Since our very first OAC Convention in 2012, we’ve met thousands of members and individuals who have been affected by obesity and have wanted to find a like-minded community with similar experiences and struggles.
Mary C. is an OAC member from Seal Beach, California, who has been with us since the beginning of our Convention journey. A loyal and returning Convention attendee who has also established many friendships within the OAC, Mary is a thoughtful advocate for people affected by obesity and always gets involved with initiatives in education, support and stopping weight bias.
Here’s a recent interview we did with Mary so others in our Community could get to know her more.
Q: How has obesity personally affected you?
I’ve lived with and suffered from obesity my entire life. I can remember shopping in the “chubby” department when I was in second grade. I’ve had multiple health issues that stemmed from obesity, including osteoarthritis in my knees and type 2 diabetes. Prior to my weight-loss, I was on 13 different prescription medications. I now take only two since I’ve addressed my weight and improved my health.
Q: Have you ever experienced weight bias or stigma? If so, how did those experiences impact you?
I was teased from a young age, especially in summer when bathing suits came out. I had very low self-esteem in my youth. Even as an adult, I’ve experienced weight bias in the workplace.
The first overt instance of weight bias I observed took place in the early 80s when I applied for a nursing position at a very well-known medical center (Stanford). I was told that I was well-qualified but would have to lose weight to be considered a candidate due to insurance. I was 180 lbs. at the time. With another job I had (case manager), I was told I had to wear heels to look professional. At my weight, I was uncomfortable in heels. Thankfully, the requirement was removed soon after I started working in that position. I experienced multiple other subtle negative experiences that were obviously weight-based.
Q: How did you discover the OAC? What led you to get involved?
I discovered the OAC shortly after having RNY gastric bypass surgery. I was eager to learn everything I could in order to make the most of my new tool. I am proud to say that I was the first person to register for the very first OAC Your Weight Matters Convention!
Q: What have you learned about obesity along your journey thus far?
I’ve learned that obesity isn’t my fault, and that even if I regain weight, it doesn’t mean I’m unworthy or that I should blame myself. I’ve learned what it’s like to be accepted in whatever part of my weight and health journey that I am in.
Q: What is your favorite part about attending the OAC’s Annual Convention? What would you tell others who have never been or connected with the OAC’s Community before?
It’s so hard to pick one favorite part, so I’ll pick two! First, the education is next to none. There are so many professional speakers that have incredibly important and up-to-date information to share about obesity, weight and health. Second, but equally important, are the many relationships and long-term friendships that I’ve been blessed with through the OAC.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing we can do to support individuals living with obesity?
By far, the most important thing anyone can do to support individuals living with obesity is to accept them where they are.
Do You Want to Share Your Story?
Whether you have a story about navigating obesity, facing weight stigma, or inspiring others, your voice is important. Visit the OAC’s story project at WeightoftheWorld.com to share yours today. Not sure what to say? Consider one of our question prompts to guide you.
If you would like your story to be featured in a future issue of Weight Matters Magazine, please email email@example.com.