Obesity is an epidemic. We see it all over the news: Overweight people with their heads cut off walking down the street. Fat kids with faces blurred just enough to maybe protect their identity, but not enough to tell if they are actively eating food.
You see, we need to see that. We need to be told that this is what fat looks like, and oh, isn't it gross. Because I swear to God, that is the only way any of us can possibly justify the way we treat and approach obese people.
I'm not here to talk about the effects of obesity on health, because I don't know the state of your health, and you sure as hell don't know mine. But, I do want to give my totally honest and personal opinion on how we need to treat weight in this country.
I've seen Dara-Lynn Weiss doing the media tour this week, promoting her new book that chronicles her experience with putting her 7-year-old daughter on a diet, a topic she wrote about in Vogue magazine. I watch her interviews, and I hear over and over again how she treated her daughter's medical issue with all the specialists, diets and calorie counting she could throw at it.
But she never once talked about how any of this made her daughter feel. Was she eating because she was bored? Being bullied at school? Ignored at home? Depressed?
Because that's the thing; we have feelings. Not just hunger cravings or exhaustion, but real-life feelings.
Reminding me I'm fat, threatening me with being bullied because of my weight, providing me with no fashion options, shaming me at restaurants, mocking me on national television; that didn't scare me into thinness -- it locked me in a closet with my emotions and a secret stash of food.
Oh, you don't want to see me eat? Awesome, I'll do it alone. And I did. I hid what you made me afraid to do. You solved nothing.
So, what changed?
I'm healthier and have lost more weight in two years (psst. still a size 16, hope we can still be friends) than I have in my life, because I finally felt like I respected myself enough to be worth it.
Because when we teach people that they have value, that their feelings matter and they have a beauty inside them worth respecting, they begin to believe it. True story.
I'm more active because I'm less afraid to leave my house. I eat less because I have sh*t to do, in cute clothes, no less. I make better food choices because I finally, finally, love and appreciate the body I walk around in. Every curve and dimple.
It took me way too long to figure that out by myself.
So, I'm here right now because I'm passionate about having someone who looks like me able to tell someone who looks like you that you are good enough, as is. Period.
Where you go from here, up or down, it doesn't matter; your happiness is not hinging on any of that. Right now, you deserve love and friends and clothes and happiness and to never feel like you should be ashamed or disgusted with your body. If people have a problem with it, it's on them. You're not the weirdo walking around staring at people's skin, they are.
You see, that's so much of the answer. Worth, compassion and respect. Show people how to respect themselves by respecting them. This is kindergarten level sh*t, y'all.
And the next time you want to videotape a fat person for a news story to illustrate how gross we are, use me, but don't you dare cut my head off in an attempt to make people forget I'm a real person. Not to mention, my hair's f*cking fabulous.
Related on HuffPost: