If you’ll pardon the pun, weight loss is such an up and down struggle sometimes. This week is a perfect example. The scale shows significant improvement as of Sunday, but somehow I don’t feel it.
Some of that, I know, is all in my head…the same crap that’s kept me trapped in my ideas about how I look, the same crap that convinced me at 13 that I was fat, just because other people called me fat. I wish I could reach back through time and tell that little girl not to listen to those evil bastards.
I had some friends when I was growing up that I thought of as my best friends at the time. Looking back, I can see how a lot of my self image was formed by the opinions of them and their family. Their grandfather used to call me “Fat Nat” when I was as young as six or seven. I suppose he thought it was cute because it rhymed. But it really did a number on my head.
I was convinced that I was hideously fat as I entered puberty, and there was an element of just giving in to it that happened as the normal filling out of puberty happened.
This is me at around 12 or so, playing softball at a multi-family picnic with my father’s friends. That’s my dad with the bushy hair in blue to my right. That little girl is not even overweight, let alone fat. But you wouldn’t have convinced her of that.
Here I am at seventeen, still not extremely overweight, but already I had given into the idea that I was the fat one, and I had completely embraced it.
It’s little wonder then that over the next 30 years I would yo-yo up and down, packing it on to a top weight of 320 pounds at one point, but dropping as low as 150, and usually hovering somewhere in the mid 200s in my 30s and 40s.
Oh sure, I tried lots of diets, some of them even sort of worked for a time. I did the cabbage soup diet. I did the yogurt diet. I tried Atkins. I tried fasting. I tried heavy exercise. Inevitably, as soon as whatever fad had run its course, I went back to eating the way I always had, and whatever weight I’d lost came back with friends.
You hear it all the time from people like me, but no body listens. Fat people, like everyone else, desperately crave validation and affection, but we’re convinced by the society in which we live that we are not worthy of it until we conform ourselves to the skinny standards of beauty that our society currently embraces.
Fortunately for me, somewhere along the line, I learned that I was whole and valid and worthy of my own love. I learned to see the beauty, even in my fat. Sure, I’m not perfect at it and there are days I struggle. A lot. Sometimes the struggle is daily. Sometimes I’m convinced I’m ugly and worthless, and the only validation I’ll accept is the number on the scale. I celebrate when it is smaller than it was before. I hate myself when it’s not.
This week, as I sat on my bed getting dressed, with that big floor-to-ceiling mirror in front of me, I tried to tell my reflection that she was beautiful. She wasn’t listening. She told me instead about my fleshy, fat thighs and the jowls on them. She pointed out my expansive belly and told me that nothing had changed, and the number on the scale was lying to me, that the smaller sizes weren’t actually smaller, they just changed the numbers on the tags. She showed me how fat I still am and told me that dying my hair and putting on makeup didn’t fool anyone.
I still tell her every morning that she’s beautiful and that I love her. One day, she’ll believe me again.
Photo by Leon Biss on Unsplash