I have spent my whole life feeling like the ugly fat girl. I was raised in a family and social culture where beauty=thin and fat=ugly. So basically, I was raised in America in the 70s and 80s.
I have always been a big girl. I was average at birth – a lovely 7 pounds, 14 ounces. But as I grew, I was just a big kid. I was almost always the tallest girl in my class and for a few years, I was the tallest kid, period. I wound up 5’8” in the 6th grade, with size C cup breasts and size 10 shoes, which eventually wound up at a 12 but then have settled in at 11, thank goodness. My hands are bigger than many of my male friends and I have bigger feet than a number of my male friends. I’m just bigger.
But I was also fat. Well, I wasn’t always fat. I wouldn’t say I really became fat until the middle of high school but I was put on my first diet at age 6. Yes, you read that right. 6. My parents both struggled with their weight and I think as a response to that, they wanted to make sure it wasn’t a problem for me. Which I am pretty sure made it a problem for me. My parents split up when I was 4 and to comfort myself, I used food. It’s much easier to get by with a cookie addiction at age 5 than it is a vodka habit, just sayin.
Regardless, because I was a bigger kid and because I was likely a little chubby, I was picked on. A lot. Actually, let’s call it what it was – I was flat out bullied. I was hit, kicked, punched, tripped with a regularity that would make your average Lifetime movie look tame. I was thrown down stairs. I was not spoken to for almost an entire school year unless it was to make fun of me. And what did that do? It drove me to use food as a way to comfort myself more and more. It was a pretty vicious cycle. I could go on and on about this situation but I’ll fast forward to a few years ago. I had jumped up and down in weight but I’m a pretty consistent plus sized woman (ignoring the complete lack of consistency in clothing sizes for today.)
In November of 2012, I started to try to lose weight and I lost about 60 pounds over the course of a year. And I felt good. But I didn’t feel good so much because of the weight loss, I felt good because of how I was taking are of my body. I was moving my body; I was trying to put healthy things into my body. I was doing the things one should do if they loved their body. But I still very much felt like the ugly fat girl. People were telling me often how great I looked and while I loved the positive attention, I found myself getting more and more angry. I was angry that I was only “pretty” as long as I was losing weight. I got angry that I was working out multiple hours a day and the scale wouldn’t move and I had made the number on that scale the sum total of my own self-worth. I was angry that when I tried the magic solution that a number of my friends used, it just made me sick as a dog and it took a lot of convincing to get people to try to stop selling me said magic cure.
And then one day I decided to be done. I stopped dieting. I started delving very deeply into Intuitive Eating (IE). I started to focus on listening to what my body wants. And when you’ve spent the better part of 42 years absolutely ignoring your own body’s signals, this is so much fucking hard then you can imagine. I have had to learn what it feels like to be hungry. To be full. To be TOO full. To eat so much of something I have denied myself to the point of being sick. So I can learn that when I overindulge like that, I feel sick and why would I want to do that to myself.
Has my body changed since I started IE? Yes. Have I gained some of the weight back? Yes. But I don’t know how much. And I don’t care. Some clothes fit differently and that’s my clue. Spending time with my body. Listening to my body. That’s what counts to me. It isn’t easy stuff. And it can be downright scary. When the lesson I have been told and told myself is that I absolutely can’t be trusted to make my own decisions about how I care for my body has been so ingrained for so long. Learning that I can, at times, has felt impossible. But I also know that I am getting closer. Every time I eat as much or as little as I want to the point of simple satisfaction, I know I’m winning. Every time I stop complimenting someone on their appearance based solely on the fact that they have lost weight, I know I am winning. Every time I can let myself go and enjoy my body whether it is on a hike, lying in bed resting or having sex with my boyfriend, I know I am winning.
It hasn’t been a straight path and there is still much further to go. I want to find a better balance with joyful movement and that will come in time as I listen more and more to my body. There are still times that I don’t get nourishing my body exactly right. But it is a practice and the more I practice, the better I get.
But most of all this has been a journey from self-loathing to something approaching self-love. The further I get from equating my worth with a number on a scale, the happier I am, the healthier I am, the more I learn to love myself and that has been the greatest benefit of all.
I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).
I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.
If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.