I’m a 37, going on 38-year-old woman in Northeastern Ontario Canada. I’m an outdoors woman and fisherman, I also enjoy blogging, writing fiction, and of course rocking out to the radio in my truck. I’m an avid amateur photographer, and between that I can be found outdoors hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing (in the winter). Overall, I’m extremely active. I’m happily married and have an amazing full-time job. I enjoy horseback riding but haven’t been in years. I’ll talk about this more below.
How do you perceive your body? Do you feel like your perspective differs from that of society’s? How does it influence you and how you feel about yourself today?
Honestly, I’ll be the first to say that I see my body as a bit of a tool. It allows me to do what I want, and though society sees what I’ve been given as a hindrance, I find that I’m able to do everything I want without any issues. I do have bad days and seeing that “fat shaming” in social media and in society today does play with my self-esteem, it causes me to not want to show a lot of my adventures online for the negative feedback I know I’ll receive.
How were the topics of self-image, weight and health discussed when you were growing up? How does this influence the way you think and talk about bodies and weight now?
Growing up in my household it was never a matter of what my body was. If I wanted to do it, it was supported and I think that helped give me the confidence I needed to get through school. It also helps me understand that in today’s society there is a lot of misconceptions about what you can and cannot do depending on your shape and weight.
Can you tell me about a time when you experienced or observed discrimination or judgment because of your (or someone else’s) weight or size? Why does this particular experience stand out in your mind?
I think the worse was growing up in High School. A family friend came to live with us for a period of time. He was older than me and had that “cool” factor to him, but he constantly went out of his way to make rude comments to me, from barking at me and offering me dog treats, to telling me that I’d never find someone unless I lost weight because who would want to fat pig like myself. It was a turning point for me in my life, because here was this guy, who looked and acted all cool, showing me that you have to look inside someone. It’s not about what’s on the outside, but rather the inside. I can lose weight sure, change my appearance, but no matter what, people like him will always be ugly inside.
If the fear of weight discrimination were eliminated, what would your life look like?
I can’t see a lot of it being different. However, I do think I’d have more confidence and have more of my adventures on my blogs and be in front of the camera more than behind it. I find that I document those around me, but do not do anything to document myself, because I’m incredibly self conscious about how I look and don’t want to deal with the comments.
Do you feel that your weight has created barriers for you? For example, have you ever given up an activity you really loved because of your weight? Or are there other ways that your weight has hindered you?
My weight has created barriers towards one of my biggest passions, horseback riding. I’ve been told that riding schools do not have horses large enough to handle my weight, and others that have just slowly made it so that I didn’t get call-backs for lessons. I had one amazing instructor, but unfortunately, she moved out of town and I was unable to continue on my lessons. So in the past several years, I’ve had to given up riding for now.
How have your opinions and beliefs about weight influenced the way you see other people? Why do you think this is?
I honestly don’t look at the weight of a person. I look to see what is inside, I don’t want to be judged by how I look, so why would I do it to someone else? I want them to feel comfortable beside me no, matter what their shape or number.
What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions regarding obesity? How do you think stigma contributes to these misconceptions?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that we want to be fat. It’s not just about bad eating, many people who are overweight have underlying health issues, and are often not diagnosed due to doctor shortages, or neglect. As much as we want to lose weight, no diet, no amount of exercise, no amount of starving ourselves is going to change that. I think stigma contributes to this because honestly no one wants to see beyond the shape, or how someone looks. They don’t want to accept that we are trying, and often have better health than they do, it’s just fluffier.
If you feel that your weight is a problem for you, can you talk about the moment you realized it was an issue? What triggered this response?
I don’t find that my weight is an issue, I just find that some days I don’t like how I am. Some days I have bad days, just like everyone else. Some days I hate myself; other days I love myself, and just move forward. Some days a trigger can be a comment or a statement, sometimes it’s just getting up and looking in the mirror.