*TW: This post may be triggering for anyone struggling with weight/EDs, so please feel free to stop reading if that applies to you!* Over the past almost one year I lost a significant amount of weight by my own choosing (I wrote about my journey in this post here) and that weight loss has affected me in more ways than one. In my 2020 in Words post I wrote about my desire to drop some of the pounds I gained over the past few years and I said, “One of the biggest changes I made during 2020 was working on my physical health and trying to lose weight. I had gained an extraordinary amount of weight over my years in college, with most of it arriving in 2018-2019, so I knew I wanted to get in shape at some point. Rachel and I would work out together twice a week our senior year, but because I was barely moving and kept the same eating habits, my size stayed the same. Once I started looking at pictures of myself from graduation and on field with the high school football coaches I wrote about for Hawaiʻi Prep World, I was extremely upset with how I looked. So on June 22nd, I measured my waist, hips, arms, and thighs, and weighed myself and decided to become healthier.” I didn’t realize how much weight I had gained over the past few years until I was wearing the largest shorts size at American Eagle and most of my clothes were too tight for me to wear. Once I was absolutely uncomfortable with my body and health, I knew I had to start working on my weight loss.”
My weight loss has impacted my physical health, but it mostly impacted my general mentality about fatphobia and artificial societal ideals of what health is and looks like. Fatphobia or anti-fatness is one of the most overwhelming aspects of society and it’s generally tied into anti-Blackness (please follow Da’Shaun Harrison on twitter @DaShaunLH for more information about this topic) where people fear becoming fat over so much else. I lost the weight I carried not only to lower my cholesterol and body fat percentage, but also because I was afraid of being fat. Fatness is just one part of being and I shouldn’t have allowed that fatphobic panic we accept from Western cishetero societal norms to affect me so greatly. I still struggle with this anti-fatness psyche as I compulsively weigh myself at least two-three times a day and internally stress about the number that pops up on the scale. I know that number doesn’t define me, but to this day I want to know exactly how much my body weighs at any given time. At some point I’d like to feel confident and secure enough in myself to let go of what the scale says, but I’m not quite there yet and I need to work on that fear as I continue my health journey.
Weight loss has affected how I feel about eating in front of other people. Ever since I was in fourth grade (I remember this time period distinctly) I struggled with eating at school. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat anything during snack or lunch time, but I was hyper aware of how I appeared and how other people might be thinking of me while I consumed my food. I was severely bullied by several girls in my fifth grade class because I was already going through puberty and my body developed much quicker than theirs did. I was taller, weighed much more, had full boobs, and grew body hair before the other girls in my class and they ruthlessly picked on me because of those physical traits. My eating phobia overpowered me that year and only got worse as I aged. By the time I was in high school, I barely ate lunch in Akahi and on the occasional days I did, my anxiety was crippling. I hated thinking about how other people could be watching and judging me because of my body and how I was naturally feeding myself to survive. I felt the same way all throughout college and even into the past year at my workplace. However, now that I’m a smaller version of myself, I don’t ever stress about grabbing a donut or eating during a potluck when other people are around me. The anti-fatness I felt throughout the last majority of my life makes me feel like only now because I don’t weigh as much as I used to, I can eat like any other person. And I know that mindset is unhealthy and fatphobic and wrong, which is why I’m more aware of it now after going through so many stages of weight. I know people think of me and treat me differently because of my size and that’s because society accepts and loves thin people so much more than fat ones. I aim to learn more about these cruel standards through self-proclaimed fat writers and organizers like Da’Shaun who have been educating folks for far longer than I’m aware. We are a severely fatphobic and anti-Black society and I need to recognize how my weight loss has impacted my mental health and mentalities so I don’t perpetuate harm on my continued health journey.