Uncle Bazel said to me, “Why you so fat?” I was eleven years old and at the yearly family reunion in the Appalachian foothills. He was of my grandparents’ generation, and this was the first time I really remember anyone in my family pointing out my size, or so pointedly, my failure. I was teased most of my childhood and adolescence by peers for being overweight. I have never felt comfortable in my own skin for any great length of time. I achieved my great weight loss after years on Weight Watchers, stoked by a personal tragedy, and literally running from my anxiety. I noticed that as I got smaller, the models in magazines got larger. It was bizarre, sitting in the bathtub, actively wondering if I was experiencing body dysmorphia, or if the fashion magazines had finally started hiring slightly larger models.
It’s still bizarre, because though I’m intellectually certain that the fashion industry hasn’t started using models above a size 2 in their magazines, I still remember that moment with a hint of doubt. Maybe they’re a size 6?
I want to print out a picture of one of the Domino Dollhouse models in lingerie for inspiration. I’ve been fighting, trying to lose weight for a year post-pregnancy, and letting myself feel pretty horrible. I realized that what I find beautiful and sexy in other women, regardless of size, is their chutzpah. It’s hard being a woman, regardless of size, but I truly want to high-five every large woman I see working and sweating in a gym, running down the street in athletic gear, or rocking leopard print leggings, short skirt, and sparkly bustier.
My smallest, stable weight of my life was 155 lbs. That was 2010, and I was running regularly, and by the end of the year, completed my first half marathon, running 13.1 miles in roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes. I wanted to lose another 10 lbs, at least. Twenty pounds would get me to the middle of the recommended BMI. You could see the sinews in my neck, my chin was sharp, my collarbones were defined and my ribs could be seen on occasion. I had loose skin from years of being much heavier, and I felt, still, like I was too big. The twist, though that while my internal dialog was still hateful, the outside world was more welcoming. Athletic people chatted with me more, people were more open with me, and attractive people treated me like a peer in a way I had never experienced before. Sometimes I wanted to tell them, “You know, I’ve really been fat most my life, are you sure you want to still talk to me?” I felt like an imposter.
Pregnancy made me have to lose the super-tight control I had over my eating, and daily pain towards the last part of my pregnancy kept me from even walking the usual distances I was accustomed.
I go to the gym three times a week. I don’t run much any more, and I miss it, but I just don’t have the time to do it during day light hours. I’m stronger, and I think I’m more physically stable than I was right after I gave birth, but I’m still 50 lbs from my “goal weight.” If I look at the fat % on my scale, I’m realistically 40 lbs away from what my weight should be at my current fitness level. It still puts me above my BMI (which is bullshit, I know, but some metrics are just burned into my head.