When Will I Stop Letting My Weight Define Me?
I had wanted to start this post out talking about what my weight loss journey was, give you updates and have you go on the journey with me. But that’s not what seemed to flow from me. Instead, I immediately started to talk about my idea of who I was solely based upon who I saw in the mirror and who I compared myself to when I looked at other women.
Basing my sense of self-worth on my weight has been something I have lived my whole life with. I can’t even call it a struggle because, to be honest, I have never seemed to be able to get a hold on it; at least productively. I’ve yo-yo’d for as long as I can remember with the knowledge that my previous weights haven’t always been what I thought they were.
When did I become aware of my weight? –
I remember when I was young probably 8 or 9 (rough estimate) and I was at a taping of some show with one of my Father’s girlfriends. As we finished and headed into the bathroom, a woman stopped me and told me I was pretty and that if I wanted to model when I got older (I was tall-ish at that time lol) I needed to keep an eye on my weight.
I had never thought about my weight in relation to how I was viewed by others, and I didn’t really know what to do with that piece of information so I tucked away and didn’t really think about it again.
When I hit my pre-teens I became more aware of my own body. As a gymnast and dancer being thin wasn’t a real discussion it was more of a given fact. Fat girls couldn’t fly through the air and they definitely couldn’t dance on pointe. So I learned how to eat less and when I did eat I made very sure that, big meals came back up. This wasn’t all the time but it was something that I prided myself on. I treated my ability to stay slim at any cost as an achievement.
But like most girls, my changing body betrayed my idea of what and who I was supposed to be. I developed a booty and what was considered big boobs for a 12-year-old. At that point, I became very aware of what I was supposed to look like vs what I saw in the mirror.
My Teen Years –
Growing up in the ’80s and early 90’s the ideal teenager was plastered all over the tv, magazines and the Mall. For the newer generations, they have no idea what kind of hold the mall had over teens back then. A large part of your social life, hence your life; centered around the mall. And with stores like 5,7,9 to remind girls of what the ideal teen was supposed to look like it left a huge gap in your heart.
There was no celebration of diversity in size, there was a clothing company trying to market to girls over an 11/12. There was just an appropriate size, and that size was tiny. I remember wanting to look like my tv heroines. They were so beautiful, so clearly Black and or Bi-racial, and they were all small. I mean teeny, tiny. I looked at them for a reflection of myself and all I found was what I thought was an unattainable goal. I yearned, I mean YEARNED to look like Denise, Whitley, Hilary. They were the epitome of light-skinned beauty at that time. They were thin, so thin that they could wear anything and their boobs never got in the way. They were lithe, sprite-like, it was awe-inspiring and at the same time, it was sad for me.
When I look back at my younger self, I can’t believe the girl back then didn’t see how tiny she was, how beautiful she was but like most teen girls I was so wrapped in my insecurities that I automatically assumed my lack of popularity and boyfriends was in direct correlation to my expanding body. It’s so interesting how teen girls think that the majority of their insecurities are the catalyst for their social issues. My weight was my own struggle but because it was such a big deal for me I assumed that it was just as big a deal for my those who “shunned” me.
So I was stuck for those years in Middle School and High School desperately wishing to be something that I couldn’t attain and I wrapped myself in insecurities and turned to writing maudlin pieces so unaware of how bad life could actually get.
Young Adult Hood –
I remember that, for a short period of time in college, I felt like all of it had come together. I felt beautiful and the majority of that beauty was in direct correlation to the fact that I finally felt thin. I reveled in the new sense of self-worth. I had a pep in my step that I had never had before. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my feeling of beauty came from more than just my weight. I had finally learned how to use hair care products correctly, I was wearing makeup and dressing better. But for me, it all came back to my weight.
This was short-lived, somewhere between my freshman and sophomore year I got pregnant and that was not something I knew how to handle. I did the typical eat for two and exercise for none. Always assuming that the baby weight would come right off because it wouldn’t be called baby weight if it was more than just the baby I was carrying.
Once my daughter was born I not only didn’t shed the weight I also became sad about how I looked and I leaned into the skid; hard! I gained even more weight than I had when I was pregnant. I didn’t even think about losing it because as far as I was concerned you were just the size you were and you lived with it. If you became undesirable and unhappy than that’s just who you were. I stayed like this for about three years, until my daughter's father left me for someone else. It was in my sadness and desperation that I learned how effective losing weight was during heartbreak.
I remember going from a size 16 to a size 4 in roughly a couple of months. I had no idea how unhealthy it was, and I never even questioned it. All I knew was I was 24 and I was skinny and pretty again. Everything in my life seemed to be better because I was no longer transparent, I was noticed, paid attention to and I vehemently swore I would never be fat again. Being fat hurt and it hurt so bad it made me disappear.
No one on TV was fat and loved, no mannequin in the store was bigger than a tall size 6. I didn’t want to disappear again so I refused to get big. The problem with that is, I never took in to account what having babies would do or how a healthy relationship with food affected my weight. I’m not stupid by any stretch of the imagination but not having a woman in my life to walk me through things I had become incredibly unobservant about the world around me. I saw what I wanted to see and I chose to avoid things that made life harder for me.
So two more babies later and my weight was officially on a sliding scale. Get sad = get skinny, be content = be round. I only knew one way to lose weight and that was by not eating. If I didn’t eat then I never had to worry about life, about packing on the pounds. I ate when people were around so that they didn’t question me but I damn sure made sure I wasn’t shoving food in my mouth when I was alone.
30’s to 40’s –
My pattern hadn’t changed. And up until 4 years ago, I was okay with that. I ran every other day and did yoga on the between days. I didn’t eat much and I stayed thin even when I had entered my 40’s, the time when most women struggled with their weight.
But once I met my current husband I jumped right back on the size roller coaster. I was tiny when I had met him and I remember telling myself I wouldn’t ever get big again. But I was happy and he never seemed to see my weight as an issue so I stopped paying attention to it and I started paying attention to what made me happy in other ways. This was until about a year later I was barely recognizable to myself.
For three years I have struggled to remove the weight without starving myself. I have been able to get between 12-15 pounds off at a time but never more than that. During this time I started to Oly lift, Power lift, do Crossfit and a Crossfit Bootcamp. I found new pleasure in being able to lift heavy objects. It gave me a sense of self-worth and pride that I had never had before. I could work hard, reach goals and people were proud of me. I was fat but I wasn’t invisible.
At some point, the awesomeness of my accomplishments started to wear off and my weight was in the forefront of my mind. I struggled with losing weight and also losing strength. I had never known how to lose weight healthily and I definitely didn’t know how to lose it and still be able to make weight lifting gains. So I decided to move myself into a new category, the fat friend.
This is where I am now......
I am reluctantly in the fat friend category. Don’t get me wrong I look at women who are my size or bigger and I think they're so beautiful, sexy and so present. I get jealous, I think to myself “If I had a tiny waist then maybe I wouldn’t look so big.” “If I had a prettier face or cuter clothes, being big wouldn't be such a problem”.
I’m on “diet” number whatever and it’s a struggle as always. I don’t like what I see in the mirror, I compare myself to those women in the gym that are younger, thinner, and have more muscle definition than me. I give myself no credit, I don’t expect any compliments and to be honest I hate myself when we all go out. I used to be beautiful, turn heads, get a compliment walking down the street and for the last few years I’ve become anonymous again and I don’t know what to do with that.
It makes me so sad, I feel like I can’t impress upon my friends the level of devastation I feel when I’m in my own skin.
Normally I would say something positive at this point, and you can insert inspiring quote here if you would like but as of now, I have nothing to say………….