You never know how big your impact can be!

When I got on a plane a few weeks ago to head to a meeting in Houston, TX I had an eye-opening experience.  We all know Southwest has no assigned seating and it is all open.

It was a full and crowded flight and as I stood in a long line of people in the aisle trying to find an empty seat, I saw something that really bothered me.  There was a young lady in a row all by herself.  She looked like a friendly enough person to me and so I couldn’t understand why all of those in front of me were skipping her row, which had two empty seats, and trying to find spots elsewhere.

All of a sudden it hit me like a ton of bricks.  She was obese.  That was why.  No one wanted to sit next to the obese lady.  It broke my heart.  I could see her face as the line of people streamed past her.  She looked like the kid waiting to get picked for dodgeball who knows they will always be the last resort.

I decided then and there that if the seats next to her were still open when I got to that row, I was going to sit next to her.  I did just that.  I asked her if anyone was sitting there and when she said no and I sat down, I could swear I heard what sounded like a sigh of relief coming from her.  That broke my heart.  Why does society act like this?  She was a nice lady.  She didn’t bite me during the flight, she didn’t smell bad, she didn’t talk my head off…….

She was just a nice lady who happened to be overweight.  We have all been this lady in some fashion at some point in our lives and it hurts. 

While in Vegas last weekend, I saw something else that really made me think……..  There was a lady, not old, maybe forties walking through the casino with a cane.  She looked as if she were having a really hard time and people were smiling at here and being careful not to get into her way and trying to be helpful.  She was of a very average build.  I didn’t think too much about it until later in the evening we were at another hotel and saw a similar scene, except this time, the man with the cane was obese. 

I saw the looks he was getting…..I could tell people were assuming his disability was due to his weight.  How unfortunate?  NO one seemed to care to get out of his way and seemed more to think he was in theirs.

Scenes like these happen all too often and I hate seeing them.  I had to ask myself if I felt like after being a few years out from surgery, and no longer obese, do we still notice these things as often, or do we sometimes tend to become complacent?

How many of us see this and get outraged, and how many don’t really think of anything except the idea that we are thankful not to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior?  Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think any of us set out to purposely ignore injustices going on in the world, but I think we get so wrapped up in our own lives sometimes that it is easy to overlook things that make us uncomfortable.

In a similar situation I saw a mother at the mall with her kids and several people kept telling her how beautiful her baby was, and yes the little baby was truly beautiful.  I would say maybe seven or eight months old.  But there was also an older little girl of maybe five who was a little on the heavy side.  No one was commenting on her at all.  I could tell she was noticing.  I made it a point to walk up to her and say what a pretty little girl I thought she was.  She just smiled at me so big and it made my day.

Yes I was the chubby little girl at one point who didn’t really get noticed for being pretty and I know how that feels.  I truly believe in my heart that self-esteem has to start at a young age and hopefully that little girl will hear more people tell her she is beautiful so that she believes it in HER heart.  That could save her from a lot of heartaches.

I just happen to be one of those mushy gushy sentimental people who cries at the Kay Jewelers commercial where the couple is in the cabin and it is storming and you hear thunder and the lady rushes to her man’s arms etc……  yes you know the one and yes I get teary when I see it every time.

Think of the impact we could make on those around us still suffering with this disease if we all made a  conscious effort to reach out to those who have not yet been able to beat this disease and who have not yet been given the tools as we have been!!

My challenge is this, the next time you see a situation like one of these, just say a kind word, or give a smile and a nod.  Something that small could easily be the gesture that changes someone’s day, or even their life.  You may never know what impact you had, but I guarantee you will have one!

Plus, you will feel great too, even if you are the mushy gushy type like me! I feel an obligation to pay it forward and help out anyone else suffering from this disease as I go along my journey.  Does it mean walking up to an overweight person and offering them the card of my surgeon?  OF COURSE NOT, but it does mean sitting next to the obese lady on the plane, and not giving a nasty look to the obese man with the cane blocking traffic at the hotel due to his slowness and it means telling the chubby little girls with the beautiful sister that she is beautiful too.

Try it, it may just make you feel better than you could ever imagine! 

I feel so blessed to be a part of this group of people who have the ability to make a difference through small actions and through bigger things like supporting the OAC and the WLSFA.  What a great group we are!!!  I LOVE being a part of it and I LOVE getting to talk to you all every Sunday on the radio! 



About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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2 Responses to You never know how big your impact can be!

  1. Thought-provoking, eye-opening, and powerful, Erin. I have struggled with this, now that I am on the other side of the “fat fence.” It is a horrible feeling to judge someone else as I was judged, but I work on it every day. What great suggestions you made to help me in my journey 🙂

  2. Thanks Cari! I think we ALL struggle with this one!!! 🙂

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