Today I am thinking about the way I treat myself and the way I see myself. I have always had low self-esteem. It isn’t anything that anyone in particular gave to me. I wasn’t emotionally or physically abused as a child. Rather, I had a very encouraging mother who tried her best to give me everything I wanted and needed and was, and still is, a constant supporter of mine (as long as I don’t cuss too much or use the Lord’s name in vain). I think maybe the world sort of just pushed me down, as it tends to do to girls and young women who feel weak to combat what is thrown at us. Which leads me to the first and foremost reason for my low self-esteem, I’m fat.
Listen, it’s not a secret. It never has been, and I’ve always been fat. And I use the term fat for lack of a better word. And because it doesn’t bother me, though it might bother some. For that, I am sorry. Let me say this, I am overweight. I weigh more than I am supposed to for my height. I weigh more than is healthy for my frame or my heart. I have a larger force of gravity pressing down on me than others who are my age and size. It has always been this way. I don’t have those little stories about “back when I was thin” I was never thin. Of course I was smaller than I am now, and even as an adult I constantly fluctuate between the same 30 pounds. The same 30 pounds up, and the same 30 pounds down, depending on the season.
Because I am fat, when I meet someone new I always assume that I already have one strike against me. For example, when I meet someone whom I think might make a good friend, or a lovely advocate, or even someone to share a nice, afternoon chat with while we wait for our kids to get out of school, I assume that the first thing they think about me is, “Oh, she’s fat.” And why wouldn’t they? They can see that I am. Same as they can see that I am a brunette, with streaks of red (in the right sunlight) and streaks of gray (in all the lights). They can see that I have blue eyes. They can see, depending on whether or not I have waxed lately, that I have black hair on my upper lip. But none of that matters. I think, I am fat and I must win them over if I am to be their friend. After all, who wants to be friends with someone who looks like me?
So I start. I start to try to make them like me for all the other reasons. I try to make them look through my skin, and my layers of fat, and see me. I start with a friendly, open nature. Then I add the humor. I sometimes add the humor big time, depending on if I think they keep catching sight of my double or triple chin. I make up, or try to make up, for the fact that people are watching them stand there, talking to a fat girl. I think it helps in some way. Soon, I get them to laugh. That helps. That motivates me. Then I know I sort of “have them”. When you make someone laugh it feels like they like you, even just for a moment. Even if they don’t like you. All fat girls know this. That is what we strive for. To be liked. Because we certainly don’t like ourselves.
Geez, I wish I was saying this better. I guess what I am saying, in a very disjointed, makes-no-sense kinda way, is that I go out in this world everyday with one strike against me. Two or three, or even four somedays, depending on how I feel, what fits me that day, and how much sleep I’ve had the night before. And on those days, talking to people, and moving around the world, or just getting into my car, knowing what is ahead, can be tough. And other people feel this way too. And it isn’t necessarily because they are fat. For some people it is because they are painfully shy. Or they have crooked teeth and they don’t like to smile. Or they think they world will judge them for their weird mole on their cheek, or the way their lips curl, or that patch of psoriasis they can’t seem to shake. Everyone has their one strike, and it isn’t always visible, and they are out there trying to navigate the world with it everyday.
So just remember that. Remember that we all have one strike against us when we set out, and try to be aware of that one strike. Try to be kind, and nice, and eager. Open the conversation if you see someone struggling. Laugh at the nervous joke. Shake their hand. Make eye contact and say hello. Make the first call. Send the text when you are thinking of them. It’s always nice to feel welcome. It’s always nice to feel welcomed, and seen, and liked, it helps us forget about our strike, even just for a moment.