Jun 7, 2011

RE: "Big mom, Big kid"

On one of the blogs I frequent, the following question was posed:

“What do you think... what do you *honestly* think... when you see a very obese mother with her very obese young child? What do you think? Do you make any assumptions? How do you feel towards the mother? Towards the child?

What if they are at a buffet eating loads of fried chicken and French fries, or at McDonald's having Big Macs?” ~Lynn’s Post~
I started writing a comment on her blog and I had just way too much to say about it. Thank you for prompting me and others to think about these questions.
If I saw an obese mom and child at the buffet a year ago, I probably would have been worried about the fried chicken being gone than I did about the health of the 2 people.

People who get angry or upset or feel like it's child abuse ... not judging... but have YOU ever been morbidly obese? I would guess not by your resentment and disassociation with those people. It’s impossible to see a situation for what it REALLY is until you have walked a mile in those people’s shoes. I used to be 524 pounds and even though I couldn’t walk a mile a year ago in anyone’s shoes, I do know what it's like.
Why would you be angry? I don’t get mad, I want to give that person a hug and tell them there is something better for them, that they deserve it and that it IS achievable. I speaking as one who is running away from the 524 pound man I used to be. a person who has never been obese giving me advice or telling me “you can do it” is like someone who has never had children giving advice on how to raise your kids. Sorry people, but all you can give me is a theoretical point of view.
That is why I feel inclined obligated to blog about a very private issue so the world can see it. Maybe someone will read my story. Someone who doesn’t have a friend who knows what it’s like. I used to use the excuse that no one understood what I was going through or how hard it was for me to change.
How can you REALLY speak to me from a place of understanding unless you:
· have become worried, even anxious getting fast food because you are not sure you got enough food to make me full.
· go into every social event worrying about the structural integrity of the furniture
· eat before you go to a dinner party, which you also eat at, because you don’t want others to know how much you really eat.
· have been told by a Disney Land employee (who was very classy about it BTW) that you are just to big to ride Space Mountain safely
· had to ask for a seatbelt extender on an airplane
· had to worry about your ability to ride in a friends vehicle

You may have an opinion, and that is fine, but please don’t pretend to know how hard it is to be me. That doesn’t mean you can’t help me, it just means that you must realize that there are some things you just aren’t going to understand. Also, you have to realize that it doesn't matter how much YOU want me to change, I have to want it for myself. It's not the mechanics I lack at times, it's the motivation.
Show me someone who is just as fat (or fatter) than me who actually did it. Don’t push me a trendy product or a fad diet. Putting ON this weight wasn’t a fad nor was it because of a trendy fattening meal. It was a long history of destructive habits and unhealthy choices. It’s ridiculous to think that doing anything but dealing with those habits and choices that got me into this mess will get me out.
I cannot force you to change nor can you me. If you want to really help someone make a change in their life for the better, it needs to start from a place of compassion. Ask yourself:
“Why do I want that person to change?”
“ Is it because they are different than me? “
“Is it because I believe I am right and they are wrong?”
“Is it because I think these people are a drain on healthcare?”
“Do I feel less respect for them as a person because the respect themselves less?”

If you answered yes, your motivation to help me are self centered.
Do you care about ME? Are you going to help me if I fail again?
Will you care enough to know when to NOT give advice and just listen to me figure things out?
Do you value the qualities that I DO possess even though I am fat?
When I cheer, will you cheer with me? When I cry, will you cry with me?
Will you remind me that the person I am now is not the best that I have to offer?

If so, you can make a difference in my life. You are ready to help someone like me. If not, it’s best not to bother trying to help me.
To those that have been that friend to me through my weight struggles, thank you. You have made all the difference my life. As I have seen people like this stand out in my life, I am overwhelmed.

11 comments:

  1. Mike,

    Something struck me when reading your post. You are right about the whole sincerity thing and wishing good things for others. I just found your blog, but will definitely come visit frequently.

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  2. RE: Big Mom/Big Ked.

    What do I want? I want that person tO change hwo they are caring for their child...because how they are doing it now is hurting that child.
    That simple. Not a moral judgment.

    I fully understand what it's like to be a fat mom. Granted, I've never been 300 pounds overweight, but at 120 pounds overweight, I can identify with the difficulty of changing how I, the mom, eats and how dificult it is to lose weight.

    That is not the issue, however. It's not understanding that you can't ride a ride or identifying with any of what a super morbidly obese person feels--the issue is the damage that is being done to the child because the mom has a problem with food.

    Not judging her heart, her love for her child or her psychological status--really, those things are not something one can pick up by gazing at a child and her mom. However, If I'm looking at a mom who is obviously overweight and a 10 year old who weighs 200 pounds, my reaction is to be sad for both of them and appalled by the mom.

    Hurting children because you hurt is not okay. Just not. No one on a weight loss forum would think it's all okay if a mom gave her 6 year old a glass of beer every night to help him sleep because it works for her. No matter how much she loved her child, how well she meant, or how ignorant she was of alcoholism...or whether or not she was an alcoholic herself--we'd all want her to STOP IT!

    I get people not understanding weight issues. (Believe it or not a 250 pound, 5'4" woman judges the sturdiness of a chair, too, and scans the room to see if she's the fattest woman there. usually is..) But it does not matter about empathy or understanding. It's about the welfare of the child.

    First time reader. What a way to start, huh?

    Deb

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  3. Hey Mike,
    I was a 262 lb mom. My kids were slim. I will tell you when I see morbidly obese people I feel sad. When I see morbidly obese kids I feel anger. Why? You control what your kid eats. I am with deb on this one. You wouldn't give your kid a beer or a hit of coke to get them through a rough situation. You shouldn't give your kids ho hos and ding dongs to help them emotionally. Now, granted...body ideation is skewed many times when you get that big. People will say to thin people..."You are skinny as a rail' when in reality they are simply healthy. My brain when it comes to these things boils down to 'fat people know they are fat'..."They know what they are eating is unhealthy and "if they wanted my opinion they'd ask for it'. Now, I did have an interesting thing happen to me one time. I went into a gas station in the morning with my youngest. We were rushed out the door and didn't have a chance to get breakfast..She wanted a donut. I said "No! You are not going to eat garbage first t hing in the morning." Not realizing that directly behind me at the donut station was a morbidly obese woman and her child (also obese) getting a donut. I never would have said that out loud had I known they were standing there. The purpose of that was to nurture my child, not degrade another human being. Anytime someone seeks to help it should be done in a spirit of compassion and tact. NOt to humiliate or hurt. Good post.

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  4. ***This is all just my opinion. I'm not saying I'm right, and I'm not saying I'm wrong***

    When I see morbidly obese people with morbidly obese kids I think about a lot of things. Some of them are not nice things either. It's very hard to fall on one side of the fence or the other with this topic. I want to know more about the people before I make a judgement.

    I find myself thinking that these morbidly obese parents must have not learned proper eating habits when they were growing up or something happened to them and they just have bad habits. It's clear that they are passing the bad habits onto their kids. At a young age kids imitate the adults around them. They pick up what they see around them.

    I feel like these parents feel bad though. They have to be aware how unhealthy it is. I think they want to make changes, but they don't know how.

    I could go on forever with this topic, but I'm just going to leave it where it is for now! Great and thought provoking post!

    Sarah
    notaneffingdiet.blogspot.com

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  5. There are so many aspects to the question asked and so many ways to take it. I automatically identified with the obese person so my mind was directed towards the issue of obesity and helping the obese. My post was directed at how to help someone like that...like me.

    I looked back at the post and I guess I was looking at the picture as a fat person and not as a parent. I TOTALLY get the feelings of anger about the obese child now when I put on my daddy glasses instead of my fat goggles.

    Thinking of it from a parent's point of view, I get the frustration and anger. My focus was on the deep rooted problems with the parent that have also affected the child. My comments were coming from one mindset. From that mindset, how could anyone be angry? What will anger accomplish? Then I remembered Jamie Oliver’s show “Food Revolution”.

    I haven't talked about the show a whole lot but I love it. Jamie talks about getting angry. Not angry at the obese but angry at the problem of obesity. His goal is to get people angry enough to make changes then promote that change. Bottom line, ANGER = CHANGE is a formula I agree with. Jamie touches on this in avideo clip you can see on Hulu (for now).

    I don't know anyone who likes to be told they are slowly killing their children, especially by someone who they don't know. Jamie was able to get into a family's house in this video clip because they knew he cared. The fact he cared however, didn't change that he was frustrate and angry. The key is his frustration and anger was aimed at the problem, not the people. That doesn't mean he pulled any punches, it just meant his intentions were to help the family and get THEM angry about the problem with him. It DOES need to stop. I agree and I support helping educate parents and getting the message across. My point is that "tough love", if done right, is still love.

    As a guy, my mind immediately sees a problem and looks for a solution without absorbing the many aspects of the scenario. Even with my daddy goggles on, I think the BEST mindset to have is one of compassion and not anger or frustration when being a friend to someone who is obese. You can be angry at the problem and not the person.

    Thank you all for being so open and honest with your opinions. The thing I love about all of this is discussing something that is a social taboo so my eyes can see a little more. Thanks to Lynn again for providing the question. Without your comments, I wouldn't have considered another aspect of the scenario.

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  6. A terrific and heart felt post. I juts found your blog am already glad I did. Great comments here to.

    After reading your post and the comments, I will add that what I want for all obese people is for them to figure out what is behind their obesity. You were very candid about how you ended up at over 500 pounds. Coming face to face with who we are, obese and all, is the first major step in a positive life style change. I would bet the farm that if that mom figured out why she was fat, even getting counseling (okay this is a dream world), and worked on her own significant issues, her child would benefit, too, and lose weight. As we begin to care for ourselves in terms of our own health, we become, at least I do, more mindful of those we love who are overweight. It begins with the mom, first. Michele from http://ruminationsasiuncoverthewomanwithin.blogspot.com/

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  7. Hey there ...

    I am a 25 year old obese girl from Malaysia. I know that you are really far apart from me, but the way you expressed about how you feel...its exactly the same on how i feel here. the only difference is..u have managed to shed the pounds and i haven't . But i felt the connection. I thought no one would understand me better , but after reading your post , i realize that someone out there has felt what i am feeling now and you perfectly understand the feeling . Its true ..no one can really understand what are we really going through ...Here in Asia, most of the people are really small in size and when they see a huge lady ...they will literally look at you like you are from outer space and its really difficult to find someone who can understand you here....

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  8. Hello,

    I just came across your blog (I really like it). You bring up good questions and I like how you answered them. I am very overweight and was my whole life, my brother was always this as a child. I don't really blame my mother she did everything she could for me. Adults can be so cruel about these kind of things adults always made fun of me or made rude comments to me even when I was a child and then would yell at my mother for it. It was really pointless and just painful to go through all of the time. People are too quick to judge and just lack insight into things they never went through themselves.

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  9. There are a lot of things you could think of when seeing an obese person. I usually just have sympathy because I bet they are hot. I hate being hot or sweating and I imagine being obese makes you warmer....maybe that's childish and simple but that's what I've always thought.

    I've have two blessings in my life. First, I don't have major struggles with my weight and when I am stressed I tend to not eat rather than pack on extra pounds. Second, I've always had overweight friends. I am NOT the person who thinks,"Oh good I've got fat friends...they make me look skinnier." Instead, I am grateful for my overweight friends because I think they are usually kinder, more empathetic, and understanding. They seem to have a lot of things about life figured out-- like how to love other unconditionally, be great parents, and non-judgmental...they just lack the love for themselves. Not loving yourself enough to take care of your body is a sad thing...but being unable to love others is even sadder. So I'm grateful I've always had overweight friends. I hope they will get healthy someday, and some already gave but whether fat or skinny they will always be my friends.

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  10. This made me cry. Very well said~so much so that I have nothing more to say.

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  11. Thanks for posting this. I found your blog pretty recently. I have lost 110 pounds, still have a little to go, but thankfully I have boys that are pretty thin. I am VERY careful about what I feed them, they rarely get treats. Once at walmart (when I was at my fatter size) I allowed them to get a package of M&Ms and had a lady (a complete stranger) yell at me that I was making my kids obese like me and that I didn't deserve to have them.
    No one can understand how hard it is until they've been there.

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