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Do people dismiss you when your fat, or because of your weight?

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Old 12-06-2011, 07:16 PM   #1
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Angry Do people dismiss you when your fat, or because of your weight?

Have you ever felt dismissed because of your weight? Or like you weren't taken seriously because of it? Do you think it was true, or just in your head?

I ask because there was an issue with my son's school today involving snack time, and I spoke with his teacher. The school has a list of what they consider health snacks.(If kids bring what they consider healthy, the kids get a sticker) But I don't agree with the list. For one, granola bars are on the list and let's be real, granola bars are just candy bars in disguise. I've tried to find one that aren't loaded with sugar and crap, but that's another story. And yogurt. Again, another widely accepted healthy food, but most (other than plain which my son won't eat) are loaded with sugar.
However whole grain goldfish, have NO sugar (the < 1g is the milk sugars from the cheese) and they are not on the list. I personally, after much reading, have come to the conclusion that sugar is a bigger problem than a lot of people realize. I don't want to preach here, but let's just say that I see it as the #1 thing to keep out of a diet. Also having said that, while I think fruit is good in moderation, I don't think people should gorge on it (as it was believed at one time). And of course fruit is what the school wants. I believe that the medical community is starting to see some of the huge errors in what we've called a healthy diet the past 30 years, and not everyone is on the same page yet.

Ok so my point is, I asked the teacher who was deciding what was healthy. And she said their nurse..."ok because I'm a RN as well and I disagree with her slightly out dated idea of health. Its not like I send my son with cookies or chips. He always has water (no fruit juice). And I do not want him singled out (no sticker) based on your nurses idea of what's healthy. " I was really teed off. And my son is a healthy weight, by the way. I may have been a little harsh, but its not like I was sending my son with fried mayo balls and trying to justify it. It freeking goldfish, whole grain ones, and on food I can count on him eating. And they are telling me he won't get a sticker for it. But I did win. And he will be getting a sticker for them.

When I was done, the thought crossed my mind that these teachers, having just met me this week, dont know I used to be fat, and that I've been fat most of my life. They totally honored my request, but I have it in my head that if I were still visibly big, that they would have dismissed me. I know that sounds silly, but I really think when I was heavier, people didn't take my knowledge of health (I am a nurse for heaven's sake) as seriously...

I don't know maybe it all in my head....

Your experiences???
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:48 PM   #2
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My son (18 months) also loves the whole wheat goldfish crackers (if it was him, he'd eat nothing but that). They are "okay" - too much salt for my liking but in terms of "convenient" kid food, one of the better choices. If commercial yogurts with added sugar count, then I agree with you 100% that those crackers should count as well.

The fruit, I'm conflicted on. The sugar is simply not absorbed by the body the same as the yogurt (assuming an added sugar yogurt) or a commercial granola bar, two different things.

I am fortunate my boy loves Lara bars and plain thick yogurt though!

I'm not so sure if it was your weight but a misunderstanding on nutrition principles. I will admit though, when people start talking about the 'bad sugar' in fruit, I tend to tune them out, just being honest Unfortunately, like many doctors, many nurses also do not understand nutrition very well either and that may have actually been what made them be taken aback (if they were).

So I guess I will be honest in saying... if a nurse started lecturing me about "too much fruit" for kids and that she knew more about nutrition, I'd probably blow a gasket or just tune out. But I do know quite a bit about nutrition myself and I don't know if the teachers do.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:50 PM   #3
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People often dismiss me because of my size.

Everyone (I exaggerate, but a very large number of people) in my office are runners. They like talking about their upcoming races or training, but I learned very early on when I started working here that I don't get to participate in those conversations because of my size. I've run a few half marathons and one full marathon, so I chimed in on a conversation about races and was told "no, we've actually run marathons". I haven't bothered joining any further discussions about running, but I will make sure to casually mention it when I qualify for the Boston Marathon
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:00 PM   #4
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I have absolutely felt dismissed, disliked and misunderstood because of my weight. Strangers don't look at me. Seriously. They don't look AT me. They look around me, over me, to the side of me. But not at me. People assume I'm lazy and that I lack willpower. I've even had my sexuality questioned because of my weight.

It's frustrating.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:13 PM   #5
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I haven't bothered joining any further discussions about running, but I will make sure to casually mention it when I qualify for the Boston Marathon
They sound like closed-minded losers from where I'm sitting. Congrats on the accomplishments you've made with running, by the way! I'm scared to death of my first 10K in March; I can't even imagine running a full marathon!

As for me, I've never felt dismissed because of my weight, but I've definitely felt looked down upon. I'm sometimes self-conscious at the gym because I feel like people are looking at the overweight girl on the treadmill when I'm doing intervals and thinking, "Of course she stopped running after 8 minutes, she's fat!" when in reality, it's just the C25K training plan.
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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There's no way to know whether you would or wouldn't have dismissed if you were heavier. Just as there's no way to know whether you would have been taken seriously if you had a big, ol' baseball sized mole in the center of your face, or if you had missing front teeth.

Image is important, and weight is definitely part of that. I've been heavy all of my life, and I've noticed that people tend to assume that obese means lazy, crazy, or stupid, in general and even more so on topics like health, diet, exercise, and nutrition. They also tend to assume uneducated and poor.

While I've been dismissed for my weight, I've also been treated like a talking pony (where people are so astonished and impressed with my apparent intelligentce that they don't know HOW to treat me...) You can see the "awe" created by the cognitive dissonance - they expected something really stupid to come out of my mouth, and when I prove myself to be knowlegeable on the subject, they're impressed - not so much (I feel) because I'm really displaying genius, but because they expected so much less.

I don't let people "dismiss" me anymore, but I have extremely good communication skills (well, at least when my fibro isn't acting up and short-circuiting my short-term memory). I can manipulate a conversation (and people through a conversation) when I have to, just because I am exceptionally good at reading people, and can usually determine fairly quickly how to gain people's trust and respect (and I mean manipulation in the most socially appropriate way - I'm using my powers for good, honest).


I didn't always have those skills, and most of them I developed either because it was part of my undergraduate and graduate psychology training, or because people WERE underestimating me, and I had to find ways to nip that in the bud in order to succeed and accomplish what I wanted to do, both socially and in my careers.

Even now, as I'm on disability and needing to access lower-income resources such as a sliding-scale dental office. I have to "show off" my masters degree education and my big-word vocabulary to be taken seriously. Although in that case, I think it's more a function of the patients the dental staff are used to seeing. They don't expect to see someone only 45 years old, with a master's degree in psychology (or any college education at all). I don't fit the typical profile of the average person needing their services (although the fact is, there are very, very many non-typical and non-average folks in this economy).


But mostly, I've found it's a "first impression" thing." If I can establish within the first few minutes of meeting that I am every bit as intelligent (or more so) than the person I'm dealing with, I am treated with respect, and sometimes even awe. Big words and direct eye-contact make people think you're smart, rich, and someone to be respected.

My husband calls it "establishing dominance," (and while I can credit my psych degrees for my communication skills, my husband is a self-taught master of communication and social interaction - although he calls it being a manipulative b*****d).

Being overweight does ding your credibility - but so do a thousand other things - like being too short, or too attractive, or too young-looking..., too strange-looking, dressing unusually, stuttering, not making eye-contact, talking too quietly....

Obesity does play a role in how people view you, but it is just one part of the social "package," and to a large degree it can be compensated for (yes, it stinks that compensation is necessary, but it is).
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Old 12-06-2011, 08:39 PM   #7
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I lost weight in my 20s after always being big,people would talk to me at work like I was new show me around,talk about whos who. I had work there for 6 years. After being big -smaller -big again its hard knowing how some people dismiss you because of weight.
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:09 PM   #8
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I've noticed this. I used to weigh 250 and when I lost weight people who wouldn't even look at me suddenly came up to me and wanted to make conversation. It seemed that the smaller I got the more people wanted to talk to me. People that I didn't even know knew my name came up to me and said how great I looked. It was flattering but at the same time the shocked "Wow you're actually really pretty" comments got so annoying. People listen to what I say and respect my opinion now that I've lost weight, and while I can't say that it's absolutely because I'm smaller I don't think it's a coincidence. Imagine what it will be like when I reach my goal weight!
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:42 PM   #9
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I agree with kaplods. IMO, image counts before you speak, but after that, the way you handle yourself counts more.

Keep in mind, though, that your opinions about nutrition are not be shared by all, and I'm sure it is a challenge for the RN at the school to create a list that every parent would be satisfied with. For example, just because you disagree with fruit being a healthy snack doesn't mean that it should be struck from the list (I'm not saying that you suggested this; I'm just using it as a generalized example). She has the proper credentials and has been hired by the school to come up with recommendations that, I'm sure, she does not consider "outdated."

I'm glad they were able to accommodate your request.
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlamourGirl827 View Post
When I was done, the thought crossed my mind that these teachers, having just met me this week, don't know I used to be fat, and that I've been fat most of my life. They totally honored my request, but I have it in my head that if I were still visibly big, that they would have dismissed me. I know that sounds silly, but I really think when I was heavier, people didn't take my knowledge of health (I am a nurse for heaven's sake) as seriously...
It's hard to say. I would hope that they'd still respect your expertise and your concerns, but who knows? Good for you for raising the issue (and for getting your son his stickers!)

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Originally Posted by PrairieGirl View Post
I haven't bothered joining any further discussions about running, but I will make sure to casually mention it when I qualify for the Boston Marathon
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Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
I have absolutely felt dismissed, disliked and misunderstood because of my weight. Strangers don't look at me. Seriously. They don't look AT me. They look around me, over me, to the side of me. But not at me. People assume I'm lazy and that I lack willpower. I've even had my sexuality questioned because of my weight.
Yeah, I've experienced that too. I think that kaplods is right, making direct eye contact and establishing one's credibility quickly is key. I think that showing that we possess self-confidence and self-respect is key to getting as many other people to respect us as we can. Even so, some people will probably still profess an aversion to "fatties," although that's always struck me as being akin to some teenage girls' ridiculously overdramatic (and non-phobia based - I'm not talking about people whose lives are disrupted because of an irrational fear of the creatures) reaction to spiders and other creepy-crawlies that other people their age who don't have phobias or feel like they have to engage in over-the-top behavior to get attention just deal with - more show than substance. Not our problem. I did so much better once I figured out that I was not somehow a worse person for being fat and having some mental issues than the people who looked down on me who usually had plenty of their own issues, personality "flaws," and obnoxious or downright destructive behaviors.

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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Image is important, and weight is definitely part of that. I've been heavy all of my life, and I've noticed that people tend to assume that obese means lazy, crazy, or stupid, in general and even more so on topics like health, diet, exercise, and nutrition. They also tend to assume uneducated and poor.

While I've been dismissed for my weight, I've also been treated like a talking pony (where people are so astonished and impressed with my apparent intelligence that they don't know HOW to treat me...) You can see the "awe" created by the cognitive dissonance - they expected something really stupid to come out of my mouth, and when I prove myself to be knowledgeable on the subject, they're impressed - not so much (I feel) because I'm really displaying genius, but because they expected so much less.
Haha - I've experienced the talking pony phenomenon too. Fat, homely, (usually) poorly dressed, spotty, and from the South. People think I'm an idiot until I open my mouth.

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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
But mostly, I've found it's a "first impression" thing." If I can establish within the first few minutes of meeting that I am every bit as intelligent (or more so) than the person I'm dealing with, I am treated with respect, and sometimes even awe. Big words and direct eye-contact make people think you're smart, rich, and someone to be respected.

Being overweight does ding your credibility - but so do a thousand other things - like being too short, or too attractive, or too young-looking..., too strange-looking, dressing unusually, stuttering, not making eye-contact, talking too quietly....

Obesity does play a role in how people view you, but it is just one part of the social "package," and to a large degree it can be compensated for (yes, it stinks that compensation is necessary, but it is).
Agreed. Most of the time I'll make a point of trying to establish credibility with people, especially if I think I need to do so in order to do my job well (or further my career). However, sometimes, especially when I'm feeling really overwhelmed, anxious or put-upon, I'm content to let people talk to me like I'm a f-ing moron and sneer at me like they think I'm blind too, and then pounce on them when they start spouting BS about whatever they're droning on about and stomp them into the ground intellectually. It's probably not nice, but it sure can be fun. Or I'll just let them continue to think that I'm so stupid I can't tell when somebody's trying to pick on me and use them as my personal source of entertainment, which I suppose could be considered passive-aggressive. However, they hardly ever realize I'm laughing at them, and I don't normally go out my way to make people look foolish (they usually do well enough on their own).
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Old 12-06-2011, 10:03 PM   #11
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I know this wasn't the point of your topic, but I really find that whole program problematic. It really seems like it's shaming and rewarding children for their parents' food choices and possibly setting up some children for an eating disorder.

Depending on the child's personality, getting or not getting that sticker can be a big deal.
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Old 12-08-2011, 01:33 AM   #12
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They probably wouldn't have thought you were able to make healthy choices if you were still fat.
I agree. While I agree that weight may just be another thing to overcome in order to gain respect in most cases, I think that overweight people are often at a major disadvantage when discussing nutrition/health/diet.

We're able to have intelligent, supportive and dynamic discussions about weightloss issues here at 3FC, but I have an inkling that despite our very best intentions to see the best in people despite appearances we would still be skeptical (at best!) about receiving diet/nutrition advice from overweight strangers we met in person. I think 3FC would be a very different community if we were meeting in cafes/parks/office buildings around the world to discuss these issues rather than the Internet!

I feel like I've read articles about overweight doctors getting less respect from their patients, and it certainly makes sense to an extent. Why would we trust diet advice from someone who doesn't appear to have taken their own advice? Same with a well-intentioned parent dealing with the school nurse or someone else losing weight who makes a comment at the gym. We don't know the circumstances of any of these people, but I think we're even less likely to take their comments seriously if they're overweight than if they were thin themselves.

Case in point, you would never see a "She's In The Process of Losing 100lbs!" article in a popular magazine because we don't want to hear from someone in the process of losing weight, no matter how knowledgable they may be; we want to hear from the (thin) person who has already achieved success.

It's not fair, but I do think we're harsher to judge an overweight person giving out diet/nutrition/weight loss advice than we would be a thin person.
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:06 AM   #13
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I think it is sort of a "double whammy".

First, it is hard enough to be taken seriously and respectfully as a woman.

Second, it is even harder to be taken seriously as an obese woman.

I suppose maybe it is because our fat is somewhat similar to wearing our emotions or lack of control on the outside of our body? People feel we are unstable, emotional, our knowledge cannot be counted on, our physical drives are out of order and running at dangerous levels?
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:47 AM   #14
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I can't speak to the teacher's motives- if she was dismissing you because of your prior weight.

But I can say this is a pretty common experience. Everyone has different definitions about what is healthy and not healthy and often these conflict. I would disagree with your preference to send Goldfish over fruit because I think that processed foods (even whole grain ones) are not as good as whole foods, even fruit.

This has nothing to do with your previously being heavy. It's just that we disagree on whether sugar or processed foods are "worse" for you. And there's a lot of evidence to support both arguments!

Given that there's so much we don't know about nutrition, a lot of fairly normal conflict about what healthiest and what is most important to avoid is bound to happen.
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Old 12-08-2011, 10:12 AM   #15
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I've had trouble getting health and disability problems taken seriously due to being overweight. The school of thought is that you can't be that ill unless you're thin. I've been refused help in the home when I was too ill to cook and not getting enough meals in the day, specifically because I wasn't underweight. If you can't answer, "Yes," to the question, "Are you losing weight rapidly?" then you're sunk.

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