Hold That Door

When I was 250+ pounds I felt invisible most of the time. There were a lot of social situations where I felt like I blended into the wallpaper compared to the “skinny” girls–and even most of my friends. They got all the attention and I felt left out.

One of my big pet peeves as an obese girl was the open discrimination I felt. There were a lot of things that happened in the 10 years that I was obese that made me feel less than, not good enough, because of how much I weighed. A lot of those things were open and harsh. Other discriminating events were quieter.

One of those types of things that made me really angry and made me feel bad about myself was how no one ever EVER ever held the door open for me when I was fat. Ever. I’m not exaggerating when I say ever.

It was always awkward and I’d feel resentful and irritated when people were rude to me like that. Just because of how much I weighed. One of the most vivid memories I have of this discrimination was at a job I had where I had to push around a bunch of files and papers from the mailroom up to the floor I worked on in one of these mail carts:

It was a huge pain and near impossible to steer. In the two years that I had that job, no one in the building ever opened a door or held it open for me when I pushed this cart. I would struggle to steer it, struggle to open a door and hold it open to get the cart through. It was an ordeal and day in and day out I struggled with no help.

Did that change when I lost the weight? Oh yeah. It changed big time. I was shocked when people–usually men–started opening doors for me. And not just holding the doors open for me to walk through behind them. No, I’m talking about the chivalrous men going out of their way to rush to open a door, hold it open, give me a smile and wait for me to walk through.

It’s the most bizarre thing! I remember when it first started happening –I weighed around 165 pounds  and it was the most shocking and encouraging thing. I felt so GOOD about myself. Like I’d been ushered into “That World.” Finally.

It happens all the time now. When I go to the gym, the door is held open (that could be because I’m walking very fast with determination and a vibe of “don’t get in between me and my workout!” 😉 ). It happened the other day at the bank. A guy was coming through and I was going out and he made a big production about rushing to open the door for me. I was tickled and embarrassed at the same time.

If I’m being totally honest with myself, there is still a little part of me deep inside that feels angry when someone holds open a door for me now. It’s a small part and it’s buried somewhere I don’t acknowledge very often, but it’s there–it’s the old me that’s wondering “Would you hold open that door if I didn’t weigh 144 pounds right now?” I smile and say thank you, and try to ignore the little voice that wonders “Where were you 100 pounds ago?”

Could it be the weight loss? Could it be that I was dressing in a more attractive way because I had clothes available to me in a smaller size that were cute? Could it be that I was smiling and happier about life in general because I had accomplished something great? It could have been any of those reasons.

I don’t know why there was a switch in the universe and I was now deemed worthy of chivalry. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it a lot. That simple act goes a lot. It’s just nice to feel noticed and acknowledged.

QUESTION: Did you experience this? How did you feel?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

22 thoughts on “Hold That Door”

  1. I think it’s more how you present yourself. I notice a big difference when I’m in my scrubby clothes versus my cute I look good clothes. I’m 200+ pounds. 🙂

  2. My senior year of HS I went to the local community college half time, and there I found that if I was wearing a skirt, guys would ALWAYS hold the door for me-they’d stand there waiting when I was far off, run ahead of me to get it. It was both cute and sometimes super awkward. And it happened a lot less when I wore pants. The CC had obviously more men who were older than I was, and also had a fairly percentage of hispanic students-and both of those groups overall are more likely to hold doors than white dudes my age.
    I do think confidence plays in though. If you think you’re awesome (in a happy, I’m secure with who I am way, not a I think I’m too hot for the world way) you seem more attractive, regardless of if you fit into a guy’s personal physical ideal.
    kalin recently posted..Genius

  3. I don’t know if confidence played a part for me or not. I experienced that a lot. Or, I should say any attention I got was not by the ‘frat boy’ type when I was obese. I do sometimes get unwanted attention now and it irritates me because I know they wouldn’t have looked at me twice 100 pounds ago. My biggest surprise was really how normal weight people actually talk about overweight people when they aren’t there. I was talking with some people one time and they didn’t know me before. One of them got talking about fat people in a way that was just so different. I remember totally not listening to the rest of what he said because I was just going over in my mind how they would never have talked that way if they knew I was once overweight.
    Lori recently posted..New food fun day!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Lori. I was wondering if you experienced something similar. Same with Diane.

      First, I think confidence does have something to do with it–to an extent. I experienced so many things as an obese person I never experience now at my current size.

      Second, I’ve also experienced that weird moment when people talk about overweight people disparagingly when they aren’t around. There have been a few experiences where I actually spoke up and said that I used to be one of “those” people and it’s not cool what they were saying. Probably didn’t change their opinions but whatever–I was glad I said something.

  4. Haven’t experienced the door discrimination but I do experience discrimination for my size, especially from other women. We really treat each other the worst. I wonder if men experience the same discrimination from other men.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. Nothing pisses me off more than people with no weight issues saying that everyone gets treated equally. I believe that clothes, confidence, and flat-out beauty do modify the weight issue, but, regardless, skinnier people often get better treatment in our society. It’s nice to just hear someone say it that gets it.

  6. I totally get this. I am in the struggle of “re-losing” 130lbs I regained after dealing with my bad knees, some depression and job loss and I was that skinny girl. Cute clothes, size 8-10, fit and happy and I miss ME! But what I miss more is being treated decently and not like an outcast. 🙁

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Jane. I think people are under the impression that there isn’t discrimination against people because of their weight–that it’s a confidence thing, etc etc. Having experienced too many things to count when I was 250 I can attest that I was in fact discriminated against. It’s sad. We all deserve to be treated the same way no matter what size we are.

      I’m sorry that you’re trying to relose the weight. I hope it goes well for you!

  7. Great post. I’m super short and get physically stuck in those automatic doors since the sensors are set for taller people. I have to wave my hands above my head just to get the sensor to open the door. And having the door shut on you hurts like heck. Its a crap shoot when I go through those doors. I’m always on the defense. :0

    For manual doors, people at work hold them. At other places, some do and don’t. Even at normal weight. It’s almost like a cultural thing ( so cal). A little different in the mid west

    For the conversations about weight :People’s emotional intelligence really shows. In my opinion, people with higher emotional intelligence don’t make those comments about overweight or obese. They just accept the person as the person no matter what. The ones who do comment have something else going on with themselves. Cause if they are focusing on someone else’s weight, then they don’t have to deal with their own issues. It’s the denial mile !! Lol

    I will say I don’t miss the sh*t talkers in the bathroom the ones who talked about me and my chosen weigth loss plan at the time, when they didn’t bother to consider that I was also in the bathroom. I wanted to say “watch me'”. I didn’t because I’m smarter not to take that bait Now I let my skinny clothes speak for me.

    Good topics. Those carts are tough to maneuver. Who thought that weight loss would bring that benefit?
    Karen P recently posted..Second week of maintenance

    1. Incredibly insightful comment about emotional intelligence. I have to agree. Same with race–if someone has to resort to using weight, race, etc as a tactic to break someone down they really don’t have the intelligence for a fair fight. That being said, our society seems to be a-okay with diminishing people based on their weight.

      That’s astounding to me that you took the high road in that bathroom stall and I loved the comment “let my skinny clothes speak for me”! Awesome!!! Good for you!!!

  8. I haven’t had this happen, in particular, but I do see the differences in how some people treat me versus how they treat someone who is lighter. It sucks and sometimes puts me in a deep funk– but I try to push past it. After all, rude and judgmental people really aren’t worth my time.
    Jayme @ Still A Mile recently posted..Weighing in

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