A Heartfelt Apology

During my childhood, my mother suffered from an eating disorder and externalized that distorted body view on to her view of me. I was not allowed to eat sugar, wheat, milk, and most fruits. As a result, I was incredibly emaciated and malnourished. You could see my bones through my paper-thin skin, and I was terribly undersized from a lack of nutrients to build strong bones and muscle.

Even though I was skin and bones and half the size of my classmates, my mother would still refer to me as overweight. I love my mother, but in retrospect, she is probably lucky nobody reported her to DCFS.

After fighting for, and achieving, my independence, I became a gym rat. I worked out all the time and built my body from a 100-pound weakling to a muscular 160-pound athlete’s build.

However, years later I was diagnosed with mental illness. Many of the psych medications I was put on have weight gain listed as a potential side effect and they lived up to their potential. I ballooned up to over 250-pounds. Looking in the mirror was traumatic for me. I bore little resemblance to the leading man I had once been.

Thank God for theatre friends! With the help of my theatrical costumer friend, I learned to adapt how I dressed to downplay my weight. She helped me look not just respectable, but even sexy at times.

Recently, I wrote a review of a stage play. In the play there were a few cast members similar in size to how I was. Based on my experience with my costumer friend, I knew there were ways to costume plus size actors that would make them look their best.

The costumer for the play I reviewed made what I thought were egregious errors. The actors were beautiful people, but because of the way they were dressed, they did not look as good as they could have. As an example, one actor’s outfit was several sizes too small, forcing them to spend much of the play pulling and tugging at their clothes to try to unsuccessfully cover their body. It distracted from the action of the play.

As someone who has been heavy, I felt bad for the actors because this was an error that could have easily been avoided. My one negative note about the production was related to this costuming misstep. My intention was to be a champion for plus size actors. However, I failed in my mission.

I am not perfect. I am just as capable of making errors as anyone else. And, I made an error.

In trying to encourage the costumer to look for more effective ways to put the focus on these actor’s best attributes, I offended a number of readers – who ironically accused me of being a weightist (i.e. someone who discriminates based on a person’s weight).

It was not my intent to insult or demean anyone based on their weight or any other factor. Once I received news that my words were being taken as offensive, I immediately removed that portion of the review from publication.

One of my best friends in the entire world is a big guy. He weighs over 600 pounds. A lot of people discriminate against him, but he values me because I fight for him. Due to his size, he isn’t very mobile, and it is physically hard for him to leave his house. As such, I try to visit him at least once a week to help him with such things as taking out the trash and getting groceries. I love him dearly and would never tolerate anyone making fun of his size.

That is a key example of my philosophy of doing what is right and taking action to protect those who might be bullied or made fun of. I would never intentionally make fun of someone because of their size, and it troubles me terribly that even just a few people thought my review was critical of big people.

I can never go off my psych meds. Without them I would not be able to take care of myself or function in day-to-day society. So, my weight continues to be a battle for me. Through extraordinary dieting efforts and a religious commitment to working out, I have dropped down to 170-pounds – still bigger than I’d like but improving. My goal is to reach and maintain my optimum weight of 150 to 160 pounds. It’s a battle every day, though.

I will always battle with my own weight, but even if I had never been heavy myself, I would still not ever look to discriminate against anyone based on their size. I also don’t discriminate based on race, sex, age, religion, or sexual orientation. Being accepting of all people is among my core values.

So, I sincerely apologize to anyone who I might have offended. Please know that I see beauty in everyone, and I had no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings.

We all have our struggles. I encourage you all to celebrate your individualism. We are all beautiful in our own way and nobody should ever say otherwise.

Peace. Love. Trust.

If you appreciate the nature of my words here, I ask that you take just a moment to share this article with your social media of choice. Follow me on Facebook (/rikki.travolta) and Twitter (@RikkiLeeTV)

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