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Sex Love and Obesity Part 1

I believe that there is a part of the weight loss journey that we don’t talk about nearly enough. The way obesity affects the decisions we make regarding sex, love and relationships.

I wasn’t always an Obesity Rebel. There have been times in my life that Obesity kicked my ass and suffering from this disease lead me to make some bad decisions in when it came to these things. There were times when I was 100% convinced that losing weight would fix all my relationship-oriented problems. Times I believed I would miraculously find Mr. Right if my waist size wasn’t in the high double digits or if the number on my scale didn’t start with a 2, 3 or 4.

In this next blog series, “Sex, Love and Obesity” I’m going to share some of my thoughts and experiences on this topic with you. 

Sex Love and Obesity Part 1: I thought losing weight was going to fix my love life.

When I first started my weight loss journey I was in the middle of a failing marriage. The marriage was already over honestly and there wasn’t really anything left to fix ; we’d already grown apart. I couldn’t tell you what was going through his mind at the time, but I had decided that after losing all that weight I was finally in a position where men might actually *WANT* to date me, and I was curious if something more fulfilling was out there.

I’d never really done that. The dating thing. As someone who suffered from obesity since childhood, my dating background was sort of slim. I had a high school sweetheart that was also a bit overweight. So, he was very accepting of me.

We broke up not long after graduation. I was 18 then and the internet had just become a thing. I met a 24-year-old guy in an AOL chat room. He was a computer geek, gamer, and wasn’t exactly the epitome of slender himself. I moved in with him within a month of dating him and together our poor lifestyle habits lead to an even more overweight me. Our relationship sexually was rather boring, so I started looking for more excitement in online sex chat rooms.

Cyber sex filled a void in my life.

It provided a venue for me to experience the sort of passionate romantic and exciting sexual escapades I was looking for without my weight being a hard limitation. However, as soon as anyone got close enough to me that they asked for a photo and realized how overweight I was, I’d feel the sting of their rejection.

As the number on the scale climbed, I probably weighed somewhere between 200-250 pounds. In the world of the internet chat room and internet chat lingo, I was what was referred to as a BBW, (Big Beautiful Woman) only nobody really thought big was beautiful and most the times the posts I would see from men advertising that they were looking for someone would exclude me. “No BBWs please,” was a common line in the online profiles I read.

In my search for men that were accepting of my size, I would often start-up chat conversations with just about anyone that didn’t post a weight restriction in their profile. I’d feel them out, avoid the part of the conversations where they would ask for photos, and try to build a relationship based on my personality first. I figured eventually I’d find someone who would like me for who I was and then what I looked like wouldn’t be so important.

I did meet someone like that. Someone that didn’t really care much about what I weighed or what I looked like. He was more focused on how I behaved. Particularly how submissive I was. He introduced me to the BDSM, (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism) community. I was about 19 years old then. If you read erotica I’d say my life varied somewhere between The Story of O and the John Normal Gor Novels.

Pandora Williams Before Photo

Before Photo – Taken approx. 2001 – 400 lb.

I was owned, I was considered property, and I was used sexually.

Strangely, my lack-of-self-confidence made this all justifiable in my mind. I was proud to be such a good submissive, slave, or whatever label you wanted to put on it, that men wanted to own me. Being owned was a privilege. Being hand selected by a man to be his property made me special. That’s what I was taught, and that was the way I lived my life for the next thirteen years.

I entered into relationships as if they were contracts. I had rules that I had to follow. Rules that determined things like how I could speak, what I could wear, what changes I could make to my hair or my body, what music I could listen to, what television shows I could watch. If I broke the rules, I was punished. Sometimes the punishments were physical, sometimes they were emotional. But I spent my life striving to be so obedient that I was rarely punished.

In the beginning I had several owners. The alternative lifestyle community kind of promotes open relationships. Many of the men involved in these types of relationships have no problem sharing the women they own with others. This is often acceptable because they either wish to participate in sexual experiences with other women themselves or because they own more than one woman at a time. Swinging, poly amorous relationships and “sharing” were a common occurrence in these relationships.

I didn’t really want to share someone’s love and attention.

This presented a problem for me. I never really wanted that sort of relationship. I found myself constantly seeking a man who wanted only one slave. I envisioned the romanticized version of these relationships where in exchange for my undying love and devout submission, I was provided for, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially.

After the better part of 6 years, I found the type of Master I believed I wanted. But by that point my relationship with food and my habit of feeding my feelings had caused me to gain a tremendous amount of weight. I weighed nearly 420 lb. and even though I had found my equivalent of Prince Charming in my BDSM fairy-tale.  My happy ending came with a caveat, I had to lose weight if I wanted to be owned by him.

When he presented my weight as an obstacle to a relationship he was kind about it. He let me know that it wasn’t just about what I looked like and his level of physical attraction to me, it was also about not wanting to be with someone who was unhealthy. He had concerns about the physical ailments and medical ramifications associated with obesity. He wanted me to be healthy if he was going to make a lifelong commitment to owning me.

When he presented this issue to me, in my mind, any loyal submissive that truly wanted the commitment of ownership from a man on the level that I did, would do anything asked of them to earn it. So, I decided, for the first time in my entire life of struggling with obesity to make a commitment to losing the weight. I started dieting and exercising and the weight started melting off.

In just a little over a year, I had shed 195 pounds and moved to another state to be closer to him. I achieved that coveted title of being his slave. About 9 months later he decided we should get married. It made sense at the time. It sealed our commitment to each other in a way the world recognized. It would allow him to make medical decisions for me as my “Husband” that he wouldn’t be able to make as my “Master.” – I was elated. I thought I had found my 50 Shades of Gray version of happily ever after and my fairy-tale ending.

I also thought I was correct in my interpretation that losing weight would miraculously solve all my love life problems.

But my romantic problems were just beginning.

My struggle with obesity was nowhere near over and every decision I had made in my love life thus far was more an act of desperation than an act of love.

I had no idea how much suffering from obesity had damaged my self-worth. I was unaware how much it had caused me to devalue myself. I was oblivious to how it was affecting my decisions when it came to sex, love and relationships. But, I was about to find out.

Stay tuned next week the next part of this blog series.

Sex Love and Obesity Part 2 – How Gaining & Losing Weight Ruined My Marriage

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Nicole Arbour’s Perfect Example of Fat-Shaming

A new video entitled “Dear Fat People” hit YouTube a few days ago. This video features Nicole Arbour, a Canadian comedian, recording artist, actor, writer, choreographer and producer displaying very prominent views of weight bias and fat-shaming.

NicoleArbourDearFatPeople

Well Miss Arbour, you’re right about one thing, some people are already offended and I’m one of them.

Fat-Shaming is very much a thing. It’s an unproductive and emotionally damaging thing.

The saddest part of fat-shaming is that ridiculously cruel people like yourself think that it’s okay.

Your video makes it very clear that you believe that being affected by obesity simply means that you should eat less and move more. While taking in fewer calories and getting in more movement is definitely two of the key ingredients to weight loss, that formula doesn’t work for everyone.

I never sat in my doctor’s office and accused him of fat shaming when he told me that as a woman affected by morbid obesity I was at a higher risk of illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, severe edema, chronic depression and some forms of cancer. I took those things pretty seriously actually. In fact since my struggle with obesity lead me to all of those conditions if anything I was scared to death that I was going to be dead before I turned forty.

Oh you’re not talking to me? That’s great. Thanks for excluding me from your negative body image campaign. But wait, you are talking to me because I too was once affected by the disease of obesity.

Let me define obesity for you. Obesity is a condition that is associated with having excess body fat, defined by genetic and environmental causes that are difficult to control while dieting. Individuals affected by obesity should not be defined as being their disease. You don’t tell someone with cancer that they are cancer. You don’t tell someone with depression that they are depression. You don’t tell someone with AIDS that they are AIDS. Miss Arbour, human beings are not defined by diseases and illnesses they suffer from diseases and illnesses and making light of people’s suffering is a really unkind and inhumane action.

People that suffer from obesity wear it externally. The can’t hide it.

You can tell by just looking at them that they suffer from the disease. Unfortunately for them people like you seem to think that because they wear their disease in a physical way that it’s alright to make fun of them, belittle them and sadly, try shame them into fighting their disease in the manner that you see fit.

The problem with that is that you can not tell by looking at someone what actions they are taking to fight their disease. You can not tell if they suffer from some other illness that caused them to gain weight. You can not distinguish whether they have been so emotionally and physically abused that they used food as a coping mechanism. You can not tell whether they went to the gym this morning. You can not tell whether they suffer from depression. You can not tell if they are eating 900 calories a day or eating 3500 calories a day. But because they wear their disease in a way you can see it you assume it’s okay to attack them and tell them that they should be making better choices.

Most people who suffer from obesity are not sitting there intentionally making choices that cause them to gain weight. As someone who once weighed over four hundred pounds I can honestly say that I never consciously sat there going “Oh let me see what I can do to gain more weight today.”  

Most people who suffer from obesity would love guidance and help with weight loss. That’s where the theory of eat less and move more fails. Because for most of us that have suffered from obesity the problems go much deeper than simple calories in and calories out. Most of us have tried that method to recovery from obesity and failed over and over again.

The comparison of being a shop-a-holic to obesity as a disease is asinine. While some people who suffer from obesity do in fact also suffer from food addictions comparing a disease to an addiction is like comparing people to dinosaurs. Some people who suffer from cancer do so because of an addiction to cigarettes and nicotine. Last time I checked though the only damage anyone has ever done through a shopping addiction was to their bank account and possibly their emotional well-being.

You’ve done a really good job at showing the world what fat-shaming, weight bias and weight discrimination is all about.

Your story about being at the airport and your experience with the “Fat Family” and “Jabba the Son” is classic example of these things. You assumed that because the boy you are talking about suffered from obesity that he wasn’t suffering from any other illness. You made this assumption based on his physical appearance and nothing more.  You decided that because “he was fine, he was just fat,”  it was alright to be rude, inconsiderate and mean. You decided that nothing else about that boy and his life mattered and that he should be making better choices based on absolutely nothing but his physical appearance.

What if that family’s son suffered from Prader-Willi syndrome? What if he suffered from Cushing’s syndrome? What if he suffered from a thyroid disorder? What if that family was on their way to a specialist to try to get their son help and treatment for his obesity? You have no clue what that family was going through or why that boy was considered disabled. But here you are showing your lack of education and empathy by expressing your disgust for the overweight boy sitting next to you on a plane and trying to brand it as caring.

“Shame people who have bad habits until they fucking stop.”

“If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m okay with that.”

“I don’t feel bad for you because you’re taking your body for granted.”

These comments are not caring. These comments are cruel and malicious. But somehow you think these comments  are okay because you put a disclaimer on them.

“I’m not saying all of this to be an asshole. I’m saying this because your friends should be saying it to you.”

Nobody’s friends should be saying these things to them.

As someone who once suffered from obesity I can say that nobody belittling me, making fun of me, making jokes about me, expressing disgust about me or trying to shame me into losing weight ever helped me.

All those things ever did was make the situation worse for me. Those very things drove me deeper into depression. They made me feel unworthy. They made me feel hopeless. They made me feel like I didn’t matter. As someone who suffered from a food addiction and had a relationship with food to try to compensate for the relationships that I couldn’t have with people it drove me deeper into the darkness.

When people like you talked to me like this I turned to food to make me feel better. People like you making me feel like I was repulsive, implying that I smelled bad and making me feel like my mere presence was an intrusion in their world made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be a part of it.

That Miss Arbour is assisted suicide.

Let me tell you what DID help me…

Support helped me. Kindness helped me. Someone talking to me in a way that expressed care and concern without making me feel ashamed of myself helped me. Education helped me. Access to treatment for the disease of obesity helped me.

You end this video by trying to redeem yourself with “The Truth”

“The truth is I will actually love you no matter what, but I really really hope this bomb of truth exploding into your face will act as shrapnel that seeps into your soul, makes you want to be healthier so that we can enjoy you as human beings longer on this planet.”

Miss Arbour the truth is, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you care one small iota about those that struggle in the battle against obesity. What I believe is that you just used your fame and celebrity status to attempt to send a message and thought that the tough love and humor approach you chose to take would convey that message. You failed. What you did was make fun of a group of individuals that are already highly stigmatized.  I think you sought a laugh at the expense of others because you like many others in the world today believe that weight bias and fat shaming is acceptable because it is a commonly tolerated form of discrimination and hate.

“Think of me as one of your ride or dies.”

To all of those out there that suffer from obesity please hear me when I say this. Weight Bias, Weight Discrimination and Fat-Shaming are NOT okay.

Luckily for us though, there are some true ride or dies out there trying to make the world a better place and trying to raise awareness of this sort of behavior. I’m one of them.

After overcoming my own battle with obesity I changed my entire career path and went on to become a professional weight loss and wellness coach. I went on to gain an education in how to help others through coaching healthy behaviors and helping others with behavior modifications that would arm them with the tools they need to achieve weight loss and live happier and healthier lives.

After losing over 250 lb. I went on to become a fitness instructor in order to help inspire and motivate others to find the fun in fitness. I went on to try to teach others to use exercise as an emotional outlet to battle the sort of emotions of unworthiness, shame and hopelessness that people like Miss Arbour perpetuate in the world.

OAC-Member-BadgeAfter receiving access to care and treatment for obesity I went on to become a proud member and supporter of the Obesity Action Coalition, an organization that is dedicated to giving a voice to individuals affected by the disease of obesity and helping them along their journey towards better health through education, advocacy and support.

There are people out there like myself and over 50,000 other members of the OAC who are determined to fight to eliminate weight bias and weight discrimination and offer a community of support for the those affected by obesity.

Miss Arbour’s method and message are all wrong. We will never win the fight against obesity through shaming or making fun of the people affected by it. Obesity is not a joke. It is not something to be ashamed of. Obesity is a disease that comes with very serious health ramifications and many of us need more than “eat less and move more,” as a method of treatment.

But thankfully, like many of my fellow members and supporters of the OAC I will stand up and fight for that treatment and stand up and fight for you when someone like Miss Arbour tries to minimize and depreciate the complexity of this disease.

For anyone out there that saw this video or heard this message and felt ashamed of where you are in your battle with obesity, I am here to tell you that you are not the one that should be ashamed of your behavior. Miss Arbour and the people who sign her paychecks are the ones that should be ashamed of their behavior right now, not you.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies, a Motivational Speaker and Exercise Instructor at a women’s only fitness facility in Wilmington North Carolina.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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