I've spent the majority of my life overweight. From about middle school until college or so, I was anywhere from overweight to extremely obese. I've lost a lot of weight in the last few years, but I still find myself wrapped up in all the insecurities I had before. I'm curious how common this is, if at all, and maybe some tips for how to get over it.
Okay, now a bit more in-depth. I come from a very small family, it's always been just me and my mom. My mother was very obese throughout my life (up until recently, she got some surgery and has lost a lot in the last two years). She's about five feet tall and her weight would be around 300 pounds. She could still walk without issue, but she was right on the cusp of needing something more to get around.
I love my mother, but we all have faults and one of hers is projecting her insecurities onto others and lashing out. Not to say that she was ever explicitly ashamed of her weight--she would go out and do things, often with great confidence. But it would come out it in other ways. She never, ever liked actors or actresses that were overweight at all. Without fail, she would always comment negatively on their bodies when they were on-screen. She would refuse to date guys who were even close to her size. Worst of all, she would sometimes be very hurtful about my own weight.
As I said before, I started gaining in middle school, and though a big growth spurt in high school helped a bit, once I hit my height of 6'4", my bad eating habits caught up to me and I started growing width-wise again once more. I remember hearing her talking to a family friend in the other room, warning them before their visit about fat I had gotten. I remember her, almost in a fury, looking at me in disgust and grabbing my stomach or man-boobs and asking why I was doing this to myself.
I became hyper-sensitive about my weight and really, really depressed (which I coped with by eating more and more unhealthy food--it's a wonderfully vicious cycle). I would obsess over what clothes I perceived would make me as thin as possible. I started wearing jackets all the time because I thought they somehow concealed my stomach. Black jackets, of course. Even in the summer. In a very, very hot desert. Sigh.
I remember what is likely the most humiliating moment of my life. I graduated high school early, after sophomore year, and enrolled in a special program at the local college. But I stayed on the debate team at my high school. For whatever reason, one day in junior year I had to get to the school early, and I realized I would be sitting in on a class full of my old classmates. I spent so much time that morning deciding on a nice shirt and outfit. I was sitting in the back, doing work as people filtered in, and it was good, normal reunion stuff, until one guy named Charles walked in, saw me in the back, and yelled, "Wow, Candlewax Snowman, you got FAT!" I'll never forget how everyone looked away, even the teacher. I'm pretty sure my cheeks were as red as licorice. I think I laughed--truthfully, I'm not sure exactly how I responded--but I do know I wanted to cry.
I gained even more in college, eventually hitting almost 330 pounds at my biggest, mostly hovering around 310. I never had a girlfriend during this time, never even went on a date. I was frozen by my weight. I had friends who were women, mind you, and I could talk to them just fine, but I never, ever imagined anyone could ever be interested in me, so I never tried. I thought I was disgusting.
About halfway through college, I met a girl. I don't think she's interested in me, of course, but I want her to be, so I downloaded that Insanity workout, bought some dumbbells, and starting hopping around like a fool in my bedroom. And it worked, somehow! I didn't get skinny, but I lost close to... 70 pounds, or so, over a year or two. I eventually dipped down to 230 or 240 pounds.
I started getting attention from women now, and I had no idea what to do with it. A friend confessed her feelings for me. Two women that I worked with at a part-time job in college flirted with me and showed interest. But I was in my early-20s and had never gone on a date, let alone kissed a girl! I didn't know where to begin with it all. Besides, I still saw myself as very out of shape, and I figured I had, I don't know, FOOLED them or something by dressing in a way that hid my real body type. Which is so stupid, I know, but it's something I really, truly believed. Like if they touched me, or, Heaven forbid, saw me without my clothes, they would realize I was in terrible shape, scrunch up their noses, and run away screaming.
I dated a little bit, but this immense insecurity kneecapped anything before it could blossom. If I was kissing someone, I was uncomfortable with her hands roaming anywhere. I would tense up if she felt my stomach or my body. I never, ever took my shirt off. All this, coupled with not really knowing how to ~relationship~ all that well, meant nothing ever lasted past a few dates anyway. I would either call it off, or things would fade away naturally.
I'm in my mid-20s now and I've lost even more weight. I go to the gym regularly, I've put on a fair amount of muscle and lost a fair amount of fat. I even run a lot, which high school Candlewax Snowman would NOT believe. I'm at a body type that isn't perfectly in-shape at all, but it's not enough that people really see me as "fat" anymore. This is evidenced most by how often people make fat jokes around me now. Not about me, mind you, just in general. I realized how often people were biting those jokes back so they wouldn't offend me. Jokes on them, though, I'm still offended because they're shitty, rude jokes!
Anyway. Despite losing a lot of weight, and having more experience with women since that brief spate of dating earlier, I still find myself haunted with insecurity. I still don't feel comfortable with anyone seeing me without a shirt on, and at this point, I'm starting to wonder if I ever will. I'm proud of the progress I've made at the gym, but I still look in the mirror and see a stomach that's too big, or stare at the love handles and wish I could file them down to nothing.
I used to genuinely be in awe of people who were overweight and would wear clothes that didn't mask their figure, or who were dating, or merely seemed happy. I just didn't understand how they could feel that way. I wanted to, but I couldn't wrap my head around it. I've since learned that happiness and weight loss isn't everything, and that true confidence can be found in any body size. Getting smaller certainly didn't make me happier. Sometimes I think back to what 2010 me would think if he saw me now, and I feel like such a fool for feeling insecure, because I know he would be ecstatic. This will sound dark, and extreme, but when I was at my biggest and most depressed, I would sometimes stand in front of the mirror and fantasize about getting a knife and just cutting the extra weight away. Not in like a, whoa, he's gonna DO IT kinda way, but just that I wish that I could. And now I'm over 100 pounds lighter, and with visible muscles, and VEINS (again, 2010 me would not believe it), and SOME (emphasis on some) girls showing interest, and I'm STILL very, very insecure. Not near as much as I was before, not at all, but it's still there. It just feels like it's governing things more silently now.
Even though I truly understand now that being overweight doesn't necessitate being unhappy (and inversely, that being in shape doesn't mean being happy), I still have this real fear of someone seeing me naked. I don't go swimming, I don't take my clothes off around anyone. I mean, the only time I've had sex, it was after the suicide of someone very close to me, and I was in a dark place and I wanted to get it over with. After that, every time I could have done anything, even when whoever I was with explicitly talked about it, I still didn't really want it to happen, because it would mean them seeing the "real" me. I just can't seem to accept myself.
I'm working on this. I'm trying to emulate the people I admire, overweight or not, who are confident in their appearance and go about things with such power. I'm dating more, and letting myself become more exposed, both by opening up a bit more during make-outs and by wearing clothes that I specifically think don't do anything to mask my love handles. This was helped by an embarrassingly recent revelation that I never really hid my weight--I was looking at pictures of myself one day, wearing that stupid jacket, and it just dawned on me. Nobody had the wool pulled over their eyes! I wasn't prancing around with 50 pounds magically disappeared! Everyone KNEW, and yet they still talked to me. Girls were still interested. I know it sounds stupid, but realizing that was a genuine event.
I'm sorry this is such a rambling mess. Honestly, this is the first time I've ever talked about this with anyone. I've never mentioned it, not even briefly, and I've never even posted about it anonymously like this. I'm working on seeing myself better, and it's a real process, but I'm committed to it. I'm curious if any of this is common, or if maybe shades of it are, and if so, how any of you have coped with it yourselves.
Hope your day is going well, and thanks in advance for reading!