I stood naked on a scale in my bathroom this morning for the first time since COVID confined us to home with worry, grief, too many kids, and bread-on-bread-on-bread sandwiches. I knew the number would be higher than it’s been in the past, ‘cuz my clothes have all shrunk.
I found that I’m near my highest prior (pregnancy) weight. I won’t give my numbers, because I worry that people will judge themselves or me by them, but my BMI is solidly in the upper range of “Overweight.” So, now I get to decide what that means to me, what I “do” about it, if anything. I need to determine if it changes the way I see myself and my current priorities and plan. My breasts are floating well outside the confines of my bra, my chins are multiplying, and when I look straight down, I see skin instead of floor. So now what?
Historically, when I gain weight, I’ve felt like I need to apologize to the “world” or the “invisible audience” for my extra body, that I owe them my thinness, that it’s the least I can do. My body, there for all of us to enjoy, needs to be tight, fit, ‘appealing’ or I’m fucking it up for the lot of us. When I am larger than my imagination tells me is is universally acceptable, I am owed my shame, and the world is owed my reckoning, my hiding, my silencing, my scramble to “make it right again.”
Today I don’t feel ashamed, I feel annoyed.
I’m annoyed by the shit I’ve inherited from the world about my body. I’m annoyed by the pressure I feel to focus on my waist circumference in the time of a fucking pandemic and civil rights movement. I’m annoyed that I feel like I have to get my temple in order or risk my health, my appeal, my stake…my value as a woman. I’m annoyed at the audacity of the assumption that a woman being smaller and taking up less space is her duty and honor. I’m annoyed that I worry that some fucking guy might be judging me by my love-handles when I don’t even want him looking at me in the first place.
I’m annoyed because I see what we’ve been taught as most valuable and absolute truths are actually harmful garbage. My eyes are open to the breadth and depth of white supremacy and patriarchy, and with them, racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, and fat-phobia. I see a lot of the lessons we’re taught early in life as poison, and I’m trying to purge myself of it, to be truly healthy.
My body, no matter the dimensions, is only one part of who I am, and honestly, probably the least interesting part.
Here are the things that I am, no matter what size pants I’m wearing: I am powerful, open-minded, kind-hearted, brave, wise, funny, honest, and very, very necessary. I might not be counting calories or runnign 10ks, but I am putting a lot of work into my voice, my writing, my parenting, my partnerships, relationships, my peace and my knowing. All of that takes time and focus, and all of it is worthwhile. I’ve put my energies elsewhere, not into maintaining a certain size. I like what I’m getting out of me these days.
This is a work in progress. I struggle to find myself appealing. The world’s opinion of large bodies, of my body, DOES influence me, but I’m trying to shrug out of that. I’m not all the way free of fat-shaming. I still don’t see myself as quite as sexy or attractive as I do when I’m smaller. That interferes with my sex life, and that annoys me, too. I long to look at the picture of Robb and me last summer on a ferry, in front of a mountain, and see our smiles, our relaxation, THE FUCKING MOUNTAIN before I see and cringe over my abundant torso. And his.
That brings me to another unfortunate truth. (Dammit, truth, can you just NOT for a minute here!?)…my husband has been obese or overweight for the majority of his life, and all the whole time I’ve known him. I fell in love with him in that body, and I think I thought that was my proof that I had conquered fat-phobia. I *must* be body positive, I have a “fat friend!” (lover)!
But here I am hating on myself for my chub. Do I secretly hold his against him, too? Do I feel like he owes the world an apology, owes us his shame for his extra weight? Or is my standard for myself really that different than it is for other people? Is he allowed to be fat because he’s a man, because it’s just part of who he is, because he’s lovable, because he’s not me?
Blech. It’s a lot to process, but my goals are to deal with it head-on, and dealing with it doesn’t mean frantically losing the pounds or demanding he lose his, so that I can love us both as we are. Dealing with it means purging the poisonous beliefs.
You might be asking- can’t I have both? A smaller waist and tight neck meat AND personal growth and peace? Maybe. That might end up being my goal, but for now, it’s not. For now, my goal is resistance and peace.
Body positive accounts I follow on Instagram and have found really helpful in my unlearning: