Fat Attack

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.

Typical Female Game Character

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.

 

October 1st, 2012 by | 17 comments
LadyNapoleon is a guest contributor to HomeStation Magazine.

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17 Responses to “Fat Attack”

  1. KrazyFace says:

    I’ve always thought Home could do with more ‘normal’ body shapes rather than the picture perfect ones we have. Even the biggest avatar settings seem a bit too slim around the arms and legs to me for some body types. But then I figured, who would actually make themselves a true recreation in Home?

    A friend of mine didn’t know who the Homelings were (I know, it’s like going “TUNA!? What is this strange fish you speak of!?”) so I dressed as one to show her. Thing is, it wasn’t until I removed my avi’s hair that another (much younger) friend said “OMG You look so oooold Krazy!”. He was of course talking about the STELLAR job I’ve done of recreating my smile lines, eye bags forehead wrinkles etc etc…

    The thing is, I’ve never thought about taking all that stuff out of my avis face or smoothing it out to make myself more attractive because quite simply, I know what I am and am not afraid of letting it be known. If someone is shallow enough to think how you LOOK determines whether they’ll be your friend or not, then put simply, they ain’t worth knowing.

    I might point out that my remarking friend has known me in Home for about 3 years now and likes to point out our age difference wherever possible heh, but it’s all in good fun. Another friend ( when we first met) commented that he was impressed by how “realistic” my avatar looked, but couldn’t figure out why, until I pointed out my *ahem* face-work lol. I think the thing here is that Home should have deeper avatar customization options for those who are not afraid to project themselves in there, I remember when Home first started and EVERYONE was wearing noob clothes, felt like being stuck in a perpetual GAP advert. Clothing has changed this dramatically, bit I’m still very aware that the likelihood of someone just like their avatar is about 1,000 to 1.

    Good read, thanks for sharing.

  2. Burbie52 says:

    As you said in your article, obesity is rampant in the USA. You are very right to assume that many people in Home are not making true representations of themselves, for a variety of reasons. I have tried to, but it is next to impossible to do when you are older as well, like Krazy has stated, so I gave up trying. I just use my avatar but am always truthful when people ask my age. Older people in Home get the classic,”Why are you using a PS3?” question a lot. I am proud of you for standing up for yourself as you truly are and keep on trying to get healthy, it is the most important thing you will ever do for yourself. Great article.

  3. As with the previous article, I think this too is one of the best I’ve read in this magazine, both of a personal nature, psychological if you will.

    I made my avatar to look as much as I could like myself although I must stay this doesn’t hold true when I wear my Pillsbury Doughboy outfit (Echochrome and Stapuft head). “OMG, the Pillbury Doughboy” someone exclaimed when they saw it.

    I believe it’s fine if you want or anyone wants to make an avatar that is not similar to their real life selves whether overweight people shedding pounds or even cross dressers.

    No matter how one dresses, they can find a way to be themselves regardless of their physical appearance on Home, or in real life.

    Be yourself

  4. FEMAELSTROM says:

    Hello Lady, welcome to the magazine and great article. Very touching and personal. I know people who are like you in that they choose to make their avys look really like them. One guy is, as well large framed and faces cruelties,he lacks hair as well and reflected that too, but I openly tell him that I think he is truly braver than most people I know. I knew a gal who matched your body, but used a more svelt model because she had social fears of being too true to form and being mocked. This is indeed a hard choice to make and I fault neither. Here we are fantasy charactors, free to be what we want. I am both a sith lord and a jedi, I am a sleek future cop and I wear clothes I could never afford in real life. I am various robots, and monsters,and gods. I believe that in being a place of fun, have fun and be what you want. Your friends will love you no matter what. And if someone don’t like you for your frame…their loss. I have seen the true friends polarize around individuals who make such an avy, and I am a person who takes people as they treat me. IF a large avy is nice, they they get a FR, and I have seen the ultra skinny ‘queen bees’ tear down people for not wearing the right clothes. I will say that you are as well as my gent friend, a brave person and I applaud that. More power to ya.Keep being who you wanna be, and have fun when you want to be a wookie, a mech jet, or you.When you see who likes you for you, then you’ve found gold. The ones who would tear you down, don’t matter anyways, and fact is, they are struggling with an insecurity of their own, they just aren’t smart enoughh to realize it. Good write and glad your brave like many of my friends.

  5. Dr_Do-Little says:

    I know two woman on home who started with more round avatar than the “norm”. There was’nt a a day going by without an insult on their look. As for clothing Home is the same as the physical world, if not worst. Everything is built around the skinny type. Finding decent looking clothes for larger female is a tough job.
    I come from a 50/50 family. Of the 4 kids, 2 have weight issue and 2 “skinny” I was in the lucky part, my brother weight probably more than twice what I do… So food and activity are really important, but not the only thing. I understand the concept of “comfort food” beleive me.
    My mother used to say “You can stop smoking or drinking , but you cant stop eating” Try to quit smoking but still have half a cigarette three times a day….
    Kudo to you for moving to a chubbier avi. It take a lot of character because I know it’s not easier on home than it is in the physical world.

    • Dr_Do-Little says:

      Darn, we really need an edit button
      I wanted to add. The two woman I know, they gradually shrunk their avi due to harrassment probably and the difficulty to dress properly.

  6. jellia says:

    Hi Lady your story touched my heart. I struggled with age discrimination at first in HOME (2009) because I wasn’t meeting people my age so I did hide my age. Slowly I started telling my friends the truth. Well, like you, my circle got smaller as well. The comments weren’t pretty either. Then I met a gal named Burbie52 who started a club (Grey Gamers) and the the rest is history. I am proud to say I am 60yrs old. My circle of friends are young and older. The so called friends you lost on your journey will never know the wonderful young woman that would have enriched their lives just by knowing YOU…

  7. LadyNapoleon says:

    Thanks everyone for the kind encouraging words. I am glad to see I am not the only one to have had this issue. I didn’t think I was but it’s good to see others are being true to themselves. you’ve all been so kind :)

    • FEMAELSTROM says:

      Lady, Home is full of evil, sniping trolls who will insult anything you are. Age, weight, gender, hair color, and Home has good folk too. Those that accept you for who ever you are. You hit the motherlode here of folk that will take you in and make you feel loved and accepted no matter what you are, even if you have 2 heads. Make friends with anyyone here and you really can’t go wrong. It was refreshing to hear your voice and I encourage you to write again. This is a great place to speak your mind and voice an opinion.

      • Kassadee Marie says:

        I thought you knew about the “no two heads” rule, Strom. It’s just too hard dealing with someone who argues with him or her self all the time. No, it isn’t. Yes, it is. Sheeesh!

  8. riff says:

    Yes! This article really needed to be written- as it is something I think a lot of the gaming community faces.

    First let me say to you that I am not fat. I am pretty average, but I do a lot of things to stay this way. My nature is one of introspection and imagination- thus I do not have a problem sitting stationary for long stretches at a time if my mind is engaged- which is something that I believe that most gamers and PSH participants can identify with.

    A lot of things can determine whether or not a person can easily lose weight; amongst them Diabetes, Stress, lack of vitamin D, etc. As you state in your article Lady the solution to this problem is not an easy one.

    What do I do to stay healthy? First and foremost I drag myself away from PS and Computer at least 3 times a week to ride my bike 3 to 5 miles- and I mean ride it. For me a stationary bike does not work, because I can get off it at any time. I have to go out and then be out and have to get back. I do yoga -esp. on rainy days when I can’t ride. I drink at least two big glasses of water a day. I eat mostly veggies (and fish if I crave protein) and I take supplements (Vitamin D for gamers- here is why- D is produced through exposure to sunlight, something gamers are in dire shortage of if they spend most of their day indoors for recreation. If you are fair-skinned like myself you probably wear tons of sunblock which can also limit the body’s production of D. Lack of D makes you retain weight and makes you depressed).

    On Body image this is what I can say… no matter how socially acceptable our physical appearance is we all have our moments of doubt and pain… everyone has a persecution; skinny, fat, black, white, yellow, red or green, gay or straight,Jewish or Jehovah’s Witness… we all have something that is our personal niggly little weakness and screws with our sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

    Weirdly enough the people that are actually worth knowing in life are attracted to each other for different reasons than perfection. Perfection can be down right intimidating at times. If someone thinks you are perfect they are less likely to engage with you because it makes them feel worse about themselves… I find that I connect with other people through my flaws, imperfections and idiosyncrasies. This article and the replies above are a perfect example. Four of the commentators above I have had a chance to meet on PSH and engage with and I can tell you that they are all worth knowing and mostly less than perfect…But they are perfect for being just exactly who they are supposed to be -full of idiosyncratic imperfections.

    For myself I can tell you what attracts me is confidence, a swagger, and a sense of humor… and scars ;-)

    Thank you so much for exposing yourself. It is a beautiful thing.

    Riff

  9. Kassadee Marie says:

    Thank you, Lady for sharing your story -- your experiences and life -- with us. I enjoyed reading your article very much and would love to see more of your ideas printed here.

  10. Gary160974 says:

    Very deep article and something I was thinking about a few weeks back when I was reading yet another article about fashion on home and how great the developers are for giving us all this great fashion. Fashions that, like a lot of real life fashions are designed for perfect sizes. Why not target them sizes as its the place to make money, target another body size and developers wouldnt sell enough. Fashion in home is just dolly dressing up nothing more than a virtual barbie, real bodies arent just fat or thin they tall and short, they have long legs and short legs, fashion has loads more to take into account than any would be fashionista on home. Thing is home is the one place where you have no need to worry about your body, whatever the issues are. The question is whether its healthy for home to be so close to real life. You not lying by having a perfect avatar because home should be a get away from real life issues. By creating an avatar that can be targeted all you do is create issues that may upset yourself, defeating the purpose of going on home in the first place, as others dont treat home like real life and will quite easily attack someone under the excuse ” get a life its a game ” Let your personality win through to your friends. A lot of these friends you will never meet, bare in mind that people on PSN add and delete friends loads, We have all heard the types saying they have got a full friends list like its a trophy. Ultimately if you feel happy enough that you know your friends, send them a picture of you in real life or talk on a headset. You will be surprised what the other people look like or sound like. In most cases its a relief to know that your friends are people that are real.

  11. Jin Lovelace says:

    As a Home enthuiasist and a virtual fashionist, I truly find this article remarkable. For me, I’m never to say I’m perfect; being 6’9 and feet of the above-average person is typically something to neither praise or cry about for me. As much as I truly say I’m blessed, deep down it’s a problem for me; shopping online for big and tall clothes or to have them tailored for me just isn’t a jovial experience when it comes right down to the monetary dollar sign for the expense of the stitiching. It’s just not that radical in a sense but it is something that can’t be help in a way.

    However, for you it is something that can be of some help to you. This article is a primative example of how the social experience of Playstation Home truly effects the ones who seek a sense of escape from the reality, or perhaps make it their own canvas for the imagination….expression, if you will. It shames me on how deep words goes when one would bash another on their weight and not see the incentive of their actions behind them, which truly affects a heart and mind.

    I feel there many beautiful human beings on this planet, be them big, small, skinny or large. many has this whimiscal imagery that “beautiful=skinny” which stunts a few growths on evolution today. I, for one, can see that you’re a beautiful human being and in hopes to become someone of status to your family and loved ones.

    A truly remarkable article, indeed.

  12. ted2112 says:

    A while back I wrote an article called “the great equalizer.” It was original called “were all super hot/ the great equalizer” but editors will be editors (he-he) The article dealt with the rare opportunity we have here in Home where everyone looks good, and to that forces you to really get to know a person based on who they really are, not on what they look like. I find your article inspiring and admire you for being you, great read!

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