Friday, August 20, 2021

When weight loss isn't enough: The obesity-guilt-blame-shame game

Today in my ongoing weight loss narrative, I'm thinking about how guilt and the blame-shame game affect obesity. I had to laugh at the label on my keto bread, "guilt-free.." Oh Honey, if only. I've never been guilt-free in all my 57 years. We chronic low self-esteemers feel ashamed about everything and everyone. I feel guilty in my dreams!  And getting overweight? Whoa-- that one tops the scales, literally! 

I am not alone. Just watch "My 600-lb Life." The gastric bypass patients on "My 600-lb Life" are extremely overweight. But they are not unique or even uncommon. Obesity is more pandemic than even Covid 19 and obesity-guilt is endemic. Each "My 600-lb Life" story leaks blame-shame, miserably low self-esteem and bitter self-loathing out of every pore. 

I empathize. Lose weight and the world rejoices with you. Gain and they laugh (and you cry alone). When I wrote for Yahoo! as a morbidly overweight woman, I wasn't taken as seriously as I was after weight loss. I was mocked and that made me feel guiltier. We all know that mockers have their own self-esteem issues. But it's hard to remind yourself of that when you're already so ashamed of being overweight. And I don't why that should be. And sometimes even weight loss isn't enough to interrupt the cycle. You can lose weight all you want but the problem goes deeper.   

Cause, see, I can blog all day about how I lost 100 pounds, but if you ask how to lose the guilt-blame-shame-game, I'd have to answer like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof: "I'll tell you...I don't know!!" So maybe I don't have the loser playbook, but I know a place that does: Al-Anon. You know, those good people who gave us the 12-step program, Al-Anon slogans and sayings and other self-help goodies. Al-Anon is where I began to break that guilt-blame-shame cycle. I learned to face down bullies and that sometimes I was my own worst bully. And I learned that regardless of body size,  THIS is the key to mental health. 

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