Let Their Voices Be Heard - Body Image
This is third installment of my favorite passages from a newly released book called Let Their Voices Be Heard. The quotes this month are from the chapter on body image. One of the goals of the book is to underscore the importance of celebrating body size diversity when we promote physically active living and healthy, enjoyable eating.
“I’m at peace with [my weight]. I don’t own a scale. I don’t need numbers to tell me that my body weight’s okay. I’m just okay with who I am. And I think that when I let go of worrying about what everybody else thought, that’s when I realized I’m an okay person, I don’t have to be skinny. I’m healthy and . . . I’m at peace with that.” Female, late 40's
“I feel blessed to be able to stand up and look in the mirror and have [a body that] functions and I think it’s great. I have a good, loving family, friends. What [more] could you want?” Male in his 50's
“I got to tell you, the first time you’ve got to go to the big and tall store is a bitch. It is. That’s a rock your world kind of a deal. Man, am I really that big?” Male, mid 30's
“I remember as a kid hating to go shopping ’cause . . . when you’re a size 14 in a size 8 world, it was miserable. And I still don’t like shopping . . . . But yet, I’ve accomplished a whole lot of things and gone to school and have a good job, and I’m well-liked by my clients, . . . but there’s this negative thing [about being large] always in the background.” Female, early 40's
“[There’s a] mental war that’s going on in me. . . . I have a brother who . . . is about 200 pounds overweight . . . and it is very detrimental to his health. And I just swear to myself that I am not going to end up in that place. . . . [My] health concerns outweigh the other [body image] concerns right now. . . . For the first time in my life, . . . I’m just content where I am . . . . [I have] a unity and feeling of pride in myself. But in that unity [is] also figuring out what has to change . . . for the goal of . . . being able to go out and do anything and everything I want to do and not have health concerns.” Female, early 40's
“I’m unique looking. Every time people see me, babies cry. You know, the great big huge guy with all this hair. . . . I was never beautiful by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just a fat guy. . . . I never was able to make any friends. . . . I became a loner. Then the overweight thing got worse and the weight problem became worse. . . . Just sitting home watching TV, that’s how I spent most of my adolescent years. . . . I was just living in my own little fantasy world. That hasn’t changed, now that I think about it. . . . We don’t find [fat] attractive [in our culture]. It isn’t attractive, at least to me. I don’t want to see it, but then again I’m not really aware of it in my own case.” Male, late 30's
“I always claim that when you become heavy you become invisible. You go in a room and you want to be social with people, [but] . . . you can’t because of [your] size. . . . You totally become invisible. People don’t recognize you. They don’t know who you are . . . . There’s a lot of people that even if they do know you, [they] don’t want to know you because . . . it’s not sociably accepted to hang out with people that are . . . obese.” Male in his 40's
“Sometimes I feel that I’m the recipient of that look. That’s all it ever is. It’s just a look. People are far too polite to say, ‘Hey, can you go drop some pounds, fatso?’ . . . That is a pretty painful look to get . . . , especially having dealt it out.” Male, mid 30's
“My little sister . . . is really tall and skinny, . . . and the boys thought she was an Ethiopian because she was so skinny, and I’d never really thought of how hard it must be to be skinny. I mean, everyone knows that it’s pretty hard to be larger, but I’d never really thought about how hard it was to be skinny.” Female, early 20's
“You can see a very attractive person that’s a nice shape, but if you talk to them, you may find out that they’re very unhappy with the shape of their body. I just have the attitude that [says] live each day as best you can, as happy as you can, and try to be as healthy as you can, and let each and every person do the same thing.” Female in her 60's
“I think different bodies react differently, but mine is not comfortable being so overweight, and it was screaming at me to do something.” Female in her 30's
“I never liked my body. . . , never been able to get it to where I was happy with it, even when I was young . . . and in really good shape. . . . I started dieting when I weighed 250, and I dieted myself up to 350. . . . It’s been a real struggle.” Male in his 60's
“I have a younger brother. . . . He would eat five times the amount of food that I did. . . . , and he’s still not heavy. . . . I remember going to a church meeting one day when I was a kid and the . . . lady turned around and looked at my mother . . . and said, ‘What do you do, starve one and feed the other one?’ ” Male in his 60's
“Being fat turned me into a bitch. I was the nicest kid that you’ll ever meet in your life, I was. . . . I started putting on weight, and I started getting teased, and that teasing stopped quick because I found out I was a slugger. I was! . . . . [Teasing] turned me mean.” Female, late 20's
“At [age] 63, with a 42 waist and 38 chest, a guy can walk down the street with his bald head and think he’s looking good. You ask any woman if she gets just a half a pound past a size 6, ‘Oh I’m fat, I’m fat!’ I’ve lived with that. . . . That’s why I’m single again.” Male, 70ish
“Medical professionals can be so insensitive to a person with weight problems. It’s like they are saying, ‘Why don’t you just diet? Why don’t you have any self-control?’ . . . He wrote ‘obesity’ in my chart even though I’d lost 40 pounds. These aren’t tears of sadness, they’re tears of anger. I got a different doctor.” Female, early 40's
“Sometimes . . . weight is comfortable. It’s a good shield to have between yourself and other people. . . . [Extra body weight] is a mental protection.” Female, early 40's
Holmes B, Pelican S, Vanden Heede F. Let Their Voices Be Heard - Quotations from life stories related to physical activity, food and eating, and body image. Discovery Association Publishing House. Chicago, IL. 2005.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
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