what I want you to know large icon

My name is Beth.  I’m 35 years old, and i weighed 270 pounds at my last weigh-in.  That’s twelve pounds less than my highest weight.

When i was a teenager, i started noticing more hair than normal on my face and chest, but i didn’t think too much about it; neither did my parents.  When i was 19, i went for my first “ladies exam,” and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  The doctor told me to eat lots of vegetables to lose weight and that if i “didn’t get it taken care of,” i might not be able to have children.  That wasn’t very helpful.  The next doctor i went to blew off the previous diagnosis, and so i decided not to worry.  But during college and after i got married, the previous “more hair than normal” became really obvious.  So much so that i resorted to shaving my face and arms daily.

PCOS is a mysterious disease, named for one of its symptoms, not its cause, which is largely unknown.  It’s other symptoms include hirsutism (masculine hair growth on a female body – that’s my definition) and slowed metabolism resulting in weight gain and extreme difficulty losing weight, and infertility.  The only definitive remedy for relief from some of the symptoms of PCOS is reportedly “to lose weight.”  If you are able to lose the weight, it may or may not make a difference. There’s no relief from the hair growth other than your normal hair removal remedies.

Lots of people seem to have mental stereotypes about fat people that they think are justified and don’t feel badly about.  Stereotypes like, “fat equals lazy,” or “fat equals stupid.”  And you know what?  Sometimes those stereotypes prove true.  Sometimes.  But they’re stereotypes, just like everything else. 

Here’s what i want people to remember when they look at a fat person:  you don’t know their circumstances, and you haven’t fought their fight.  First, there are many conditions, such as PCOS or thyroid disease, that can make weight loss, or even healthy weight maintenance extremely difficult.  Throw in a little depression or just established habits from childhood, and you have the makings of a nearly impossible fight.
Also, fat people know they’re fat.  Newsflash.  There are all kinds of psychological factors behind obesity.  What this person needs most from you is to be accepted and loved, not confronted about their appearance.
Here’s what i want you to know about me:

I’m not lazy.  Fat doesn’t equal lazy, and thin doesn’t equal hard-working, any more than white equals rich or black equals stupid.  I work hard.  I work out every day.  I might be slower than you, but then you’d be slow too if you were carrying 140 extra pounds on your back.

Fat also doesn’t necessarily equal overeater.  It might.  But it doesn’t have to.  I spot check my calorie intake, and it usually rings in between 1000 and 1500 calories per day.   

Hairy doesn’t equal masculine.  Not by a long shot.  I am feminine, with feminine hormones and feminine feelings and feminine thoughts and feminine longings.  I like to feel sexy, just like you do.
Facing you with my five o’clock shadow, because i didn’t have time shave in the middle of the day, takes enormous courage.

Getting advice about weight loss from someone who just fought their big twenty-pound fight to get back down to 120 pounds is insulting.  I know your heart is in the right place, but you don’t realize how many times i’ve lost 20 pounds.  I’m two of you before you lost weight.  There’s more to this for me.
Jokes about women with beards and hairy backs sting.  But i don’t show it because i don’t have the courage face the looks i’ll get if i explain why those jokes are hurtful. 

Please stop a bit and think before you ask a 35 year old woman why she hasn’t had children yet.  She probably has a story, and it’s probably very tender.

I don’t recognize myself in the mirror.  I still feel like the 19 year-old girl, getting ready for marriage, with a nice figure and a healthy weight and smooth skin.  Please treat me like her.  That’s who i am inside this deceitful facade.  Please get to know me.  My appearance does not define me.

Thanks for reading and understanding.  More of my story is here.

Beth Rogers