I've spent the better part of the last 20 years being overweight.
Sometimes bigger. Sometimes smaller.
Never anywhere close to the threshold of being socially acceptable with the "cool" kids.
As I have recently lost 90+lbs on the way to a healthier existence, I note how different the world reacts to my presence.
Mind you, I'm still a 6'2" Black guy with broad shoulders and therefore (according to Fox News) I am automatically a raping, drug-dealing, mean-spirited, uneducated thug whose main goal in life is impregnating as many White women as possible to give them kids to be on welfare.
That Trumpian nonsense aside, since I've lost weight, people are definitely nicer to me and the 15-foot stick people keep between you and them is slowly getting smaller. I'd say the stick is about 8-feet now.
Seven years ago, I WROTE THIS PIECE ABOUT BEING OVERWEIGHT AND BLACK.
Please read it when you get a chance. :)
I'm not going to go over that situation again, but I would like to offer some support and guidance for my brothers in girth who have to deal with various indignities because of their increased size.
I know a lot of bigger dudes who are definitely feeling the pain and I wanted them to know that I've got their back.
Also, I've found it necessary to share some rules of behavior to save you from unnecessary heartache as you run into hordes of shallow and superficial morons who are incapable of understanding the phrase "content of character."
1) Always smell nice. Wear nice clothes. Defy the expectation. Everyone assumes fat men are sloppy, smelly, slovenly and simple-minded. Don't be that guy. Nice clothing increases confidence and sends the message that a big man can still take care of himself in social environs.
2) Be very careful about complimenting women on anything. It will be seen as flirting and things get awkward. Even if it is a harmless compliment, just be careful. Regardless of what the Men's Rights Activists (MGTOW) clowns believe, most women aren't evil harpies poised to rip your guts out and dance with unfettered glee. Women are human beings with frailties and imperfections. However, many women are accustomed to being flirted with 24 hours a day/7 days a week (twice on Sundays) and have ways of kindly deflecting unwanted male interest.
The problem is when your kindness is mistaken for romantic desire and you end up getting "let down easy" by a woman you weren't even interested in. It's annoying and it stinks. The best way to avoid these scenarios is to treat every woman you meet like a criminal court judge. Keep your distance, be respectful and only give direct answers unless otherwise prompted.
If a woman is interested in you, she'll let you know.
3) Learn how to navigate the weirdness of other people's body shaming. It's not your fault they project their insecurities onto your flesh. The issue of body dysmophia is serious and ingrained in our society. It's described as a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance.
Some folks just go overboard with fashion and makeup to cover up these flaws, while others starve themselves and develop eating disorders. The advertising industry is built upon digging into our collective insecurities to trigger a desire to spend money to "improve." Since being overweight is considered the opposite of "healthy" and "attractive" there are many out there in society who feel the need to reject you based upon your appearance.
Understand this - THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT THAT.
Yes, it hurts. Yes, you feel like shit. Yes, you would love to "fit" in.
The people rejecting you will often be the most popular, the funniest, the coolest and ridiculously beautiful.
But guess what... FUCK THEM. Seriously. Fuck. Them.
Go back to the core phrase: "Content of character."
All that truly matters at the end of the day is whether or not you can look yourself in the mirror and not feel as if you have compromised your integrity or moral code. It takes time (sometimes it takes a REALLY long time) but you will eventually discover a circle of decent people who won't give a damn what you look like and will care more for the person underneath the skin.
A lot of the "beautiful" people are going through all kinds of internal nonsense that has nothing to do with you other than the fact you are a physical representation of their self-loathing. Don't be anyone's dart board.
4) Make a health plan that is congruent to how you live your life, not to make other people feel comfortable around you. In the long run, you will need to lose weight, but don't do it because people are pressuring you. A lot of the "concerned" folks are preoccupied with aesthetics, not your well-being.
Eating right and developing an exercise plan is hard work. Do it for you. We all gained weight for different reasons. I tend to be an emotional eater at night. I don't eat a lot of bad stuff all day long, but with my crazy work schedule, the pressures of the day required some comfort food at the worst possible times. That caused my excessive weight gain. I had to change that.
Get rid of those reasons and move forward. Your life depends on it.
5) Understand that there's little to no support out there for bigger guys so learn to find solace and stability with yourself. Get to know yourself, spend more time alone and learn to love what makes you... you.
The entire "plus size" movement is based around how horrible it is for women to be overweight because - apparently - all the men out there want women under a size 6 and can't appreciate a woman with curves.
I truly believe that many of the plus size women out there are looking for their Ryan Gosling/Ryan Reynolds/Denzel Washington/Drake dude and ignore decent men because they're under the impression that "regular" guys aren't worth their time. So much of the current dialogue around weight and attractiveness is framed around long-suffering women and how they're treated in the dating world.
This idea presupposes that fat guys have their veritable pick of the litter and that there's no societal body shaming or alienation aimed at us. That is utter hogwash on every conceivable level.
Let me break it down for you - I don't know when this happened - but these days, men are all supposed to have perfect bodies with six-pack abs, high-paying jobs, nice cars, a couple of homes, a degree in finance and access to private international transportation all day long.
I see it and hear it all of the time, everywhere I go. I'm not in the dating arena anymore (thank God) but I hear and see this stuff from my single male buddies who are a bit on the pudgy side.
When you're a social pariah, the best thing to do is learn more about your inner spirit and strength so you can become attractive to yourself. It is a sincere form of selfishness that eventually becomes self-preservation that will lead to stronger self-esteem and self-respect.
In practical terms, don't be afraid to do stuff alone: go to the movies, a museum, a bar, a lounge, a restaurant, a poetry reading, shopping, etc. Get to know what makes you tick instead of defining yourself by the neurotic trappings of deeply damaged folks who hide their beaten souls behind the veneer of white teeth, tiny waists and chiseled cheekbones.
It's a tough world out there. You can't do it alone. You have to find the right people to accompany you on the journey of life.
Good health and good luck to you all.
Thanks for reading.