Or, some days are better than others.
So, I’m fat. Plus-size. Full figured. Curvy. Whatever you want to call it, I am a large woman. I have been for awhile, and for a long, l o n g time I was so ashamed of myself for getting to this point. I still am, some days. Some days I absolutely love myself, every last inch. On others just the feeling of my skin on my own skin is enough to make me want to claw it off. Learning to love myself has not been easy, nor is it a process I will ever truly be done with.
I was inspired to write this because of Adele’s picture. My emotions ran away from me when I saw it. Some thoughts that I’m not proud of popped into my head momentarily before the truest thought popped up: “It looks like she’s happy! I’m so glad!” So. Many. People. Feel entitled to have opinions on other people’s bodies, when it’s quite frankly none of their fucking business. And it can be so damaging to voice them.
A lot of people I respected and trusted told me at a very vulnerable age that my swimming-six-times-a-week-and-lifting-weights body was too heavy to be good at my chosen sport. One even patted my stomach while saying so. One said it to me after the biggest race of my swimming “career” up to that point. Each time it stung and helped my insecurity and distaste for my body, at the time 15 and 14 years old respectively, take root and grow within me. I came to learn that having a “good” body was more important than anything else I could accomplish, something I am still working to unlearn to this day.
If my body wasn’t “good” enough at my most active, it would never be good enough for those people.
That’s a lesson that finally started to sink in when I started to work at liking myself. More on that later.
After dealing with a bully in my friend group in college, my closest friend unexpectedly transferring schools, and feeling like everyone around me was merely tolerating me, I turned to food. Food was always there, it didn’t judge me, and my body was always going to be “good” enough for it. This is another lesson that I am unlearning.
Because of my prior lessons about my body, I truly didn’t believe I was good enough, or worthy enough, for any accomplishment that I achieved. I became modest, quiet, closed off, distrustful, and always ready to roll my eyes in an attempt to shrug off the pain. I went from being a hugger to hugging myself in tighter and tighter, attempting to squeeze myself down. I went from recklessly flirting with anyone to not believing anyone could ever possibly be interested in me. I went from genuinely being outgoing and bubbly to forcing it, to eventually giving up altogether. It was a dark period in my life.
In 2015 I really started to work on loving myself.
Let me do some math for you. It was 2006 when my first big “your body isn’t good enough” moment came. I had nine years of telling myself, and others telling me, that I wasn’t good enough. Not skinny enough, not fast enough, not pretty enough, not enough. It’s only been five years since I really started making an effort to reverse this kind of thinking. I’m doing it by being as kind to myself as possible, and by working through my thought patterns to recognize when I’m heading down the wrong path.
First, I made a list of what my body’s done for me. I’ve crossed continents in my body (literally, I walked across the North American and Eurasian continental divide in Iceland), I’ve danced the night away, I’ve swam miles on miles on miles, I’ve hiked, I’ve biked, I’ve had (fantastic) sex, I’ve run, I’ve rested, I’ve held myself together when my world shattered, I have been there for myself when others weren’t. My body has kept me alive for 29 years, 2 months and 20 days. It’s done its job.
For the past five years I’ve been taking my time to figure out how I want to take care of myself, and by extension my body. I’ve been learning what makes me feel good, alive and sparkling. I’ve started setting boundaries for conversations and unfollowing people who make me feel like shit. I’ve started sewing my own clothes because so many companies don’t cater to anyone above a size 10, or 12, or 14, and I WANT CUTE CLOTHES GODDAMN IT. Or, if they DO carry plus-sizes, it’s only online so you have to buy the clothes to even try them on. Truly, what the fuck?
I’ve figured out ways to move my body that don’t fill me with shame, but instead fill me with happiness. I’ve started listening to my intuition more and more to help guide my meals, rather than “should”-ing my way into eating something unsatisfying before eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting and feeling miserable the entire time. Now, if I eat an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting it’s because every bite is exactly what I genuinely want.
I’ve started trusting myself more.
At the end of the day, I’m the only one who knows what’s going on in my own mind. In all aspects of my life, no matter how much it may seem like I share. I’m the only one truly living with myself, so I’m the one who deserves the most trust and input into my life. Taking back that control, that I so freely gave to others who did not deserve it, has been a process, but each time I feel myself click a little bit more into place is worth it.
I hope when people see me, rather than allowing their judgements about my body to reign supreme, they think “It looks like she’s happy! I’m glad!” and move on with their lives. Because frankly, I do not want their unnecessary attempts to make me feel like anything other than how I want to feel. And I hope that my days become more and more filled with love and appreciation and approval for myself. It’s a process, but I’m getting there.