I’m turning forty this year.
With this realization have come many others, including “why do I continue emotionally raging at my body?” It is the shape it is likely to be, without a great deal of variation, for the remainder of my years. For me, being thin means hard work; I have to work out a lot, deny myself all manner of foods, be hungry most of the time and focus a lot of energy on the task of staying fit. Well, guess what: I don’t have that kind of time or energy anymore. Sure, I covet the slender women around me with their defined waists and their overall non-lumpy appearances, but that is not me. Not anymore.
“But Erin, it’s just a matter of eating right and getting some exercise!” No, no it’s not. If I ate well and got some exercise daily, yes – I would lose some weight. I would go back to my normal self, probably, of forty pounds ago, at which point I am still not thin. Don’t get me wrong – that’s a great cause, losing those forty pounds – I hope I can get there at some point when I’m not battling food allergies and sundry other issues. But until I have a bit more motivation, a bit less frustration, a bit more energy, this is who I am.
Even if I were at the same weight, but slightly more hourglass-shaped, I’d have an easier time with the whole thing. BUT I’M NOT.
I need to accept this person, this body.
I am a gluten-intolerant size 18 vegetarian.
Being pissed off about being fat (but not motivated enough to do anything about it) and raging at having a food allergy (over which I have absolutely no control, this is the rest of my life) is just wasting precious time and emotional energy.
This is me.
It’s me with all the stretch marks, rolls and lumps and non-standard shapes.
There is enough in my life that is about denying myself – looking just at food, meat was hard enough, now all the yummy gluten-having things – I’ve spent the last seven years denying feeling good about myself, feeling pretty or attractive, because I am fat. And now, fat and … older.
Heading into my forties, it’s finally occurred to me that it is a somewhat futile battle. I don’t have the willpower to stay fit – fine. Accept it and move on. I need to not buy into the market and feel guilty and sub-standard all the time because I won’t go to the gym, I hate running and I love eating delicious food. There are sacrifices that will accompany those things with my metabolism. So be it.
I have spent a lot of time trying to hide my shape. Baggy clothes sometimes hide the rolls but exacerbate the appears of hugeness. Tight clothes emphasize the rolls but give a more adequate impression. Lately, I’ve just been buying Comfortable Clothes, irrespective of visible fat.
Maybe someday, the pounds will drop slightly as I balance aspects of myself out – maybe they won’t.
I need to learn not to feel like shit about myself based on how much I weigh.
The Other Erin at work inspires me in this regard. She’s not petite, either, but she pretty vocally doesn’t buy into the media hype surrounding size. If I had to guess, I’d say she doesn’t obsess about her weight or how her clothes make her look. She seems to care more about whether or not they’re comfortable, and whether or not she likes them. She’s one of those people confident enough in herself she doesn’t fret about the same size-/shape-oriented bullshit I do. I’m sure she frets over some kind of bullshit needlessly, because we all do, but in this area, Erin has herself sorted out – or so I would guess. I admire her.
I need more of that, less of my mother’s constant harping and nagging about how [insert piece of clothing here] makes me look [chubby/trashy/unstylish/whatever.] Hearing that throughout my formative years (when I weighed a whopping 110 pounds at 5’6″ tall) put the hurt on my ego in a huge way. But dammit, I am an adult now, I get to play by my own emotional rules… at least I can, once I figure out what those might be.
Look how many sentences start with “I’ here, huh? Self-obsessed? Perhaps, but starting now, I’m going to try to be less negatively self-obsessed. I don’t expect a switch to get thrown, but my internal barometer is beginning to rise.
Our culture isn’t helping any – the few fat women on television and in films are generally relegated to the “happy, friendly friend wearing conservative clothes and not even thinking about sex,” or “matronly mother of three, happily married to equally-chubby-or-chubbier-man to whom Size Does Not Matter.” How many smokin’ hot overweight women do we see out there in a positive light?
But they exist. Oh yes, yes they do. Watch this. Marginally unsafe for work.
This ad was censored by the ABC and Fox Networks, both of whom do air Victoria’s Secret ads that leave even less to the imagination. What’s the take-home message for the curvy woman from their actions? Yeah.
Now granted, that woman out-hots me in every conceivable way, and isn’t as overweight as I am – but her message is clear.
Still, it’s hard. So are a lot of other things for a lot of other people. They suck it up and sally forth, and so shall I.
Getting all the vestiges of this off of me, however, is like trying to get gum out of my hair. Or spiderwebs off my face. Or extricate myself from quicksand. Indeed, the analogies are endless.
For you other “plus-size” women out there – how have you overcome all the brainwashing? Or, if you haven’t, how do you cope?
I’m looking everywhere for inspiration, and I’m finding some good stuff. I’ll share next time.