discriminating against obese people

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?