An acquaintance told me a really appalling story about a recent visit to the doctor, in which the nurse came in and said very brusquely, "I'm required by law to inform you that you are overweight." This woman is tall, muscular, active, and wears a size 12. Not exactly bending the scales. She was understandably upset by the encounter, and it reminded me of a couple of unpleasant doctor's visits I've had myself.
When I was an undergrad, I spent a summer as a Girl Scout camp counselor in Germany, and I had to get a physical before I went. I was fat, no question, but I was also pretty active. At the time I belonged to a university hiking and backpacking group that went on overnight camping trips to remote locations. As I chattered on happily to the doctor about the activities I expected to participate in at the German camp, including mountain hikes with the girls, he asked if I'd ever done anything like it before. I told him about my backpacking group, and he asked how heavy a pack I carried. "Oh, 40, 50 pounds," I answered. "Wow," he said. "How do you manage that with all that extra weight you're packing?" I was stunned, but having been raised to be polite to authority figures, I stammered something about it never having had been a problem, and burst into tears when he left the room. The sympathetic nurse came in, and I told her what he'd said, adding, "What does he think I do all day, lie on the couch eating bon bons?" To this day I wish I'd said that to the jerk's face.
More recently, just a few years ago, I went in for a standard check-up for my now-in-remission diabetes only to find my usual doctor had been called away on an emergency, and there was a fill-in. Now, I was still pretty fat, but the minute I got my diagnosis I had started working hard, and lost about 30 pounds. My numbers were looking good, and my doctor was very pleased with my progress. But Dr. Sub didn't bother to look at my charts or ask me any questions. He just launched into a diatribe about all the horrible things diabetes and overweight can do to you, and wanted me to get an EKG as he was certain I was about to keel over from a heart attack at any moment. I was walking one to two hours a day at this point, and watching what I ate. I'd lost even more weight. But all he saw was a fat chick with Type II diabetes and borderline high blood pressure, and that was all he needed to know. Obviously I knew nothing about nutrition or exercise or my own health --- obviously, I was spending all my time crusing the McDonald's drivethrough and stuffing my piehole. He wouldn't listen to anything I said, so I just let him talk, got out of there ASAP, and complained to the nurse. I went home and wrote a letter to my regular doctor complaining about Dr. Sub, and about not being notified that there would be a sub for my regular appointment,which I would have rescheduled had I know. Turned out they got a lot of complaints about Dr. Sub, and I got an apology and a free office visit.
There are a lot of stories a LOT worse than mine about how overweight/obese people get treated at the doctors' office. You can look them up on the internet if you want to get mad, or depressed. Or read some of the ER/medical blogs and see the absolute contempt some medical (some, not all!) have for fat people. Fat hate is out there, there's no getting around it. And yet somehow, it's always shocking when it happens to you.
I don't know what it is about human nature that demands that we make ourselves feel superior to others at all costs --- it's certainly a driving force, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone else. But there's a very odd sort of superiority people feel when confronted with something they hate --- whether it be someone of a different race or religion, a gay person, or a fat person. They feel justified in vilifying, ridiculing, bullying, and just being plain old rude. It's okay, they think, because that person is wrong and deserves to be treated badly for it.
And for the most part, nobody's mind is going to be changed, because if you're that far gone in your hatred, that you feel openly justified in being actively ugly and hateful to someone because you don't like something about them, your mind and your heart are closed. Chances are, there's something very ugly inside you, having to do with the way you feel about yourself, that makes you strike out to deliberately injure another human being for no other reason than that you don't like something about them.
So the targets of this kind of hate are left to manage as best they can.
I don't, and have never, felt particularly persecuted. Thank goodness. Did I get made fun of in school? Sure. Have men said nasty things to me, or treated me like a third wheel in a group of thinner girls? Sure. And I've had my run-ins at the doctor's office, and other places. Once a flight attendant was unaccountably rude to me when I asked for a seatbelt extension. Sometimes it's not even hateful, it's just something like a trainer saying, "I'm impressed that you can DO a pushup", implication being that because you're fat, you're weak.
But the only way to combat these attacks on your self-esteem is to have a good sense of your own self worth, and not let it be all tied up in what you look like. Easier said than done at times. It's a battle I fight every day, and sometimes I'm the one whose guilty of the assault on myself! It's going to catch us all by surprise from time to time --- because unless you're unfortunate enough to live in an abusive situation, nobody expects rudeness and hate. It takes you by surprise, and you don't always respond as strongly as you'd like, and you might even cry and let it ruin your day.
But the next moment, the next hour, the next day, you get up and dust yourself off and remind yourself that your dress size or the number on the scale is NOT the end all be all of who you are. You have a body of knowledge, you have an expertise in something. You matter to people. You have accomplishments and interests and a history that the jerk throwing the hate bomb knows nothing about. Remember those things.
And here's something else: you were a blip in the day of the person who made you feel bad. So don't waste any more time than is necessary to wash the bad taste out of your mouth thinking about them.
Get up. Dust yourself off. Go for a run, do Pilates, take a class, talk on the phone to a friend, volunteer, clean your kitchen (my favorite pissed-off activity), LIVE YOUR LIFE.
And say a little prayer for the bitter heart of the hater. God knows they need it.