Imagine a world where almost everyone you encounter suddenly becomes 20 percent friendlier and nicer to you.
Dozens of different psychological studies have been performed. They essentially prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that overweight people are treated differently by others (including other overweight people). I didn’t realize this was happening to me until I lost the weight.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I never really saw myself as “fat” at my 260 lb peak. Despite being classified as “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale. I knew I was overweight, sure, but there were always so many other fat people around me that it was easy to just tell myself I was fine because, you know, at least I’m not as fat as THAT guy.. or THAT girl… In fact, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see a fat person. I actually saw the same guy I’d always seen. I’d stand at just the right angle to help me ignore the problem. Sure I was wearing 2 XL and 3 XL shirts, but racks were FULL of clothes in 2 XL, which meant I was the same size as LOTS of other average people.
Side note: a lot of reality TV shows are based entirely on this principle, they showcase extreme cases of various conditions (be it weight, hoarding, etc). The result is that people with the exact same problem respond by believing one thing. They believe that their problem isn’t a big deal because, you know, it’s not as bad as the extreme cases they see on TV, and therefore, it doesn’t need to be dealt with.
Anyway, for the reasons I mentioned above, I really didn’t have a “confidence” problem. (Although I hated seeing myself in photos because I didn’t have the luxury of standing at just the right angle). I actually still felt fairly attractive. I’m also fairly well-spoken, reasonably educated, and tend to get along easily with most people. So I didn’t FEEL like people treated me differently until I lost a lot of weight.
There are a few things I’ve noticed since losing the weight. People are way more likely to open a door for me. Cashiers (both male and female) are way more likely to try to engage me in conversation. Employees at stores (male and female) are way more likely to ask me if I need anything and/or need assistance. Strangers even make eye contact with me now. That was something I was not used to. People returned the smiles I gave them. People, in general, are more polite and patient around me, and in general, the world just seems happier and easier to get along with.
Don’t tell Melanie, but I also now enjoy the occasional honk from a girl in a car driving by while I’m running. If that’s not an ego-boost at 37 years old, I don’t know what is. It’s also possible they are trying to tell me my zipper is down… I’ll take it either way.
Losing weight actually made the people I interact with more pleasant to be around, because I am (apparently, at some deep subconscious level) more pleasant to be around. But more important to understand—all of these behaviors from strangers (not making eye contact, not holding doors, not engaging in conversation)—I viewed as normal.
I never realized how many subtle differences there were. It was time to learn how to navigate a world where I was now a member of the cool kids’ club.
We can complain about the fact that this is wrong, it’s horrible, it’s a social injustice, and gosh darn it, people need to stop being so insensitive towards fat people. But you know what? They don’t even think about it! The studies I’ve mentioned above basically prove that people have NO IDEA they are treating fat people differently. They just do. And guess what? If those studies are right, you probably treat fat people differently, too. You just don’t realize it. (And yes, as mentioned above, even fat people treat fat people, differently)
But here’s the good news… anyone can join the club. You just have to pay the same fee that everyone else pays. Work hard, eat healthily and you’re in. (There are always a few genetic weirdo exceptions like the people who get in without the work. But by and large, you’ll find the vast, VAST majority of people who are fit and healthy have EARNED it.