How much do you think your size has influenced....

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GlassDaemon

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It made me mean...er. I remember my school years, particularly middle school, those were years that started to mold my personality because, to be honest, I don't remember having much of a personality in grade school. I remember playing outside and playing with my older brother, but I don't remember having much of an individual thought process if that makes sense. It wasn't till middle school that I started seeking my persona. I was picked on like most big people I'm sure were, my story is no more heartfelt than the next, but I'm sure we each respond differently to the harassment we received for being less than ideal.

I built a wall and I shoved everyone but my mother and my older brother out of it. That wall morphed into a reflective shield of vocal violence. I don't out right attack people, generally, but it doesn't take much for me to whip out a nasty comment that's not just cruel, it's uncalled for and unnecessary. Of course, it's great that I realize this now, but it's not an easy habit to catch myself doing let alone stop it before it happens.

I imagine I'm not the only person who has been hit on because some douche bag dared his friend to flirt with the fat chick. So, it's made me paranoid, that paranoia has turned into refusal to trust. Instead of being paranoid I just chose to give the individual the chance but always question their motives. Slight difference, I realize it sounds very similar, lol, just lacking in the fear that comes with paranoia. I don't usually let people get close enough to get hurt I think is the difference.

It's also made me feel like I have to put a warning on my dating profiles. "Warning: Fat girl ahead!" I dunno what the hell that is from but I know it's not a positive thing.

On a happier note being my size has forced me to either A. Lose weight or B. Accept myself the way I am. I dunno if it's good or bad that I eventually fell into option B. I did try quite hard to lose weight and it frustrated, upset and ultimately stressed me out beyond recognition. I wear a bikini and I feel sexy. I have a theory if I was thin, I'd still be struggling to feel attractive. Just a theory.
 

LovelyLiz

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Here's the thing though--it's generally accepted that one cannot change their skin color (granted--there's always tanning and bleaching) but our culture largely thinks one can change their weight/size regardless of whether or not it's true and because of this, the latter and not the former is considered a moral weakness or character flaw and is judged based on that bias.
This is all true, and worth nuancing how we make the comparison between race and size.

But I still think that there is a real truth to the fact that our embodiment and all of what makes that up (race, disability, size, height, general body shape, facial symmetry, etc.) has a HUGE effect on who we turn out to be, how we relate to others, and how we engage the world. And not just for fat people, but for everybody. We are our bodies (though also more than them), and they affect pretty much everything in our lives.

I think the thing is tho, the same attribute can affect people really differently. Some fat people express becoming shy because they were fat, whereas my instinct was to overcompensate for my feelings of shame or inferiority because of my size by being the hilarious, smart, charismatic one. And I definitely resonate with people who talk about learning compassion and empathy for others who are excluded or judged or mistreated as a result of my own experiences of stigmatization (both real and perceived). But then, just as many fat people go the other way and become angry and bitter and want everyone to feel just as shitty as they do about themselves.

One of my enduring questions is why some people go one way, and some the other, from the same set of experiences.
 

Fat Brian

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I still think that there is a real truth to the fact that our embodiment and all of what makes that up (race, disability, size, height, general body shape, facial symmetry, etc.) has a HUGE effect on who we turn out to be, how we relate to others, and how we engage the world.
This is so true. I don't post any pics here because I'm not looking for a relationship but this one will be illustrative. I don't have many pics of me by myself on my laptop so I've got company but this one is from the right angle.



I have a huge scar on the left side of my face, I got it when I was four. It goes from just below my chin almost all the way to my left ear, its about another inch longer under my chin than the pic shows. In school I would have gained another hundred pounds if it would have made that scar go away. You think being fat gets you noticed, try being fat and having a giant scar on your face. From very early it was constantly pointed out to me that I was damaged, that everybody could see that something bad had happened to me. When I was young the muscles in my face hadn't compensated for their being cut in two and my smile was very crooked, I never smiled because I got made fun of.

When I was a young teen it was impossible to get the courage up to be romantic/flirtatious toward girls, I felt too self-conscious about my face. Even extremely fat people can get the "but you have such a pretty face" but even my face was marked as different. Its so true that your body effects how you operate in the world. Even though we are more than our vessel it has such a fundamental role in how we experience the world around us.
 

olwen

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This is all true, and worth nuancing how we make the comparison between race and size.

But I still think that there is a real truth to the fact that our embodiment and all of what makes that up (race, disability, size, height, general body shape, facial symmetry, etc.) has a HUGE effect on who we turn out to be, how we relate to others, and how we engage the world. And not just for fat people, but for everybody. We are our bodies (though also more than them), and they affect pretty much everything in our lives.

I think the thing is tho, the same attribute can affect people really differently. Some fat people express becoming shy because they were fat, whereas my instinct was to overcompensate for my feelings of shame or inferiority because of my size by being the hilarious, smart, charismatic one. And I definitely resonate with people who talk about learning compassion and empathy for others who are excluded or judged or mistreated as a result of my own experiences of stigmatization (both real and perceived). But then, just as many fat people go the other way and become angry and bitter and want everyone to feel just as shitty as they do about themselves.

One of my enduring questions is why some people go one way, and some the other, from the same set of experiences.
That is an interesting question. I'm guessing that just comes down to a combination of inherent character traits, and one's upbringing. There was this article in the new york times magazine about how to teach good character to kids. Two schools the bronx, one a charter school in a poor neighborhood and the other a private school in a rich neighborhood both took on this experiment. They came up with a list of 24 character traits that successful people have and found ways to test the students to see where they lacked in character. The results were interesting. They found that optimism, gratitude, self-discipline, openness, and grit were among the traits needed for a successful life.

So I guess how one approaches life has a lot to do with why people who can have such similar experiences can react so differently. I've always just thought of this as "having good coping skills" rather than something as specific as "optimism," and just thought this was just something innate, rather than something that could be taught. This stuff is so fascinating to me.
 

mithrandirjn

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I can't say that I was ever very big, but I was definitely one of the chubby kids in grade school. That, combined with being more book smart than street smart/sports smart at that age, meant that I took quite a bit of verbal abuse.

I think this lead to me developing a bit of a thin skin concerning insults and what have you. I mean, obviously, most people don't have a lot of tolerance for being made fun of, but I hit an "I've had it" point at some age. What sucks about that is that it sometimes means feeling uncomfortable hanging out with my friends; it's common for guys to crack jokes at one another's expense, but to do so while remaining friends and meaning it all in fun, yet it's hard for me not to internalize some things that are meant 100% as jokes.

As I got older, I got somewhat thinner for my size, but I was still big enough in high school to feel very self-conscious in certain situations. It's not like I was a social shut-in, far from it in fact, as by and large I loved high school. But I know full well that I was a late bloomer when it came to romance and sex due to only getting my self confidence in line later in my teens; there were a few very attractive girls in my high school time who talked to me years later asking why I never made a move on them, and I guess part of it was not being sure they really found me attractive, or not really knowing how to, as, again, I was a late bloomer.

Once out of college I wound up initially gaining a bunch of weight (I think the max I hit was around 245), but now I'm down around 195 with added muscle...and I honestly can't tell if it's had much of an effect on my personality. It's a relatively recent development, so maybe time will tell.
 

idontspeakespn

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In our society fat is so heavily villianized that I couldn't imagine how it wouldn't influence nearly every relationship a person has, IMO you could argue it's as pervasive as skin color.
How you operate in an interpersonal relationship isn't the same thing as your personality. Personality traits can affect your interpersonal relationships, but those aren't interchangeable terms.
I don't think being stubborn or selfish or sweet-natured is wholly dependent upon size. Traits like introversion are deep-rooted, and include how you perceive and react to immediate situations and to the world overall. Those things don't necessarily have anything to do with how big you are. I'm not saying they don't have any affect, but it really depends on the individual and for me, my personality traits haven't developed in the way they have because I'm big. They have been there since I was a child.
 

LovelyLiz

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Like a few others said, I also tend to think that if I grew up with a more conventionally "ideal" body type, that I would be a lot more self-centered and unkind. I tie a lot of the qualities I like in myself - my compassion, empathy, desire to build up and encourage others - to a lot of the experiences that came from growing up and living in a fat body.

But who knows whether this is true. It could just be a way for me to find some redemptive meaning out of something that has been a real struggle at times - as a way to cope and to feel better about a socially rejected aspect of myself. Though, honestly, I think it's more than that - I do think it did shape me in some ways I'm really happy about.
 

wtchmel

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I'm sure it's affected my personality, its definetly changed my attitude. When i was thin, i seemed to be a different person, very insecure, unsure of myself ,etc. ( some of this could be attributed to age as well though) I do feel that I have more of an attitude, almost a chip on the shoulder type of deal going on, possibly for self preservation living in a society that hates fat people (generally speaking). Whether or not it changes the personality, who knows, but it totally changes how you act. Hmmmm.... good thread.
 

penguin

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I've been mulling this topic over for a few days now. It seems hard to answer, as I've been fat since I was very young. I was a "normal" young kid, and after I started school I got chubby. I used it as a defence mechanism, I guess. I suppose I was always prone to being overweight, as we didn't have a junk food in the house, and I don't think I overate as a young child, but I was still fatter than my siblings. I wasn't as active as my brothers, but neither was my sister and she was thin.

Would my personality be different if I wasn't fat growing up? Probably. Like others have said, maybe I'd have been bitchier. A friend of mine told me, when I was moving away to another city for university, that she was glad I was fat, because if I'd been thin she was sure I'd have been with the "popular" group at school, which meant she would have missed out on being my friend. Which was a compliment, though it kind of sounds backhanded, and I knew she didn't mean it rudely.

I wasn't the class clown, but I did use humour upfront to deflect any possible fat attacks, but that wasn't until year 11 that I got the hang of that. I was picked on by other kids basically from years 1-10 (bullying-lite, I call it, as it wasn't severe) and that made me feel like I'd never be wanted, always on the outside, and that I couldn't really trust people. Two of my friends in year 9 started calling me "Fatness" out of affection, and I never found the strength to tell them I hated it. They thought they were being cute. But they were pretty popular at that school, and I wanted people to like me, so I let it slide. I pretended it didn't bother me.

I had the usual "oh you'd be such a stunner if you just lost the weight" from people, so I always had the message coming in that I was never good enough as I was, that men wouldn't want to be with me. At least, not if they had taste. I learnt not to let guys know I had crushes on them, because of one time one of the REALLY cool guys came up to tell me he heard I liked him, and he laughed and told me to stop, because it was never going to happen. If any guys did like me then, I had no idea about it, and they certainly never let me know. So I learnt that I was always the friend, nothing more.

I learnt that to a lot of people, who I am as a person is secondary to what I look like. Would that be the same if I was conventionally attractive? Would they describe me as the girl with red hair, or the girl with big boobs? I was described as the fat girl by people who couldn't remember my name, as I was the fattest person at every place I worked, even though I was usually the only redhead.

One thing I realised when I was about 18 was that I was afraid of being forgotten. I was afraid of being invisible. I realised this after I read an article on anorexics, and how a lot of them WANT to be invisible, to not be seen. Had I subconsciously been doing what I could to make myself memorable all these years, because I wasn't sure I could rely on my personality to do that? I had a fear of being left behind and forgotten since I was a young kid, so that obviously carried through as I got older. Being fat certainly made me stand out. But I never felt special in a good way. People remembered who I was, but I didn't like what they remembered. They didn't remember my personality or my sense of humour, just that I was fat.

I don't know if I was using my weight to keep others away, to build a literal wall around me to match the emotional wall I'd built, or if it was a by product of me building that emotional wall. Even amongst my closest friends, I felt a step apart from them, and even do now. It's hard for me to get close to people and to feel like I'm wanted by them. I keep myself one step back, just to be safe. I don't like that I do that, but it's a life long habit and it's hard to break.

If I had been thin growing up, if I'd lost the weight all those times I tried, would I be different? Would I have found my self confidence earlier in life? Would I have taken more chances, had less of a fear of failure? Is my weight the reason for my insecurities and doubts, or would I still have body insecurities? I don't know. I don't think it's a question that can be answered. If you were thin and then fat, or fat and then thin, you'll still have the insecurities, doubts and self esteem issues you had before the change, probably with some more thrown in.

I know that I can appreciate myself and my body more now than I when I was younger, even though when I was 18 I joked that my sister could shoot me if I ever got this fat, because back then, being this fat was a living embodiment of failure to me.

My body isn't who I am, and I don't like having my worth as a person based on it, but I suppose no one does. I don't know how my personality would have developed if I hadn't been a fat kid, but I was, and I can see how it affected me. It might have affected me differently if my family had been more supportive, who knows. Whether my weight affected me positively or negatively, I am who I am and I've never known what it's like to be anything different.

tl;dr I have a lot of feelings.
 

LordQuas

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Here's the thing though--it's generally accepted that one cannot change their skin color (granted--there's always tanning and bleaching) but our culture largely thinks one can change their weight/size regardless of whether or not it's true and because of this, the latter and not the former is considered a moral weakness or character flaw and is judged based on that bias.
I'm not disputing that point at all, I was just saying that being a person or color or being big unfortunately causes a lot of people to make assumptions that often never fully go away no matter what you do to "prove" yourself.
 

LovelyLiz

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I'm not disputing that point at all, I was just saying that being a person or color or being big unfortunately causes a lot of people to make assumptions that often never fully go away no matter what you do to "prove" yourself.
Yeah, and even the feeling that you have to "prove" yourself is a point of commonality, and can really affect how someone interacts or behaves.
 

yoopergirl

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I think this is a great question. I know my size has played a large part in who I am today. It forced me to be funny and quick witted, but it also made me shy and for far too long afraid to take chances. It made me hesitant in pursuing romantic relationships, but it also gave me an interesting perspective on people and their motivations. I'm sure I'll never know all of the ways it has molded me because I've never been thin to see the world differently.
A great answer, which I completely agree with. And I know a couple of previous posters commented on how they have issues accepting compliments at face value, which I do as well. I also find it a major struggle to simply take a compliment without making a self-depricating joke afterward. (I'm working very hard on learning to smile & say thank you instead of blowing it off.)

I think my weight also played a big part in how I related to my family, who are all a bunch of sports nuts. My four younger siblings played hockey, football, basketball, baseball, did cheerleading and dance...pretty much everything they could get into...and my parents (who had both been athletes when they were younger) coached a number of their teams. None of them were exactly tiny, but having been born with no functioning thyroid and major metabolism issues, I've always been bigger than the rest of the crew. When I was in elementary school, I attempted a few sports to please my family, but I was embarrassed and eventually stopped joining teams, making me the family's only "non-jock." I didn't feel any less loved, persay, but there was definitely a lack of connection that the rest of them shared.

On the other hand, my "non-jock" status also fueled my drive to succeed academically. I had always loved to read, and did well in school, but as I got older I got it in my head that if I couldn't be good at sports, I had to be good at everything else - I pushed and made the grades, joined almost every non-athletic extra-curricular our tiny high school had to offer, and made good enough grades that my scholarships & grants paid for almost all of my college education. So there was a definite upside. :)

Wow, I talk (er, type) a lot. Sorry. :blush:
 

EMH1701

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Very much so. I got a lot of emotional abuse growing up, so I learned not to trust people.

The people who I do trust, I've either know for at least several years or they are relatives.

I'm very introverted but in the working world, companies reject the shy people, literally. If you don't at least pretend to like your co-workers, you get punished for being an introvert. So I learned to fake it, because it was either that or not have a pay check as a temp. Companies do not treat shy people well. We must pretend to be social butterflies, no matter how painful that may be or how drained we feel at the end of the day. Otherwise, we are the weird geeky person in the group and no one wants to hire the weird geeky person.

I will say that because of this, I have a lot of empathy for other people. So I'm a social moderate. However, it's odd because I do happen to agree with conservatives on fiscal policies. I just strongly disagree with anything conservatives believe on religious issues because I'm not a religious person, another consequence of the emotional abuse I got while growing up.
 

Seda

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Being charming, funny, intelligent and beautiful are inherited traits (for me). Now there's just a bigger version of me.
 

KHayes666

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A great answer, which I completely agree with. And I know a couple of previous posters commented on how they have issues accepting compliments at face value, which I do as well. I also find it a major struggle to simply take a compliment without making a self-depricating joke afterward. (I'm working very hard on learning to smile & say thank you instead of blowing it off.)

I think my weight also played a big part in how I related to my family, who are all a bunch of sports nuts. My four younger siblings played hockey, football, basketball, baseball, did cheerleading and dance...pretty much everything they could get into...and my parents (who had both been athletes when they were younger) coached a number of their teams. None of them were exactly tiny, but having been born with no functioning thyroid and major metabolism issues, I've always been bigger than the rest of the crew. When I was in elementary school, I attempted a few sports to please my family, but I was embarrassed and eventually stopped joining teams, making me the family's only "non-jock." I didn't feel any less loved, persay, but there was definitely a lack of connection that the rest of them shared.

On the other hand, my "non-jock" status also fueled my drive to succeed academically. I had always loved to read, and did well in school, but as I got older I got it in my head that if I couldn't be good at sports, I had to be good at everything else - I pushed and made the grades, joined almost every non-athletic extra-curricular our tiny high school had to offer, and made good enough grades that my scholarships & grants paid for almost all of my college education. So there was a definite upside. :)

Wow, I talk (er, type) a lot. Sorry. :blush:
Now THAT'S perfect :)
 

Hathor

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I think this is a great topic and I loved reading everyone's replies.

It certainly has played a large part in my personality. Growing up I felt unloved, unaccepted, and actually did my best to become invisible. I was forced to be outgoing when I went to regular school and so I was able to make friends easily. Even now as an introvert I can still make friends easily. I simply act like one of the guys and I do my best to not draw attention to myself. It's just how I've become.

I endured the years of teasing and bullying as the result of being fat, so now that I'm older I have a more take charge sort of personality and I don't take crap from anyone. I get shit done. Me being fat is just me now.

I remember the line in "Shallow Hal" about being fat forces you to develop a personality. I actually tend to agree with that because I didn't want my issues with my body to take over my life, so I forged on ahead. Honestly, if I wasn't fat nearly my whole life I doubt I'd be who I am today. In a way, I'm thankful for that because being fat has certainly kept things in perspective and I'm growing to love my body.
 
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Very much so. I have never been considered a small person by any standards.

Let me start by saying, I know there other people out there that have had a much harder time than I have. It is not my intention to downplay anything other people have gone through.

I have always been big for my age. I was 5'9 and about 170 by the time I got in the 8th grade. People only considered me overweight, instead of saying fat for the most part. But it was my height that grabbed so many people's attention, and since I had their attention, my weight was the easiest target about me.

All of that mixed with the regular social awkwardness made for a completely awful and regularly heckled middle and high school experience. Kids can be cruel, especially at that age. I was made fun of in and out of class on a regular basis. By the time Senior year came around I ate lunch by myself in one of my classrooms.

Today, I am 6'3, 270lbs. I still look overweight, but I really grew into the rest of my features.

As hard as it was to go through those days, it helped me grow a thick skin to all of the comments, some I still hear from day to day.

I do not regret it though. I can now sympathize with anyone going through an awkward acceptance stage. I know how it feels to be the outcast, and so I will always be there to help and coach others like me.
 
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I'm not sure that it influenced my personality. My behaviors? Sure. And I've worked to get over some, some I am still working on - mostly around men. I used to be quite shy in high school because of insecurity (but was about a size 14-16 then, a few sizes bigger now), and then became more confident after high school and on. Now I pretty much only struggle with insecurity around guys I find attractive. I still try to go for it but it hasn't been successful. I'm not a good flirt because I didn't really get practice at it and am hindered by the "oh man, what if he finds out I like him and he or other people laugh about it?" left overs from school age days. I don't think that's a personality thing though.

I think my personality has always been the same though. Everyone goes through developments of these traits and they come out in different ways, so it may seem like you were radically different in different stages of life, but I think that in the end there's usually a running "baseline" of personality. I've always been more introverted and analytical. I've always preferred more low-key activities than energetic ones. I've always been laid-back in social relationships. I've always liked to achieve goals/slight perfectionist, even if I was more bratty and stubborn about it as a child than I am now. It just morphed into something more positive (thank god! ;)).

I do think sometimes people do have behaviors to deflect feelings about being fat. For instance, how awkward I am around attractive men, or I have a lot of overweight female friends that have a "I'm a big diva and proud" thing going on, which I think is sometimes true personality and sometimes a front. Same with thin girls..some are like "I am soo fabulous" and it's real personality or it is also a front for insecurities. Who knows?

Sometimes I wonder the opposite question, though: does/did my personality affect my weight? Hmm. I know there's lively and energetic overweight/fat people but I still wonder if being more laid-back and preferences for low-key activities for whatever reasons affect all that.
 

spacce

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I think its made me a more honest person towards people, sometimes even towards myself...I don't like my weight but I realize that I am going to be a larger person, and I'm working on getting better in shape. I want to be healthy not just thinner..

also my view on all kinds of people.. after reading the biology of it, and doing my research, most people really don't get larger people..

if I was thinner or thin, I don't think I would appreciate my relationships with people as well.. I am odd one and I get along with most people, but I usually hide the inner me until I get to know people.. as a friend just recently told me, I don't care how unsober you get, you're family,so don't worry what we think.
 
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I hide a bit too until I get to know people better (or, well, I just speak up less - when I do, I'm pretty much say whatever I would say normally haha), but I know there are a lot of thin people that do that too. So, is it a weight thing or just a general personality thing? Maybe an outcropping of any sort of insecurity when a person is younger. I don't really know.
 
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