Most Americans are overweight or obese.
But when your weight attracts notice, it’s nonetheless embarrassing. A sense of humor will get you through, and if you’re not so jolly at the time, you can laugh later. Everybody likes a good story. Self-deprecating humor can be utterly charming.
Stuff like this happens to someone every day. The most common incidents involve some kind of public seating.
Flimsy summer chairs. “My ass got caught in one of those outdoor plastic chairs when I went to get up. It was at a party, so of course everyone saw me pry it off my backside,” a woman writes on an online forum. Plastic chairs can also collapse under you.
Bus seats. “My son wanted me to sit next to him on the bus and it was a sliver of a seat and he said too loud ‘Don't be scared! You won't squish anyone!’” another person chimes in. People get up to give you their seats, or get up when you sit beside them.
Airplane seats. There’s the fear before you board that your neighbor will be too big for both of you to fit or angry when you squish him. Will the flight attendant come quickly when you ask for a seat-belt extender?
Restaurant booths. “I was with my husband, being seated in a booth, the tables are screwed into the floor, and my boobs were SITTING ON TOP OF THE TABLE! I couldn’t wait to get out of there!”
School desk-chair combinations. You’re a Mom at a school event and you have no choice but to squeeze in sideways, again with your breasts on the table.
Amusement park rides. “They could not…lock the bar down in my lap. I had to climb out of the coaster in front of everyone, leave my son seated in it and do the walk of shame,” one man writes. “I was at a fair with my boyfriend (husband now) and we both tried to sit in the same seat for a ride. The guy told us one of us would have to get out. That wasn't fun.” It’s even less fun when you get in the seat and the bar clamps down around your fat.
Wheelchairs. “They had a hard time finding a wheelchair wide enough...OMG! So here I was in a hospital gown with my butt poking out being stuffed in one chair and then another.....ugghhh!! To top it off, the guy who had to find a bigger wheelchair was a guy I went to high school with (when I was thin!) I was sooo embarassed, I didn't know whether to cry or just fall over and die!” Some obese patients can't fit into hospital gowns and the blood pressure cuffs aren't wide enough to fit their arms.
Beyond seating, the next biggest source of pain seems to be public occasions. As a bridesmaid, you’re noticeable in a line-up of slender friends on whom that dress looks gorgeous. At other weddings you’re facing relatives who haven’t seen you since your latest weight gain. Reunions are tough for the same reason. At certain ages, you’ll hear the question, “Are you expecting?” Sometimes they’ll just look shocked.
When eating in groups, do you dare to go for the dessert, like everyone else?
Online dating is even more fun when you’ve posted an online photo that shows only your face. You get to anticipate and see your blind date’s double-take when you show up.
Job interviews involve an extra factor — anti-fat bias. Even in a good suit your appearance may shout “undisciplined” and “lazy” to some employers, and you watch their face to see if you have a chance.
Attempts to do sports — and you need to exercise — produce good stand-up material. “I was skiing down the mountain and some guys ‘Moo'ed’ me like I was a cow. I was with my husband and two friends at the time and others were around. I was so embarrassed — I've never been skiing since.”
“Last year I rode on a jet ski with my husband and fell off....I couldn't pull myself back up.”
One woman’s family insisted on taking her to a stable. The stable refused to give her a horse and she was grateful. “I wouldn’t do that to a horse,” she writes. She waited while her family went riding.
Let moments like these be a spur to launch your weight loss program (heart attacks are motivational, too). For Matt Hoover, the final humiliation came on a night he had to leave a group of friends entertaining an out-of-town guest at an Italian restaurant. No chair in the place fit. He lost 300 pounds.
August 17, 2016
Janet O’Dell, RN