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This is the heaviest I’ve ever been.
At 5’4″, I’m over 200 pounds, which is considered overweight.
I should be between 115 and 120 if you can believe that.
I live by myself, so when I look at myself in the mirror at home, I don’t see the same fat person that appears when I’m standing next to my very fit personal trainer.
When I’m alone and don’t have to face the world outside, I like myself. But when I walk out the door, every thought consists of me comparing myself to others.
I am constantly wondering if this shirt makes me look fat or these pants make my butt look big. I’m constantly wondering what’s wrong with me and why I can’t just magically lose the weight and be slim like the woman next to me. Maybe if I were thinner, people might like me better.
I’ve carried these thoughts and ideals long before this.
Middle school and high school were full of small comments about my thunder thighs and the “she’s too fat to be wearing that shirt.”
I was 140 pounds at 5’4″ then, a weight I wish I was today. Not really fat at all.
But if you hear something enough, you start to believe it. That’s how brainwashing works.
Those same people tearing me down with less-than-clever fat-shaming comments scream about body positivity today while they rock a curviness they wouldn’t be caught dead in 15 years ago.
You’re probably sitting there thinking, you could change your mind and lifestyle, you know. And you’re right. I can and I’m trying. But I’m human and I’m struggling.
It has been a lifelong battle and practice unraveling the fat-shaming indoctrination and negative voices that have buried me for so long.
I fat-shame myself enough now. No one needs to do it for me anymore.
Even with the constant fat comments in high school, I maintained that curvy 140-pound figure until I was a sophomore in college. I gained 50 pounds in a matter of weeks after finding out I was a bet in some man’s dating game.
Somewhere, subconsciously, I decided no one would ever use me like that again. So I ate until I didn’t look like myself. My face ballooned up, a giant belly formed, and my jean shopping confidence was shot to hell. I kept that weight on until I joined the Peace Corps in 2014. Two years later, I came home from my Peace Corps service 50 pounds lighter and so much happier. I didn’t even intend to lose the weight. It just kind of happened.
But as luck would have it, the year after I came home, I gained all the weight back.
How do I keep getting here?
I have constantly chased this unachievable idea of what my body is supposed to look like. I’ve convinced myself that I will not be liked by someone unless I look a certain way or weigh a certain amount.
Some comments of fat-shaming still blaze through my memory. Ones like:
They broke up with you because you gained a little weight.
Can you be the skinny girl I used to know when we first started dating?
I wouldn’t date her if she was any bigger than she is.
Cringe-worthy remarks that have made me believe that, unless I’m skinny, I’m not worthy of love. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Exhausted with trying to reach this unachievable image, while still craving for people to care about something other than how my figure gives them wet dreams.
I’ve believed all those things for years and I am not alone.
“Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.”
Such a small percentage of women achieve the American media’s idea of a perfect body, so knowing that, why am I still fat?
Other than just trying to work through all my negative thoughts, there are reasons I’m still fat.
1. I’m stressed.
My life is not where I want it to be. I work too hard for things I don’t care enough about. I can’t buy my own house because of crippling debt, the insane cost of living, and barely livable wages. I live in a country and world that would rather fight over land and ideals and watch the planet die than care for each other and speak words of love and kindness.
As an empath living in our current world, everything around me is exhausting. Things haven’t really gotten better in the last few years.
There are hordes of people who don’t believe in climate change or are slow-moving with solutions to reverse the damage. And then there are mass crowds that would rather see their neighbor die than get a vaccine during a pandemic.
Then there’s the ongoing prejudice against our brothers and sisters of color.
We have white privileged men spending millions of dollars to fly to space for fun, when just weeks later, women are handing their babies to soldiers over barbwire fences in Kabul not knowing if they’ll see their children again.
And while this so severely reminds me of my privileges, I feel helpless sitting here wondering how my small, single person could influence change to save a crowd of people desperate for refuge.
I hate how there are so many outcomes I can’t control.
The biggest disappointment for me right now is living here, knowing billions of other galaxies exist in the universe and I can’t physically transport myself to any of them.
We’re all trapped on this earth together and somehow can’t learn to work together. So I binge-eat to cope and numb because sometimes it’s too much.
2. I just don’t f*cking care.
Trying to be this ideal image that men and women alike just fall all over themselves for is starting to depress me and I’m starting not to care.
Image, in general, has become less and less important to me. I shower, of course, but I’ve stopped wearing makeup, stopped shaving my legs, stopped wearing real pants, and gotten comfortable with eating whatever I want whenever I please.
I still want to go on walks and stay active, that’s certain.
But caring about who is going to like me in a platonic or romantic fashion is stress I don’t have the energy to handle anymore.
And being single makes it all easier because I literally have no one to impress. And that thought is about as calming as a box of no-bake chocolate peanut butter cookies on a Saturday night.
3. I’m rebellious.
For a while, I wanted to be a travel influencer posing in front of dreamy destinations and gaining thousands of followers on Instagram. But as I got sucked into the influencer vortex, I started to notice the images that showed more skin or fit men and women got far more likes than the frumpy photos I took standing in front of an old airplane talking about its history.
People like skinny people pictures more than non-skinny people pictures. And I’m not dissing on health; I encourage health, to be clear. But there is no doubt, image is valued above most everything else.
I don’t want to be liked for my body anymore. I want people to give a sh*t about what I have to say. I don’t want to fall into this sexualized category women resign to because they know it will get them a sh*t ton of followers and likes on social media. I could care less about it anymore.
As for sexualization. Sex is amazing, sexuality is outstanding, and I embrace it and enjoy it, but I will not do it at the expense of my human value. I have more to offer than my body and my sexuality.
Plain and simple.
So I will eat a whole f*cking pizza with extra pepperoni and cheese, an entire tray of brownies, with a two-liter of Dr. Pepper, and a small salad (I still eat healthy sometimes), just to spite everyone out there saying fluffy is wrong and we should stop being fluffy.
What I look like doesn’t mean I am any more or less valuable. I want to challenge this norm that unless you’re skinny, you aren’t lovable or valuable.
4. I’m protecting myself.
One of the benefits of being overweight is you instantly cockblock any of the douchey fellas who just want to get in your pants. Not all of them, but most of them.
I’ve found that not having the perfect body type has helped me avoid certain situationships where a male con artist could potentially break my heart. If I’m ugly to them and don’t live up to the ridiculous standards of how all women should look, then people have less of a chance of hurting me.
When I was skinny, people liked me more, catcalled me more, flirted with me more. I’ve gotten really comfortable being overweight, and this is my main reason for remaining there.
Amongst my exhaustion with the deteriorating world around me, trying to find a partner who likes me for who I am and not for what I look like is just as emotionally draining.
At this point, he’ll have to either meet me and my disheveled hair at a Starbucks at 8:35 a.m. after I just rolled out of bed or at a Dairy Queen while I’m picking up my Blizzard with extra cookie dough.
So where am I at with this?
The truth is, I don’t feel great about myself a lot of the time, but I suspect a lot of that discomfort was created in reaction to all of what I have been told my entire life. Imagine if I had gone through life without my image being the sole reason I was accepted or loved. Imagine if someone had told me I was smart or funny instead of telling me I was sexy or hot.
Sometimes I imagine what that life would be like had I heard different praises.
Looking how I do, plump and delicious, I’ve been able to see a person’s true character in how they talk to me, almost as if I am not as important or credible if I don’t have well-maintained looks or a slim figure.
It’s crazy because, unlike most people I’ve dated, I’m attracted to all types of guys.
Tall, short, dad-bod, six-pack, dark hair, light hair, dark eyes, light eyes, thick butt, no butt. Honestly, I like them all and I’ve dated what seems like every kind of man.
But what I’m starting to look for, and what I think I have almost always looked for was a genuinely good person who liked me, saw me, and recognized that I am a flawed person who wants to be loved just like everyone else.
So, I ask these questions now:
How will my person treat others? Are they kind? Are they loving? Are they supportive and understanding? Do they lift me up and encourage me to achieve my goals? Do they stand up for what’s right? Are they respectful? Are they my best friend? Will they make me laugh? Are they a good snuggler? Do they like tacos and craft beer?
Whoever has these things is who I’m looking for because that’s what matters.
I hope he (or she) is out there looking for these same things in me too.