I am what is known as a yo-yo dieter. I am not proud of this fact, but after all these years, I have come to accept that it’s so. Every time I get to my ideal weight (72kg), I swear that this is it – this time I’m not going to get fat again… only, a few years later to find myself 25kg heavier and having to go through the dieting process all over again. Since being an adult, I’ve weighed (albeit ages ago and not for very long) as little as 65kg, but also considerably more than the woman who inspired this post.
Haley Morris-Cafiero is a 37-year-old photographer who suffers from hyperthyroidism which makes her fat. She decided to capture the reactions of people as they beheld her (not-so-great) size. This is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/25/haley-morris-cafiero-photographers-wait-watchers-project-pictures_n_3154734.html#slide=more293949
Ms Morris-Cafiero says she has come to terms with the fact that she can’t control her weight and has stopped beating herself up over it. However, she adds ‘That doesn’t mean the world is comfortable with how I look…. I’m constantly fighting strangers’ criticisms that I am lazy and slow-witted, or that I am an overly emotional slob.’
This bemuses me. No matter how fat I am (not so much at the moment, but who knows how big I’ll be this time next year?) or have been (huuuuuge), I have never for one moment sensed that anyone has doubted my intelligence. People may have given me disparaging looks – I’m pretty immune to that kind of thing and probably wouldn’t notice anyway – but I would certainly have been conscious if they had had the temerity to attempt to talk down to me.
And yet Haley Morris-Cafiero’s attitude is not an unusual one. I’ve frequently heard ‘women of size’ (a term I use with my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek – the word is ‘fat’ and using silly euphemisms for it only serves to underscore the idea that it’s a concept too shameful to be mentioned) express the view that they feel that their mental capacities will be questioned because they aren’t a svelt size 10 (UK).
I know a beautiful, intelligent, talented lawyer who qualified for the bar but now works as a teaching assistant because she doesn’t believe that any jury would take her seriously as she weighs over 100kg. And, in my university lecturing days, I encountered another woman – a mature student – who had left school at 16 because ‘nobody thought I was bright enough to stay on because of my size.’
Well get a grip, ladies! Your waistlines might be thick, but it doesn’t mean your brains are too. Stop hiding your light under a bushel, or whatever the saying is. If you’re ashamed of your bodies because they don’t conform to societal norms, then so be it; but if you know you’re bright and intelligent, why on earth would you let anyone think otherwise? If someone puts you down or speaks to you condescendingly, a withering look and a cutting remark will soon put them in their place. If they can’t see beyond the outer shell, then they’re the ones who’re stupid – not you – and it’s in their own interests to let them know that.