I saw a meme today that made me laugh because I realized how me it was. It was a fat guy on a surf board, and it said something like, “When you give up on your diet and just say ‘fuck it, I’m fat.'” They could’ve used a picture of me — it’s so me.
Now, I know how I’m supposed to feel. I’m supposed to be sad that I’m fat. I’m supposed to sit by looking morose as my daughter runs and plays while I can’t keep up. I’m supposed to have an epiphany in the Safeway checkout line upon seeing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and be inspired to “do better for myself,” join a gym, lose weight, and then blog about my experience so I can be a “thinspiration” to others.
Thing is, I get twitchy when society starts laying what I’m supposed to do on me. Then I start having this problem where I just can’t seem to keep my middle fingers down.
So instead, maybe I can be someone’s FATspiration. Here’s my “journey to self-love” or whatever self-help BS thing you want to call it.
I haven’t always felt the way I do now. The first time it occurred to me that I was fat, I was in the third grade. I don’t remember why it occurred to me. Maybe some kid at school said something. Maybe an elder relative made a remark about it. I was a pretty observant kid, so maybe I just looked around at the other girls in my class and figured it out. I don’t know. But I do know that’s when it all started.
From that point throughout elementary school, I remember thinking I’d “grow out of it.” And I kind of did. In junior high, I was thinner, but not thin enough. I still had the poochy stomach, the wiggly parts. I was as tall as I am now (5-foot-2) and weighed about 135 pounds, which means I had a normal BMI and all that. But it was not normal compared to the “hot girls” in school. And that damn stomach — I couldn’t show that off. That’s when I started experimenting with fasting. And that’s when my inner mean girl started harping on me.
Throughout high school, my weight went up and down. I wasn’t satisfied with how I looked at all, but I just decided a bikini would never be in the cards for me and rolled with what I had. I was lucky to attend a small school where bullying, while not nonexistent, wasn’t really all that bad. I had a super-smart mouth, though, and a self-deprecating sense of humor that probably didn’t make me a very fun target in the first place. And even if there had been bullies, they couldn’t have been any worse than my own inner dialogue.
By the time I graduated, I was in a relationship with the guy who would be my first husband, and I weighed 165 pounds. I remember thinking I was out of control and needed to do something. I fasted and took pills — a vicious cycle.
Throughout my first marriage, my weight was a constant source of insecurity. I could not figure out why my husband wanted anything to do with me physically. That contributed to me being turned off by anything related to sex. I’d exercise a while, fast, lose a little, gain it all back. I’d get wrapped up in it to the point where it was just me and the fat — there wasn’t room to think about much else. Nothing seemed to work.
Then the doctor figured out that I had hypothyroidism — it was no wonder the weight wasn’t coming off. You’d think things would have gotten better from there, but nope. I broke my ankle (destroyed is probably a better word than broke) and was immobile for almost four months. In that time, I got fat as hell. When I got divorced, I weighed 250.
While it wasn’t the only reason we broke up, I mostly blamed my weight for the split. I was so depressed I could barely leave the house, but I put on a happy face for everyone else and soldiered on. I was so angry with myself for getting to that point and had nothing but pure hatred and contempt for my lack of self-discipline.
After being divorced for a year, I went on the crashiest of crash diets and got down to nearly my high school weight. I got tons of compliments and started getting attention from men. It was great. They didn’t need to know I was essentially starving myself, only eating 500 calories a day. I started partying my ass off, had a great time. But…
Was I really happy? I was finally thinner, so wasn’t I supposed to be gleeful as shit like those people holding up giant pants in the weight loss commercials? All that old self-hate, it wasn’t gone. It had just shifted to other problem areas: “You’re still not skinny, and no diet will ever make you pretty.” “You’re still alone.” “That guy is never gonna call you back. You’re too weird.” “You’re gonna be a broke-ass cat lady all your life.” How could I ever win?
Then I met my current husband. I fell in love with him and his kids, and we got married fairly quickly. I had my daughter. The birth of this kid was the single biggest catalyst in my life. After having her, the volume got turned way down on all the other shit that used to take up space in my head. Being fat didn’t matter all that much anymore. All that mattered was taking care of this little person I’d made and my little family. It made me re-evaluate happiness and what our society tells us about obtaining it. I realized there is no such thing as constant bliss — there’s always going to be problems and bullshit no matter what.
So why did I want to complicate things further by carrying out this nonstop campaign of self-hatred I’d waged in my head all my adult life? I thought about what that kind of attitude would do to my daughter as she observed me. Did I want to plague her with this “never good enough” bullshit? She was already going to get it from literally everywhere else, and I didn’t want to participate in it too. So I quit.
I quit worrying about diets and finding time to squeeze in exercise somewhere. Quit worrying about my stupid jeans size. Quit worrying what people think of me. Quit feeling guilty about eating. Quit equating whether or not I was a good person with my size. Quit thinking that fat was the worst possible thing I could be.
Did the self-hate completely go away? No, of course not. Am I 100% happy? Again, of course not. But now I realize that no one is, no matter how they look. I got over myself, got out of my own head, and started appreciating all the good stuff there is in life that’s still there no matter what the scale says. Does this mean I’ll never try again to lose weight? No, I might want to some day. But right now, that battle is just not on my to-do list.
I know there are plenty of people who think I’m lazy and undisciplined. They think I’m driving their health care costs up since I’m so “unhealthy” (I’d like to compare doctor’s visits in the past year with these people; I bet I’ve been there less than they have). They think I’m a drain on society. There was a time when I would’ve agreed with them. But now? Now I just hope the sight of my fat ass out and about pisses them off so hard it wrecks their stupid little day. And then I can laugh and eat my cheeseburger.