You Are The Only Complete Witness of Your Life

I am always surprised when people express shock that my life includes a fair amount of mockery. I am fat. I don’t deny that, nor do I have any interest in discussing it with anyone other than medical professionals.

And as a result of being significantly and obviously overweight, there is an unwritten social agreement that says I am a fair game for any level of rudeness or mockery anyone wants to disk out, as long as it is weight- or laziness- based. Society feels I am ugly, a drain on resources of others, and clearly a huge problem in all aspects of my life. It reinforces that time and time again, both in broad sweeping strokes, and in it’s reaction to specific incidents in my life. Despite there being no treatment for obesity with a high success rate, and ample evidence that mockery makes weight loss more difficult, people actually bee live that shaming me for being fat is not just acceptable, but is doing me a favor.

Now, because I am a little of 6 feet tall, such mockery is rarely to my face or at close range unless the mockers significantly outnumber me. Thus my wife and other friends don’t see or hear mocks directed at me nearly as often as I do, since when they are with me I am less likely to be directly mocked.

I go through an average of roughly one loud, insulting, active fat-shaming based comment directly loudly and exclusively at me, out of the blue, with no previous interaction, each month. These are most common in men’s restrooms and parking lots. The number is lower if I don’t go out much, and higher if I travel by airplane. But that’s pretty much my life. It’s hurtful, but I have enough therapy under my belt to know how to cope with the pain of anyone so desperate to look important that they insult people they have known for all of 30 seconds.

But I also remind myself that this very experience, and the fact that no one is ever going to see most of the abuse directed at me exactly because it is largely the work of cowards, is a sign of how little we see of other people’s lives, or understand what forces might shape them. So if I feel like someone else is over-reacting, or being unreasonable, while I must measure that against some standard I must also remember there is no way for me to know what has driven them to that point.

We are all the only complete witnesses of our own lives.

About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on October 3, 2016, in Musings, Retrospective and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Owen,

    I want to thank you for saying this. As someone who has struggled with being overweight all my life this hits pretty much every chord. Luckily I have been through enough therapy and have the help of pharmaceuticals to help me manage the depression and anxiety that often accompanies issues of weight, and helps me fend off the hurtful and horrific things that other humans inflict upon those of us that are “different” or “don’t care enough to take care of ourselves.”

    Thank you for the reminder that we judging others is a completely biased action as we are not aware of why someone is the way they are or what experiences they have had that might have resulted in their situation. It is something I need to remember and it is also something that I hope others will remember as well.

    Again, thank you. I appreciate this.

    Patrick (@zhern75)

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