For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
I started a social experiment about image on July 24, 2017. Armed with a legal pad and pen, I decided that for a week, I would keep a list of all the references about being overweight I heard on television and radio, or read in print and social media. My intent was to continue this experiment for the entire week of vacation, but here I sit after only THREE DAYS and I’ve already heard and seen so much that to complete the week would be an exercise in redundancy.
There were very few programs I watched on television that didn’t make some reference to being overweight. There were NO publications I read during the last three days that didn’t have at least one article about how to lose weight, and every article promised that this was a sure-fire way to shed the extra pounds.
Let me share with you part of my list. Keep a tally of how many you’ve heard, whether it was on a media outlet or spoken directly to you or about you.
Every time I heard or read these particular words, it was in the context of weight: fatty, chubby, fat pig/fat hog, lard ass/fat ass, fatso, tubby, chubby chaser, tub of lard, chunky girl, broad as a barn door, fat slob, blubber butt, jelly belly, fat squab (courtesy of Gordon Ramsey on “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares”), over-grown slob, porky, south end of a northbound truck, chank (short version of chubby skank), pudgy, stout, cow/fat cow, buffalo butt, buffarilla, doughboy, whale/beach whale, heifer, fat boy/fat girl, hoss, fatty fatty 2-by-4, “not normal,” fat fanny, healthy girl/boy, wide load, 2-ton Annie, rotund, wide as he is tall, pot belly, beer belly, portly, whopper, lardo, sow, and Omega Mu (said by a frat boy in a movie about a girl, a reference to an imaginary sororiety whose members are all overweight).
To put these words into a more personal perspective, I asked close friends and Facebook acquaintances to share with me some of the comments that have been made to them about their weight. I shed tears of frustration and anger as I read them, knowing how some of these vicious, uncalled for words cut my friends to the core. Please remember that these are OPINIONS and that they were not spoken out of true concern for anyone’s well-being.
“Ewww…I feel so fat! Kill me now!” (This was said by the sister of a friend. The friend had just started her weight loss journey. Her sister is thin and not overweight in any conceivable way. Her message to her sister was clear: people who are overweight don’t deserve to live.)
“Don’t say you’re fat! You’re beautiful!” (This was a remark to a friend who was being honest about her need to lose weight. Her mother thought she was offering a supportive compliment, but it was taken much differently, as if being overweight was a commentary on beauty, as in fat=ugly.)
“Have you lost weight? Because you look fabulous!” (Lynn DeArgo, who had NOT lost weight at this point, felt the person who said this was well aware of the fact that she had, indeed, not lost weight. Lynn is happy to report that she has lost 22 pounds in the last three months and has joined a gym. She says that she feels fabulous, and that’s even better than looking fabulous.)
“Is that on your diet?” or “Are you sure you should eat that?” (Actually spoken directly to me, I despise it when people take an inventory of my meals! I think after losing 60 pounds, I know what I can and cannot eat.)
“I don’t think you should wear skinny jeans. I mean, they’re for skinny girls. It’s right in the name.” (This is an actual comment made to a Facebook friend, LaNeita, by a sales clerk at American Eagle.)
“Be careful. I don’t want you to have a heart attack today.” (A Facebook pal, Connie Rodriguez, submitted this to me. After losing almost 120 pounds and walking as exercise for a year, this was said to her by the person who checked Connie in at her very first 5K race packet last October. People just ASSUME things!)
“I just don’t see how you could allow yourself to gain this much weight! I mean, didn’t you look in the mirror every day?” (Submitted by Andrew, this was a remark made to him by his sister, whom he had not seen in two years.)
“Once you lose weight, dating will be so much easier! Nobody wants to marry a fat girl.” (Single mother, Tasha, submitted this. This is a direct quote from her mother.)
“You know, they can perform surgery to help you lose weight. Just think how pretty you’d be if you weren’t so heavy!” (Spoken to my friend, DiAnna Ligon by a TOTAL STRANGER at a benefit auction she attended. This upset her so badly that she left the benefit. I am pleased to report that she’s now lost 65 pounds in the last six months and is well on her way to reaching her goal.)
“I suppose she rolls down instead of walks!” (While out and walking for exercise, my friend was huffing it up a hill when a car of rude guys rode by and yelled this out of their truck window. Now she’s lost 40 pounds and in her own words, she’s “winning the battle.”)
“My goodness! What have you been eating?” (Pregnant with her second child, this is how the doctor and his student-intern greeted Theresa. She knew she had gained weight, but felt the remark was degrading and insensitive.)
I share all of these vile words and statements with you because I know life is not only unfair, it’s often cruel. People have their own agendas and their cruel messages are more about the condition of THEIR HEARTS than YOUR WEIGHT.
What I want you to embrace is the fact that you are God’s masterpiece. You are a work of outstanding skill and artistry. You are His very best piece of work, His magnum opus. I invite you to return for the second part of this series because I want to share with you what GOD says about you. What God says about you is far more important than anything society says about you.