Stop Feeling Embarrassed for Existing

The physical toll of carrying around dozens, or even hundreds, of extra pounds is painful. Your back hurts, your knees hurt, you get winded doing everyday tasks…But for me at least, that physical pain was bearable. It was the emotional anguish that pushed me to strive for a different lifestyle. When you’re fat, especially as a woman, you constantly feel the judgement of others—whether it’s real or perceived. You feel as if you are—at best—inconveniencing someone, and at worst, disgusting them, in every single interaction you have. Eventually you start apologizing for merely existing. To this day, almost every encounter I have with a store clerk, a waiter, or a receptionist begins with “I’m sorry, but…”—a habit I picked up as a young fat woman, when I felt intense embarrassment for my size. I’m over it, and trying to stop thinking this way. You should, too.

Having issues with overeating is incredibly challenging because unlike many other bad habits we might struggle with, it’s impossible to hide. When you struggle with weight, it feels like the world can see the evidence of your failings. This can lead to shame and embarrassment and at a certain point, you slip into a state where you just feel embarrassed all the time. But let me tell you one thing about being fat: it isn’t a crime. And it 100% isn’t an affront to others. We all have different reasons why we may be carrying extra pounds and none of us has to explain them, or justify them, to anyone—especially strangers.

Imagine if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves (photo credit: Thrive Nutrition)

credit: Thrive Nutrition

Everyone deserves respect, regardless of their size. But respect should start from within yourself. So I say this to me as much as to you: Stop being embarrassed for being yourself. Stop thinking of yourself as the sum of your worst qualities. Instead, keep your head up, make eye contact when you speak to people, and when you find yourself thinking about your size and that shame bubbles up, don’t nurture it. Remind yourself of your good qualities and nurture those feelings instead.

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20 thoughts on “Stop Feeling Embarrassed for Existing

  1. Hannah

    This is threatening to bring tears to my eyes, but I’m at work so I’m trying to get it under control.. 8 years ago (it feels more like 2 or 3), I’d successfully lost over 100lb. I was not thin. I wasn’t even quite out of the “obese” category for my height, but I felt amazing. I was confident and happy and active and liked myself for the very first time. I could run a 10-minute mile and finish a half marathon. I could go shopping at any clothes store- ANY- and find something that would fit me well. Then the pounds started creeping back up. I started going out less and less, seeing less of the friends I’d made during my confident, thin period. By the time I’d gained back about half of the weight I lost (2014), my mother died. Now I wasn’t just dealing with feeling insecure and embarrassed and unworthy because of my weight and my failure to keep it off, I was shouldering the burden of losing a parent. I felt like part of me had died too. I felt apologetic for it, because no one understood. People wanted me to be happy and talk about inane things like vacation and concerts, none of which I could give a hoot about. But I felt bad because I felt like I was bringing THEM down, nevermind that I was in pain and it felt like I was expected to just get over it. So I stopped seeing friends, pretty much, altogether. Now I have no friends and I don’t go out and I still feel bad about myself.
    A recent health scare has made me look more closely at my relationship with food. I’ve lost about 14lb. Now I need to figure out if I want to try to make new friends, or get back in with the old ones or a combination. :) Anyway, I’m ready to stop feeling sorry for being me. The people who really matter wouldn’t want me to be anyway.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      The book How I got This Way and What to Do About It changed my life. I struggle with similar things as you. I hope you find peace and know you deserve to love yourself.

      Reply
    2. Grace

      Hi Hannah,
      I am so sorry about your mom. I just unexpectedly lost a very dear friend who was like a second mom to me. Grieving is HARD. And on top of other emotional struggles, can feel impossible at times. I understand having friends who want you to talk about superficial, “fun” things, and sometimes you feel like you just can’t. That is totally okay. I want you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to about heavier stuff or just to listen to you, you can talk to me. I’ll be praying for you.
      Ive found comfort and hope in knowing that Jesus understands deep grief and pain like this, and reading passages that talk about it, like this one:
      “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”‭‭ Isaiah‬ ‭53:3-5‬
      Not only does He understand our grief and pain, but He loved us so much that He endured it and more, taking our sins so we can be with Him someday if we repent and believe in Him.
      I’ll be praying for you as you learn to live life without your mom. It isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible.
      All the best,
      Grace

      Reply
  2. Shannon

    I went to a concert recently and I felt like I could read the mind of everyone around me- “that chair won’t hold her.” It took me minutes of standing to gather the nerve to sit. I do feel myself inwardly apologizing for my size. I do feel that obese women, in particular, are judged harshly by everyone. We are also targets of misuse. My experience, I know. But I do feel it is prevalent.

    Reply
  3. Marie

    I´m probably too young to really fit in her, I am 18 since this July, but I do feel sorry for myself because I gained in roughly three months 10 kg. I never really had a problem with binge eating but because of all the stress I had during my final exams my body thought eating was a good stress relieving activity… And then came Christmas and I just thought to myself: I feel so good when I overeat because I don´t need to think about what will come next and how much books I will have tos study.
    After the stress calmed down I also kind of could reduce the amount I ate but I just cannot restrict my diet anymore…
    This and a lot more things are the reason I feel ashamed and embarrassed about myself because I feel like I lost my old good strength and became a person I never wanted to be who could not achieve her dreams because she is to weak.
    I subscribed your blog a while ago and especially this one is going to help me feel less like trash and worthless.
    Thank you for that

    Reply
    1. ECC930

      Here in the US we have a common thing called “The Freshman 15” which references when students first go to school the combo of being on their own for the first time and the stress of school results in about a 15lb weight gain. I’m letting you know this because it sounds like you’re being so very hard on yourself right now and I want you to know you are so not alone in the place you are right now. You aren’t weak, you’re growing and learning.

      You are totally right, the eating does help because it feels good int he moment and does let you forget for a bit. Don’t hate yourself if you need that every once and a while. Just also maybe try taking a walk and see if that helps too. Or talking to a friend.

      I’m giving you a big internet hug because I remember being where you are when I was 18. It’s a tough place, but you’ll get through it, and it really does get better I promise. Be kind to yourself, you deserve it. *Hug.*

      Reply
  4. Juliet H

    Wow, I’m so glad you posted this! Thank you! Like the above commenter, I lost almost 100lbs about 8 yrs ago and felt amazing! People actually noticed me and sought me out for inclusion, and as a really shy person this was a revelation. Then, after moving 6 times during that time, having two kids go off to college including one with a mood disorder and hubby being forced to retire I slowly gained back all the weight falling back on my old crutch of food. 13 wks ago I read about the Bright Line eating book in the comments here. It has changed my life. I finally feel free, healthy and strong. I trust myself.

    Reply
  5. Amanda

    This post spoke to me personally. Wow, I needed to read this. I have been struggling with binge & emotional eating for over 14 years now& I swear all I do is think others are judging me& apologizing all day long. Thank you for sharing& reminding me I’m not alone!

    Reply
  6. Sandy

    I am average size, fighting 10 pounds so my shame is a different kind but the title of this post really resonates with me. I have been very depressed this week and feeling like an annoyance to my adult children. Even though my husband and I are always available when they ask something of us and try not to interfere in their adult lives I always feel like I am bumbling and bumping and just annoying them. I like the thought “Stop feeling embarrassed for existing!” I am enough. I need to accept that concept. We are all self conscious about something. Truthfully, others probably aren’t thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are. So my advise to you, and to myself, is to get out there and live your life. You will probably like yourself better and perhaps someone else will too.

    Reply
  7. Lulu

    I have experienced similar issues. I’ve struggled with binge eating and my weight, as well as depression, since my late 20’s. Five years ago, I lost 104 pounds, going from 248 to 144. I threw out all of my “fat” clothes, promising myself that I would beat the odds and succeed in keeping the weight off. I was so proud of myself and my confidence skyrocketed. Now, five years later, I’ve gained almost all of the weight back. I am embarrassed to be seen at my children’s school, I am mortified to go into stores, or run into anyone who knows me. I am ashamed to go to work, knowing that my coworkers are looking at me and wondering what happened. I am once again not included or approached by “friends.” None of my new clothes even come close to fitting, so I wear the same black stretch pants and black shirt just about every day. I am right back where I started, with all of the health problems and shame that I thought I had done away with. I am particularly embarrassed seeing health care providers, who chastise me about “diet and exercise.” So I can totally relate to what you are saying. I feel I must apologize for my very existence once again.

    Reply
  8. Katherine Phillips

    This posting really hit him with me. I am the heaviest I have ever been. Last year I was on one of those fasting weight loss programs and of course I lost lot of weight quickly. And then, just as I knew I would, when I began eating again I gained it all and more. What I have been noticing more presently versus in the past is how I am eating – I definitely fit the binge eating profile – and it becomes daily. I really liked reading the book, “It was Me All Along” and I like these posts – I don’t feel so alone. The thing I related to so much in this post is the self-imposed isolation when I gain weight. I too am finding that I keep “hiding” until I loose the weight again. I know this is not a good thing for me and it is not kind and loving to me., yet it is the shame and embarrassment and that kind of thinking that keeps it going. Today, I am going to go out for a walk and tonight I am going out with friends.

    Reply
  9. Belle

    I feel really exposed when I’m overweight, and I feel as though my life will re-start when I lost the weight. It’s almost as though everything is on pause until I lose the pounds. It’s a horrible feeling. Your advice to “stop thinking of yourself as the sum of your worst qualities” is such good advice. x x

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com/

    Reply
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  12. Katherine Smith

    I love this post, and often come to Andie’s site when I need a boost of positive spirit. And when I see how kind and thoughtful all the commenters are, I am amazed by the rare compassion and empathy I find here. And then everyone (me too) beating themselves up because of their weight seems just so . . .distorted. There are many things wrong with our crazy world but the beauty of the souls here is a right and good thing, a reason to love the world! And Andie thanks for the beautiful words and the gorgeous photos!

    Reply
  13. Jan

    Amen and THANK YOU Andie!! By all the replies it’s so obvious we all can relate all too well here. I lost 100, and had a tummy tuck (yes I do think about how much that cost all the time). Now, I’ve “found” 55 of those pounds and am back to buying a whole new wardrobe again. I can’t do the physical activity I did when thin, I am embarrassed to be seen in public and have started counseling to deal with my life and all the pitfalls without food and wine (calories not and alcohol issue – as if that matters). I am 60 and I have yo-yo’d since college – first the freshman 15, then the baby weight, then the next baby weight and lots of other great excuses over the years. I have succeeded in finding Doctors who don’t shame me and am determined to keep on trying to live fully and healthfully. All easier said than done and it is beyond refreshing to read your post and the commonality of the replies inspires me greatly. Thank you again.

    Reply

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