I'm fat. I'm 163cm (about 5'3") tall and weigh - let me just check - 106.8kg (236.5 lbs) in light clothing. That makes me about a size 20 in Australian sizes.
I've always carried a little extra weight. I've never been "skinny". I remember mum had me put on a diet when I was ten and living at a boarding school which served desert every night (I'd put on a few extra kilos and was heading from rounded to rotund) - we didn't often eat desert at home. I guess that was the first time I thought of my body as being wrong. I don't blame mum for that - society informs parents what to be concerned about and society has long stated that anything more than a little fat on the body is always a bad thing - no matter how nutritious your diet is, or how active you are.
By the time I was 12, I'd decided I as a fat, ugly beast who needed to torture herself for her own weakness by starving herself for half a day, then bingeing on whatever she could find for other half of the day (that habit stays with me to this day).
We lived at a college for a while during my middle teen years, and they had a large kitchen with a walk in fridge. That fridge was always filled with all sorts of good things left over from the meals of the day. I would gorge myself on large metal bowls of strawberry jam (picking the strawberries out piece by piece to eat), among other things.
I was always on a diet, sometimes they "succeed" for a while, mostly they didn't - certainly never long term. I idolised anorexics. I thought bulimics were gross, but did give bulimia a go, too. Bulimia didn't work for me, I couldn't make myself throw up, as much as I tried. I collected newspaper and magasine articles about anorexics and watched every single show or documentary I could about them. Once I discovered the internet, I visited pro-ana sites and made plans to try all the tricks I read about. I thought these girls (they were mostly girls) were amazingly dedicated and focused, and brave - even though I thought many of them looked quite repulsive in their photos. Of course, I was never an anorexic, just a fat, ugly wannabe.
I grew into adulthood loathing my body.
I never had a shortage of boyfriends though. As much as I thought I was unattractive, there was always someone else who thought I was attractive enough.
Eventually, I married and I had babies. Four of them. The whole time loathing my body. Babies led to stretch marks and droopy boobs (these are the side effects of pregnancy, not breastfeeding, by the way). I hated my body more.
After my third baby, I decided enough was enough, and I started exercising and put myself on a very restrictive diet (as the year progressed, my diet progressively got stricter). I lost 32kg. People complimented me, and I did feel good about myself on one level. On another level something else happened. The more weight I lost, the more I started to criticise my own progress and I started to feel a low panic in my mind that I'd have to maintain this new slimmer me. I hated how my stretchmarks were now a wrinkly pouch of skin on my abdomen. I felt gross touching that skin. I carried it around with me like a dirty secret - my scrotum-skin tummy.
Every day I hated my body. I thought about how much fat I was eating, how much sugar, how many calories. Every day I calculated how much exercise I would need to do to burn enough energy to lose another kilo and get closer to the next size down in jeans. Every day I stopped in front of the mirror many, many times to see if I looked thinner or fatter than the last time.
It was exhausting!
I got a phone call from my dad one day late that year, and in that conversation - without having seen me for 18 months - he said to me, "Fat mums raise fat children". The night he said that, I was a size 12. I had never been a size 12 in all of my adult life. He had never seen me as a size 12. What's more, my older boys - who were 7 and 5 at the time, were skinny, both of them were well under the average weight for children their age (they have always been average height, and well below average weight since toddlerhood). I felt angry. I felt resentful that I had been working my butt off - literally - all year and still I was going to be judged as a neglectful parent if I was even a few kilos overweight.
That was probably the first spark of me ditching the self-loathing - but still it didn't happen fully until about 4 years later.
After 2006, I struggled to maintain my new smaller size, and eventually I started to put the weight back on. There is no secret to how the weight went back on. Basically, I was working on my Masters, and I had another baby, and then we had a few upsets at home with FIL dying and the Grumpy Old man losing his job, and then having to move and money struggles and so on. I simply prioritised eating less junk and doing more exercise very low on the list.
As late as late last year, I still pretty much loathed my body. I resented not being able to dress in clothing that was flattering, comfortable and stylish (in the styles I liked). I still thought I was weak and useless - something I based entirely on my ability to lose a kilo in a week.
But I was tired of feeling bad. I was tired of feeling that I SHOULD feel bad. I started to do some reckoning.
Was I weak? How could I think I was weak? I am legally blind and am raising four children on a very low income. I single-handedly manage all the finances in this house - I am responsible for it all. I have complete three degrees and a certificate III - two of those degrees were by correspondence (that means I had to be a self-starter). I've traveled overseas completely on my own, arranging everything myself. I'm pretty handy with a screwdriver and a flat pack - even assembling bicycles. I can walk many kilometres a day, if I chose to. I can swim for hours without stopping, if I choose to. No, I'm not weak, unless the only sign of strength is to be a size 8.
My body has grown and birthed four other human beings and then nourished them for 12 years (16 years consecutively). That is not weak.
|Fabulous, fat me!|
I refuse to loathe my body anymore. I love it. I started to adorn it with art because I love my body now. It is strong and beautiful. I don't want to hide it under unshapely clothing. I want to celebrate it. As much as I hated it and mistreated it over the years, it has always done its best for me.
I've heard all the "it's bad for your health" arguments, maybe it is, so is smoking, so is drinking, so is unprotected sex - where are the hashtags for people who have unprotected sex? Smokers aren't stigmatised nearly as much as fat people. People who drink alcohol aren't stigmatised - and yet people who don't drink alsohol are! Quite frankly, stigmatising people is a crock! There are many slim people out there dying from diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, and all the other diseases associated with being "overweight" (overweight is, by the way, an arbitrary calculation of what weight a "normal, healthy" human should be - how can the ideal human weight be calculated other than by "the norm", which hasn't changed in 100 years even the though the majority of humans on the planet don't fit into, being either over or underweight according to the "normal, healthy range").
So, that's how I ditched my self-loathing about fat. You may be glad you're not as fat as me. I'm glad I have my body, it's been awesome to me this lifetime!