When I was in elementary school, I got picked on for being chubby. I went to a private middle school and I thought I’d start on a clean slate, but the teasing continued. It seemed very clear that if you weren’t thin you couldn’t be popular, and at that age that’s really all I cared about in terms of social interactions. I thought I would never have a boy like me because I was overweight. These feelings crept over into high school, and so did my feelings of low self-esteem. My confidence was basically non-existent.
I had always loved to dance. Being on stage performing choreography in a sequined costume was enough fun to make it through all the insecurities of being in a leotard around extremely skinny girls. I was the only person from my middle school to be accepted as a freshman to the high school dance company, and then I was surrounded by even more gorgeous, extremely skinny girls. Dancers tend to have a specific body type that I did not have. The mirrors that went from the floor to the ceiling constantly reminded me that I was huge in comparison. I stopped eating, I started hurting myself, my mental health went out the window. In my team dance photo from my freshman year I am as white as a ghost except for the dark caved in circles underneath my eyes. I had lost my pigmentation from how little I was eating and how much I was exercising. I had lost my light.
There’s a lot more to this story that can be filled in by other blog posts and my book, but fast forward to post-graduation where I’m taking multiple psychotropic medications to treat my many mental illnesses. Those meds make it so easy for you to gain weight it’s ridiculous. That combined with suddenly not exercising 15 hours a week made me gain weight in a way that I couldn’t ever have anything in my closet that fit me. The numbers on the scale and inside my clothes tags were climbing higher and higher, and my self-esteem was getting lower and lower.
Today I’m over a hundred pounds more than I was when I started taking those medications. I’m clinically obese, the exact opposite of where I was in that freshman team photo. I have rolls of fat on my stomach and my back. My thighs touch, my upper arms wobble. I have a double chin in 98% of photographs taken of me. But I’m happy. I’m so much happier than I ever was when I was underweight, and that’s not to say that you have to gain weight to be happy. The reason I’m happier is because I made self-love a priority, developed coping skills, and learned to love my body — including it’s flaws.
A few weeks ago I woke up at six in the morning with a terrible, terrible pain. I had to go to the hospital and they thought for sure there was something wrong with my gall bladder. I had every test done in the book. I was poked and prodded, they took blood and urine, and injected me with more things than I can count. When I got all my results it turns out there was nothing wrong with my gall bladder and a team of doctors and specialists has written that pain off as a “fluke” because “sometimes things happen”. That doesn’t necessarily make me feel comfortable because I do want a reason for why I woke up in so much pain, but something good that came out of this experience was realizing that I am actually really healthy.
I poured over the lab results I got. I googled every code to find out what it meant and then found out the health levels. There was only one result of dozens that was not in the healthy range. In the words of my nurse friend, my results were “unremarkable”. Despite weighing more than I’ve ever weighed, I’m still healthy. Yes, being overweight can lead to other problems. And I’m still young in the grand scheme of things. But I don’t plan on being this heavy forever. I’ve actually already started to lose weight by eating smarter and smaller portions, as well as being more active.
It’s great that I’m losing weight but you know why? It’s because I want to make sure that I live on this gorgeous planet as long as I can. I made it through the majority of my 20’s without ever being the “hot girl” at a club. I don’t get hit on the same way my empirically gorgeous friends do. I know what I look like, and I think (and feel) I’m beautiful. I have a boyfriend who loves me and tells me I’m gorgeous every single day. My friends don’t think less of me because of my weight, and I don’t constantly complain about being overweight. I use the word “fat” as a descriptor instead of a derogatory word.
If you want to lose weight, there’s nothing wrong with that. You can love your body and want to improve it at the same time. Those are not contradictory states of being. The idea is to love and accept yourself in the process. That’s the whole thing.
All bodies are beautiful. Some people are naturally a hundred pounds and no matter what they do they’ll never weigh more than that. Some people could never lose enough weight to be a hundred pounds without being hospitalized. We’re born different, our bodies are unique. We need to love our bodies the same way we love cats. Chubby, tiny, extra-furry, lumpy. They’re all adorable and I want to love them all. That’s how we need to look at bodies.
I recently posted the following (NSFW) picture on Instagram. I’m not going to lie to you, I was nervous. For about a half hour after I posted it I constantly hit refresh. I was worried about really mean comments. A few hours later all I could do was laugh. Not only was I getting absurdly outrageously mean comments, but I was getting comments from people I’ve never even met defending me. But more than that, defending body positivity.
Some people wanted to talk about the logistics of sitting naked on a bicycle seat. Some people couldn’t fathom how I “functioned” at this weight. Some people reported my photo because Instagram isn’t a place for “BBW porn”. Some people told me I needed to eat a salad. Those people were all commenting from private accounts. From the comfort of anonymity. They said things they thought would hurt me because they have their own shit to work through. Whether or not they’re uncomfortable with their own body, I can’t say for sure, but there is something inside of them that decided what they needed to spend their time doing that day was try to make someone else feel bad. That’s an issue, and I feel pity for them instead of anger.
Here’s the deal. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful right now, you were beautiful ten years ago, and you’ll be beautiful if you gain ten pounds. Weight isn’t the defining factor of beauty, it’s one of the furthest things from it. Remember that you were meant to be more than pretty, and you have SO much to offer this world.
At the end of the day, my goal isn’t for you to like my body or find me attractive. I don’t actually give a fuck if you think I’m attractive or if you would be interested in having sex with me. My goal with posts like this and pictures like that is to remind you that if someone that looks like me can love their body and live a life full of joy, so can you. I don’t need you to love my body, I need you to love yours. That’s what I want, and I hope you can make that happen for me.
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