Throughout my adult, life my body has changed almost constantly, even before I became a mother. I have dealt with an eating disorder since middle school and my relationship with my body has always been a roller coaster ride.
I have run the gamut all the way from a brief stint as a size 4 steadily climbing up to a 20 after my fourth baby. Add in the rapid swelling and deflation of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and that is enough to make you never want to look in the mirror again. I’m not here to tell you how to magically lose 30 pounds by Memorial Day. I’m not going to tell you that you’re not fat. (That is the most awkward thing you can say to an overweight person, am I right?) I’m not going to tell you any of the one-liners that people say to placate chunky people when they’re open about their frustrations with their weight. I’m not even here to say that your weight doesn’t matter, because it can carry serious side effects on our health and I’m sure we are all acutely aware of that.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and I want you to know that you are worthy of every good thing no matter how much space you take up.
I know how hard it is to see a photo of yourself and want to bury yourself in a hole because you can’t believe other people saw you look that way. I have felt the complete overwhelm that happens when you start a new diet and only see a pound or two drop off at a time when you have such a long way to go and so it feels like there is no point. I know how it feels to try and prepare yourself for swimsuit season but then see every remaining imperfection amplified in the harsh dressing room light as you try to find a suit that won’t draw attention to your body.
Fall and winter are chubby girl season. Everyone is in leggings and oversized sweaters, and even the most dedicated dieters tend to loosen up the reins during the holidays. It makes it a little easier to be nice to yourself because you don’t feel like you stand out quite as much. It feels good to not be constantly reminded of all the ways you feel you’re failing. But here we are in the middle of spring and the battle is on again. The sundresses that look so cute on your friends look vulgar on your big-chested body. Your legs are too lumpy to wear anything shorter than Capri pants. You decide your five-year-old bathing suit shows too much of your body. You’re afraid of what other people are thinking of you so either cover yourself awkwardly with an oversized t-shirt or you make an excuse to skip any event that is centered around water. God forbid you enjoy food at the cookout you’re invited to.
Do you relate to any of this?
This is ridiculous. I know that we have been hardwired this way, but we can do better. We have to do better, not just for ourselves but for our daughters too. Just because you’re not happy with your body right this very minute doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to experience life! Why do we as women continue to punish ourselves for not measuring up to other people’s expectations? And here is a shocking revelation: most people do not care about our bodies even a fraction as much as we imagine they do. Every person is usually focused on their own shortcomings and insecurities, and yours are not on their radar to the extent we think they are.
You and I deserve to soak in every ounce of joy that life has to offer us. I am done letting moments and opportunities drift by because I feel unworthy of participating. If I can’t love myself where I am, I doubt it will make much difference when my body is different. There will always be something else to nit-pick and criticize.
Summer is coming and we’re in the South. It is hot. You deserve to wear shorts if you want to. Slap some baby powder on those juicy thighs to prevent chub-rub and go outside. It is not your responsibility to shelter other people from your cellulite. Pretty much every adult woman has it.
Being thin is not a prerequisite for wearing a bathing suit. Are you really telling me that you don’t deserve to cool off in the pool or play on the beach with your kids because your belly rolls may offend somebody? If you don’t want to see dimples on my booty and stretch marks on these hips, then I suggest you look the other direction because I’m not going to miss out on living my life so your view is more pleasing.
It’s okay to want to lose weight. It’s okay to want to change the way you look. It’s also okay to be content with where you are, even if it’s not society’s ideal body. What is not okay is allowing your life to pass by without really living because of how you look.