Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Perception Gap

When I first posted about the F Word earlier this week, I had an astonishing amount of responses from people, but one that really stopped me in my tracks came from my friend J.

"Not sure whether sexes has anything to do with it or whether my friends were all arse holes but I was always being called chunk, fatty etc. I think they call it banter but more like bullying to me! Anyway, family have always said to me, you're a jolly, big man and if you weren't then you wouldn't be you. So how does that inspire me to lose weight? Being told that if I become thin then I'm no longer going to be the person my family love? Oh well, back to the kitchen I go for a comfort snack in the form of wotsits!"

I actually cried when I read that because it made me realise the enormous gap that can exist between what our loved ones are trying to say to us (in this case "Don't listen to those bullies, we love you just as you are because you are AMAZING") and what we actually hear ("Doesn't matter how unhappy you are with your body, you musn't change otherwise we'll stop loving you").  It's a massive, Grand Canyon sized gap between intention and translation and I think it happens a lot.  

I know that in most cases, when people say "Don't be silly, you're not fat", it's not because they are trying to upset, annoy or derail me, it's probably because they are trying to make me stop feeling bad.  The problem with it is that it doesn't work and it's easy to read the subtext "I am not interested in your problem, I'm going to deny that it is happening" behind words that are most likely being said with the kindest of intent.  I still know that I'm overweight in the same way that J knows that he is, denying that there is a problem does not make it go away, we can see the fact of it in the mirror, in our reflection in every shop window that we pass, in the jeans that we don't fit into.

I guess the question becomes, how do you move past it?  Well, I clearly did it by posting on my blog and creating a minor shitstorm.  I honestly didn't see that coming (mainly because I didn't think anyone actually read my ramblings!) but what happened was that I was set on this path and given a healthy shove to get me started along it.  I don't know how J has started to move past the voices in his head.  I suspect that his first steps may have been taken with the support of his very lovely wife, but however it happened, I was really happy and encouraged to see this from him this morning:

got on the scales this morning, the big number has gone down by one. Next milestone within reach! 

Well done buddy, long may it continue.  Oh and if you're reading this, I've got something that I'd like to say to you and it is this.  You are awesome and amazing, one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever had the good fortune to encounter.  This is a true fact and would not change if you were 50 stone or 10 stone.  That is who you are, your body is just where you live.

This is my blog for the day, I'll do a calorie summary as part of tomorrow's blog.  This one had been playing on my mind since I read J's comment and I wanted to get it out there.


  1. Main thing is to be happy - whatever helps that is great. For me, being fit makes me more happy.

  2. Well... when I say the main thing is to be happy - I mean 'fulfilled' - and part of that is to be happy with ourself I guess. But what do I know - just a sales rep !

  3. Even sales reps know a thing or two Andy! ;D

    Being fit is a great start point for being happy / fulfilled - I've always found it helpful to try and think about my body in terms of what it can do (run marathons etc) rather than what it looks like.

  4. Brilliant blog Amy. I had similar comments when I wanted to get my protuding front teeth straigtened. I was told I wouldn't be me without them! The fact that I hated them and wouldn't smile for a photograph didn't seem to occur to anyone. Still I got them done and nobody noticed any major personality changes that they told me off!