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Controversial and Thought-Provoking Articles for the Savvy Christian

I’m Fat

Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Tuesday

Savvy Article #1005

I’m fat, and it’s taken a bite of my self esteem. I am a big, round, butter ball, and I can’t hide it. I am not quite roll-me-down-the-aisle-to-my-two-airplane-seats big, but I’m big enough to say “I’m fat.”

I used to have a healthy body (translation, thin) and what is astounding is not the emotional catalyst that caused me to eat gravy, but the amazing effects that being fleshy has on my psyche from the outside IN.A perfect example of this powerful effect is when a large woman tackles clothes shopping. Shopping became the bane of my existence in my early thirties when I gained weight suddenly. My husband went shopping with me with a much different image of me in his head than what was staring back in the mirror.

Pain went through me when he held up a skinny outfit and said, “What about this, honey?” I would have to tell him every time, “That won’t fit me now.” At first, I was angry, then, I cried—so much hurt over the reminder of what I had lost.

And beyond the loss was the demand that my husband never said and had no idea I perceived, “Why don’t you fit in thin-size clothes anymore?” “Why can’t you change?” “What’s WRONG with you?”

And I am not the only one who has discovered how the external affects the internal.

In A Better Man, a documentary about the making of Tootsie, actor Dustin Hoffman asked himself this question while creating the film: Would I have the same personality if I had been born a woman?

He asked this question because he believed that how we look and the expectations of other people shape who we become.

It is significant that Hoffman felt unattractive when he dressed as his Tootsie character Dorothy Michaels. Even today, he tears up when he reveals how men dismissed him while he was in the Dorothy costume.

In her humorous story of an overweight woman—herself—engaging the enemy while shopping for a bathing suit, writer Robbie Iobst nails the external-to-internal experience exactly.

As Robbie set out last summer to buy a swim suit, she steeled herself with a warrior’s mentality to encounter the battle of finding a simple suit that didn’t make her look ridiculous. Her biggest peeve with large-size bathing suits—neon flowers and ruffles.

She had not expected the snooty salesperson, but she got one in a “skinny store” that promised it had suits her size.

Well, okay! Now we were talking. I walked in and looked everywhere. Couldn’t find “size” anywhere. I asked the salesperson. She looked at me with attitude, but not the nice kind. Then she sighed and walked me to the back of the store, far corner. Apparently my size was the equivalent of back-of-the-bus fashion.

I took the bullet. This was war, right? But it was only a flesh wound. I looked at the one rack of 6 suits that this particular store had to sell. All 6 of the swimsuits were 2-piece suits. The top was a shirt, not a bikini but relatively short.

Really? Seriously? Did anyone want to see me or any woman my size in a 2-piece? Seriously?

After hours of stomping around malls, Robbie found a local discount store and bought exactly what she wanted—a one-piece suit without a skirt or v-neck or ruffles. Score!

Exhausted, bloodied by war and scarred by the many mirror snapshots providing a slide show in my mind, I bought my suit and went to the car.

I glanced at my cell phone and noticed someone had left a message.

“Robbie this is Kay. Listen to me! You are beautiful! You are a beautiful woman! Do not listen to anyone or any nasty thoughts in the dressing rooms. You are beautiful and you are loved!”

Let me be blunt—thin women don’t have to go through this. Or, to be precise, people who fit into society’s concept of normal, attractive or strong don’t have to go through this.

As much as we would like it to be untrue, our package is a factor in how others view us and how we view ourselves. And the only takeaway I have for you is to surround yourself with people who see and love you for who you are (like my and Robbie’s friend Kay) know that you are loveable and tell yourself that every day, and let the rest of the world think what they may. God has died for you, and He sees your value as beyond price.

About The Author

Denise Miller Holmes
Denise Miller Holmes enjoys teaching biblical topics, and especially researching and communicating what Christians believe about the world around them. She sometimes turns established viewpoints on end. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Journalism, Denise also has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology, and has been a Christian for over 35 years. She belongs to the writers’ groups Words for the Journey and American Christian Fiction Writers.


14 Responses to “I’m Fat”

  1. Jan Parrish says:

    The last suit I bought was 6 years ago. I don’t think many women like buying swim suits, regardless of their size.

  2. Susan says:

    This is really a good article, Denise.
    I bought a new swim suit about seven years ago – and it was quite an ordeal finding one somewhat attractive in my size, and never did go swimming.
    I also recall in the series “Designing Women” when beauty queen Delta Burke put on weight. They did an episode on that – they shoot fat women, don’t they? (Don’t know it I got the title quite right, but you got the idea.)

  3. Terri Michel says:

    Wow. I hear what you’re saying and you may think that because I don’t have a weight problem that I can’t understand. But, what I thought about was that people have thoughts where they feel less than others–about other things. It can be their nose (really) or their skin color or even their age. All things that most of us can’t do anything about. I know weight may be that way too. I have friends who have tried everything and gain weight just looking at food. Not a fun problem. But (another of Michele’s favorite words), we all need to accept. Truly. Thanks for sharing your heart and please know I love you, Robbie, Kay or anyone else for who you are-not for what you look like. Blessings.

  4. Jan, many women focus on their imperfections when buying a swimsuit, but only fat women have to go to the back of the store or get rude comments from sales people about their size, in my experience.
    Susan: I remember all the vicious criticism Delta Burke got when she gained. And what so many don’t understand is, if a person is eating because they’ve been shamed, shaming them more only makes it worse.
    Terri: YES–it’s about ANYTHING on the outside that affects us negatively on the inside and impacts our self esteem. I used weight only as an example. Thanks for your kind words. I love you too.

  5. I am an emotional eater, wish I was one of those who had no appetite when they are dealing with stress but I head to the food. I also snack when reading. Bad habit, I end up eating a half bag of something without realizing it. As I have aged these bad habits have overtaken my body and I have put on weight that doesn’t want to budge.
    I went shopping for a bathing suit two weeks ago for our Florida trip. I put the shopping off until two days before we were to leave. I am voting for returning to the old suits that went down to the ankles and had long sleeves, let’s include the caps they would wear on their heads too.

  6. Maxine Hennis says:

    Denise, great post!. I “understand your pain”, as Pres. Clinton would say.

  7. Diane: I think that eating while emotional is a common problem. As Christians, drugs are not an option. :) As Jan pointed out above, it is also common for women to feel uncomfortable when looking for a suit. Sadly, our external packaging can affect us internally and how we feel about ourselves. Scars would have the same effect. I am grateful, though, that, although weight is hard to “budge,” as you say, it is removable. I absolutely AGREE with your suit idea. Let’s just wear robes. In fact, lets just wear robes all day. :D

  8. Maxine! Thank you for reading my article and for empathizing. I think I’ve seen you here before. Yes, President Clinton would understand trips to McDonalds, because, well, he likes McDonalds.

  9. Kay says:

    Well, I used to be a lot more overweight than I am now. I used to be obese by medical standards.
    I know that when I was out and about I often felt like people treated me badly because of how I looked. I often felt like I was second class in their opinion. A sales clerk would be rude to me and I’d automatically assume it was because I was fat.
    But when I lost weight, people were still rude to me, only now I would assume they were just having a bad day. I never think it has anything to do with me anymore.
    So while, yes, I agree that people really do treat people badly based on how they look I also think that a lot of it has to do with our own interpretation based on how we feel about ourselves.

  10. Kay: Well said. Perhaps it is both… that others treat us differently sometimes, then we internalize it, then assume whenever we are dismissed or treated rudely, it is because of how we look. I have a friend who was very short growing up, and the kids in school called her names. She still feels awkward about her size, even though she’s been out of school for many years. Right now it is hard to tell if people treat her differently because they are having a bad day, or if it is because of her size. It’s difficult, but also very mature to give people the benefit of the doubt. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Jan Parrish says:

    I love you just the way you are, regardless what the scale says.

  12. Jan Parrish says:

    I linked you in my last post! :)

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