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Old 04-14-2013, 04:20 PM   #1
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Our warped perceptions

Last night my BFF and I were out on the town celebrating her 30th birthday. She was drinking rum and cokes, and I stuck to club soda with lime (in a short glass so it wasn't so obvious that I wasn't drinking). There was a group of young girls dancing at one of the bars and my friend kept making comments about how they were too skinny and 'dressed like hookers.' Now, my friend is probably just 5'4", weighs over 200 and has always been on the heavier side. I chose to ignore the comments last night since it was her birthday, but when she said something again this morning I couldn't agree with her anymore.

The girls were not emaciated. They were well within the healthy range. One girl was thinner than the others, but it looked like she was naturally that thin. None of them looked unhealthy and they weren't dressed inappropriately. I told her all of this, along with the reminder that they were young; an aging metabolism hadn't yet caught up with them, and the clothes they were wearing were intended to be worn by young women their age, not women our age.

She was absolutely incredulous that they were in the normal range. It wasn't until I told her that even after losing twenty pounds, I was just barely in the normal BMI range (I know BMI has it's problems, but it served the purpose I needed it too).

I think that she (and some of us here - me included) have been heavier so long that we no longer have a realistic idea of a healthy weight.

I wonder what can be done to retrain our thinking.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:25 PM   #2
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:36 PM   #3
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Good observation. It seems that our new normal is overweight, and anyone who is thin automatically becomes anorexic, scary skinny, etc

I think the only thing you can do is take care of your body, get to goal and stay there, be healthy, and surround yourself with like minded people that believe in staying healthy and fit.

The same skewed perception happens with portions- I can easily save half my meal at a restaurant and I get looks when I am with semi-acquaintances because I don't want to stuff myself until I have to undo the top button of my pants.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:42 PM   #4
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The same skewed perception happens with portions- I can easily save half my meal at a restaurant and I get looks when I am with semi-acquaintances because I don't want to stuff myself until I have to undo the top button of my pants.
Exactly! Last night she was also was complaining about how her mom and sister made her feel like a big fattie when they took her out for her birthday dinner. They all got fish of some sort, but she said her mom and sister (who are both thin) hardly touched theirs and she felt like a cow because she finished everything on her plate. She then said that she liked eating with me because I never make her feel like a fattie. She'll order "light" fare and feel good about what she is eating when she compares it to what I'm eating.

eta: I've eaten with her family on numerous occasions, and I'm sure that her mom and sister didn't "barely touch" theirs, but probably ate about half.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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Exactly! Last night she was also was complaining about how her mom and sister made her feel like a big fattie when they took her out for her birthday dinner. They all got fish of some sort, but she said her mom and sister (who are both thin) hardly touched theirs and she felt like a cow because she finished everything on her plate. She then said that she liked eating with me because I never make her feel like a fattie. She'll order "light" fare and feel good about what she is eating when she compares it to what I'm eating.

eta: I've eaten with her family on numerous occasions, and I'm sure that her mom and sister didn't "barely touch" theirs, but probably ate about half.
it's crazy how people think someone's healthy eating is somehow a dig at them. I love when people say "oh now youre making me feel bad about what I ordered" after they hear what I want. No, you should feel bad about your choice on your own, and what I choose to eat has nothing to do with you, so don't put the guilt on me.

I think that's why it's important to have people in your life that eat healthy and are active- it's great motivation to eat well and exercise.

And, so easy to get into a trap if you compare yourself to a group of unhealthy people- oh they all had 5 slices of pizza, I just had 4, so I'm doing good! They all had at least 10 drinks, so my 7 is moderate in comparison.
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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I am lucky in some ways that coincidentally my friends are mostly slim or athletic.My husband is a big man but more in the 'benchpress 100 lbs' big rather than the obese version.It keeps me alert and realistic.
I think it would be too easy to slip into this 'I'm thin enough by comparison' way of thinking if I could share clothes with my friends etc...
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:46 PM   #7
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I think it would be too easy to slip into this 'I'm thin enough by comparison' way of thinking if I could share clothes with my friends etc...
Another excellent point. I think she sees herself as being "thin enough" because not only am I eating mostly fat, but we can share some tops. She's a L/XL and I'm currently a M/L, so occasionally there is some overlap.

In my head I know it is because of height and frame differences, but it sure is a motivating factor for me.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:21 PM   #8
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her mom and sister (who are both thin) hardly touched theirs and she felt like a cow because she finished everything on her plate
I dont begrudge the woman enjoying her birthday dinner of course... but restaurant portions are HUGE. If you aren't splurging, restaurant entrees are generally way too big for one meal.

I also think its pretty rude to comment on people who are "too skinny" - whether they are or not, its just as hurtful as an overweight person being called out for their size.
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Old 04-14-2013, 07:50 PM   #9
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I also think its pretty rude to comment on people who are "too skinny" - whether they are or not, its just as hurtful as an overweight person being called out for their size.
Amen, sister. I am so against women bashing women- for their weight at ANY size. As a former (very, very former) skinny girl, these comments hurt, a lot. It hurts to be called out and shamed for your body no matter what your bmi may be. Women as a whole seriously need to stop with that spiteful sh**!!

Anyway. Rant over. I think you, OP, handled the situation well. It was petty to criticize those other girls on their bodies and clothes- who asked her? What business of hers what they wore or ate? But you were right to leave the subject alone on her birthday.
I have a coworker constantly trying to get me to eat more (and eat carbs) now that I'm 'so thin' (at 128 lbs and 5'2- just under 'overweight.') Why can't we all just support each other, in whatever WOE or weight or whatever is going on? ARUGH!
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:21 PM   #10
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I think perceptions of size/weight are tricky and personal. I don't think there is some society-wide change in perception.

One thing I've noticed -- and maybe this makes me like your friend? -- is that when I was a kid someone who was "obese" was someone who was very large. Like really a word for those who were off the charts. (I realize this was a colloquial thing, and not by the "chart.") Now, obese includes relatively normal looking people, not normal looking bc I've gotten used to seeing people at that weight, but normal because they are really not all that big. I am "obese" when I'm at 150 pounds and wearing a size 10 jeans, for example (I'm short). The weight that I have always felt very healthy and good at in the past, and at which I wear an old-school size 6 (I'm thinking it might be smaller now, bc its been a good while since I been there) is considered to be overweight. And now, I am sure that people would describe me as "obese" if they saw me at 150 in my size 10 jeans. I have now gotten very much attuned to the new colloquial meanings of these words and think "fat" when I see people I would have once thought looked "normal." (And back then, I was not fat myself, so it's not just that as a fat person I have a messed up view of things.)

Where I live, I don't think the national stats even come close. There are not a lot of heavy people here and there are an awful lot of really waify types. I do think some of them are naturally that way, but I know that's not true of all of them. A friend of mine mentioned to me not all that long ago that she hasn't had more than one scoop of ice cream in a sitting since college. (She's in her late 40s.) Well, I don't mean this judge-y or anything, we're all dealing with a lot of pressures in this culture, and maybe this is a good way to be. My life sure would have been easier if I'd always lived this way. But I think she meant that to mean more than something specifically about ice cream. I think she was saying that literally since college she has not let herself indulge in any yummy food bc it's really important to her to be skinny. She is SKINNY. And I think there's a lot of women who live that way. And although I do think that sounds like a better life than MY LIFE, I think it's kind of sad that that's how women kinda need to live -- somewhere between that and being considered a cow, but not really able to go about their business without their physical selves being the main issue of their lives, unless they really are that natural kind of skinny where they can eat whatever and not gain (and even then, their butt is too flat or they have no breasts, or too big a nose).

I feel like your friend who's made to feel like a cow bc her sisters are eating fish, or whatever, and who perceives normal weighted women as skinny (which of course is dependent on your perception of it all, iykwim) is just a product of a messed up culture. I don't know if being irritated with her and calling her out on it makes a whole lotta sense. I don't feel like she's probably any more messed up than the rest of us.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:20 AM   #11
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I have a different take on it- I remember in school when there would be only one big kid in class and everyone else was skinny and in shape. Now if you go into a school there are so many overweight kids who are out of shape and can barely handle gym class and just sit around playing on their phones.

I think vanity sizing also has something to do with it. Our sizes keep getting bigger and bigger, and the numbers smaller. I have older size 4 jeans that are smaller than the current size 0, and now someone can be a current size 4 at 140 pounds.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:42 AM   #12
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One thing that bothers me is the tendency for those of us who have had weight issues all our lives to assume that women who have always been a 'normal' weight either starve themselves or have some magic metabolism that enables them to eat all they want without gaining.

What I've observed among my friends is simply that their bodies work differently than mine--and because of their lack of 'history' with weight issues, they have a healthier relationship with food.

For example, I traveled for 2 weeks with a friend who has always been a normal size. She is a true 'foodie' and enjoys eating. However, in restaurants where we were served large portions, she would barely eat half--she stopped when full! A foreign concept for someone like me who in my obese days only 'stopped' when there was no food remaining.

She would order dessert--when she was not too full from her meal, and it was something she really wanted to have. The obese me was never too full for dessert, and I never met a dessert I didn't love. She often ignored the bread basket, whereas in my obese days, no bread basket was safe from me.

My point is that many women naturally regulate their weight without conscious effort. We can't assume that our own 'food issues' are shared by others.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:51 AM   #13
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I don't know if being irritated with her and calling her out on it makes a whole lotta sense. I don't feel like she's probably any more messed up than the rest of us.
That is pretty much my point; she isn't any more messed up than the rest of us, and we should all be more aware of how what we say and how we judge others affects all involved.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:51 AM   #14
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One thing that bothers me is the tendency for those of us who have had weight issues all our lives to assume that women who have always been a 'normal' weight either starve themselves or have some magic metabolism that enables them to eat all they want without gaining.

What I've observed among my friends is simply that their bodies work differently than mine--and because of their lack of 'history' with weight issues, they have a healthier relationship with food.

For example, I traveled for 2 weeks with a friend who has always been a normal size. She is a true 'foodie' and enjoys eating. However, in restaurants where we were served large portions, she would barely eat half--she stopped when full! A foreign concept for someone like me who in my obese days only 'stopped' when there was no food remaining.

She would order dessert--when she was not too full from her meal, and it was something she really wanted to have. The obese me was never too full for dessert, and I never met a dessert I didn't love. She often ignored the bread basket, whereas in my obese days, no bread basket was safe from me.

My point is that many women naturally regulate their weight without conscious effort. We can't assume that our own 'food issues' are shared by others.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:55 AM   #15
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One thing that bothers me is the tendency for those of us who have had weight issues all our lives to assume that women who have always been a 'normal' weight either starve themselves or have some magic metabolism that enables them to eat all they want without gaining.

What I've observed among my friends is simply that their bodies work differently than mine--and because of their lack of 'history' with weight issues, they have a healthier relationship with food.

For example, I traveled for 2 weeks with a friend who has always been a normal size. She is a true 'foodie' and enjoys eating. However, in restaurants where we were served large portions, she would barely eat half--she stopped when full! A foreign concept for someone like me who in my obese days only 'stopped' when there was no food remaining.

She would order dessert--when she was not too full from her meal, and it was something she really wanted to have. The obese me was never too full for dessert, and I never met a dessert I didn't love. She often ignored the bread basket, whereas in my obese days, no bread basket was safe from me.

My point is that many women naturally regulate their weight without conscious effort. We can't assume that our own 'food issues' are shared by others.
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:12 AM   #16
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and now someone can be a current size 4 at 140 pounds
That's so crazy! The last time I was 140 pounds, I was an 8-10. Are there even clothes that fit women who need a real, actual size zero?
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:19 AM   #17
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That's so crazy! The last time I was 140 pounds, I was an 8-10. Are there even clothes that fit women who need a real, actual size zero?
haha yes, they are called 00, also, some upscale/trendier brands that go by waist size.

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Old 04-15-2013, 06:22 AM   #18
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OK... I used to have this sister-in-law, Liz.

She was tall, blonde, thin, and gorgeous. I think she was around 6'2".... Long, naturally blonde hair, and thin.

Naturally thin. You could stand her up among her relatives, and she'd just look like one more pine tree.

Now, I had weight problems back then, but I wasn't yet obese... though whenever her mother gave me clothing (usually sleepwear), it was never smaller than XXXL. (I wore L/XL clothing at the time, and have NEVER been XXXL.)

One day, Liz and I were walking down the street, and she was commenting that she needed to diet.

Because she was fat.

I asked her WHERE she was fat... And she pulled down her jeans and pointed to these bulges on her hips she needed to get rid of. (The bulges -- otherwise know as her pelvic bones.)

It took a lot of work to convince her that this was NOT a flaw, this was a bone, and losing weight would make them MORE prominent, not less. She's an intelligent woman... and she still couldn't accept the objective evidence. I even had her feel those hard bulges, and feel my soft and flabby upper arm.

Meanwhile, she had a 16-year-old adopted sister. While Liz had the same tall, narrow frame as her genetic family, her sis was shorter and broad of shoulder. And incredibly fit. Solid muscle.
And convinced she needed to lose weight because Liz's shoulders and hips were narrower than hers were. In fact, Liz's shoulders and hips were narrower than Anne's SKELETON -- just as her legs were longer.



So much of body-perception is based on comparison.
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:51 AM   #19
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No one should bash someone else because of weight, fat or thin. It's just wrong.

I agree that perception is a major issue. One idea I have, though it isn't something I have seen anywhere, is that I think it is possible that many fat people have Body Dismorphic Disorder. Usually we hear about this regarding people with anorexia - they think they are fat when they are really thin. I think the opposite is true of some fat people. I know myself, my sister and my father all at least at times have thought we were thinner than we really were. I recently went on a cruise at 260 lbs. and we took a lot of photos. The pictures looked about what I expected them to be - but that's what I thought I looked like when I had weighed 300 lbs. On the other hand, it can go the other way...I know in my early 20's when I got down to my adult low of 160 lbs. (hope to get there again someday) I thought I was larger, I was still looking in the plus section of a clothing store and the sales clerk was very puzzled...apparently I was the same size as other people who shopped in the regular section. So I would say it can be very difficult for people, I would dare say most people, to really know what size they are. Perception is a very powerful thing.

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Old 04-15-2013, 06:58 AM   #20
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I'm sorry but to me the op's friend sounds like she is playing the defense...she knows deep down she is overweight and trying to make others look bad while she finishes off a plate of food that will make her heavier. I know I sound awful for saying this but I have done it myself when I was heavier...I state heavier as I am still heavy even tho I am in the upper end of an acceptable bmi for my height.
The op was right. Those girls were just young girls with a healthy metabolism dressed appropriately for their body types and age.
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Old 04-15-2013, 07:20 AM   #21
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Jealousy breeds contempt. I can't remember who said that but it fits the situation. Find anything and blow it out of proportion to make yourself feel better.

As women, and anymore even men, there is such pressure on what we're supposed to look like. There are probably few people who have a truly healthy perception of themselves. I wish I was one of them.
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:39 AM   #22
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I think that she (and some of us here - me included) have been heavier so long that we no longer have a realistic idea of a healthy weight.
Hmm, that's an interesting theory. I have always thought that tv/movies/etc. have warped our perceptions by making us think that skinny is normal. But if you live every day surrounded mostly by people who are overweight, it would only be natural to come to think of that as normal, wouldn't it?

I live in a mild climate where outdoor sports are pretty common, and you can't leave your home without seeing people out jogging, cycling, walking their dogs, etc. People around here tend to look pretty fit. But where I grew up, obesity is much more common and exercise typically comes to an abrupt halt after high school sports. That has to affect one's perception of what "normal" means.



Regarding your friend's comments, I think it's an unfortunate tendency of human nature to judge others in order to feel better about ourselves. I know that I've been quite guilty of it at times. And I know that skinny women do it to fat women (think that they're pigs who can't control themselves) and that fat women do it to skinny women (think that, like Leo said, they're either starving themselves or "just lucky" - no room for the middle ground that is my reality. I eat plenty of calories. They're just carefully selected ones!) I have to roll my eyes when one of my obese friends tells me how "lucky" I am while she's drinking a gallon of sugary soda and eating the extra large order of fries, apparently oblivious to the fact that I sweetened my tea with stevia and took the bun off my burger and didn't order the fries (that's just luck???). But on the other hand I get downright infuriated when one of my normal-weight friends says she doesn't understand why fat people don't just eat less and exercise more, apparently oblivious to the fact that metabolism is more complicated than elementary-school level math and that fat people do exactly what skinny people do: they eat until they're not hungry any more. Sadly, there is plenty of misunderstanding and judgment on both sides.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:15 AM   #23
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People struggling with hyperinsulinemia will be hungrier and likely eat more than people with normal insulin output. They will often be fatter as a result. It's not "will power," it's hormones. Gary Taubes explained this at length in his books. --Just another reason not to point fingers.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:15 AM   #24
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What I've observed among my friends is simply that their bodies work differently than mine--and because of their lack of 'history' with weight issues, they have a healthier relationship with food.
I have a feeling that this was in response to me... but, at any rate, I completely agree w this and I think it is the real root of the both the health issues that heavy people face and the social ones, too. When I used the phrase "naturally thin" I was not thinking of people who are thin even though they eat huge amounts of food. I was thinking of people for whom eating is not a big issue bc their appetites and urges are matched to their needs. (I understand that these people would hate to be considered lucky, but I'd still be willing to trade my right arm for things to line up that way for me!)

For people who become fat bc they over eat, I think it is almost always driven by their biology. I didn't used to think so -- I totally bought into the idea that it was a psychological issue, but now that I have managed to change the biology, I'm wondering where the emotional issues went... If everyone understood the biological challenge, normal-weighted people would have to come up w better reasons to be hateful towards fat people. And there'd be a whole lot fewer fat people feeling like horrible failures and hating themselves.

I have great sympathy for your friend bc she is in a terrible bind. It is very hard for a fat woman to feel good about herself in this culture. I understand that b*t hing about other people's bodies is unfortunate, but it's not like she did he equivalent of yelling "fat cow!" Out of the car window or something. My guess is that she would have been mortified if she found out later that one of them overheard and was hurt by it. If she found it comforting to put them down, it's bc she has very few opportunities for comfort. Clearly they don't deserve to be put down, but she's the one my heart goes out to here.
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:14 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by CrzyCatLady View Post
Jealousy breeds contempt. I can't remember who said that but it fits the situation. Find anything and blow it out of proportion to make yourself feel better.

As women, and anymore even men, there is such pressure on what we're supposed to look like. There are probably few people who have a truly healthy perception of themselves. I wish I was one of them.
Exactly! I've been struggling with this myself... I wish I had a truly healthy perception of myself, but I (like many others) have a tendency to compare myself to others as well. And I do definitely agree that jealousy plays a role in how we sometimes view others! I've gotten MUCH better in the recent months, but I know my self image will always be something I'll struggle with in the background.

I kind of agree that it sounds like OP's friend might have been trying to make herself feel better by drawing attention to someone else... definitely doesn't make it right, and OP was right in pointing out how wrong what she said was imo. But I've definitely been there myself when I was younger, and I know several people who still act that way even today. Jealousy and deflection are ugly things!
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:42 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by CrzyCatLady View Post
"Jealousy breeds contempt. I can't remember who said that but it fits the situation. Find anything and blow it out of proportion to make yourself feel better. "

This statement was something I was meant to see this morning.It has just explained an issue I have been having with a friend.I feel better,the weight is off my mind.Thank you for phrasing it this way...
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Old 04-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by nolcjunk View Post
I have a different take on it- I remember in school when there would be only one big kid in class and everyone else was skinny and in shape. Now if you go into a school there are so many overweight kids who are out of shape and can barely handle gym class and just sit around playing on their phones.
Yep.30 years later and I can even spell his name...
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Old 04-15-2013, 01:29 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by nolcjunk View Post
I have a different take on it- I remember in school when there would be only one big kid in class and everyone else was skinny and in shape. Now if you go into a school there are so many overweight kids who are out of shape and can barely handle gym class and just sit around playing on their phones.
This part of your post is really triggering for me so I'm just going to say that reading it makes me very sad on a number of levels.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:01 PM   #29
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I had two friends when I was in my 20's that used to add supplemental weight gaining powder to their food. They were tall, extremely thin women and I would have LOVED to be that thin even for a day. I was a size 10 at the time and considered myself obese.

I think they had lower self-esteem due to being thin than I did being obese. I felt very sad for them that they couldn't just appreciate the luck they had been given. Of course my perception on the issue was skewed because I saw it all from the other side of the issue.

Now in our early 40's, both of these women are average weight and have to watch what they eat as they tend to gain weight only around their mid-section, which I imagine is equally akward.

I am still heavier than both of them and I carry my weight all over! But somehow I still have better self-esteem than they do. It's really all a matter of perception isn't it?

I have never begrudged people thinner than me. It's no one else's fault I'm fat but my own and I have all the power in the world to change that if I would just take control of my eating. Which I am trying to do now, better late than never =)
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:04 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Mistizoom View Post
This part of your post is really triggering for me so I'm just going to say that reading it makes me very sad on a number of levels.
It makes me sad too. If kids are overweight or even obese before they hit high school, I can't imagine how much worse it will be for them when they get older.
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