I Felt Invisible When I Weighed 300 Pounds


Are overweight people really treated differently or overlooked? Some people say no. Some people say yes.

I am a person who says yes and so is Kathleen Brooks, who is a writer for The Huffington Post. She wrote an interesting article on the site a couple years ago that echoed much of my experience and feelings about being fat in America.

She, like me, was not always overweight. She gained weight from medications after a kidney transplant while I gained weight from overeating. No matter the method of weight gain, the result is the same in terms of how you feel. 

I went from being an average size woman to a morbidly obese women in about 3 years. The difference in my appearance was startling to myself and to people who watched the transformation occur. I was so embarrassed by my weight that I skipped my friend’s wedding in another city because I did not want her to see what I had become.

Brooks writes these words and I too have written words that sound much like this:

I am amazed at how inferior I feel now. I feel invisible. People avoid eye contact with me. I am often treated rudely or dismissed. I live in daily fear that my weight will be the thing that results in my long list of fears, which now rule my every thought.

It’s ironic how someone who weighs 300 pounds can feel invisible because physically I was anything but invisible. My personal invisibility was felt on two fronts.

The first one was my own mental state. I felt horrible about how I looked and that translated to taking a step away from activities I used to enjoy. The insecurity I felt about my appearance diminished my self esteem to the point where I just wanted to stay home and not deal with the looks, stares, and mean comments I heard from people when I was out in public. Fortunately, I had children who needed to go places, a spouse that encouraged me to get out and have fun, and a few friends who didn’t seem to care that I was obese. These factors helped me get out and enjoy life, but it wasn’t easy.

The second part of the invisibility that comes with being morbidly obese is how some people treat morbidly obese people.

They treat them as though they aren’t there.

Here’s an example. When standing in a crowd of people at a counter waiting to ask a question or place an order, I was inevitably overlooked or ignored. I saw it time and time again. A thin, cute woman would appear at my side and the counter person would ask for her order before mine. It happened over and over. However, once I lost weight, that stopped happening. I did not do anything differently.

The world treated me differently.

It’s a hard road to travel when you are morbidly obese – even with the fact that so many people in America struggle with obesity. There is still the perception in the media and on television that people who are a certain size and shape are more beautiful, more worthy, and should be emulated. There are still many instances of comedy skits revolving around making fun of fat people and numerous movie scenes where the fat girl is teased.

Obesity really is the one physical attribute where it is still “okay” to laugh at and mock.

I think it is sad because I have met very few obese people who are happy with their appearance. About 99 percent of the people I talk to who are overweight want to do something about it but feel trapped, hopeless, and frustrated. The invisibility they feel does not help their situation.

When you feel invisible and unappreciated based solely on your appearance, it can be hard to find the fortitude and inner strength to make a positive change in your life.

I say to throw off the cloak of invisibility and stop letting the invisibility you feel hinder your progress toward losing weight. It takes guts to lose weight. It takes a strong person to go against the flow. It takes determination and inner strength.

While overweight and obese people may be treated differently and overlooked, you do not have to let that negatively affect you. Instead, you can turn that negative energy into positive choices that can help you change your life.

Do you feel that obese people are often overlooked? How does that affect weight loss? Diane

5 thoughts on “I Felt Invisible When I Weighed 300 Pounds

  1. Barb R. says:

    I totally agree with your article. When I was 40 (20 years ago), I lost over 100 pounds. Everywhere I went people were so kind, saying hi, etc. Before that, nothing. People just kind of look through you and keep going. Several years later when I had unfortunately regained the weight, I noticed that it was back to not seeing me.

  2. Jenn says:

    You can’t hide if you’re in the way. Your own way!

    Unlike you, I didn’t experience discrimination from being morbidly obese. That’s because obesity was my default setting.

    As a child who could never experience what my skinny friends did (though we ate similar diets), I was often jealous or envious of them. Mostly because they didn’t get the attention I did.

    Until it came to boys. That is when I became invisible!

    I’m not sure if that’s a commentary on how I behaved or how genders behaved around me.

    I know that I did spend a lot of time trying to hide in plain sight with my loose clothes. I was a quiet and very observant child. That’s probably why I became a motivational speaker! Making up for lost time ?

    The biggest bullies in school were girls of all ages and boys 2-3 years older than me.

  3. Diane says:

    Yes, people definitely treat attractive people better than obese people. I have been both, and there is absolutely a disparity between the two.
    It is sad that some see obesity as just sloth and laziness. I wish people would walk a mile in my shoes before they judge. We should never judge by appearance…everyone should make sure their children are raised with that rule. Unfortunately that is not the way it is.

  4. Julie says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this because I thought maybe I was just being too sensitive about how I’m treated now that I’m morbidly obese. Like you, I wasn’t always obese. I used to be a normal weight and the way people treated me was completely different. I’m in the process of losing weight now, but I don’t lose weight easily, so it’s a long, slow process for me. I hope people are less rude, condescending and dismissive when I lose some weight.

  5. K says:

    Funny, that is exactly how you so often get treated when you are black. Only difference is: it never stops. You are black and you stay so until you die…

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