While on vacation in Chattanooga last weekend, I spent some time in the pool at the hotel.It was your typical chain hotel indoor pool, which meant it was fairly small, and having more than 2 or 3 families in there at once made it feel very crowded.My natural tendency in most situations is to keep to myself and to avoid crowded spaces, so when we first entered the pool area and I saw several other people already in the pool, my first reaction was to skip swimming altogether.My sons, however, would not let me get away with it, and since I had promised them some pool time, well, I had to grin and bear it for their sakes.
We had been in the pool for about a half an hour, along with a man and his two sons, who looked to be about 5 and 9 years old, or so.Also in the pool, was another family with the dad, mom, and teen-aged son.The teen was asking his parents to take him to go eat, and what happened as they got out of the pool broke my heart…
As the mom from the other family got out of the pool and began to dry off, I saw that she was an extremely overweight woman.The 5-year-old little boy from the other family immediately noticed her and started pointing at her and saying “Eeeewwwwww…” very loudly.His dad looked at the woman and smiled (smirked?), but did nothing to correct his son’s rude behavior.The child pointed and said it again a couple of times as the mom looked back at the boy and then quickly left the pool area ahead of her family.
Now, the 5-year-old boy may very well have been saying “Eeeewwww….” about any number of things, as boys that age sometimes do.Maybe he hates the color blue, which was the color of the mom’s swimsuit.Maybe he heard them say where they were going out to eat and it’s somewhere he doesn’t like to go.Maybe he wasn’t pointing at her at all, but saw a mosquito flying through the air in front of him.Maybe…
Regardless of what the child was truly thinking, I saw the look in that mom’s eyes, and I automatically put myself in her shoes.If it had been me 20 months ago, before I started losing weight, and the boy had been pointing at me, I would have believed he was making fun of my weight and how I look in a bathing suit.I would have ran to my hotel room and cried until there was nothing left of me, and vowed to stay away from the pool for the rest of my trip, lest that boy be there to make fun of me again.My day would have been ruined, and I would have been crushed as I felt the sting of being publicly humiliated.
Behind the smiles and the laughter and the joyful exterior an overweight person might portray, very often are many layers of emotional scars received from the words and actions of others regarding their size.For all of the excitement I’ve experienced through losing 161 pounds so far, I’ve also had to face the insecurities, the hurts, and the mental scripts that formed within me through nearly 40 years of being overweight.I plan to address some of these in upcoming blogs.
In the meanwhile, that other mom and the little boy remain in my prayers.My hope is that the mom can overcome the hurt that was so evident in her face that day, and that the little boy will grow to learn to speak only words of kindness to others.
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(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations. It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences. Thanks!)