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Last year, YouTuber Nicole Arbour uploaded “Dear Fat People,” a video aimed at the 35% of North Americans who are obese. In it, she acknowledges that people are already mad at this video. Then, she jokes that has the ability to run away from fat people by just walking away.
She says, “If we offend you so much that you lose weight, then I’m okay with that.” Arbour seems to hope that she offends obese viewers enough that they are inspired to change their bodies.
This February, Arbour released a new video entitled “Dear Fat People 2: The Second Helping,” where she reacted to the launch of the new Barbies and having a plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated. At the end, she even showed a few responses from people who had been motivated by her previous video.
As an obese person, watching her videos was interesting. Honestly, I hated watching them. Her opinions brought up so many of my old feelings of worthlessness.
I’m fat. No one pointed it out to me until I was twelve-years-old, and it was then that I realized that meant I was unattractive and worthless.
I was in no way a late bloomer. In elementary school, I was the tallest girl in my class, and in second grade, I was already wearing a bra. But in sixth grade, I stopped growing taller, and I didn’t know how to stop growing sideways.
I wasn’t an inactive kid. My days were spent playing outside with my sister and our dog. But all of a sudden, that wasn’t enough. I had to lose weight.
I contemplated anorexia, contemplated bulimia, but I knew I couldn’t starve myself or make myself throw up. I knew all the latest nutrition information, knew about the benefits of exercising, but nothing worked for me.
Instead, I developed awful eating habits. Food became associated with shame for me. I hated being hungry. I hated craving food because I thought it made me weak.
I never lost any weight.
A few years later, I started counting calories. Each week, I went down in the amount I allowed myself.
I was losing weight. Finally, people were proud of me. My family started noticing a difference, and they wanted to know what I was doing. I was so ecstatic. I had all these false expectations for my weight loss. People would become friendlier towards me. I would appreciate myself more. I expected all of these different aspects in my life to change because I weighed differently.
But they didn’t.
I spent eight years hating myself and that is far too long. It wasn’t weight loss that changed my confidence.
It was my attitude.
Last year, I began to think about weight, health, and expectations differently. I began to contemplate why I wanted to lose weight, and none of the reasons were because I wanted to. All my thoughts were about other people.
It took me about a full year to readjust my thinking. I love myself, and have achieved more in a year of loving myself than I did in eight years of hating myself. I became more confident. I wore clothes I wanted to wear. I took more pride in myself and my accomplishments. I exercised when I wanted to, stopped caring about what other people thought about me, and started thinking differently about others .
I’m not jealous of other people’s bodies anymore. Not every day is easy; I am a young adult woman living in a complicated, image-obsessed world. But I now know that I am worth the extra effort it takes to love myself. I can recognize negative behaviors, like when I’m thinking negative thoughts about myself in relation to Instagram or Pinterest models. I know to turn my computer off, and not torture myself constantly.