I'm Done Obsessing About Making My Body Smaller

by Katie Cloyd
Originally Published: 
Katie Cloyd/Instagram

Learning to love my body has been a very intentional process. I spent the first 30 years of my life really hating what I saw when I looked at myself. Everywhere I looked, someone else was reminding me that thinness was the ideal for all women. I was never anything close to thin, so in my mind I was never anything close to ideal.

The interesting thing is, I was always a huge advocate for getting out and living your life regardless of your weight or size. I didn’t really let my size dictate what I could wear or where I could go. I did the things I felt like I wanted to do.

My fat body never actually held me back. The problem was in my mind. No matter how hard I tried to be self-assured, I still felt the need to joke about my size, apologize for any extra space I might require, and punish myself mentally for being plus-size. I also felt obligated to admit that I was unhealthy, even when I had absolutely no health problems at all.

I didn’t hide, but I didn’t allow myself total happiness and peace because I wasn’t thin.

It was so frustrating to be half-confident. I was satisfied with who I was as a person, but miserably unhappy with the body that housed me. I constantly felt like my size was such a strike against me that I had to try to prove my worth to the world. It was confusing and uncomfortable.

I hated it.

A lot of people suggested changing my body. I know they meant well. On the surface, that does seem like the logical option. But drastically changing the size of a body is an arduous process, and physical transformation takes a really long time.

I didn’t want to wait that long to being to be happy.

Plus, hating myself was ruining me. I was bone-tired. I was putting so much importance on the size of my body. It was time to find a way to be complete and content whether I lost weight or stayed the same forever.

I needed to disconnect my weight from my worth, not just change my weight so I could feel more worthy.

I knew I’d never do that without learning to love my body as it was.

I never realized how much hating myself leaked into the way I parented until I took a hard look at my habits and intentions.

So, two years ago, I set out to transform my mind. I decided that my body was not a disaster just because I’m fat, and I chose to consume information and social media content that made me feel worthy instead of worthless. I found a team of medical professionals who are willing to address my whole health without making everything about my weight. It is still important to me to keep an eye on my personal health, but the number on the scale doesn’t mean as much to me as it once did.

As I started seeing the complete toxicity of diet culture, I started actively avoiding messages that made me feel like I was not enough. Online, I started encouraging other people to see their value and created opportunities for other plus-size women to discuss our triumphs and struggles with one another. Learning to love my body brought me community and a place to belong.

The more positive I chose to be about the only body I’ve got, the less terrible I felt living in it. Every part of my life improved. My marriage has never been hotter. My wardrobe has never been more fun. I’ve gotten career opportunities I never could have had if I’d remained in the mindset that I wasn’t good enough.

But the one thing that I am most thankful for is this: Learning to love my body has made me a better mother.

I never realized how much hating myself leaked into the way I parented until I took a hard look at my habits and intentions. Because I felt like my body was so imperfect, I put incredible pressure on myself to make everything else as perfect as possible.

I needed a clean, updated and decorated house. I was worried if I didn’t take impeccable care of my home, I would look like a lazy fat girl. That couldn’t happen. I needed it to be adorable.

My children’s naturally average sizes filled me with relief. Every time I saw them running and playing in their average-sized bodies, I felt sure that I wasn’t “ruining them” with my fatness. I was so afraid they’d grow up to feel what I felt in my fat body. As long as they had thinness, I could hope they wouldn’t suffer like me.

In every aspect of parenting, I was putting forth maximum visible effort, so people knew that I was still giving my children what they deserved in spite of my body’s size. I can’t believe how much energy I spent comparing my parenting to other moms — not to judge them, but to make sure I was doing enough.

I constantly doubted myself, wondering if my children would one day look back and think that their lives would have been more fulfilling if their mom was thinner.

If anything about my old self was unhealthy, it wasn’t my body. It was my mindset.

Everything changed as a natural result of shedding the weight of self-hatred.

As I learned to embrace my body, I had no choice but to embrace imperfection as a concept. If I could see my body as imperfect and acceptable at the same time, why shouldn’t I do the same for the rest of my life?

I constantly doubted myself, wondering if my children would one day look back and think that their lives would have been more fulfilling if their mom was thinner.

As the negativity about my body has melted away, so has my need for perfection. I am no longer afraid of not being enough for my children.

When it comes to parenthood, I sometimes feel like I never get one single day completely right.

And that’s okay to me now.

I have let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I’ve started to see the beauty in mismatched socks, and the value in a lazy day. A clean and tidy home is enough for me now, even if it doesn’t look like Joanna Gaines lives here.

My children marvel at their bodies because we discuss how amazing it is that their brain functions as their command center, telling their entire bodies when to eat, drink, run, sleep, create, and even poop. They can trust my word about their bodies because they never hear me say negative things about my own body. They don’t know that anyone assigns a negative value to a fat body. Someday, they’ll hear all those thin-centered messages, but I have already laid the foundation of wonder and respect for every human body.

Changing the way I think and speak about my body was hard. It still is. I fight my perfectionist tendencies daily. Intentionally. I’ll never reach the finish line. Staying in love with my body is like staying in love with my spouse. I can’t neglect this work and expect it to last. I remind myself constantly that I never want to go back to seeing myself and broken, damaged and less-than.

My body is not my whole self, but it’s a pretty big part of me. Learning to love my body was the first step in learning to embrace the beautiful chaos of this phase of my life. My body conceived, carried, and nursed these kids, and my body gives them everything they need to this day. There is nothing to loathe here. My body is as miraculous as any thin body.

Learning to love my body is the best thing I’ve ever done for my kids. I never saw that coming.

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