I was mindlessly rinsing and scrubbing dishes the other day as I watched my kids playing with their dad in the living room: my wonderful husband, playing with our healthy children, among our adorable dogs, inside of our beautiful home. When suddenly, that recurring voice popped into my head as I joyfully observed my family: “But am I skinny?”
“No,” I mentally chimed and the familiar deflated feeling washed over me as I methodically rinsed and repeated in the sink.
My whole life, for as long as I can remember, “skinny” has been the goal. “Skinny” has equated to “sexy.” “Sexy” has meant “wanted” and being wanted has always meant being valued. My entire life’s ambition has been punctuated for this need to be skinny, to be sexy, to be wanted, to be valued. In this messed up head of mine, without being skinny, I had no value. Everything I could contribute to this world was in vain if I was not skinny.
Let me be clear: I am healthy. I eat a clean and consistent diet. I exercise regularly, I don’t smoke or partake in extracurricular drugs. The worst thing I do to my body is fill it with wine once in a while and deprive it of a full 8 hours worth of sleep here and there … but am I skinny? No. I never have been, actually. In fact, I was more muscular than most boys my age as I grew up, but was I skinny? No.
These days, my muscles have lessened slightly, but my heart has grown. I have a life truly blessed beyond my measure at this point, but am I skinny? No. I am smart — pretty well educated even — but am I skinny? No. I’m also a very creative person. I love to write and to draw and to dance and create, but am I skinny? No.
Every. Single. Thing. I. Do. Every single achievement, every joy, is undermined by this need to appear a certain way. After all, am I really being a great wife if my body isn’t what we are told most men want to see? Am I really being a good mom if I can’t find time to diet/exercise myself to a size 2? Am I anything if I am not something nice to look at?
I am freaking amazing and you are too. You and I have so much more to give to this world than a skinny body. I have a daughter that I need to model strength to. I have a son that I need to teach respect to. I have a duty to uphold in teaching my children, my friends, my family, my acquaintances and myself that the size of our body does not determine if we are worthy of love.
That night, at my kitchen sink, something changed from smoldering self-depreciation to fiery self-love and a passion for uplifting my fellow women for something other than their bodies. So here it goes: I’m not going to like your before/after pictures on social media. I’m not going to buy the magazine that ensures the quickest new way to weigh less. I will not sink a small fortune into 40 different beauty products to cover up my actual skin. I will not talk to you about diets or losing weight or congratulate you for only gaining 8 pounds during your pregnancy. I will not respond when you tell me that “you’re huge” and I will not feel bad about it.
No, I am not skinny, and I don’t care if you are, either.