I Was Shamed for my Weight Loss Journey Thoughts
Calling someone a fat-shamer for losing weight shows clearly what’s wrong with the online world
Today I made a huge mistake. I looked at the responses to my articles (gasp!). It was out of curiosity and boredom, but I shouldn’t have. I should have known better.
I stopped reading comments from my readers a long time ago. I carefully considered the pros and cons, and sadly the counterarguments won, namely, I had had enough of being judged, mocked, trolled for expressing my thoughts. And no amount of praise could even out the negativity I sometimes received.
The mistake today was an honest mistake, but it still rattled me. I was shamed and called a fat-shamer for sharing a very honest and vulnerable story about my year-long weight loss journey and its downsides.
I have been struggling with my weight my whole life and finally last year I got to a point where I decided to deal with it forever — one day at a time, but still in it for life. I spoke openly about how I couldn’t accept my own fatness and how I was left with the only choice to change it.
I was called a fat-shamer because of this. I was shamed for having negative emotions towards myself and accused of perpetuating the culture of body negativity and disordered body image. All this because I admitted that I couldn’t accept being fat and decided to change it.
I was mocked because I hadn’t even been that fat, to begin with. As if weight loss and transforming your life only means something if you start from 600lbs, and losing 70lbs (which I did) doesn’t even matter. The commenter said that fat-shaming myself (by not accepting my body but wanting to change it) also means that I am fat-shaming every overweight person and I am doing deliberate harm. Does it mean that my weight loss success is also an insult to everyone who hasn’t yet achieved it? It doesn’t! I am entitled to change my own body — for whatever reason — and I am allowed to write about my experience.
I know that most comments have nothing to do with the article but a lot more to do with the frustration of the commenter, but in the writing world, this is an emerging trend.
These days, as a writer or anyone who has some kind of digital presence, we are encouraged to speak our own truth, to tell our stories, to be vulnerable and relatable. Speaking your own truth is the most difficult task of a writer. When we speak our truth, when we speak up for ourselves or for others, it’s not always about our own private lives and thoughts, but it is about battling societal constructs, tackling sensitive topics with honesty and self-reflection — such as relationship problems, mental health, parenting issues etc. We constantly face criticism because in this day and age people think that someone’s public presence entitles them to be a judge of their lives.
Honesty and vulnerability have a price, your own truth has a price, speaking up comes at a really steep price most of the time. And the price is your integrity — whether you choose to stay true to yourself or you choose to comply with what is expected.
I have been writing about sensitive topics before — abortion, mental health, suicide, sexuality, body image — always very careful about my choice of words, I have been more often than not toning down my writing, sometimes overexplaining concepts and thought to avoid hurting others in any way.
But this continuous filtering of thoughts and pursuit of politically correct, all-inclusive wording are diluting what I want to say. It’s as if I was writing some kind of legal documentation where there is no story but every word matters because it will be picked apart by people who are destined to pick everything apart and look for faults.
I am writing stories. I am sharing my emotions. I am inviting my readers into my life, letting them in on secrets I don’t even share with my closest friends in this detail. I am not writing academic papers, I am writing a blog, for goodness’ sake!
When I wrote about narcissism and I used a ‘he’ pronoun describing my relationship with my ex who was male, I got a lot of comments that my use of masculine pronouns is wrong and it perpetuates the idea that narcissism is restricted to males when there are also female narcissists.
When I was expressing an opinion about the so-called nice guys, I got a lot of comments that #notallmen are like that. This is the kind of toxic nitpicking and bigotry that goes around when anytime someone replies with ‘all lives matter’ to a Black Lives Matter issue.
Are we even having the same conversation in the same galaxy? It might be true, but you are missing the point!
I believe that as writers and bloggers we have a certain level of responsibility, and our integrity matters a lot. Staying away from conspiracy theories, deliberately causing panic, spreading fake news and promoting opinions as facts should be the golden standard for everyone who writes online.
Sadly, you will come across many writers with questionable intentions and sources. You will find self-professed gurus and people who want to sell you things. You will find writers who are stirring the shit and creating drama.
But you can also find writers who do it for the sake of writing, for the sake of self-expression and speaking their own truth. Writers who believe that they can help with their stories and experiences. Writers who share their lives with readers to show that they are not alone. Writers who write for those who cannot speak up.
The sad thing about social media and the digital presence is its ambiguity. On the one hand, it offers an amazing platform to connect with people from all over the world, defying space and time. On the other hand, its virtual nature encourages behaviour that wouldn’t exist in real life.
The instant feedback and praise are great, understanding what resonates with your readers is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tailor your topics to your audience. But next to all the positive effects, the negativity is overwhelming. Imagine Hemingway being questioned and mocked all the way through his creative process or his progress from short stories to novels. Imagine Harper Lee being under the scrutiny of readers who decided already that they would be offended by the words because they had a problem with the topic itself.
How can you speak your truth if you are not allowed to use your own experience and thoughts without being accused of generalisations? How can you not offend someone who already carries enormous rage within? How can you stay clear and honest when you need to weigh every word — to avoid the comments from trolls?
How can I be more relational with my readers when I don’t have thick enough skin to deal with the negativity and this way I also miss out on the positive comments? How do I stay unaffected by this when deep down — just like everyone else — I need some kind of external validation to keep believing in myself? How can I be proud of my weight loss when I am accused of doing it out of fat-shaming? How can I share potentially relatable stories for some without hurting someone’s fragile emotions — which I am totally not responsible for?
I wish there was another way but to stay away from comments. At the moment, I don’t see what else could be done. We still don’t have the etiquette for online behaviour, there are no rules and common sense is not that common. Well, until then, I’ll be writing and stop reading comments.