Seeing Beyond the Stereotypes

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by Kat Rees |

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There’s more to people than meets the eye, although the first thing we often notice about someone is how large or small they are. When I was younger, I was always thin and in shape. I never had to try to maintain my weight, and well into college, I still had a great physique from being active and young. 

I hate to admit it, but during that time, whenever I saw someone who was overweight, I immediately had judgmental thoughts. I wrongly believed that people became overweight because of overindulgence and laziness, and it never crossed my mind that a medical condition could be one reason for it, among many. This obviously is an ignorant way of thinking that I learned from society. Having Cushing’s disease was an eye-opening, educational experience for me. 

When dealing with Cushing’s disease symptoms, I often wished people wouldn’t immediately judge me based on my appearance, because everywhere I went, everyone I talked to seemed to offer a snide remark about me. 

Kat, before and after Cushing’s treatment. (Courtesy of Kat Rees)

It’s overwhelming how fast one gains weight with Cushing’s disease. At first, I didn’t recognize how alarming my situation was, and I started to believe what everyone was thinking — that I should eat less and work out more. Or that I didn’t need a second helping during a meal or another cookie as a snack. Even those in my own family were starting to believe I wasn’t working out when I said I was, or that I was eating another meal in the middle of the night. 

Everyone doubting that I was sick and refusing to believe that I didn’t know why I was gaining weight made me extremely insecure. Then, when I eventually lost all of the weight within a year after having surgery, I became overly obsessed with staying thin.

Being on the receiving end of judgmental comments and looks hurts. Although I was focusing on being as healthy as possible, I had no control over my weight. When people looked at me, they didn’t see how hard I was working while still being ill. No one really knew that I was active in sports, was a full-time student, and was juggling three different part-time jobs. 

This entire experience has given me the ability to be more empathetic, understanding, and nonjudgmental toward others. It opened my eyes to how little one sees on the surface of someone else, compared with what’s really going on in their life. No matter what size someone is, weight should not be a determining factor regarding their worth. 

Before and after. (Courtesy of Kat Rees)


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