I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease… All opinions are my own.
Does this title surprise you? I bet it surprises some of you. Pretending for social media has always been hard for me. It doesn’t feel good. I do much better when I can speak, write and present authentically. And so when we talk about weight and body image, I’m okay with calling myself fat and overweight.
Because I am.
It is what it is, girl.
This ain’t changing tomorrow and for ALL of my entire adult life, I have been fat. Like many, I’ve had my struggles. I’ve starved myself and rolled in and out of diet plans. I drank diet shakes in high school, did lemonade diets in college and yo-yo’d all up in through my 30’s. This is my norm. Being aware of my weight isn’t ideal but it’s my norm. In fact, I find that it’s other people who have a problem with my body more than I have a problem with my body.
Roxane Gay writes about this so poignantly in her book Hunger: A Memoir of My Body. Her book single-handedly changed how I viewed obesity and people with obesity. Writing posts like these, I feel, can help shatter the opinion many of us have when it comes to the conversation of weight, obesity and everything in between.
Perhaps one of the reasons I can easily talk about weight, weight loss, dieting and body image in general is because I’ve always been so aware of my body and the place it has had in this world. I mean, I’m a fat dark-skinned Black girl with kinky hair. I am aware that more times than not, I stand out. Talking about being overweight does not make me uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy how they feel but I’m also not working hard to hide my back rolls when I go to the beach. I have been a member of Club Cellulite since my teens, and stretch marks and I have been buddies since right around when I started puberty.
Also – I need y’all to know that MOST people of all body types have stretch marks. If you have skin, you probably have stretch marks. This is normal. This is okay. If anyone tries to shame you for something as normal as stretch marks, please send them to this post.
I’m okay with admitting all of this and the biggest reason why I’m okay is—despite what society tells me—I don’t hate my body. In all of its imperfections and in all of my frustrations with not being able to find clothes that make me feel as confident as I feel on the inside, I have never once looked in the mirror and hated what I saw.
Annoyed with myself for not being able to quit binge eating?
But have I outright hated my body?
This, I realize, is a blessing. Not everyone feels that way. Men, women and gender non-conforming people of all body types struggle with how they look. Economic background, location and age do not play a part. If you are a human breathing in this world, it is very easy to hate what you see in the mirror. Just a scroll down Instagram can quickly help you realize how NOT okay your body is.
Which, by the way, how backwards is that? There are more people who DON’T look like the “standard of beauty” than those who do.
I wanted to partner with Med-IQ as their goals align with mine. They want to do exactly what I want to do whenever I talk about weight…educate. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.
I am so okay with helping to normalize this conversation. Let’s face it, if you’ve never been overweight or struggled with obesity, you can’t say what you would or wouldn’t do. It’s so easy to pass judgment to those whose lives differ from ours. It’s so easy to make assumptions about them.
“Just stop eating.”
“Just go on a diet.”
“Just work out more.”
…if only it was that easy, right? We’ve got to do better with how we approach this discussion when it comes to weight. People’s lives are on the line and if we can discuss this in a healthier way, we can quite literally save those lives. Obesity is a chronic disease. It isn’t about just giving up junk food. Obesity is layered, complex and incredibly challenging to tackle alone. Having the support of healthcare providers and a community of those who GET IT are absolutely instrumental for patients with obesity. And no two paths look the same.
I understand this because—despite how I feel about my body and despite how I am able to run at least half of a mile without stopping—medically speaking, I am considered to be someone who has obesity.
Do you have an extra 15 minutes in your day? If so, please oh please consider participating in a survey. This survey will not only include further education on the topic of obesity, but you will also be entered into a drawing to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide us with important information about your experiences with obesity and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives for healthcare providers to improve care
Once you’ve completed the survey, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $50 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
So where does this leave me?
Well, I am still mindful of what I put in my body and try to move it to the best of my ability. In fact, by the time you read this, I’m on yet ANOTHERRRRR “lifestyle plan” to help manage my weight. I am grateful that organizations like Med-IQ exist to help support the healthcare community so that if I need the help, they will be well educated on how to support people like me.
More than that though, I am mindful with how I treat myself. Because fat or not, I will always work hard to treat my body well through loads of self-affirming activities and regularly acknowledging my strengths.
And I recommend you do the same.
If you or someone you know could use additional information and support regarding obesity, I’ve found this list of Education Links beyond helpful.
I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant to write about obesity and its status as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.