.”
When we think about what life must be like for obese people, we often think about the medical conditions that come along with being obese. We tend to rattle off the increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes that comes along with being overweight. After all, there have been countless studies about the negative health consequences of being obese. Isn’t that really all there is to being obese? Being physically unhealthy? Sadly, no. There are also the emotional side-effects that come along with being obese, and personally, I think these might be worse.
“[Being fat] kinda…sucks. Nah…it REALLY sucks,” said BoxMacLeod, a Redditor who is six-feet tall and weighs more than 320 pounds. Although BoxMacLeod says his life isn’t completely miserable, there are many ways that being obese affects his day-to-day life. “I have a lot of self esteem issues. Shopping for clothes can be kinda embarrassing. I usually wind up getting pants that are a size or two smaller than what I should wear because I don’t really wanna try and look for the ‘right’ size.”
By needing to wear a size that was bigger than what he considered acceptable, BoxMacLeod probably felt very embarrassed or ill-at-ease. This is a feeling that comes hand-in-hand with being obese.
“I always felt uncomfortable,” said Gatetrekgirl about her physical state. She has recently lost weight and is no longer considered obese, but the memories still haunt her. “My neck would always feel heavy and it was hard to breath just sitting there. I could feel my stomach just sitting there and sometimes it would make me really frustrated and anxious that I felt so uncomfortable.”
Many users admitted to not liking themselves because of their weight or feeling that other people didn’t like them for this reason.
“People don’t judge you by your personality initially,” said emilylime92. “If you are normal weight, people see you as approachable, happy, attractive, kind, funny. When you are a fat woman in particular, you are lazy, stupid, careless, bitter, and probably emotional.”
The comment thread on Reddit pointed out some issues that overweight people face on a regular basis and that I had never thought about. Luckily, in true Reddit fashion, other members of the community were offering support and advice for those who want to lose weight. There were many posts that offered words of encouragement from those like Gatetrekgirl, who have lost weight, and words of support from others who just want the heavy Redditors to know that they are not alone.
However, the best motivation comes from within, as Someone_Who_Isnt_You said. This user used to be in better shape, but has recently gained weight and isn’t feeling so good about himself.
“When I was working out regularly, I seriously enjoyed going to the gym because after I worked out, I felt great,” he said. “I need to start to become more self-controlled and go to the gym more often. I WANT to feel good, in a healthy way, again.”
UPDATE: 4/17/12 12:25pm: “My freshman year of college, I gained 60some lbs. I slowly lost some my sophomore year, but rapidly lost the majority between sophomore and junior year, plus about 20 extra lbs (80 lost total). Suddenly I got called on more by my professors, people started opening doors for me and being more polite in general, and of course more attraction from the opposite sex. It felt good…but it also made me angry. Every person deserves respect from their fellow human beings, and yet I had to be skinny to earn it from strangers. Very mixed emotions for a long time afterward.” – Enlarged2ShowTexture
UPDATE: 4/17/12 12:39pm: You wake up in the morning. Rolling over to hit the alarm clock involves struggling to roll over your mass to reach it. You manage to hit it. Sigh, 8:30. You have no energy and feel like crap. Getting out of bed feels like you’re lifting a squat bar. It’s hard to move, because your mass just gets in the way of everything.
You see yourself in the mirror, you look up and down with disgust. You tell yourself that you’re not that fat, that it’s just a little pudge. As if a little pudge could weigh 120 pounds and an extra 20 inches of waistline. You dread the rest of your day, because you know deep down that:
1) Everyone is, in fact, judging you by your size. You have to watch what you say, you have to be careful about what you eat around others, anything to make sure you’re not following the fatty stereotype.
2) The day is going to be long. It’s going to suck. You’re going to have trouble fitting in your chair (or being on your feet). People will pretend you don’t exist. Every time you hear laughter, you can’t help but wonder if it’s at your expense. Even your friends will treat you like less of a friend. – WritingImplement
UPDATE: 4/17/12 12:42: “Cripple here. At least you have the power to change it.” – Self_Hating_Liberal
UPDATE: 4/17/12 12:48pm: “I don’t have any frame of reference on what it’s like to be small. really wish i could fit into roller coasters though.” – hired_goon
UPDATE: 4/17/12 12:50pm: “For me, it’s pretty awful and debilitating. Not so much in the physical sense, but the psychological.” – Thwacky
UPDATE: 4/17/12 1:12pm: “Sweaty.” – ciaicide
UPDATE: 4/17/12 1:17pm: “My weight gain came mainly from a pretty bad food addiction. It feels like you have track marks from drug abuse that are visible at all times.” – BigE56
UPDATE: 4/17/12 2:27pm: “Others have said the real stuff, but as a previously obese guy who’s halfway to his target weight, the nice thing about not being so big is not always being aware of my clothes. I used to feel like I was bursting out of clothes sometimes, especially when sitting down, and being aware of how my belly was stretching the t-shirt made me always self conscious and uncomfortable when sitting with others. Long and super large jumpers helped hide stuff, but you’re always aware. I felt ashamed of myself.” – sgst
UPDATE: 4/17/12 2:29pm: “As a former fatty, it is shocking how much better people treat me after I lost all the weight. And it’s not even the intentional behavior. People used to literally not even look at me. Odd considering just how much more there was to look at back then.” – Gnork
Slideshow: True Weight Loss Stories