When someone you love calls you “fat”

The other day, I realized that insults will not only come from those who dislike me, troll my website or disagree with my lifestyle. Sometimes, they will come from someone I love. And…I don’t know how to deal with that.

I’ve heard it all my life. People use the word “fat” in front of another insult because it makes it “so much worse.” So, I’m not a bitch, I’m a fat bitch. I’m not a whore, I’m a fat whore. Not to mention, there are other qualifiers they will stick in there to make it seem even worse. You know, I’m a fat, lazy bitch or I’m a fat, smelly whore. Fun stuff, huh?

These comments usually roll right off my back, and they are of no consequence to me because I don’t give two craps about the person saying them. But, when the insult comes from someone I love during a fight, all bets are off.  I was called a fat, lazy bitch by this person (something I’ve been called many times before), and it felt like I’d been stabbed to my core. And now, even after time has passed, it still feels that way. I can’t make this hurt go away, even with a heartfelt apology. I feel like the words are written all over me, and even though I am not a fat, lazy bitch, I feel like a little less of a worthwhile human being.

Have any of you dealt with this before? I may sound very juvenile, but how can someone say they love you, and call you something like that?

 

Author’s Note: If you like my writing, and would like to contribute to my new book, There’s More to Me than F-A-T, please visit my indegogo site. Along with monetary donations, I am also looking for stories from other fat women to use in the book.

Thankful for my fat

Everyone does a post about being thankful this time of year, right? Well, I’m thankful for my husband, my children, my family and that I am gainfully employed. But, I’m also thankful for my fat.

Why? That’s simple — I’m thankful for my fat because without it, I wouldn’t be as wise as I am now.

I know, I know…that sounds a little shallow. I basically mean that I wouldn’t have had all of these life lessons (some more poignant than others) without my girth.

Lesson 1) Sometimes love isn’t enough.

I met my ex-husband when I was 17 years old. When I was 17 years old, I weighed 140 pounds. We started dating, and after I turned 18 and graduated from high school, he proposed and two months later I got pregnant. He went off to boot camp and then training for the Marine Corps. We saw each other periodically during that time, but I was basically without him my entire pregnancy. I sat around depressed, hormones raging, and I ate A LOT. I gained over 70 pounds during the pregnancy. We got married in January 1999, and our son was born in April of that year.

Over our years of marriage there were a lot of hardships, a lot of yelling and screaming, some infidelity and a lot of lies. It wasn’t all on him, I was to blame too. I fell into a deep depression and started gaining and gaining. I topped out at 250 pounds. He wasn’t attracted to me physically anymore and neither of us were happy. So, we decided to separate and, later, divorce. All of this sad story is documented in my thesis, Call Me Tabs: The Making and Breaking of a Marine Corps Wife.

Lesson 2) Sticks and stones may break your bones, so you have to be too hard to break.

There isn’t a name you could call me now that would actually faze me. I have been called every fat slur in the book. I’m thankful for every bully, every hater, every person who rejected me because of how I look. Without my plump exterior, I wouldn’t have had a lot of run-ins with such a merry band of degenerates. I wouldn’t have thought up Tab-A-Lard on my own, nor would I have known you could make it into a song. Words can hurt — but after a while, you either have to make the decision to believe them or dismiss them. I’ve been down the path of believing them, and it isn’t pretty. So, I’ve learned that you have to be too hard to break. That’s kind of where I am now. Words don’t hurt me anymore. I use them to my advantage.

Lesson 3) Finding someone who supports you is so important.

My husband loves me. He loves me enough to make me feel comfortable with who I am as a fat woman. He loves me enough to rub my curves and enjoy my body, as well as my mind and spirit. He also loves me enough to make healthy changes with me, eat healthier with me and exercise with me. He loves me through all of it. If I want to change, he supports me. He supports my writing, he listens to me go on and on about my research and my love of fat activism. It’s odd because I almost feeling like finding a man as a fat woman was more rewarding than finding one as a thinner woman.  I know where we stand. I know that he isn’t hung up on how much I weigh or what the scale says. I don’t have to be perfect, even though he sometimes thinks I am.

All of these life lessons are thanks to my fat. I feel like my fat has almost been like a security blanket, a warm place to land when nothing seemed to be going right. Now, while I may let some of my fat go, I’ve made peace with the fact that I will always be a fat woman, though a lighter fat woman. Lol, no matter which way you slice it — fat is fat. Some of us just have a little more than others. We are real people with hopes and dreams, and despite what you may think, we’ve been judged enough to know what matters and what doesn’t. So, stare at that woman in the restaurant who orders a cheeseburger. Stare at that woman who is out with her thin husband. Stare at the woman watching her kids play in the park. It doesn’t matter. We’ve heard it all before. The lessons we learn through our fat stay with us, and they make us stronger.

Catching Memories

Pictures are really just captured memories, right? We’re lucky enough to have something better than our memory to recall them. I’ve often said that no obese person is born that way. Every pound has a story. Well, here is some of mine.

I don’t have any pictures of me prior to high school. My mother has them, but I don’t. I can assure you that from the time I was nine years old, I had a weight problem. Though my mother knew my diet and activity level hadn’t changed, the doctor assured her that my weight problem was a matter of me eating way too much. And from there, the pounds began to stack up.

1994

1994

This is me during the Christmas of my freshman year of high school. Yes, I am the second from the left — little Tabby, wearing clothing that made her look she was more suited for a nursing home than a high school. Plus clothing wasn’t as easy to find back then, so you had to get creative.

1997

Senior Pictures

19971997 2

A funny thing happened over the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked at a skating rink as a floor guard. I worked between 25-3o hours a week, and I was on skates the whole time. I loved every minute of it — and I shed 60 pounds. At this point, I was somewhere around 160 pounds.

1998

Summer after Graduation

1998

The summer after my senior year, I met the “man of my dreams.” Or at least I thought I did. I had been training to enlist in the Army (which was messed up because of a knee injury), and I got down to 140 pounds. This was the smallest I have been during my adult life. And, it was literally because I ate almost nothing and walked or ran every day with my recruiter.

After 1998, there is what I like to call a dark period. I was married to a man from 1999-2005. During that time, I became depressed, and the weight began to come on because of my issue with emotional eating. I was disgusted with myself, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be in a picture. There were spurts of time that I felt fine, and other times, I felt like I could never leave my house. As I said, it was a dark time. I lived on a Marine Corps base, surrounded by athletic or skinny men and women, and I was packing on more pounds every day. It was a terrible cycle that I never thought I would break. I also felt embarrassed for my husband at the time because he had to be seen with me. After we divorced, I actually told myself for a while that he had every right to do the things he did because he didn’t sign on to be married to a fat cow — he married a smaller woman, so it was okay.

After the separation, I moved with my children back to Ohio. It didn’t take me long to start smiling again.

2006

2007

As you can see from this picture with my friend, Blake, I still didn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. Sure, I’d show my face, but anything to make me look a little smaller. I couldn’t look fat on camera, after all. That would be captured for a lifetime!

2008

2008

In 2007 and 2008, I met some friends in college who were larger women. They didn’t make apologies for it…didn’t care what other people thought. One of them went with me to a local bohemian community festival an hour from our home. I felt comfortable in a tank top for the first time. I even danced in the rain (hence the wet hair). That year, I got a grant from the college and went on a research trip for my senior honors thesis. It was the first time that grant had been awarded to someone in the English Department at my school.

 

2009

2009 2

In 2009, I started to make a name for myself in the writing community at my university. After winning five awards at the year-end assembly, I felt comfortable enough to let a friend take a half body picture. It was the first one in years.

 

2010

2010

This was snapped at a Chuck E. Cheese in 2010. My mother wasn’t exactly sure where to look (lol), but that’s okay. In 2010, I still had one more year of school, and I was dividing my time between work, school and raising two kids on my own. After a couple of years with my parents, my children and I had finally moved out — life was moving right along.

 

2011

Reading 2011Awards 2011

I was preparing to graduate in 2011. First, I had my award ceremony. I received seven awards that night, including a first place award for my poetry and the award for top senior for the campus. The picture at the podium is me giving a reading of my poem, and the other picture is my father, my daughter, me and my son at the reception after.

2011

Graduation!

2011

This is a photo of our graduation party. My sister, Becky, and I graduated the same day. This picture, from left to right, is me and my sisters Jennifer, Becky and Kimmy. As you can see, my sisters are not the same size as me. I am the only one in the family that is morbidly obese. I remember that it took me a LONG time to be okay with this picture. I was happy that I graduated. I was proud. But, I was wearing a gown that looked like a circus tent and made me look even bigger than I was. Looking back at it now, I see a nice picture with my sisters. :)

Grad 2

So, who do I look like? Yes, this is my sister, Becky, and I with our parents. Once again, it took me a long time to appreciate this picture. But, looking back, I see this picture of two people who were proud of both their daughters, despite either of their sizes. It makes me stand up a litter straighter now to know that my mother and father have never judged me negatively because of my weight.
2012

Last year was a busy one for me.

2012

This was me in early 2012, when I was a reporter for The Marion Star here in Marion, Ohio. The haircut was new. Everyone had told me for years that my round face could never pull off shorter hair. I think they were wrong — I got more compliments on this haircut than I ever had before.

2012 5k

I had been working on being more healthy because I was sick of being tired all the time. So, I decided to walk a 5K on my 32nd birthday in June 2012.

 

July 2011

In July 2012, I went to visit friends in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and had a job interview for The Daily News. This is a picture of me from the trip. Still not a lot of full body pics for me.

 

2012 at News

I got the job and moved to NC in August 2012. Here is a pic of me the second day at The Daily News. And below is a picture of how much I changed from my first day at the Marion Star to my first day at The Daily News (A year apart; the top pic is the older of the two):

2011-2012 badges

I felt better, and I had more confidence than ever before. That’s probably why what happened next even happened —

 

Meeting Ricky

This is Ricky, the love of my life. I met him in early September 2012. He was the first man I’d ever met who made me feel completely comfortable in my own skin no matter what I wore or didn’t wear.

Engaged

After a whirlwind romance, Ricky asked me to marry him in November. We decided to wait until the following September to get married.

 

2013

Moving back to Ohio

This is Ricky and I in February of this year. We were preparing to climb into a U-haul and move from North Carolina back to Ohio. It was quite a trip that was snowy and took 24 hours instead of the normal 12 hours!

Prom

Ever since I met Ricky, I haven’t felt self-conscious about my body. I feel beautiful. I am beautiful, despite my weight. I know that no one can make you love yourself, but after hearing you are ugly, fat and disgusting for years, it took some convincing to believe otherwise. This picture was taken at my kids’ school. We chaperoned their prom.

Reception

Ricky and I were married on September 28, 2013. For any stories about planning a wedding as a fat bride, please refer to any blog post between February 2013 and September 2013. It was an adventure, that is for sure!

Honeymoon

And finally, pictures on our honeymoon. This was a 50 picture shoot with a professional photographer. Talk about coming full circle. From not wanting pictures taken to a photo shoot. I love it!

Present Day

Me today

This is me today. I have a double chin. I have a big face. And, I have a lot of weight that my skeleton is carrying around. Here is what I’ve learned in almost 20 years of photos — I am worth more than the image that appears in any of these pictures. I am a person. I am a fat person, but I’m still a person. I am a writer. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a sister. I am fat. This is who I am. There is definitely no need to make apologies for that.

I don’t owe you anything

Author’s Note: This rant is not intended for those who want to have intelligent debate about health and wellness issues. This is for all those who feel the need to contribute nothing to a conversation but hatred.

The other day, I had a run-in with a troll on one of my posts. The person, if you want to call it that, said that I deserved to hear his/her comments about my weight because they “have to look at flabby, disgusting bodies all day.”

First question: Who in the hell do you think you are? I’m just curious, because who really makes comments like that? It is hard for me to believe that people who feel that self-important really exist.

Second question: Who says you have to look at mine (or any other) body all day? I picture this person sitting around in an office lobby leering at every overweight person that walks their way until they are out of eyesight. It is actually equal parts disturbing and hilarious. Though, I’m sure after a while security would have you escorted out of the building.

Also, who is forcing this person to look at someone all day? Do you have your head taped to a fat woman’s body or something? Here is a piece of advice for any time you see something you don’t like — turn the other way. That is just like being annoyed with something on one television station, and raising hell about it instead of turning your television to one of the other 500 channels you have.

There’s a wake-up call that trolls need to understand — and maybe they already do, and just don’t care — my body, my life, my health and my well-being are none of your business. My existence does not affect your life any more than anyone else. I heard someone say something about having to pay more in medical costs because of “people like me.” Well, guess what, I have to pay for all kinds of things I don’t like and support, but it’s part of life.

I don’t care if I am labeled a disease, an epidemic, and I don’t care if the country declares a freaking war on me for being obese. At the end of the day, I’m going to live my life the way I want, the way that makes me happy. That could include losing weight, and it could not. That could include living a healthy lifestyle, and it could not. Either way, it’s none of anyone’s business. I don’t owe you one second of my attention because you don’t like the way I look, and I don’t owe you one minute of my life because my confidence makes you uncomfortable.

Do you know how we are different? I have more skin and flab that you do. That’s it. You could eat healthy for your entire life and be a healthy weight and still die of cancer at the age of 50. I could eat healthy or not healthy, lose weight or not lose weight and live to the age of 75 or 80. That is how life works. It is all about the contributing factors. My contributing factor is fat. Maybe your contributing factor is the f**ked up air you breathe in your city. Maybe your contributing factor is the fact that you smoke. Maybe your contributing factor is that you sleep around. Am I going to tell you not to smoke, sleep around or breathe? Probably not. If you want to do that with your life, then you need to be ready to deal with the consequences of those actions. Guess what? I know what the consequences for my obesity are — and I deal with them every day.  Your trying to fat shame me, nicely fat shame me, or just telling me to eat a salad isn’t going to change my life any. By the way, that includes listing off all the ways I may die because I’m obese. I know, I’m told on a daily basis. You’re not going to lay some life-altering health advice on me that I haven’t heard 500 times already.

In reality, I know that someone who trolls the internet is just a really unhappy person. I know that a person who insults a complete stranger is really messed up on the inside and needs to project that somewhere. And, I know that deep down, some people are just mean and want to try to work up some drama for their own amusement.

Troll me all you want — I’m done reacting. I don’t owe you anything because I exist.

On The Beauty Of Women

TabithaLHeath:

I read this article about how a man “loves insecure women.” Your words are beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

Originally posted on The Better Man Project:

Before I start this, I want to make something clear. This post is not coming from a man who has had an easy time his whole life with women. In fact, I have had my heart broken more times than I care to admit. I have shed tears, been betrayed in the worst of ways and have been made to feel unimportant, almost to the point where I thought I didn’t exist. And even through all of this, I can still put my heart on the line for women because I believe in one fundamental reality.

Women are beautiful.

Last night, one of my best friends sent me an article and asked for my thoughts. So I opened it up and read the first line. “I’m just gonna come out and say it: I love insecure women.” I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and continued reading on for…

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An open letter to all the people in my life — no matter what your size

To all those who love me, hate me or know that I exist in any way,

I am not…

Chubby. Plump. Juicy. Thick. Large. Zaftig. Plus-Size. Big Beautiful Woman. Few Extra Pounds. Ample. Voluptuous. Big-Boned. Chunky. Cuddly. Curvy. Fluffy. Full-bodied. Buxom. Full-figured. Heavy. Horizontally-Challenged. Lard Ass. Husky. Portly. Rotund. Rubenesque. Stocky. Overweight. Obese. Big. I’m not any of the negative slurs you can think up.

The word you are searching so hard to say is “fat.”  I am F-A-T. For better or worse, no matter how healthy or unhealthy I am, I will always be fat.

It is not a bad word. It does not hurt my feelings. Do you know what does hurt my feelings? When you say that I’m not fat. It makes me wonder if you are blind or just a really bad liar. Want to know something else annoys me? When you complain about how “fat” you feel at a certain day or time. Guess what? Fat is a state of being. I am fat. It is not an emotion or a feeling. It just is.

The stereotypes for fat women astound me. I’m mean and bitchy, but I’m also emotionally starved and needy. I’m angry and desperate. I hate my body. I can’t look in the mirror. Strangely enough, none of that is really true. I struggle as much as any woman with my looks — no matter how fat or thin a woman is, she has a love/hate relationship with her body.

Another thing that all women have? Emotions. So, yes — I can be bitchy. I can be mean. I can be emotionally starved or exhausted. I can be needy. I can be angry. I’ve never been desperate, but more on that later. I am a person — not an epidemic, not a problem. People feel things. Believe me, I have an ENTIRE range of emotions, and none of them have to do with being fat — unless someone throws up an ignorant stereotype about me. Then…I get angry.

The next paragraph I will direct to the men I’ve spent time with in my life, and any out there in the blogosphere that may not understand this about the fatties in their lives. Believe it or not, I am not, nor have I ever been sex starved. Do not approach a fat woman in a bar because you believe that she will be desperate enough to go to bed with you. First of all, why do you hold yourself in such low regard? Secondly, I’d bet that the woman has more options to whet her sexual appetite than you will ever know.

I have never spent a night without the company of a male, if I wanted that company. Then, in September 2012, I met a man who fell in love with me because of my mind, body and soul. He loves my body. And no, he doesn’t have a fetish. He isn’t a “chubby chaser.” I hate when men see me as either not good enough to sleep with because I’m fat, or they see me as good enough to sleep with because I’m fat. Granted, I’m off the market now. But, guess what, that fat woman at the bar doesn’t want you to want her because you want to grab her rolls, you get off on her belly size or because you want to feed her and make her bigger. Once again — fat women are people. We are not a problem, a fetish or an epidemic.

Finally, let’s talk about those who want to talk to me about my health, or about how I need to go on a diet because I’m a large woman who is going to die soon if I don’t lose some weight. I will say this — there is nothing wrong with living healthy, and I do eat too much fast food and don’t exercise enough. I do probably drink way too much sweet tea.

That being said, with the exception of my knee pain (from an injury when I was 18 and a “normal weight”), I am one of the healthiest person in my family…and I have three sisters who vary in body types and ages. I’m not going to pretend that I’m completely healthy. Like I said, I should walk more. I want to increase my mobility. I want to be able to find clothing a little easier. So, if you want to go on a walk with me, let’s go. If you want to join a yoga class with me, I’m in.

However, if you know me, and you bring up something like weight loss surgery or some other drastic process to lose weight, we may have a problem. Why in the world would I put my body through such a drastic process when it is only about 50% effective? No thank you. You could over me a free gastric bypass, and I would turn it down every time.

I am a fat woman. I am always going to be a fat woman. If I lose 200 pounds, I will still be a fat woman. That is my goal. I would like to lose 200 pounds, and I’m starting to work on it. But guess what, I’m also working on something else. I’m working on a better me. A better person who realizes that being fat is not the same as being healthy, that being fat is not a negative thing and that being fat is not the end of my life.

Now, I just have to make everyone else realize that.

With Love,

Tabitha

And today she’s a teenager

My daughter came into this world by means of direct intimidation — from her would-be grandmother.

The story is actually pretty funny. My mother and I were sitting in my then-husband (now ex) and my living quarters in Tarawa Terrace, a base housing area for Camp Lejeune, NC. It was around 7:00am, and I was a day passed my due date. Mom had flown down to be with me at the birth, and she was supposed to leave in a day or two unless the baby came. And there were no signs that Taylor was ever coming into the world. She just kicked in her perch, far above my cervix.

So, that day, at around 7:00am, my mother pointed to my swollen abdomen and said, “I’m getting a little discouraged.” That was all Taylor needed. The first contraction hit, and she was on her way. And, by 5:26pm that night, she had wriggled herself into this world. Her dad called her “Sugarbear” and I’ve always called her “Tay.” That is the day that sunlight, giggles and funny faces came into my life forever.

My daughter is unique, and I’ve always encouraged that in her. She wants to be an artist — which has been the case since age 5. She likes yoga. She likes cats. She likes to read. The rest of her is a mystery.

Today, my daughter becomes a teenager. Unfortunately, the intimidation that got her out of the womb wore out, because she’s just like any other teenager with selective hearing and an inability to deal with mood swings. I’m not naive. I too was a teenage girl, and I gave my mother hell time and again. I was the drama queen, and my daughter is the princess ready to take my throne. I know it is going to be a difficult few years.

But, I hope that we can make it through moderately unscathed, and that, one day, after all in said and done, we can start the part of life where we really get to know each other. I can’t wait to get to know that unique, funny, quirky girl who loves fuzzy socks and ugly dolls. And honestly, I hope she has a child just like her! ;)

Tay

My Tay-Tay, age 13

ca

The homemade cake she requested – “Mom, I want a heart-shaped pumpkin cake with pink and purple frosting.” ;)