How Do You React to Overweight Strangers (How Do They React To You)?

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How Do You React to Overweight Strangers (How Do They React To You)?

Category : Uncategorized

There are three sides to weight perception. How we see:

  • Our overweight selves
  • Our overweight friends
  • Overweight strangers

Our own weight challenges

For many of us, extra pounds translate into a degree of self- loathing. Nothing can ruin a day more than the scale showing a gain (even by a few ounces). Nothing can ruin a night’s sleep more than the bedtime guilt trip of “Why did I eat that dessert? How could I have blown my diet so totally today!”

Personal weight struggles invade every part of our being – from health to self-worth. At 250 pounds, my weight perception was that I was a failure in every aspect of my life. When you hate yourself for the way you look, that self-loathing permeates your existence – from a lack of self-confidence in business to low self-esteem in social settings.

Of course there are some amazing women and men who carry off excess pounds beautifully. They have panache and appear to overcome weight-related, low self-confidence. I envy them. But for most of us, excess pounds equate to being outside the norm, of feeling less worthy.

Our friends’ weight challenges

I very rarely see weight on my friends. Oh, I know when they are struggling (they tell me and we commiserate). But if you asked me to describe dear friends who are heavy, I would never say “She’s overweight” or “She could stand to lose a few pounds.” True friends (not acquaintances) have a special place in my heart and I would not criticize them (how could I when I struggle so much myself?). That said, if I know a friend is on a slippery slope heath wise, I might volunteer to help i.e., be a diet buddy, be a support, be there for them.

Acquaintances are another story. When I see people that I have not seen for some time, I tend to be aware if they have put on extra pounds. No criticism; just an awareness.

Overweight strangers

Okay – here’s the “mean” part of this ponder. Reactions to overweight strangers.

I am ashamed to admit that I am judgmental (in my head) when it comes to obese strangers in public. I was at the airport the other day and was struck by all the heavy people and ever more so by how those obese people presented themselves. Do they not own a mirror?! I fully embrace how hard it is to diet and I understand the pain of being too heavy in a society that dwells on svelte. But honestly – do you really think THAT too tight/dirty/ripped/revealing/ugly outfit looks right on your girth?!

Although we are all insignificant in the big scheme of life, I suspect that overweight people are often severely judged by strangers; even by those of us who have been on the high end of the scale themselves. Sometimes when my attention is drawn to an overweight person, I see not only what they are wearing, but how their hair looks, how they carry themselves and what they are eating. I would NEVER comment, but my head spins at how so many heavy people don’t appear to be the least bit self-conscious as they wolf down a double order of fries, loaded nachos, huge ice cream sundaes and so on.

As you eat your double cheeseburger, you might rightly respond: “It’s your problem; not mine.” Absolutely true. Dealing with weight issues is very private. No one knows what you are going through in your life and the comfort you get from food. (I know first hand how nightly dishes – yes dishes plural- of ice cream can make a bad day better.)

Hey – if you don’t care about your weight – more power to you; enjoy yourself. HOWEVER, do not think you are not noticed when you are out in public. If your jeans are too tight, you haven’t washed your hair for a week, you act slovenly and you stuff your face with junk food – you may be quietly judged by those around you.

If you simply cannot get a handle on your weight demons, at least get a handle on the few things you can control (e.g., the way you present yourself in public). For a starter: don’t fool yourself that you can fit into a size 12 pair of jeans when you’re actually a size 16. Because, like it or not – the public sees you and thinks about you.