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When you’re fat, overweight, obese, plump, “big-boned”, curvy or whatever it is you like to call yourself when you are much heavier than you should be, shame is a constant companion.

According to the Wikipedia article on shame, “The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning “to cover”; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame.”

And so, you will find those of us who are “plus size” draped in outfits that closely resemble bed sheets and garbage bags. We know that what we have isn’t considered beautiful, but that’s not really where the shame originates.

The shame is not created by knowing that people think we’re unattractive, it’s from people judging us every time we have a cookie or a cheeseburger, or assume we spend all our time slumped on the couch with a bag of cheesies in one hand and a tub of ice cream in the other.

I sit down on the streetcar and feel people are thinking ‘that fat and lazy slob should stand up. It might help her, actually, lose some weight. No wonder she’s fat.’

I get a donut with my steeped tea and feel people behind me, checking-out my back fat and can hear their thoughts out loud, ‘oh, honey. Put it down and walk away. That’s why you are so fat’.

Even though my grocery cart is always full of fruits and veggies, when I get to the checkout, I feel like everyone around me is thinking: ‘good for you, girl. I hope you can keep on this diet. Good luck’.

And, based on the nasty comments I’ve heard (and made) over the years (yes, fat people judge other fat people), I know that I am being judged.

And, so, I cloak myself to hide my shame.

I hide behind a bubbly attitude, bright sense of humour and quick-wit. Fat people have learned to protect ourselves by finding ways to disarm people before they attack. We make fun of ourselves first, so that the judgement and jokes of about our size won’t hurt as much.

But, it actually doesn’t really work. We feel hurt all the time.

And, it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been judged, teased, had jokes made at our expense ‘in good fun’, or been fat-shamed, when it happens again it strikes at the very core of our being.

And so, I am desperately trying to turn the tides of shame. And, I’m starting with truly learning how to love myself.

It may sound silly to you, but I’ve started wearing a bit of makeup most days to work, I have bought a few dresses that are so far out of my usual “comfort” clothes in which I can hide myself away.

And, surprisingly, this has made a huge difference. Every time I apply the mascara, or slip the bright red dress on over my head, I feel this little idea growing inside of me-‘you are worth it’.

I am removing the layers I have been hiding under for years. I am allowing myself the freedom to be seen. To be beautiful. To feel good about myself.

As my feelings of worth increase, I begin to process decisions, not from a place of shame or judgement, but by deciding what’s best for me. Because I deserve the best.

I still have a long way to go. But, slowly, I am removing my cloak of shame and learning how to truly love myself.

When deciding whether, or not, I want to buy a bag of chips, the voice in my head has always said things like: ‘go ahead, fatty. You’re never going to be thin so you may as well enjoy yourself.’ ‘Have the chips, fatty. Nobody cares about you or how you feel. You may as well have some comfort in knowing that.’ ‘You deserve those chips. You deserve how they will make you feel more fat and helpless’.

When I’m trying to make choices about food these days my new mantra is: ‘You deserve the best. Is this the best?’

You deserve the best.

You deserve the best.

Believe me. It’s true.

You deserve the best.

You.

You deserve the best.

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