I have been heavy for as long as I can remember. There has simply never been a time in my life where I was not chubby, or pleasantly plump, or just plain fat.
I am not saying this in a boastful way, nor am I saying this in a shameful way. I am not promoting fat, as I understand the health implications, but, rather I am just stating a simple fact. I have always been heavy.
I know for some readers, it might make them cringe to read my words, as not many people are so forthcoming about their flaws. But, let’s face it- our flaws are the one thing we all have in common.
Most of us will do anything possible to disguise our imperfections, sometimes spending thousands of dollars to do so. When going grey, we dye our hair. When we gain weight, we wear dark, loose fitting garments. When we are short, we wear heals, and when we are tall, we only wear flats. When we grow older, we seek out cosmetics or surgery. The list of things we will do to hide our perceived imperfections is endless.
Lord Chesterfield said, “Men are much more unwilling to have their weaknesses and their imperfections known than their crimes.”
So I totally understand if people are put off by my candor about my weight, but I also have another imperfection to share with you. One that is not quite as obvious as a weight issue.
I have Dyslexia. For those that do not know what that is, Dyslexia is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but it does not affect general intelligence.
So, while my issue with weight is something everyone can see, my dyslexia is something, up until now, only close friends and family knew about. Not because I am ashamed of it, but simply because you can not see it.
I am not sharing this for any pity, as you will soon see that I am in very good company. Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Albert Einstein were all believed to have dyslexia. In fact, many of today’s business leaders and celebrities claim to have dyslexia.
So how is it that people with a learning disability have achieved such greatness?
The thirteenth century poet Rumi once said, “A wound is the place the light enters you.”
Maybe, just maybe, that which you consider an imperfection is the crack that lets the light in and your brilliance out.
I know for me, my weight, nor my dyslexia, have ever stopped me from doing what I wanted. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that they might have even helped me.
As a child and a teen my family moved a lot. By the time I left high school, I had lived in nine different places and went to many different schools.
We moved from the City of New York to the Arizona desert. We lived in very rural Georgia and on the beaches of Florida. I have experienced every type of climate and culture our great country has to offer.
Each time we moved, I knew I would be faced with meeting different people. New friends and new teachers would all have to be won over.
I also knew a chubby girl with a learning disability was not going to be greeted with open arms. So, I gave them something more interesting to focus on. I let my personality shine through.
I was active in the theater and on the school newspaper. I joined the debate club and was involved in every committee I could be in. In essence, I did everything I possibly could to let my talents come to the forefront.
I really don’t think I would be the same person if I had the perfect figure and no learning disability. But, I am not the only one who thinks our shortcomings or our imperfections is what makes us perfect.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without any imperfections.”
Who’s to say why a very poor black girl with a history of a weight problem and abuse like Oprah Winfrey could become a success? Was it in spite of her obstacles? Or maybe she succeeded because of them. Oprah herself said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
The first woman appointed to a U.S. Cabinet as Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, had this to say about her good friend, President Franklin Roosevelt, who, in 1921, was stricken with polio, and was nearly completely paralyzed:
“Roosevelt underwent a spiritual transformation during the years of his illness. I noticed when he came back that the years of pain and suffering had purged the slightly arrogant attitude he had displayed on occasion before he was stricken. The man emerged completely warmhearted, with humility of spirit and with a deeper philosophy. Having been to the depths of trouble, he understood the problems of people in trouble.”
I think it is safe to say that without President Roosevelt’s illness, he might not have led his life or this country the way that he did.
Karen Nave, author of Parkinson’s Journey, said, ”Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.”
I know for me, I am a happily married woman with a column in the newspaper, not in spite of my weight issue and dyslexia, but, maybe because of them. After all, Life is Mysterious.