by LadyNapoleon, HSM guest-contributor
(Forward from Terra_Cide: This is an *intensely* personal story, one that takes great courage to write and share publicly. It’s stories like this that are truly a joy to publish, for they show the depth of the community, and how important the social piece is to Home.
Because the nature of this story is so personal, it goes without saying that the comments will be monitored. HomeStation’s audience is a fantastic group of people, but there is always that chance of some fly-by-night doorknob who thinks it’s fun to to attack others for no other reason than for “teh lulz.” We do not tolerate comments that may be technically within the rules, but are in obvious bad taste, and I will personally slam the banhammer down so hard upon those that try, that the Curiosity Rover on Mars will be able to measure the shockwave.
It has been often said here at HSM that you have to be damaged in some way to understand the appeal of Home. That damage can take on any shape, be it damage of the body, damage of the spirit, or both. And it is when people take Home and use it as a means to empower themselves, and to lead a better quality of life, that it becomes more than its purpose and programming. This article is a shining example of this. Enjoy.)
I am a girl. I am an overweight girl, and I have been struggling with weight and body image for a long time. I am now nineteen years old, but I have been a chubby kid all my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t an outcast for being overweight. I’ll drop the cuteness and politeness and put it bluntly, I am fat. When I started using Home, I fell for the illusion of having a perfect body. Having a slim figure, with a hourglass shape, a perfect butt and big boobs. I liked it, it fed a fantasy for me – I admit that.
I spent a lot of money buying clothes and things that made me look beautiful in the game. And I felt like crap every time I turned the machine off and saw myself in the real life mirror and I was still fat. It’s not as if I thought being skinny in a game would make me skinny in real life. I work out, I diet, and what people don’t get is that it’s not easy to break life-long habits, and losing weight is hard. If it were easy, no one would be fat.
My mother is also fat; so is my dad. We are not rich, but we are not poor either. I go to college and have four siblings. We are all overweight. My parents struggle to take care of us, and do a damn good job. But here is a reality check. Food is expensive, and going up. So parents who have a lot of kids and struggle to keep up in a bad economy and have to budget. In that budget there is no room for health-conscious foods that are expensive. We eat a lot of vegetables; my mother even grows her own in the backyard. But the affordable food to feed five kids, and three adults, including my grandmother is loaded with trans fats, sugars, and empty calories.
It’s also difficult to get across to the people who have lived this way for decades to suddenly change they way they eat. I worry about my dad, he is pushing 400 pounds. At least this year, I finally convinced him to start losing weight. We all try to be active, but one thing people rarely consider is that when people are stressed they rely on certain things to bring them a little comfort. My dad likes his beer, and my mom likes her sweets. We are no different than most people in the U.S. This is why obesity is an epidemic.
It is a serious problem, and we are trying, but like I said it is hard. I hate it when people judge me for being fat, and I hate it even more when they judge my parents for being fat and as they put it – making their kids fat. They are struggling to provide for us, and they do well because we never do without. They even give me an allowance for gaming, which is unnecessary, but they know I like gaming a lot. All but two of us kids love gaming. I have a part time job, and I help out, but also spend some of my money on our gaming budget. I admit I spend more than I should on Home, but it feeds into a fantasy for me.
I use to have the perfect body image, the perfect body for my avatar. But when I graduated from high school, I realized how much what people thought of me there carried over into how I thought about myself. I made a point to stop hiding myself, even in Home. I moved that graph on the body type option all the way to the right, and all the way to the bottom. I am not tall in real life, and I am not skinny. I am short at 5’4” and fat at 220 lbs. Do the math, I am not perfect. I wanted to be true to myself. Somehow I knew it would cause people to see me different.
Almost immediately my friends responded negatively. They asked me why I was fat. I told them I am fat in real life. They responded with, “So? It does not mean you have to be fat in Home.”
To some degree, I think I wanted to test who my real friends were. You want to find out, just to test how they react to your avatar. I really think that’s sad, because it shouldn’t matter, especially in Home, but apparently it does to some people. My circle of friends got smaller, but also tighter. I am not ashamed of being fat, because I just see it as a problem I am working on. I don’t judge people for being fat, but I worry about them being healthy.
I think we do so much damage to ourselves by making ourselves fat, and I don’t want to be skinny because I will look better, but because I see the problems my parents struggle with. My grandmother is diabetic and I worry my parents might develop type-two diabetes or have a heart attack or stroke. I don’t want to see my parents suffer, and I don’t want to suffer when I get older. So I am changing that.
I changed my avatar to remind me that I am in reality fat. And I don’t want to hide from that fact behind a perfect virtual body. But it is unfortunate that other users will judge you for having a fat avatar, and I wonder how many more people out there are hiding behind a perfect body in Home, too. I used to, and I know I am not alone. I just hope they will stop hiding and actually do something to benefit their own health in real life. Home is a great way to interact with people, but let’s not judge each other, instead let’s encourage each other to be better people. It is a game, but real people have real feelings.