Walk like a man
What I’m about to share isn’t pretty. But it does address some of the unattractive side effects of being morbidly obese. And although I thought the following was something I’d never publicly share, I realize that owning it is one of the tools I can use to make sure I never again tip the scales at over 450 pounds.
As you might imagine (or might be aware of through first-hand experience), life in the fat zone is pretty unpleasant across the board. But besides suffering the physical side effects of my gluttony (acid indigestion, labored breathing, profuse sweating, sleepless nights), I was also dealing with the fear of being mistaken for a woman.
At 450+ pounds, I had bigger “breasts” than most of my female friends at the time. Add to that, the overhang from my belly was so enormous that my penis had retracted into my pelvis – giving my crotch an appearance more inline with ‘camel toe’ than one of masculine prowess. The ‘perm’ I had recently gotten for my hair wasn’t helping any of my angst either (although getting it did prove I still cared about my looks – even though the only clothing I could fit into during that time was Size 4XL sweatpants and an oversized gag T-Shirt I’d won at a bookstore because it actually fit).
I decided it was time to take action. But instead of getting sane about my health and changing my eating and exercise habits, I resorted to other measures. The first was to grow a beard in order to be sure that my manly face hair would keep me from ever being mistaken for a woman. But wait, there’s more. I also began stuffing my sweatpants with a pair of rolled up socks to help create a “bulge effect.” At last, I was sure that there would be no confusion in regard to my manliness during the few times I allowed myself to be seen in public. (At over 450 pounds, I had become a virtual recluse.)
Cut to one late evening at a grocery store, when I pushed my cart down a surprisingly crowded aisle and a little girl screamed out to her mother, “Mommy! Mommy! Why does that man have boobs?”
Everyone turned. Everyone stared. I’m not sure if I was more embarrassed of my heaving man breasts or my cart that was full of the most fattening food products available at the market. As the wheels of my cart squeaked loudly, I pushed past the inquisitive child (resisting the urge to shove her deep into a shelf of cereal boxes) and quickly abandoned my cart and left the store.
Turns out my masculine makeover didn’t really work all that well. Although today I see it as one more step on the path toward finally waking up and realizing that what I needed to do was not manipulate my excess weight, but get rid of it.
I share this whale of a tale not only for your amusement (although trust me, it’s fine to laugh at it – I certainly do), but to perhaps inspire you to think about what methods you might be using to “fix” your health that really do not carry much weight (much less have little or no effect in the long run).
By examining the ways in which we’re trying to fool ourselves into thinking our condition can be lived with, we might just jump ahead a couple of steps and move onto some real – and surprisingly simple – changes that can have a lasting effect on not only our overall health, but also our psyche.
If you want to share some of your shortcuts when working toward a goal that proved to be quite useless, I promise I won’t laugh. Instead, I’ll give you a knowing wink and a gentle smile. And if we happen to chuckle together, then so be it. After all, sometimes the best lessons can also be the most amusing.
Oh Gregg…I think we have all been there, in one way or the other. I was dreadfully shopping for clothes yesterday, and right now, I wear anywhere from between a 16, 18, or a 20. I have the shoulders of a linebacker. I remember when I was on break one day, I was sitting in a cafe, and I overheard this older man tell this lady I worked with that he thought I could play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. I was so hurt and embarrassed. Even though this guy needed a much needed social filter, it still stings to this day. I was fitting into 16’s yesterday for pants, but it was a 18 or 20 for the blazer. I can’t fight genetics. That is how most of the people are on my moms side of my family. I think my daughter must have been switched at birth, because she is like a size 1 and 5’5″. Thank God for her. I certainly would look sickly at that size…lol. I would look like well……like a triangle. LMAO!! ya’ know with the shoulders. Even when I was thinner, wearing a size 8/10….my shirts were always bigger. I am not an animal!! LOL…people can be so mean, and they just don’t think. I love how you were saying that you were resisting the urge to shove her deep into the shelf of cereal!! OMG..you’re sooo funny!! I think if we all got together we would all be getting quite the gut workout from laughing so much!!
Anyway, I was embarrassed having to go into the WOMENS sections in the dept stores, or into Lane Bryant. I find that most clothes for women that are “bigger” have to sort through the clothes that have been attacked with glitter or a bedazzler. I am 42 years old!! Not ready for that yet!! LOL Also, it seems like whenever I go into the dept stores, I feel like I am treated like crap, like they act like I am a lazy sloth!! My sister was with me, and she was shocked at how differently I was being treated. I think it is because of my weight, I am sure. I guess I don’t really realize how big I am until I look in the mirror. I even go into Lane Bryant where the girls working in there, are even snotty almost that work there. And they are in the same boat I am in!! I don’t get it. Oh well. Anyhow…I hate to shop for clothes…I feel somedays, I should just pull a Scarlet O’Hara, and rip the curtains off of the windows and go with that…maybe wear them with a nice little heel….lol. I could do like Carol Burnetts version of Gone With The Wind…with the curtain rod going acrossed the shoulders!! OMG…I love her!
Wow…get back on track here Sharon…Sorry. I think some women tend ot LOVE the fact that our boobs are bigger when we are bigger all around! When I was skinny, I used to stuff my bra. Now, I am perfectly happy with them…lol. Can’t have it all. I used to have a friend that would wear like 3 padded bras, just to “look natural”. Yeah….I think she would have been fine going into a line of fire…
So, I have to drive to Kansas City for an interview tomorrow, and I am scared. I am hoping that they overlook my weight, and like my personality. This is a 3 hour trip, and I hope that it is worth it. So wish me luck, I really want this job. But I am hoping I am not judged. Feeling a lot of that lately.
Okay, Sharon — as usual, I’m laughing and crying while reading your brilliant commentary. You have a way with words, my dear — and I love when you share. From linebacker to bra stuffing all within the same commentary. Genius, my dear! Please, please never stop sharing. Oh, and do remember we are all in this together. I never thought I’d be posting in regard to stuffing socks in my crotch. But then I thought, pride be damned. The more we can talk about this stuff (and even laugh at it), the less “abnormal” we feel — no matter what the scale says our weight is. I say this a lot, but I do so because it’s true: WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! Oh, and in regard to never being able to have it all, I get you. I have the skinniest wrists known to mankind. I mean, really — THAT’S got to be the skinniest part of me? As opposed to my waist or hips or thighs or… (You get the picture! LOL!) Thank you again for an eloquent, beautiful, uproarious, heart-tugging post, Sharon. You rock my world. (And keep up the good fight. You do have what it takes!)