By Guest Blogger: Rebecca Weiss
For the past ten years I have been invisible. I’m not a superhero, and I’m not joking. Since the early 2000s, I, as an overweight, middle-aged woman in New York City, have been completely invisible.
This has played out like a humorous montage in a sitcom. I climb up a flight of stairs from the subway, and the people coming down the steps run right into me. I walk out of a coffee shop with a cup in each hand and the person in front of me drops the door in my face. I walk down the street with my husband—no small fellow himself—and people part ways and let him through while I am swallowed by the crowd. Back when George Bush was president, I posted political stickers all over lower Manhattan and no one noticed my acts of vandalism. I really was invisible.
I got used to it. People didn’t see me, and I didn’t make an effort to be seen. I stopped getting my hair cut, stopped wearing makeup, stopped buying new clothes. By the time I was up to 230 pounds, I was wearing my husband’s old khakis and baggy t-shirts everyday and always had my hair piled up on my head.
I often laughed to myself when someone from my neighborhood, or one of my kids’ schools, or just the grocery store, would acknowledge my husband but not me. It got to be quite comical at times. I stopped to help someone whose car had broken down and she waved me away, not realizing that I have ridden the same train with her to and from the city every workday for the past six years.
Since beginning a fitness program about a year ago, and eating more mindfully, I’ve noticed many changes in myself. I’ve got more energy, I sleep well, I don’t suffer from stomach-related ailments any more, and I can run, climb stairs and dance like a fool without getting out of breath. I’ve reveled in my discovery of these things. And, just recently, I’ve begun to notice something else: People are seeing me again.
It seemed like a fluke at first. One morning my train pulled into the station, and the other people waiting to board made room for me in line. Some even said hello. Next, a barista at Starbucks acknowledged my presence without me waving my hands in her face. Then, it spread: salespeople offered to help me in fitting rooms, coworkers complimented my outfits, some people actually apologized after bumping me with their bags on the street. I had forgotten how to react in these situations, so I adopted a nervous smile and tried to go with it.
I’m not saying it’s been a complete 180 and the world embraces me now. It’s certainly nothing like when I was in my 20s, sashaying down the NYC sidewalks in platform sandals and short skirts, with men coming up to ask for my number. I know those days are long gone, and I’m not sorry to see them go. But, whether they see me as a set of legs, or as a mom, or a woman on her way to work, it’s notable to me that they actually do see me. Of course, I still get the door dropped on my face at the coffee shop from time to time, and pushy people on the train are still pushy—this is New York, after all.
Now I wonder, is it just my weight loss that’s brought me back into the visible world? Could it be that I walk differently, hold myself differently, address people differently? When I was heavier, was I showing myself to anyone? Or, was I hiding in my oversized clothes and unkempt hair? Perhaps I wanted to be invisible.
Regardless, the fact is that I’m here now. I walk with purpose. My eyes are bright. I’m taking up the space I choose. No matter what I weigh, I’m here, and I’m not going to disappear again.
A Comment from MDIO:
When reading this, I expect that Rebecca is just now becoming present and comfy in her own skin. No longer does she want or feel the the need to hide. Yet– Moms and dads, despite what our kids look like, what shape or size their bodies are, lets vow to love them, and help them find self worth so that they can beam from the inside out from childhood through adulthood.
Rebecca Weiss is a writer, mom of two, and director of communications for a New York City auction house. In 2012 she started a fitness and wellness journey. She is a monthly contributor to Mom Dishes It Out.