Diary of a Former “Fat” Girl
Looking back on years of self-body shaming and having a very unhealthy relationship with food, I realize that having a “fat” life had nothing to do with weight, but rather everything to do with my outlook on the world and myself. I had a “fat” mentality.
I must preface the rest of this post by just getting it out there. The word “fat,” to me, is as derogatory as the word “slut.” I understand as I work more with women on positive body image, that the word “fat” is only used as a descriptive word with no negative meaning, but, the word “fat” has been such a hurtful word in my life, it’s taking me time to get used to hearing and using it.
I remember that dreaded day in gym class, where once a year, I had to get on the scale, the gym teacher would weigh me and write me down on a list with the rest of the girls. I hated that day. I hated feeling like the “fat” girl. I hated knowing that my teacher did nothing to shield those results from any of the other girls and boys in my class. Looking back now I realize how “fat” I wasn’t, but comparatively speaking, I was.
Weeks ahead of time I would start to do things to drop my number as fast as possible. I would try to get by on as little food as possible, chew food and spit it out, overdose on laxatives and avoid that class at all cost. My anxiety would be through the roof. I would cry for days and skip as many social situations as I could.
From then on, I felt like the eyes of the world were always on my body and not in a good way.
Similar situations followed me into my adult life. My confidence was in the gutter. It didn’t matter if I did my hair and my makeup, dressed nice, and forced myself to “feel my best,” because I truly didn’t. I didn’t have it inside me. I couldn’t walk around faking a feeling that wasn’t there. Then the rut happened. I had son number two, gained sixty-five pounds, sat miserable in a marriage that consisted of fast food in the car and slumping on the couch every night.
I avoided outings like weddings and parties. I would spend hours trying on clothes from my closet and end up on the floor in tears. I had no desire to go into a fitting room and try clothes on, nor could I really afford it. I struggled like this for years, continuing to hurt everyone around me with my bad attitude that was trickling down for my low self-esteem. I would show up to my office job with coworkers that I adored feeling subpar because I was still wearing my old, dingy maternity clothes because I hated myself already, so who cares what I wore, right?
Along the way I had a coworker who was always very friendly to me. I slowly vented to him one day about my absolutely diluted self-worth because of my body insecurities. I remember him telling me that he thought I was beautiful (stop right there with your assumptions, just friendly conversation) and that he found “fat” women beautiful, so beautiful that he actually had a fetish for big women getting stuck places and having to squeeze by things while they walked.
Now, to each their own, but this sent me into a full tailspin of absolute hate. Disgusted rage for myself. I started associating the word “fat” with the notion that it meant lazy, sloppy, dirty, disgusting, uneducated, unattractive and useless.
I swore I would never be a “fat” girl ever again.
I lost seventy pounds that year (fifty I would gain back and start the vicious cycle of yo-yoing twenty, thirty for years to come).
I started all my bad behaviors again. Why? Because once again, I felt like all eyes were on me.
I shied away from friends, social events, wore baggy unflattering clothes, had a bad attitude, and put zero effort into finding what made me feel beautiful at my size. I used food restriction, binging and purging, irrational behavior to justify the fact that being “fat” just made me angry. I hated having attention put on me so if I did go anywhere, I sat quietly, and hid behind the shadows of my friends and family.
Intimacy was hard for me. Although I had intimate relationships along the way, I would never let myself be naked. I would never let the lights be on. I would be covered up, under blankets to hide my body. My gross body. My body reminded me of an old road map made up of stretch marks and sag. I couldn’t face the fear of rejection if anyone got turned off by me.
A girl I knew from high school, but never even talked to once, because in my eyes, she was perfect, and I was not, put out an add about wanting volunteers to spend time with her so she could get her feet wet becoming a health and nutrition coach.
At this point, my marriage had already broken down, I was now a business owner, heartbroken, uncomfortable in my own skin and unable to figure out how to pick up my own pieces.
In the past five years, she has been instrumental in helping me build the woman I am today. And yes, FIVE YEARS and STILL LEARNING.
I learned how to be healthy, and although we all think, “oh fruits and vegetables make us healthy,” that truly has nothing to do with it.
First I learned how to have a healthy relationship with food. I learned how to make peace, let go of the fear of food being the enemy. I had to embrace my love of cooking and eating and find the foods that made my body and my heart feel good. I had to get right with the relationships in my life, the friendships, my family, my children. Yes, believe it or not, I was so bitter for so long that I drove a protective wedge between me and everyone else. I worked hard to open my heart and let people back in again.
Then the hardest part came along. Learning to love myself. Learning to look in the mirror and admire the woman staring back at me. Regardless of weight, hair color, clothing, I had to learn to love me. I had to find what made me strong, what made me proud, what made me fearless.
I love my body. I see it in a different light now. I appreciate it. I find it to be strong, beautiful and sexy. I love putting my headphones on after my kids go to bed and getting lost in the moment. I play music that hits my soul, and I dance. Sometimes I watch myself, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s playful and fun, sometimes its sultry and slow. I truly enjoy my curves. I find gratitude for my stretch marks.
I wear clothes that make me feel comfortable in any environment. When I walk into a room now, I command my own presence. I engage in all types of conversation and laughter with all different types of people.
I learned to loosen my grip on the “fat” mentality. I found pride for the body that I have, the person that I have grown to become. I am confident in the woman that I am and know what I bring to the table in every situation, even those that are new.
I look at women from the outside now and I hope that if they are struggling to find love for themselves, they reach out and grab ahold of an extended hand. I am a work in progress and will always be and that is exciting because the thought of becoming a better version of who I am now is absolutely invigorating.
Although there are still moments when I feel uncomfortable, they are fleeting. They come and they pass, sometimes with barely any recognition. I hope that one day soon that “fat” mentality will be completely gone, however I am thankful for the process as I don’t think I would have grown into the woman I am today, without it.