I’m the Fat Friend Again

So this is what’s been going on in my head lately. And you know if I’m thinking about it, I’m going to write about it. Because if I’m thinking about it, it’s safe to say some of you are thinking about it too. The issues with weight and body image are well known to most women. It’s a burden we all bear.

Almost as long as I can remember, weight has been something I’ve struggled with. It started in elementary school. I was always thin as a child, but I developed earlier than the other girls. In the fifth grade, getting curves is not desirable and I was made fun of by some of my classmates. My dad, who to this day has the most incredible metabolism of anyone I’ve ever known, pointed out that I’d gained a few pounds. My sister, who has a completely different body type than me, was the same as she’d always been. And that was the beginning of a lifelong quest to get, and stay, thin.

I have achieved that goal on more than one occasion in my life. In high school; after my first son was born; and my most recent success was about two years ago.  I’m not going to lie…it feels great! But here’s the thing. It doesn’t necessarily feel great because I’m more healthy. That’s part of it and it does feel good to be able to move my body with more lightness and ease. But health wasn’t always the motivating factor and I didn’t always lose the weight in a healthy way. Losing weight feels great, and I’m ashamed to admit this, because I look good. Isn’t being thin what we’re all supposed to strive for?

For most of my adult life I’ve either been trying to lose weight or rebelling against the cultural standard to be thin. But even when I’ve been a size or weight that should be acceptable to me, I have still obsessed about food and weight in a way that I know is not normal…or healthy. For much of my life I weighed myself every day. And my mood was often determined, not by how I felt when I woke up that morning, but by the number on the scale. C’mon…you can relate. We’ve all been there.

My most recent foray into the world of weight loss left me completely neurotic. I exercised obsessively…sometimes for two hours a day. I wouldn’t eat out, I didn’t drink, I had a whole list of foods I couldn’t, or wouldn’t eat. At first it was easy…willpower is an amazing thing. But it only lasts so long; in my case about six months. After that I was white-knuckling it every day. I had horrible cravings because I deprived myself. When I couldn’t take it anymore I would binge on all the things I wouldn’t let myself have. I felt relieved for about a second. Then the self-loathing kicked into high gear and all I could think about was getting that food out of me. To this day I have no idea how I stopped myself from purging. I would throw food in the trash just so I wouldn’t eat it; only to find myself unable to stop thinking about it. And yes, I have eaten food out of the trash…I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth. I was on the edge of a full-blown eating disorder, but hey, I was thin, right?

Even given all that I have to say, one of the best things about losing the weight was I wasn’t the fat friend anymore. I finally fit in…I was one of them. Yes! I have a group of close friends who are the most loving, supportive women I’ll ever have the privilege of knowing. No matter what, I know I can always count on them for anything. But they are also very body conscious. That is not a judgment; it’s an observation. And I will admit, it wasn’t always easy to be the chubby one in a group of women for whom being thin is very important. I was, and still do, compare myself to them. As much as I tell myself I’m the same amazing person no matter how much I weigh (and they tell me too), I don’t always believe that.

So here I am again…the fat friend. I know there’s something for me to learn from this. All of life is a classroom. I am resisting the urge to go on yet another diet. I’m tired of being a hamster on that wheel. And I’m wondering what it will take for me to truly accept myself just as I am, right now, at this weight. Because honestly, most days I don’t. What if, for the first time, my acceptance of myself did not rely on losing weight? What if I could really believe what I already know? That being thin does not make me more acceptable, more loveable, more worthy.

This has been a lifelong challenge and I don’t expect it will change overnight. But I’m learning as I go. And I think, like many things in life, it will take time and practice. Because the truth is I am not how much I weigh and neither are you. Together we can set a new cultural norm. One where we all see the loveliness in ourselves and each other. Not based on what we look like, but on who we truly are. That’s a tall order considering the social pressures on women to be thin. But I think I’m up for it. And I think you are too.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Your Gina
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 00:18:40

    *LOVE*

    I admire your courage, your strength, and your raw honesty SO much…thank you for this, and for being amazing YOU!!!

    Reply

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