Be Fully You

My Family Thinks I’m Fat. Here’s How I Deal.

family thinks i'm fat
Lillie Ramirez

A note from the editor: We noticed something powerful on Twitter the other day. The #theysaid hashtag is all over, encouraging women to share stories of things they’ve heard from loved ones about their bodies. Started by user @Oiselle_Sally to encourage body positivity, the hashtag has gained a life of its own. It seems a lot of us have heard terrible things from people we trust and love. 

Writer Lillie Ramirez tells us below about her own #theysaid story. Tell us yours in the comments below.

When I was thirteen, my father called me top-heavy and told me that I could stand to lose fifteen pounds. Every morning for the next five years, my dad would wake my sister and I up at five a.m. and we would go to the gym before school.

Later, in high school, I went a couple of years with a hole in the crotch of my jeans and a constant itch in my boob where my bra, whose underwire was escaping, kept poking me, because my mom refused to buy me new clothes.

“I want you to lose weight,” she said. “And there’s no point in buying you new clothes when you’re going to lose weight.” Meanwhile, my sister tried on new jeans, deciding which she was most comfortable in.

I gained 40 pounds instead. I weighed 250 pounds by the time I was 17.

Perhaps my weight gain was retaliation: how could my mother not provide for me because she wanted me to lose weight? How could my father not love me just as I was? Then again, the doctor did say I needed to lose a few pounds in order to not be considered for some health risks. And a part of me knew they was just being practical: Both my mom and my dad wanted what was best for me and they thought this would be the best way to get through to me. Perhaps I was being sensitive.

After all, I talked to my mom about how she had made me feel, even though it was so long ago and I’m now twenty-one. To this day, she still stands by her words: “I just thought it would be a waste to get you new clothes when they would be too big for you. I didn’t mean it as a bad thing.”

When I was 19, I showed my father a speech from David Foster Wallace, in which he emphasizes the idea of the default setting: The world would be a better place, he says, if we took a step back and tried to consider how the other person lived. My father responded by coming home with a diet drink supplement to help me lose weight.

“Like the speech you showed me? Seeing things from other perspectives,” he said, handing the dietary mix to me.

Once, I asked my sister if she thought I was fat. She said no. “But, Lillie,” she added, “I do think you are overweight.”

When my family says that I am fat or overweight, I can’t help but feel the sting. Some part of me knows they mean well. They were just telling it to me like how it is, right? And you would think because they said those things, I would do something about it, just to get them off my back and make them stop criticizing my looks.

Perhaps their comments hurt because some part of me knows that they genuinely care for my health: By being brutally honest, they hope I will see the error in my ways and change. They see that something is wrong and they want to fix it. Fix me. Maybe it hurts because my family sees me as a project instead of a person who could be hurt.

But, here’s the thing: there is nothing wrong with the way I look. I am not something they can try to control in hopes that I become better, or in this case, skinnier.

I am fat. And that’s ok. I own up to it now. There are days I’m insecure about my weight. But I’m trying to change it. Not because my family has hinted at it over the years, but for myself. I go to the gym when I can. I eat healthier. There are times I do not do either of those things, but that’s ok. This isn’t an easy road.

My family sees the changes I’ve made with myself. They do not bother me about my weight as much anymore. I still get a few judgmental looks or asked to cover up my body when I decide to wear crop tops or short-shorts. I choose to ignore them, though, because I look and I feel good about myself.

I am a 228-pound woman. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made on my own, for myself. I’m not saying that losing weight is making me happy or is what I’m settling for. I’m saying that coming to terms with who I am and accepting that I have the power to look how I want to look whenever I please is what is empowering me and making me happy.

This battle will be lifelong because there will always be one comment or glance from a family member that will hurt, and make me second-guess why I even like being the way I am. But with patience and kindness to myself I know I will succeed in my search for self-acceptance. And once I have self-acceptance, I know my family will follow suit, just like they are now.

At the end of the day, I know my family will love and be comfortable with who I am once I love myself, and am comfortable with who I am.

 

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Michelle Lopez
    July 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Love this Lilie!!!
    You are beautuful, intelligent, sweet young lady. Such a great writer also.
    Always love yourself

  • Reply
    Deb Garcia
    July 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing such personal memories. My family has always called me “the fat one” & constantly nagged me about my weight. It’s taken me most of my 42 years to accept that beauty comes from inside and is not about forcing yourself to ‘fit in’.
    I love that you had the strength of character to post this!

  • Reply
    John Brantingham
    July 7, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Lillie, you’ve given me and us insight into what words and even glances can do. Thank you so much for showing us.

  • Reply
    Amanda Lopez
    July 7, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Insightful and empowering piece, keep ’em coming 🙏

  • Reply
    Sara Bauman
    July 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    YOU are such an inspiration Lillie! So proud of you. Beautiful inside AND out! Love you!

  • Reply
    Kat Marie
    July 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I know it takes courage to talk about yourself and to talk about your story . And I think what your family did to you is absolutely awful . When you needed support mentally emotionally and physically they did nothing but drag you down further . My story is different but in the end it’s still the same . In the 80s I recall coming out of the shower and going into the bedroom I was staying at in my grandma’s house one summer. My grandfather was sitting on my bed and he had definitely had a drink. And I remember him being so god-awful mean to me. He told me I was so fat. I was 8 years old. A lot of people in my family my family were and are bigger. I remember being mad at him, being angry at him, and then running away and going outside. I never forgave him for that. I remember all through Elementary School being bullied by children younger than me because I didn’t look the same. I was never thin or skinny or cute or pretty. My teenage years were awful. Even worse. I’ve done the yo-yo dieting. I have done the exercise. I have taken pills. I have done fasting. I’ve done Weight Watchers. And at the end of all of these days and all of these years partway through my 44th year, I really don’t give a damn anymore. I’m okay with how I am. I’m never going to be skinny. I’m never going to be thin. I’m sure as hell never going to be petite. I am always going to be plus size, beautiful, confident, and fabulous just the way I am. The great part is that now I actually am really pretty. Maybe my body isn’t that great but it doesn’t keep people away from me. If people are so close-minded that they can’t see past our exterior then they don’t need to know my interior either. And I don’t want to know people that are like that. We are all wonderful the way we are. No one should be trying to change us. If we’re happy and we’re healthy then what’s the problem?

    • Reply
      Anna
      July 25, 2017 at 10:00 am

      Kudos to you Kay! I’m that girl too. I have no skinny clothes, only fat or fatter clothes. I was in my 30’s when I woke up and realized that you either love me or you don’t! Regardless of how others feel or see me, I will always love me more than anyone else EVER will!

      • Reply
        Anna
        July 25, 2017 at 10:01 am

        I swear I wrote Kat! That darn autocorrect!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    July 23, 2017 at 11:13 am

    You’re beautiful the way you are and I’m sorry your family doesn’t see that. Keep taking care of yourself as best you can.

  • Reply
    Andy Lopez
    July 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Amen Lillie. As a guy & hispanic I relate. Growing up, my dad was similar to yours, but it was innuendos & comments to 3rd parties. Then, being a Linemen on the football team, my weight served a purpose. Now as an Adult, I watch what I eat, my health is fine. I’m 6ft & 250. My job has me in suits & ties, & I now have a self confidence I never had in high school. Thank you for sharing, I’m curious if the parent criticism is exclusive to Latin/ Hispanic families?

    • Reply
      Stephanie
      July 23, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Nope, weight criticism has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with our shallow, bullshit society. I’m white and my mother started in on me as soon as I hit puberty. Fucked me up, plus the girls in grade school called me fat, ugly, stupid, and dumb (I was none of those at the time). In junior high the boys referred to me as a fucking bitch and viewed me with disdain. When you have no refuge you literally withdraw into yourself, when you’re told boys/men won’t want you because you’re fat, you turn your sexuality off. I’m fat now & have been by societies standards for decades. My mother died 6 years ago, thank god. She called me a slut when I lost my virginity at 25, when I was ready, with a guy my age (she was jealous apparently) who was a good human being, when, and where I wanted. In short, I made sure I would not regret the experience/relationship and I never will. 20 years later, I’m beginning to let myself feel sexual. Parents can be the most damaging, hideous fuckers.

  • Reply
    Marie
    July 23, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Stay at whatever weight you are comfortable with. Yes thinner is better health wise. That I can say for sure. However, I have fought all my life with that monkey on my back at one time tipping the scales at 375 lbs. As long as you are comfortable in your skin go with what you feel. If you were meant to be thin you would be. Don’t let them make you feel bad. You are who you are! Love yourself. If you don’t no one else will. I’ve had gastric by pass twice I’m still heavy! Love yourself girl and the good people in the world will follow suit! Good luck!!

  • Reply
    SYLVIA LUANNA
    July 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this very personal experience that so many women (regardless of age) have experienced via family, friends, and/or significant others. I just turned 50 and I’m finally coming to terms of being comfortable in my own skin as a “thick beautiful Latina woman”. Basically I AM Who I AM and either love it or leave it/me! I too have tried the crazy diets and wanting to be what the system sees as “picture perfect”; but when I see me I see an one of a kind woman” that has a lot to offer as a daughter, sister, aunty, friend, lover, etc. regardless of what anyone sees on the outside.; BECAUSE MY HEART IS LOYAL, I LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY, AND I HAVE YOUR BACK THROUGH THE THICK AND THIN (play on words)!!!

  • Reply
    Toyia
    July 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Ladies, I was moved by all that was written and just want to add, I am so determined to not ever allow ANYONE ELSE TAKE CONTROL OF MY FEELINGS ABOUT ME. TO STOP LETTING SOMEONE ELSE TEAR ME DOWN BECAUSE OF THEIR PERSONAL FEELINGS. DON NOT LET THEIR OPINIONS TAKE YOUR FOCUS OFF OF YOU. If YOU want to lose weight, help your self BUT DO IT FOR YOU NOT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE ELSE SAID. Make yourself HAPPY

  • Reply
    Donna Murphy
    July 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    You can skinny dip in our pool anytime! We live in a no judgement zone!

  • Reply
    jennifer rathbun
    July 23, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    I grew up with my mother calling me fat ads in front if kids I went to school with yet she was always feeding me and giving out seconds.
    I’ve been the fat girl all my life.

  • Reply
    Yolande Webster
    July 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for sharing. I was a skinny person, who got fat. Now I look in the mirror & that’s all I see. I’m struggling with learning to like myself as I am now.

  • Reply
    Tracy
    July 24, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Beautifully written, Lillie. As a woman in her forties, married for nearly a quarter of a century to a wonderful man who thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, I can and still do struggle with self-image. I never had clothing or other privileges withheld because of my weight, but I do remember my mom always asking me if I was planning to lose weight when I was trying on clothes and between sizes; hence, a lifetime spent wearing uncomfortably too-tight jeans stuffed full of intentions of weight loss.

    I’m also a woman who has helped raise a couple of amazing people and I know this for certain about parenting: that shit’s hard. I am not making excuses for the cruel actions of those who are supposed to love us best but hopefully we can do better ourselves. I think that’s a primary goal for every parent: do (even) better for our children than our parents did for us.

    I am still not pleased with my naked self, but I now realize that I’m not beautiful because of what my husband thinks; I’m beautiful because I’m me. I don’t always believe that, but it gets easier the more I practice it.

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