I have been hesitant to post about this, but it has been something on my mind ever since I first saw the video a week ago. I *so* wanted to ignore this, and to be honest I still believe that this girl doesn’t DESERVE the time of day for me to be talking about her, but at the same time I was surprised also how much she actually UPSET me to my CORE, and I wanted to share some of that hurt out loud, almost so I could just move on in a totally #byefelicia way.
It also upsets me that I think young and/or easily influenced girls will watch this and be effected negatively by it. What Nicole doesn’t seem to get is that her trying to “be funny” (and by the way I DON’T think she was being funny, I think she is now saying it to back pedal the backlash) can trigger and or worsen eating disorders. She is just sending really the wrong message and bad vibes into the ether, so my response, as many many others have done already, is to thrown light on her shade, and even if what I write helps ONE persons frame of mind, then I would feel it was worth the time and effort.
So why does this ignorant girl upset me so much? I had been having a bad day, a bad week, and my weight loss journey journey this summer hasn’t been anything to write about, feeling disheartened by gain after gain despite my efforts to stay on track.
And then, to top it all off, you see this mess online, and I think for me it triggered a lot of the anxieties I had already had and grown up with. Being “bigger” you naturally most likely have some paranoia and anxieties lurking somewhere in the back of your mind… when you are in a packed train, on a plane, in the club, at work, at the gym. I mean, I lived literally NEXT DOOR to the gym for a year of my life but I could count the number of times I went on one hand, because of my fear.
There is a worry, a fear, that people are constantly judging you. When I grew up I went to South East Asia for summer holidays to visit family, and, well, put it this way, “subtly” isn’t their forte. I’ve talked about it before, but I was CONSTANTLY aware of how much bigger I was then other people. South East Asians can mostly fit in your pocket they are so tiny… and I stuck out like massive, sore thumb.
I feel fortunate that during my schooling I don’t remember being openly bullied about my size or weight. I do remember a few occasions people making nasty comments. When I was 16 years old I went to my friends house and I remember I was wearing a baby pink polka dot fluffy sweater (I know, weird) and as I was walking down the street a man (whom I think was drunk in broad day light, cannot remember) starting singling loudly “Mr blobby, Mr blobbbyy” song. And if you are from the UK and vaguely remember 90s TV you will know exactly who I am being compared to. I have also been compared to the Michelin Man (with all those fat tire rolls) and I have had guys at the club either make fun of me or ignore me completely like i didn’t exist (yes being treated as invisible is a key feature of fat shaming, and very VERY real).
And I think when you have struggled with your weight or experienced being obese, like I have, you realise its a PRESSURE FROM SOCIETY AS A WHOLE. Yes Nicole Arbour, for whatever reason, to get her 5 seconds of fame, put it out there, but actually there are many people who think, act or say similar things every day. Fat people DO experience discrimination. Fat shaming IS real. The same way there is race discrimination, LBGT discrimination, discrimination against ethnic minorities and refugees, discrimination against mental illness, drug abuse, discrimination against women even. People like to gloss over it, and call you “hyper sensitive/over reacting” when you point it out… but you know what ? this shit is REAL… and it hurts. It is unfair, unjust, and, frankly, unnecessary.
My secret reaction? whether it was openly bullying nicole arbour style, or silent shade, I would react by, ironically, eating… and not just eating – stuffing my face silly. The sad thing I thought that this was a secret, and for many years I did it completely subconsciously…. but as Brenda Lee Turner rightly puts (I have put her incredible response below) you wear your battle scars and emotional pain on your arm (and thighs, and belly…) I honestly believe true obesity is a way of managing internal conflict, trauma and pain for whatever reason. Some people turn to drugs, or alcohol, or sex, or obsessive running or an eating disorder… I turned to food
My open reaction was to over compensate in other ways. OK I’m fat, but i’m smart, funny and friendly. I’m that “chubby happy friendly girl”… the “big girl with a great personality”. I also pretended it didn’t bother me. To this day I don’t say the “f**” word out loud… as if saying it would make it actually real. I have been in denial for many, many years, partly to protect myself. I studied my socks off to get the highest academic achievements I could mentally manage, and it still wasn’t enough for me to feel “accepted” by society. The day of my last exam, 2 years today, actually, I was close to being back at the biggest weight I had ever been. It was then I had a lightbulb moment that I really need to address my weight once and for all and stop hiding behind my academic achievements, because the special piece of paper in a frame wasn’t doing it for me.
Its taken me a long, LONG time, with some emotional maturing, finding and developing a strong emotional relationship in my marriage with a man that loves me and accepts me for me completely, yet embraces my wish to change and be healthy too. I have changed the way I eat, what I eat, when I eat, how I eat and most importantly WHY I eat. My relationship with myself and with food is better then it has ever been. I enrolled in weight watchers to help educate me about nutrition , as well as moral support on a weekly basis (and through blog/social media support) from men and women who are going through the same challenges, whom validate my experiences, not ignore them. I have also let go of those toxic people in my life, because frankly I don’t have time for people who say, act or even silently think of me the way Nicole Arbour does.
Anyway my response and my reaction so to speak was initially one of sadness, but now on reflection I feel stronger and better in myself.. In survival of the fittest evolutionary theory, we have two options in life, to flight (run away) to fight, and some theorists argue a third response which is to freeze (rabbit in headlights situation).
When I talk about being on your hustle and on your grind, I miss it from the core of my body. Every day I walk out into the world and as a young, overweight, ethnic minority woman that wears glasses and is not conventionally “beautiful”, I face some sort of discrimination. It takes energy and a positive mental attitude to stay on my grind and to rise above the haters and not only rise above but to live life to the fullest and to love my life.
There will be people or situations that test you, that try to bring you down, that try to make you feel less than you are for whatever reason, that will poke and prod at your insecurities – whether that be your weight your big nose of feeling your not as smart or funny as others. Whatever it is, look after YOU. Take time to love yourself from within, and practise loving yourself on the outside too. Eat good food. Move your body. Spend time nourishing your soul with good vibes and energy. Fill your mind with inspiring and uplifting things, and it will become part of your being. Surround yourself with people that lift you up not bring you down, and develop a strategy to deal with the Nicole Arbours of the world – whether that be writing a response like this, going to the gym or just frankly saying you know what #byefelicia (or as we would say in London – Allow her!)
There are three links I will leave you with that have shaped my world and understanding of discrimination on so many levels, two books, and a final fat response video from Brenda Lee Turner (of Lean secrets on you tube)
The Gabriel Method book has been revolutionary in helping me understand why I became obese in the first place. It is the first “diet” or “self help” book I have found that really addresses the emotional core and since reading this my weight loss efforts have been improved ten fold.
We should all be Feminists book , a short read / essay from the amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (you might recognise her from the Beyonce Video “Flawless”) really opened my eyes to something I have believed for a very long time but never could really articulate well, well, not as well as Chimamanda.
Youtube video dear fat people (a response) I have seen many responses but this is probably my favourite as she literally has taken the words right out of my mouth.
I hope this has helped you wherever you are in your walk of life on this journey through living a happy and healthy lifestyle. I would love to hear about your own experiences, responses or thoughts on this topic – so get in touch with me down below or on instagram / twitter / in person!
YOU GOT THIS!