Overcoming the Shame of Being Obese

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Within the last 24 hours most people connected to news by TV, online, in print, have seen the headlines that showcase a woman mauled by an out-of-control viscous chimpanzee, lucky enough to survive, with horrendous lingering physical trauma.  She is missing fingers and has slowly recovered with scars on certain parts of her body. She has no sight, having lost both eyes.   She also has no discernible face.  There is just a mass of tissue with a large bulbous nose, if you can call it that - and a slit that is being called a mouth and... facial tissue that is undifferentiated.  She chose to do her "reveal" on Oprah, on her own terms, rather than have a tabloid or some unscrupulous photographer secretly snap her photo and sell it for the world to see.  Past photos show a slim, pleasant-faced woman who most people would call attractive.  Now, you can't even really call what she has a face.  Why do I dwell on this on an obesity website?

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    Well, many of you stay home or hide rather than have the world judge your size.  You would rather check out of life than contend with ridicule, unkindness, meanness or humiliation.  After all, you've seen people whisper about you.  You've seen them point when you eat or stare when you try to take a walk.  And forget about shopping for clothes....it is so stressful and difficult to find anything to fit and really look fabulous.  So you take your shame and you hide out, and....you probably eat more to comfort those emotions.  I have professionally worked with many clients who have struggled with these very difficult issues.


    I remember when I was growing up that my mother would respond to my unhappiness over some issue relating to how I look with the same comment, "Do you think the starving kids of Biafra would care?"  That phrase got invoked in some fashion daily: if I didn't like my dinner; if I didn't like the way my clothes looked; if I was tearful about a grade on a test; if I totally failed to help my team win a game.  No matter how many times my mother would repeat the phrase, those words never ceased to make me think, "Wow...what if I was born there and not here and that was my lot in life.....I guess compared to them I'm pretty lucky." My next reaction would typically be to grit my teeth and tolerate the situation when it was out of my hands, and do something to shift the outcome next time, if it was within my control. 


    Next up: How someone's misery can inspire change in you


Published On: November 16, 2009