The Projection of Perfection

September 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I often receive emails from individuals who are hurting.  They have been on the receiving end of very hateful comments and harsh remarks regarding their weight.  Sometimes these comments have come from total strangers.  Other times it comes from family members.  Regardless of where it comes from, the words people say to us can sting.  The stares and glares can leave us feeling like outcasts on the fringe of society.  It often gives us the impression that we are somehow less than human.

If you have ever suffered with obesity, you know how difficult it is to fit into the world.  And I do mean that in both a figurative and literal sense.  The world is set up for people of a certain size.  It is hard enough to be judged by total strangers but we are also judged many times by inanimate objects. The chair with arms that makes it impossible for you to sit in it.  The table that has a bench attached to it with no ability to scoot it out to accommodate your size.  The plane seat with a buckle that doesn’t fit. The movie theatre seat that you cannot get to because it is in the middle between others.  Even the church pew that you may no longer fit in.  People often don’t realize that even if a row does not have individual chairs (like a church pew), it still has a narrow width many times.  At one point, I could no longer attend church due to that.  I simply couldn’t fit through the narrow space to get into the row.  Eventually you realize—your world is more limited.

As you get bigger, your world becomes smaller.  There are less places you can go.  And even if you might fit, you may not be willing to risk it.  If you have experienced life at 300 or 400 plus pounds then you probably have had some bad experiences.  Times when you got turned away because you couldn’t fit.  Or worse—times you became stuck or broke something in public.   In my case, all of the above.  When those things happen, you suffer inside.  You’re embarrassed.  And you have to find a way to protect yourself.   Otherwise you will sink into a depression that is difficult to shake.

Life is hard enough without exposing yourself to unnecessary bouts of humiliation.  So you go into your shell more often.  The problem then becomes the fact that isolation encourages you to eat even more.  You become more lonely and more isolated which makes food even more important in your life as the “comforter”.  Food has now become both the problem and the solution.  It is the reason you are more isolated than ever.  And it is the comfort in that isolation.

Breaking chairs, getting stuck or not being able to fit somewhere are all disappointments with inanimate objects.  But what about the hurt inflicted on us by living people?

The other day I received an email from someone who told me how very hurt she had been over the course of her life. Valentine’s Day was a horrible time for her when she was school age as many people would send her cards as a practical joke.  One time someone sent her a card saying “You make the earth move” except they meant it as a joke due to her weight.

I wish I could say I was shocked.  But I’m not.  I’m not shocked because I know just exactly how very cruel the world can be to people who are overweight and obese.   Living life in an oversized body is hard enough.  When the outside world adds to the pain, you often wonder how much more you can take.

This can send you into a cycle of going back to food.  Seeking comfort in the arms of a cupcake or a box of donuts.  It makes sense.  That is where you always feel the most comfortable yet it is the very thing that makes life so hard.  But where else can we seek comfort when no one seems to understand? When even people in our family can at times be the very ones causing you pain?  When perfect strangers make a point to add insult to injury simply because your presence offends them?

For me, it is so important that I let God in.  That I don’t sit in those feelings and hold onto them.  When the enemy strikes against you with hurtful words, that is not the time to remain silent.   That is not the time to internalize all the humiliation and shame you may feel.  When you hold that in, it has no where to go.  The food merely stuffs it down.  Shoves it somewhere hidden only to be seen by more pounds on the scale.  Because nothing stays hidden for long.  And the emotions we carry will rise to the surface once again if we don’t find a way to deal with them.

Too many people think that God is too busy to hear the pain they are in.  That because the weight they carry is “their own fault” that God does not want any part of your suffering.  How many times have we blamed ourselves? Condemned ourselves?  We think God condemns us too.  That He has no compassion for our situation.   But if you ask me—that is simply not true.

Let’s remember one thing.  No one on this earth is perfect.

Oh sure—it may not seem that way from where we sit.  Everyone else seems to have it all together.

The world is full now more than ever with the projection of perfection.

Blogs are a perfect example of this!  How many times have I read blogs where everyone seems to have it all together?  Even their blog looks perfect!! All the tabs at the top divided into categories.  Each category something I’m awful at!! Like “decorating”, “cooking”, and “fashion”.   A perfectly decorated house with a perfectly toned woman standing in a perfectly fashionable dress! And then here I am—in my 5 dollar Walmart yoga pants.  And I don’t even know how to do yoga!!   I’ve never been good at decorating.   I have no eye for fashion.   And I’m a terrible cook!  I hop on Facebook and sometimes all I see are pictures of perfection.   The perfect family.  The perfect husband.  The perfect wives.  Perfect kids.  And here I am—a divorced single mom just doing my best to get through the day.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t even lose weight right! I want to be one of those success stories where they found what worked–did it—and then maintained it forever.  Off to run marathons and conquer the world!

And then there’s me.

Nothing I do is perfect.  My marriage wasn’t.  My blog isn’t.  Even my weight loss “story” is littered with detours.

The only thing I am perfectly perfect at—-is being totally imperfect.

Well no one is perfect.  And even if people think we should be….even if WE expect OURSELVES to be…….

God doesn’t expect that of us at all.  He knows we aren’t perfect.  That’s why he said no one is!

He said it just like this….

“No one is perfect.  Not Even One”

—Romans 3:10

So those people glaring at you in the store because of your size?

Not perfect

That guy who called you ‘fat’?

Not perfect

The well meaning relative who makes a comment in front of everyone about your weight?

Not perfect

Your ex who broke up with you because you weren’t thin enough?

Not perfect

Those students sending Valentine’s cards to our beautiful friend as a practical joke?

Not perfect

Yep—we think we’re all so different.  We think we couldn’t possibly have anything in common with our ‘accusers’.  The people who stare and glare.  The people who throw stones.  But we couldn’t be more wrong.  We have more in common than we think.

None of us are perfect. And we all struggle.

It’s just SO MUCH EASIER to point out someone else’s imperfections than it is to work on our own.

I believe Jesus said it something like this…

It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.

 Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

—Matthew 7:3-5

I kind of love that he said that.   And it’s totally true.

No one is perfect.  It’s just so much easier to focus on someone else’s flaws than deal with our own.

The next time someone makes a comment to you about your weight or looks down on you for it—just take into account that they struggle too. Those people working so hard to convince the rest of us that they’re perfect?? They probably need compassion more than anyone!  We all know they’re not. And never will be.  How exhausting it must be to keep up the pretense?

Being over 417 pounds stripped away from me any and all possibility of faking it.  Obesity doesn’t let you hide your weakness.  It sells you out.  There for the whole world to see.  But in some ways, I’m grateful.   It released me from pretending.  From having to even keep the facade.  I’m not perfect and I never will be.   And the cruelty the world often projected onto me as a result of my weight really forced me into the arms of God.  I had no choice but to go to Him with my sorrows.  For every mean glance and dirty look.  I had to rely on Him for strength and comfort.  It was through those times that He taught me to have compassion for the very people who saw me with contempt.

Today I want you to know that it’s ok.  Whatever you weigh today—it doesn’t make you any less in God’s eyes.  His love for you knows no bounds.  It doesn’t have restrictions like the arms of a chair or the weight limit of a ride.  It doesn’t come to you in limitations depending on how ‘good’ you were today in sticking to your diet.  God’s love is limitless, boundless and full of compassion. It’s the kind of love that doesn’t have a weight limit.  It’s the real thing. The real deal.  Because finally someone cares beyond the numbers.  Beyond the scale.

And that’s good news, isn’t it?

promise4c

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen P September 28, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Don’t underestimate the awesomeness of $5 yoga pants.. I”m telling you 😉

Great points, Holly. I find my most Judgey Mc Judge-ers are those who are have not accepted themselves yet. Much more of a reflection on them.

Even at a normal weight, people still judge me. Words hurt. Thick skins, the ability to see projection, brush it off and walk away are all tools in my tool box. Keep on going. Karen P
Karen P recently posted..Gretchen Rubin explains abstaining in a clear and easy to understand video, no sugars no grains for the WIN!My Profile

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Robin Richardson September 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Which weight loss surgery did you have? I’m having the sleeve in a few weeks and I’m so damn scared.

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Pam Holmes September 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Yep. I am perfectly imperfect and learning to live with all that that involves. I try not to feel guilty when I have a less than perfect day, and just work harder to make the next day better. I know perfection is impossible, but it’s hard not to look at others and think they must surely have it all together. Someone said, “Everyone has a struggle, sometimes you just can’t see it.” Obesity is out there for everyone to see, so people are quick to judge us for our struggle with food. Other struggles are hidden, different, but just as real as our own obesity struggle is. I try to remember that as I covet someone else’s seemingly perfect and easy life. I also try to remember that God isn’t judging me on the number on my scale. That makes me feel better.
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Tess September 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Wait…you found $5 yoga pants??? WHERE?! 😉

I’m so glad you posted this. I struggle with “keeping up with the Jones” and I often times get stuck. But you’re right, nobody is perfect. What’s that saying…something like the person you’re jealous of is jealous of you, too. I’m jealous of C__’s free time…C___ is jealous of my family, is a personal example. I think working on being a-ok with who you are is hard but necessary. And I’m pretty sure there are no scales in heaven!

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Holly from 300 Pounds Down September 29, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Thanks Tess!! I totally agree!

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Anneli September 29, 2014 at 11:02 pm

I love this. One thing I’m sure of is that we are terrible judges of ourselves. We simply don’t have the perspective to see ourselves accurately. Also, I’m convinced that Satan is real and works on us, and he is the MASTER of the selective truth and guiding us to the wrong conclusion about ourselves. It sounds like he really pounded the fact that you were 417 pounds. I’m sure he never hinted that God was so proud of you. Maybe given your genetics and circumstances, it was a real miracle that you didn’t hit 600 pounds. Satan will never tell you how well you did in your marriage and what an amazing Mom you are. Oddly, he’ll never tell us when we really do mess up and need to repent. I suspect that when I get to judgement day, I’ll be surprised. Maybe I’ll find out that some of the things I’m the most deeply ashamed about were never really my fault at all. Conversely, I’ve probably brushed off a number of things that needed attention. I think we just need to do our best every day and trust that God can get us where we need to be.
Anneli recently posted..Feeling fat/thinMy Profile

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Startingoveragain October 1, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Since I am a word person like you, I feel the impact they can have rather deeply. I still feel the sting of my brother calling me “Fat A– and Big Nose” all these years later. While you might consider me a “normal weight” person, I struggle with confidence and sugar addiction. I think my brother’s words and lack of familial support led me to an unhealthy marriage where the abuse continued. Now I judge myself.

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