How I Became Obese – Why I Want To Help Plus Size Women

You all are probably wondering why a person like me would voluntarily tell my thoroughly embarrassing story of how I became obese. But as I have researched and studied plus size clothing issues, I have seen the stories of hundreds of women who have been through as much or more than I have been through, and have found their inner strength and beauty through clothing and fashion. Why am I doing this?

  • I have found in the past that getting the truth out in the open has made it easier and easier to tell, and to accept within myself what I have become.
  • Getting my story out there has helped me heal my self-esteem.
  • Perhaps the best reason is that my story might help other women with the same issues to see themselves in a different light, and hopefully start loving themselves a little more.

So, here’s my story. Let me know what you think.

How I Became Obese

How I Became ObeseI was a little chunky as a kid. My family made fun of me.

My father was convicted as a pedophile, luckily not with me. I found a way to reject his advances and never was molested in THAT respect. However, because I rejected him, he took everything out on me. He called me disgusting names and beat me up often. I was convinced that I was worthless, no good, a failure as a person, and that I was nothing but in the way to both my parents. It went back and forth from targeted abuse to full-on neglect.

Plus, even though I rejected my father time and again, he wouldn’t keep his hands off me. I had to hide, lock doors, avoid going home, etc. It was repulsive and disgusting, and I felt dirty and creeped out.

I have REALLY thick bones, so I weigh a lot more than I look. So the number on the scales is always way higher than “normal” people. Both my daughters have the same issue. (We laugh and call them our “dinosaur bones”) In fact, my Navy daughter has one heck of a time passing the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment) because of her weight. She works out like a crazy woman, eats nothing, and still comes awfully close to failing the test every time, even though there isn’t an ounce of fat on her. So there’s that.

How I Became ObeseI was (am) a pretty girl. I think this hurt me with regard to my family, particularly one of my sisters, who I know, felt like she wasn’t as cute as me. The boys always wanted to go out with me, and settled for my sister as a second choice. If we met a couple of boys, I always got the cuter one. Even her steady boyfriend told her how cute I was, just being nice, I think. My sister hated that. She beat me up and made the nastiest comments about my looks, and in particular, my weight. She was evil and mean.

So therefore, I had a lot of negative feedback on my looks, and my weight growing up. I was deeply depressed at this point, but didn’t really realize it.

I yo-yo dieted. I would lose the weight and exercise, and the weight would come off to a certain point. My dinosaur bones prevented me from hitting that perfect number on the height-weight chart. Things would happen that would knock me off track, my depression would deepen, and I would gain all the weight back. I have lost track of how many times this has happened, but I would say, about every 2-3 years since high school, I would lose it and gain it all back and more.

How I Became ObeseI had basically an Ah Hah year. I had divorced my first husband (a megalomaniac narcissistic piece of crap like my father), had remarried, and was turning 30, and all the issues of my childhood rushed back to me. I basically had a breakdown. I went to therapy one-on-one with a psychiatrist, and to group therapy.

I got better, but I never lost that feeling of not being good enough. I got on medication for my depression, but I still never got over the poor self-esteem. It took me YEARS to finally start to gain a sense of self-worth.

I got healthy. Finally, about five years ago, I took my health into my own hands and took off a bunch of weight. I actually ran a whole mile, the first time ever in my life, at age 50. I did an hour of hill climbing every day, and I ate well and took care of myself.

How I Became ObeseThen I got really sick. It started with not wanting to hill climb every day, and being flat out exhausted. My exercise petered out to nothing because I was so tired. The doctor had tried everything. Finally, she sent me to an ear-nose-throat specialist. He found an enlarged adenoid. Even though my adenoids had been removed with my tonsils when I was a kid, he said there might have been some tissue left. It was bigger than his thumb, blocking my breathing, and it was infected. Needless to say, I had it removed.

I lost a couple years of my life. That incident with my health wiped out my strength. I had bone-crushing fatigue. I spent days in bed. Even after the infection was removed, I never really gained back my former abilities. I gained back all the weight I had lost, of course, with no exercise, and my poor husband trying to take care of me while working full time, feeding me easy-to-make food that wasn’t very good for me.

Promoting Positive Body ImageSo here I am. I am stuck with a body that can’t walk around a grocery store, let alone do any hill climbs. The illness affected my ability to breathe, so I now suffer with a chronic cough that worsens when I exert myself, causing coughing fits that last up to 15 minutes. I, like most of my family, started developing arthritis, so I’m in pain most of the time, with my hands, knees, back, and hip joints.  And because I also fight depression, I need a lot of down time to collect my thoughts and “get over” all that I have seen and heard in a day.

However,

It all sounds like doom and gloom now that I’ve read over it. But even with my health issues, I have a wonderful life. I have my amazing husband, who takes great care of me. I have two lovely daughters, two fantastic sons-in-law, and two handsome grandsons. I have a great job, a comfortable house, and food on the table. And for what it’s worth, I have what’s left of my health.

How I Became ObeseI have not given up on losing weight, but that’s kind of on the back burner as I work to get my strength back and enjoy my life how it is. Let’s just say, it is no longer a priority. I have embraced the Health At Any Size way of thinking, and feel now that my calling is to help other women see that their weight is not their fault, and in no way makes them a lesser person.

Clothing Is My Outlet

See my story about my “What Not To Wear” experience here. You will see that gradually I built my self-esteem and self-worth up, brick by brick until today I see myself as a beautiful, vital, and sexy woman with an incredible mind, a heart of gold, and the mental strength to be the bad ass I have always wanted to be. I’m a rocker chick, motorcycle mama, 80s material girl, with an exhibitionist streak. I have a scientific way of approaching problems, and I adapt to my world of constant change. I love who I am now, and am looking forward to learning and growing more in the future.

Thank goodness the plus size market and the size inclusivity market is coming into its own these days. Clothing has become my hobby as well as my life line for my self-esteem. I love mixing and matching. I love looking at what others are wearing and not only copying, but trying to do one better. I love looking at a big old closet full of clothes and being able to pick what I want to wear based on how I feel that day. I just love clothes and how they make me feel. I love having an outfit for every occasion at my fingertips; not just one outfit, but a whole range of things I can wear. I love shopping and perusing the catalogs (and websites!) for plus size bargains.

My Priorities Now

My health. I’m not running any marathons; in fact my running days are most certainly over. But I do my exercises, try to eat right, and get plenty of rest. I am not Type 2 diabetic yet, and I don’t plan on getting that way.

My mental state. As a sufferer of depression, I have to really key in to how I’m feeling any given day, and over all. I am not going back to that deep dark hole ever again, and I keep an eye on myself so it doesn’t happen.

How I Became ObeseMy family. The most important aspect of my life is my family. It was ultimately my husband and family that brought me out of the darkness. They are my reason for living. Absolutely everything I do is for them.

My job. I love what I do. It’s fun, and I work with a lot of really nice people. I want to keep doing that as long as I can. It’s a really great gig, and it pays well too. So, I get up and go to work every day.

My personal hygiene. As an obese person, I find it really difficult to take care of myself. Clipping toe nails and shaving legs gets pretty hard sometimes. Just taking a shower often leaves me out of breath and coughing my head off. But every morning, I get up, and I go through my hygiene routine, whether I feel like it or not.  I say to myself, “You are not a neanderthal! Go take a shower!”  I will not feed into the presumption that fat people are dirty. I want to look nice and smell nice and therefore be nice to be around.

My creative outlets. I love writing and working on my web pages. I consider myself a professional doodler, using my doodles to make gifts for people. I love to craft. I LOVE to cook! I love the goofy games that I play on my phone and spend a lot of time playing them.  I love music and books and movies. I’m an avid documentary watcher. I love history, particularly the civil war and WWII eras. I have recently become interested in politics and am a strong supporter of progressive ideas.

And most of all, I love clothes! My life revolves around clothing. Buying it, wearing it, taking care of it, sending what I can’t wear to charity, etc. I love planning my outfits. I love photo shoots I do for my blog. I love reading about clothing and pinning clothing on Pinterest. I love my plus size clothing blog. It’s all I ever wanted to do with my life.

How I Became ObeseHelping Others

I look around and I see women with similar issues. I want to show these women that you can feel great about yourself. You can feel beautiful and therefore BE beautiful. When you start to have respect for yourself, regardless of your circumstances, you can take your issues by the horns and solve your problems. I want to help women have the “million bucks” feeling that I feel every time I get up, get dressed, put on makeup, and do my hair. Because each woman is important in her own right. And I want them all to see that in themselves.

So… I am going to tell my story in hopes that if I can help even one woman see her full potential.   And if I can help one woman,  then I have succeeded.

===> Click here to shop at my favorite size inclusive and plus size clothing stores! <===

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Please add your comments and questions below, and thank you so much for reading!

10 Comments

  1. RoDarrick

    Wow! Very interesting and motivating to read your story for me. In all honesty, you did go through a lot as a kid but thankfully, you are a strong woman and you bounced back up. Seriously, the way you have chose to help plus size women is a great thing to do. Self confidence/esteem is what most people who are obese lack and they need to find what they love doing and build their happiness around it. Great post and I will surely share it out with the world.

    • RhondaLeigh

      Hey RoDarrick, good to see you again and thanks for reading and commenting.  Thanks for your compliments as well.  I hope I am helping other women (and men, too, actually) get over all that ugliness we experienced as children and to be happy in the body we get and the life we are have.  Thanks again for sharing my message out with the world!  RhondaLeigh

  2. Henderson

    Wow, your story is nothing short of inspiring. I am not obese but I do connect with your story from childhood and how people put you down when you were young for very absurd reasons. I had that feeling but I voiced out by telling people and I got help real fast. I’m happy that you are beginning to love yourself and think about those you really love and the things that matter to you the most. I wish you a healthy life and a great success in your path. You write pretty well too I must commend.

    • RhondaLeigh

      Hello Henderson, and thanks for your comments.  Thanks for the praise about my writing; always good to hear that what I love is inspiring others.  I grew up before the internet and Facebook, so I just can’t imagine how bad it is now for little kids to deal with the cruelty people put out there now.  It was bad enough when I was little, and it’s a lot worse now.  Wish we could all learn to be nice to each other.  Thank you so much for your well wishes, and thanks again for reading and commenting!  RhondaLeigh 

  3. Feochadan

    Its just amazing.  When I saw your picture beside your caption “So here I am”, I thought that you looked just like the AFTER portion on “What not to Wear” and I hadn’t even read that portion of your article yet!  You ARE a beautiful woman and you need to keep that in mind even after all of the crap you’ve been through in your life.  Actually, that show made me look at myself in a totally different way, as well and I have followed it like my holy grail of clothes.

    Just realizing your bone structure is a huge thing so that you don’t feel down when shopping.  Those of us with larger bone structures will NEVER be in the petit section of any store.  Having said that, it is still difficult to get stylish clothing in plus sizes but its certainly not impossible.  Thank you for sharing your story and providing advice for wardrobe!

    • RhondaLeigh

      It’s so great to meet a fellow What Not To Wear fan!  Love that show and will be forever grateful to Clinton and Stacy for helping millions of us feel better about ourselves.  Yup these old dinosaur bones will keep me out of the petite isle too.  But that’s ok.  Retailers, one by one, are getting the message that we plus size women are at the top of the bell curve and not out on the fringes.  Thank you, Feochadan for reading and commenting, and thanks for your compliments!  

  4. Chris

    Hi RhondaLeigh: Thank you for sharing your story. I find it admirable that you are willing to do so in order to help others. The world needs more people like you in it! I came across your website because I have a friend who is obese and is going through a tough time. I am doing everything I can to get her through this and will for sure refer her to your website so she can hear your story and possibly overcome this. Thanks again!

    • RhondaLeigh

      Thank you Chris for reading and commenting.  I hope I can help your friend.  I appreciate what you said about the world needing more people like me.  In fact, there are a lot of people like me, and I hope that by speaking up, I can help them come out to the world and be happy with who they are.  Thanks again for visiting my site, and I look forward to talking to your friend.  RhondaLeigh

  5. Sondra M

    OMG.  Rhonda, you and your story are so inspiring!   I love your beauty and confidence that you have now.  You were such a cute little girl.  It is sad to know that the little girl had so many challenges while growing up.  Yet, I like that you have not let your past define who you are today.   

    On the weight scale, I’ve always had the opposite problem that you have.  Yet, now that I am in my 50’s, I have finally gotten to a point that my self esteem has improved.  To the point that I’m in the process of creating my own beauty website for women over 50.   Real women over 50.     I like your idea of your showing your outfit of the day.    

    We may not be perfect but we need to appreciate the ONE body that we do have.   We won’t be getting another one.   So we might as well take care of it – in all the aspects that you mentioned.  

     I’m going to book mark your website so that I can hopefully I can feature you my website someday.  (I want to wait until I have enough traffic that people will actually see it and be able to be inspired by you. )  

    Keep being you!  You are an amazing woman.   

    Thanks for the inspiration.  I really needed it today.  

    • RhondaLeigh

      Wow Sondra, thank you so much for your complements!  I would love to be featured on your site.  I am over 50, so I might fit right in with what your message is.  I like what you said about having ONE body and that we should be taking care of it.  Anyway, I’m glad I could inspire you, and would love to help you out in the future any way that I can.  We 50-ish women need all the style help we can get, so keep up your good work!  RhondaLeigh  

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