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Sudie Crouch: Valerie Bertinelli, I see you, sister
Thought Catalog, Unsplash

“Did you know someone was mean to Valerie Bertinell about her weight?” 

Mama always asks these questions as if we’re dear, close personal friends with whichever celebrity she’s seen in the news recently. 

“Why did they do that? Why do they care that she gained weight?”

I sighed. 

Sudie Crouch
I wish I knew. 

What I did know was that women’s weight — whether celebrity or not —was always under fire. 

Valerie Bertinelli was just the most recent one in the news. 

Someone had commented on a social media post that Bertinelli had gained weight. 

As if when someone gains weight it is some big secret, like we don’t notice the changes our body is going through. 

Although, sometimes, we may not want to face it. 

We gain weight for many reasons, and a lot of them have nothing to do with the actual food we eat, but the why. 

There’s even been studies that showed there was a link to traumatic events leading to weight gain. 

Thing of it is, we may not know we’re going through a traumatic event when it’s happening or even recognize that we’ve experienced one because how we cope with trauma is so different for each person when those instincts kick in.

Some people internalize things. 

Some folks are anxious, upset or depressed. 

And some people eat. 

It’s partly why so many people saw their weight unexpectedly go up in 2020 when the pandemic hit.

We didn’t know what to do, so we ate. 

I don’t need anyone to point out to me that I’ve gained weight. I can tell you exactly when it started, and it was when Granny died. 

It was unexpected and abrupt — she hadn’t been sick, her body just gave out. 

So I ate. 

Then with each year that passed, something else happened that threw me into a trauma tailspin.

I had a man call me fat a few years ago when we had a disagreement. 

Did it sting? Yeah, it sure did. I’m not going to lie. 

So I could understand how Valerie Bertinelli felt when she saw those comments. 

What I didn’t understand was why we were still calling people — men and women — fat or even commenting on their weight at all. 

Body weight is such a dynamic thing — it can change. It has absolutely nothing to do with their character, their values or their self-worth.

Calling someone names or being mean to them is not an effective way to motivate them in any way either.

Yet, calling someone ‘fat’ is the ultimate insult, isn’t it?

People can lose weight but it’s not as easy to lose a vicious heart or a hate filled spirit. 

Why do people feel like it’s their place to say anything about someone’s weight in the first place?

How is it anyone else’s business?

Maybe some thought since Valerie Bertinelli has been in the public eye, it was OK and acceptable to say something about her weight. 

They felt, in some way, that entitled them to make a comment. 

But she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation about her weight.

Lots of people that aren’t famous can relate to those lifelong struggles with weight — I know I can. 

Even when people don’t make a comment, you can see the way they look at you, and sometimes, the way they treat you. 

Yup, size discrimination can be a real thing. 

I’m not sure why targeting a person’s weight can be such a focus of attack; I can think of a few other things that would be far more valid than a number on a scale. 

If someone is a good person, how they treat others and animals, and view the world — those things carry a lot more weight in terms of what matters the most.

Yet, there’s always going to be someone who uses someone’s size as a weapon.

Maybe the reason it hurts us so deeply when someone does call us fat is because we know the reasons we gained the weight is due to those deeper, more emotional causes — it’s a reminder of something within us that needs to be healed and we’re just not ready to do that yet. 

This just leads to shame. Shame around eating and that can lead to disordered eating, and eating is something we have to do in order to live. 

I can remember being called fat when I was a kid. Heck, I was called fat by a kid when I was anorexic and weighed 87 pounds. 

“They called you that because they knew it would upset you,” a friend told me. “If it didn’t bother you, they wouldn’t say it.”

Didn’t make the words less painful. 

I realized though, people start out as kids bullying others about their weight and just continue to do it when they get older. Their behaviour doesn’t seem to change at all; if anything, they become more emboldened with criticizing someone on social media now. 

As Granny and Mike Tyson would agree, social media made it too easy for people to say mean things and not get smacked for it. 

Since we can’t change what others do, all that’s left is for us to change how we respond to it.

That can be so difficult for us to do, too.

Perhaps for those of us who do struggle with our weight, we can begin to find our true worth, far away from the scales. 

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.