When I think of plus-size role models or icons, I always think back to Roseanne. She was maybe the first fat woman I remember seeing on TV who had most of the shit woman are supposed to want–a husband, kids, a house, a job. She had friends, was well liked and was even hit on by strangers occasionally, proving that she wasn’t the leper I felt all fat women were considered to be. Fast forward 20 years, the world knows gorgeous and fabulous fashion icons like Gabi Gregg and Tess Holliday who not only refuse to hide their bodies, but dare to be noticed for their curves. We’ve come a long way with body diversity and positivity and women like this have made it easier for me to be myself, without a doubt.
So why am I losing weight?
The picture on the left is me over 50 pounds ago. I’m wearing a neon mixed print dress to my homie’s wedding. Obviously, I’m over the whole hiding my body thing. I had been wearing “look at me, I’m fat-bulous” clothes for quite some time, ever since I started working retail in women’s fashion when I was 20. I ditched t-shirts and cargo pants and started showing my arms, which was something I had refused to do since junior high. Embracing my body didn’t come from giving up on being thin because I never really dared to hope for that. I witnessed the women around me hate on their bodies and battle their bulge all my life. I watched my beautiful mother constantly dieting and resolving to lose the weight only to fail over and over again. So not only did I think I would surely fail as well, being thin never seemed worthy of this “torture,” this losing war we waged against ourselves. I was ready to wave my white flag and go on with my life in the body I was given.
Never, EVER will I regret learning to love my body, even as it climbed up to 238 pounds on a 5’1” frame. I found love in this body. I graduated college in this body. I took this body to London and bought it some clothes (thanks, French Connection). I started my career in this body. I got married in this body in a gorgeous size 22 wedding dress. The only thing I was ever terrified to do in this body was have a baby.
Never mind my chronic back problems, knee aches, the removal of my diseased gallbladder and the development of fatty liver, which caused excruciating gastrointestinal distress that made me pass out on many occasions. The idea of getting pregnant and gaining what I thought was the standard 60 pounds, which would get me dangerously close to the 300-pound mark, was what really had me scared. That’s how warped my definition of “health” was. It was some alarming number on a scale and not actual facts about how my body was functioning. Or failing.
Little did I know, my sickness wasn’t just physical–it was mental. I couldn’t stop eating. No matter how hard I tried.
Not all fat people have a “problem” with food, but I sure do. What I don’t have is a “weight problem.” Weight is simply a symptom of a bigger disease, in my case. I used food like an alcoholic uses booze–in copious amounts, at any time of day, for no particular reason, to the detriment of my physical, emotional and spiritual health. Once I realized how much I was letting food rule my life, I was able to accept help. This help has resulted in weight loss and weight loss has cured my health problems. But losing weight is not the goal itself. Not being a numbed-out slave to food and not killing myself is. And however my body changes while I become this person, who has a sane relationship with food, is as far as I am concerned, none of my business.
So I don’t care about being “fat.” Not anymore.
People have asked me what my goal weight is and I’ve laughed and said “I just don’t want to be a fat person anymore.” These were true words when I spoke them. I have been fed up with the label, that scarlet F letter painted on my chest my entire life. Only recently through my own blogging and following other body positive bloggers and their supremely inspirational examples of self acceptance have I realized that a big chunk (pun intended) of what I hate about being fat has to do with other fucking people. From fat shaming to the segregation of size, these are not problems of my doing. This is oppression. And it helps no one. Trust me. If shame was ever an effective motivational tool, I would have put down the fork a long time ago because I’ve been dealt my fair share.
I love my body but my body is changing. This is a tricky spot I find myself in. It is hard to not get hung up on weight when all you are trying to do is be healthy and all everyone ever tells you is that health depends on weight. It’s just not that simple. I am now 187 pounds and a size 16. I can swim 20 laps. I complete 5Ks. I give my 2-year-old pony rides in the living room and chase him around playgrounds. I do not have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. And my fatty liver? That’s gone. I. Am. Healthy. I have peace around my food. This is my body for today and I am celebrating it. Every pound, inch, dimple and stretch mark. We all deserve that.