I have just staggered about 250 yards up the road from the hardware shop with a 20kg (about 44lbs) bag of coal and only just made it. The bit that I find really hard to fully get my head around, is not that I’m so unfit that carrying 20kg causes me problems, but that 9 months ago I was 30kg (about 66lbs) heavier than I am now.
I have serious doubts that I would have made it up the road, without having to stop several times on the way, if I’d tried carrying 30kg of coal, yet I used to carry that amount extra with me every where I went. And, if I am ever to approach that mystical realm of the ‘ideal weight’, I still need to shed another 20kg.
So why then, when I am 30kg lighter than I used to be, do I sometimes feel like I’ve never been so fat?
For a while I thought it was just because I’m so much more focused on my weight these days: being more careful about my eating habits and weighing myself once a week. But I’m beginning to suspect there might be another factor in this equation, which is I’ve shifted into a different category of person.
These days I can look in the mirror, or catch sight of myself in a shop window and I look like an overweight, middle-aged guy who’s let himself go and could seriously do with losing some weight. But when I was 30kg heavier, I was so outside the realms of “normality” that the idea that I could actually do something didn’t really come into it.
When you look at someone like Johnny Vegas (British comedian – star of “Sex Lives of the Potato Men” and Channel 4’s “18 stone of Idiot”), part of his act, and who he is, is defined in the sheer size of him. It does not occur to you that he could ever be slim, or have a well-sculpted body.
The fat man and the bearded lady of the circus freak show were firmly in the realm of “other”. They were curiosities to be stared at, ridiculed, or even pitied, but they were not anything we might become. As such, we could dismiss them and move on to the next novelty item.
But when someone is like us, but a bit fatter, or a woman’s moustache starts to get slightly darker and she finds a hair or two growing on her chin, then we freak out about it a great deal more. Suddenly we will be full of well-meaning, and probably very patronising, advice. We will whisper to our friends about how they are not making an effort. We will bitch and snipe out of fear, because that person could be us, if we aren’t vigilant enough. This attitude that, if you could be normal but don’t try to be, then you deserve every bit of harsh criticism you get, is extremely common.
So it seems I have now moved into these realms of judgement. When I was buying clothes with a number of ‘X’s on the label, then I was in ‘outsize’ clothing, i.e., outside the sizes of normality. As such, I was more easily dismissed. Now that my clothing sizes are ‘Large’, I’m into that range that says I could be normal if I just tried a bit harder.
Clearly I am not fatter than I have ever been, but the irony of it is that by losing enough weight to move out of the realm of “other”, I am now in a position where I can be judged more harshly by a greater number of people.