Yep. It’s been a hot minute since I published anything here. But then, I spent the latter part of 2019 and the first half of 2020 injured, and now we’re in year three of a pandemic. I just haven’t had much to say – until now. And, oh boy, do I EVER have something to say.
I don’t really weigh myself much, but I probably hover around 145 pounds. I used to weigh 267 pounds. Oh, I know I know. Everyone just LOVES a good weight loss story – especially in January when everyone is resolving to do that kind of thing, right? Right.
Ya’ll need to put your clapping hands down, because this isn’t that. It’s never going to be that, despite how much you want it to be that – and gauging by the following scenario, you really, really want it to be that.
About a month ago, I dedicated a “happy dating anniversary” thing to my husband on Instagram and Facebook.
We have been together for ten years, and I selected a few of our favorite moments from a decade’s worth of photos. Most of those photos were from when we used to live inside larger bodies. Can we please keep in mind that this was an anniversary post, and not a before and after post (like, not even a little bit)? What sort of comments, then, should I have expected from family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers? Something along the lines of “happy anniversary,” would’ve done just fine.
Yeah, that’s not what happened. Dozens of messages rolled in. Some did celebrate that two kindred hearts had found each other, sure. By and large, however, the comments were about our bodies. And, oh my-lanta, the assumptions you all made about what we were then, and what we are now!
The “weight loss story” lovers? Those same people really love their new year’s resolutions, too. I think they come in a convenient multi-pack at Target or something. But anyway, it’s January 2022, so I have something for you to resolve. This is the year you’re going to stop saying shit about bodies. (Especially shit about other people’s bodies, but also your own for reasons I’ll go into later.) We’re not going to say shit about body size. We’re not going to say shit about body shape. We’re not going to say shit about smallness, or largeness, or in-betweenness. We’re not going to say shit about things that adorn bodies, either – hair, makeup, clothing, jewelry. It’s off-limits. No one else’s body is here to serve you in any way, shape, or form, and you do not get to impose your expectations, assumptions, or opinions upon them.
That said, can we talk about your thoughts on our bodies though, for a few minutes? Let’s dig our heels in and get to the bottom of what you said about mine and my husband’s. Let’s talk about why it’s not “just a compliment” and how I should “just get over it.”
[in reference to this photo]
- “You’re incredible… thin… isn’t life better being this way?”
Holy christfuck. Am I really BETTER? What even does that mean? Who am I better than? If I was still living in a larger body, I’d have less worth to you? Shrinking doesn’t make anyone greater. Not losing weight – and not wanting to doesn’t make anyone lesser.
[in reference to this photo]
- “I honestly can’t even comprehend this… knowing how healthy… you both are today!”
I’m sorry, at which point in my life were you my doctor? How can you possibly glance at a photo and have any IDEA what our health was like?! Ma’am, I won’t speak for my husband, but as for me – I wasn’t unhealthy. I was unhappy from a botched surgery that nearly took my life, two rounds of IVF with miscarriages and a failed adoption, and an ex-husband who took my self-worth, but thanks for playing.
- “Weigh to go!”
Like, really? Really really? We were SO young and cute and newly in love, but our bodies is what you focus on. I cannot. I simply canfuckingnot.
Comment after comment about our bodies. How messed up is that? But I can’t just go around throat-punching people who say stupid shit entirely out of bounds. Throat-punching is frowned upon – to be socially acceptable, we may only violate each other with words, not fists.
What if it was the other way around? What if I was a wispy little thing 5 years ago, and then gained a metric shit ton of weight? Would they be like, “Jesus! I remember when you used to be a beanstalk!” I mean, some people might? But mostly I feel like, no. We don’t do… that. Because we think less of those folks and we don’t point out what we classify – consciously or not – as a major life mistake.
The worst part of this is that it’s not just my family, friends, and acquaintances on social media doing the whole “damn, girl, you look so good” thing. Complete strangers also feel like they have some kind of right to my body’s story.
I live in a large garden apartment community, and I run through the parking lot in the complex to get to my suburban side streets every day. Last week, I went out for a very short run, which I had intended to be slow and lazy because I wanted it to be mostly a “rest’ day. A man pulled up next to me. He’s an old guy, so I didn’t feel immediately defensive, and I mostly knew what was coming. Either he was asking me for directions, or “it” was about to happen. I know “it” well, because “it” happens at least once a month – and probably twice a week in the warmer months. Well, “it” happened, as it does. “Wow! Look at you! God bless you! I remember when you were chubby!”
As you may have already surmised, I was born without a filter. I rarely miss a beat, and I certainly did not that day. “Well, sir, isn’t that a GREAT thing to remember about me? Thank you so much. Exactly what everyone wants to be stopped for on their run.” He didn’t sense the sarcasm. He was high on his own supply. “Well, God bless you, honey. You’re doing so good.” I’ve never seen this motherfucker in my life! Strangers are watching me from their cars and windows? Maybe I do get it. I really do. I was in the 240s when I started running. I wear clowntastic clothes when I run so that I don’t get hit by cars.
I am out there on the same route EVERY day. They “know” me, and even in a smaller body, I’m not graceful. Probably a sight to behold. Okay, yes. Definitely a sight to behold.
Now, he didn’t mean to set me on edge. It wasn’t his intention. He thought he was doing a “good thing.”
But my fucking fuck. He just praised a stranger for shrinking herself? Like, is FAT really the worst thing someone could be? He was compelled to drive up next to me and tell me what I used to look like? Did he… um… did he think I didn’t KNOW?! I am so sorry that you had to stare at my ample ass for so long, sir. I am glad that I’m finally suitable for your eyes and no longer detracting from your world so you can be comfortable in it again.
So help me, even if it’s the last thing I do, I will make sure we put a stop to this bullshit. We are going to stop thinking about other people in this way, and we are going to stop thinking about ourselves in this way.
You. Yeah, you. The one who keeps telling people how “fat” you are? Well, the size of your body may be the very size that someone else you know is working really, REALLY fucking hard to love about themselves – and you just set them back by a lot with your words. What you hate about yourself is what someone else adores about themselves. So maybe it’s time we stop believing everything that we think, because a whole hell of a lot of it isn’t true. It’s just the self-hate demon coming out to play. Put the demon to bed and do something else with all of that time and space you’ve just freed up for yourself.
If you’ve gotten this far, this is the part where I tell you that I am STRUGGLING, ya’ll. It’s not something I have been ready to talk about until very recently. I am struggling, but I am also HEALING. My relationship with my body and with food has been so broken for so long, that I am only beginning to scratch the surface of all of the fuckedupness of it all. And I am not doing it without help. I have sought out a brilliant registered dietitian who specializes in athletes. So anything you say or think about my body or my plate? Unless you’re me, or you’re her, it doesn’t help – more importantly, it doesn’t matter.
Yes, I lost weight. Thanks for noticing, but I didn’t do that for you – and in all honestly, I didn’t even do that for me. It wasn’t the goal. Not this time. It’s something that happened to my body along the way of becoming a runner. This body is strong most of the time, and weak some of the time. It takes me distances I never I imagined. This body is also wonky, and weird, and awkward. Despite that – or perhaps because of that, I love it. I am so much more than my body. It’s mine. And it serves me the way that I need it to. I fuel it. I nourish it. I do not know where my body will end up settling, but I do know that I won’t settle for anything you have to say about it.
Here are some other things I know:
- The pot of gold at the end of the weight loss rainbow isn’t there. You don’t wake up magically happy and perfect once you reach the societal standard. In my experience, it’s kind of the opposite, really. They tell you “good luck on your weight loss journey,” but no one tells you what to do once you get to your “destination.” You have to learn how to navigate a brand new uncharted course with the realization that shrinking fixed zero of the shit you expected it to fix. You’re still all kinds of fucked up, just in a smaller package.
- Existing only for the hope of a future where you’ve changed into the “you” that you aspire to be isn’t living. You’re worth everything NOW. The past is gone, and you aren’t guaranteed a future. Don’t you deserve to be enough for yourself TODAY? Yes, you do.
- Throw OUT the clothes that do not fit. Too big, too small – whatever. Donate them. What are you holding onto? Bodies are dynamic. Clothing should not make you miserable. It’s made by a machine to fit a generic body. You aren’t made to fit into clothes. Clothes are made so that they fit YOU. If it doesn’t, find something that DOES. Something that you LOVE. Don’t let a tag or a swatch of fabric ruin your day.
- Even after you start working on yourself and get shit “figured out,” you’re going to have bad days. Maybe bad weeks, months, and years, too. How you love yourself and talk yourself through those times makes all of the difference. What you believe and the truth about your situation are generally vastly different things, and recognizing that will help you play the cards you’re holding.
So – friends, family, internet buddies, and strangers. I love you. I really do. But, this gorgeous little girl below? She is my niece and is my entire world. I will be damned if she grows up with the same kind of body image and food issues I did. It stops here.
As such, I invite you to have a giant bowl of STFU for breakfast. If that’s not enough, have some for lunch, dinner, and dessert, too. I am not going to be nice to you about your unasked-for opinions anymore. I am not going to smile sweetly and say “thank you.” As they say, “kindness without boundaries is self-sabotage.” I am drawing the line, and it is no longer to be crossed. I strongly suggest you find some chalk and do the same for yourself.