People defend celebrities regularly by saying that we cant imagine what they go through being famous; being watched, and harassed all the time depending on there level of fame. That we cant imagine what it would be like to be under a microscope all the time. Obesity is a lot like being celebrity plenty of the time, except without the admiration, the adoring fans, the fame, or the fortune. Instead its all ridicule, its looks of shock, appall, its turning and pointing, its laughing at you right in your face, its less than discrete offense insults. What this does to someones mind after years of being subjected to this, that is in fact what people cant imagine. You start to live by a different set of rules and ideas. Everything takes a certain level of calculation, a calculation that you that you never seem to get right. In a perfect world someone who is obese could walk down a grocery store isle and not have to feel insecure that someone might make an insecure gesture towards them, but the reality is different.
Personally, Ive been quite anxious at having to be seen in public, I believe I suffer from a milder case of social phobia. WebMD states "Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety (intense nervousness) and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others." I worry about what people think of me, how they are seeing me, and what they might be saying about me because of my weight. I try my hardest not to do anything to bring attention to myself in public. I try to go to stores when I think they would be less busy, or crowded. When I do go to stores I will often stick to obscure isle that people don't frequent while in route to the isle that I actually want to go to, sometimes this is longer, but its something I do as a safeguard. I try not to make any eye to face contact, if I cant make out their face, I'm less likely to start fearing if they're judging me. When I am able to make out their face, or worse our eyes meet, my anxiety intensifies.
The worse of it all though. Is when I hear someone make a comment about me, and I have to just pretend I didn't hear it and keep walking. What can I do? My anxiety prevents me from having the courage of telling them off due to the reality of likely drawing in more attention to myself. Then I would just have a crowd of people thinking I'm pathetic or worse.
My anxiety isn't limited to strangers, I still fear being judged by my friends and family too. Anytime I go to hang out with friends, friends Ive know for over 10 years, my anxiety explodes. I try to make sure I'm on time, make sure I bring whatever Ill need, do as much as I can not to make my initial entrance a bother. Because I worry they judge me too. I stopped going to family events because I felt like an outsider, and I know they are a bunch of gossips, and I simply cant bare to subject myself to being one of their topics.
This is the psyche of the obese, some anyways. Our psychological state bends in a way to protect us from mental trauma, but its not normal. Its not a state of being that anyone should be in. The mental state of the obese is often overlooked because its not glamorous, in fact, its still wildly acceptable to fat shame. Plenty of people just look at the obese as weak, and pathetic, and that all they need to do is just lose weight, go on a diet, or stop eating so much, as if there is nothing more to it. But what happens if or when the obese do lose their weight and there suddenly left with a state of mind that was calibrated for the abuse society aimed at them for their former size?
I often wonder what my life would be like if I lost all my weight, and while I normally fantasize about finally being able to live life as I want, and being acceptable, or simply blending in. The thought creeps into my mind at some point that the psychological damage being this size, and the effects society has had on me wouldn't just suddenly disappear. I actually fear in some ways that Id become more depressed. The feeling of damned if I do, damned if I don't overcomes me. A lot of people just don't understand these things.
I actually wrote this in November 2014 on an old dead blog on Tumblr called Oppressed By Obesity. Almost everything I wrote on that blog was written from a cellphone I had at the time, it was riddled with typos, but I modified and corrected some things and re-posted it here. It predates when I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety, I was pretty in-tune with what was going on with myself. It's also interesting that before I began this journey I pondered what my mind would be like if I lost all the weight, which I actually try not to think of the mental/psychological aspect now. Just thought I'd re-post this here give it some new life.