The Large, Confusing Truth
I am overweight. It sounds harsh and it is definitely not easy to say those three words, but it’s true. No sugar coating, no pity party, just the truth. I realise saying that is subjective because according to whom am I overweight, but it’s according to me. Sure, my BMI tells me I’m overweight, “society” tells me I’m overweight by not fitting into the latest fashion trends, Bondi beach tells me I’m overweight by being larger than every friggen person there and the fact that my jeans are digging into my belly right now is also telling me! But it all comes back to me, how I feel and the constant conversation in my head of ‘is this the best I can be?’ Don’t get me wrong, I am not grossly obese, I don’t have to buy special clothes or take up two seats on a bus, but there is certainly a little extra on me, that really doesn’t NEED to be there.
There are lots of things I love about the way I look, and as you get older I think you do come to accept your body. I know my legs won’t get any longer, I’ve made peace with the scar across my stomach (that saved my life when I was 6 weeks old) I proudly acknowledge my cankles and I know that I can never wear a pencil skirt or a backless dress and look fabulous, and that’s okay. I love my figure, I love that I have a waist and boobs and curves. I like the clothes I get to wear and that they flatter what I’ve got. BUT this doesn’t make it any less painful when I try on a shirt and the chubby top part of my arm gets stuck in the sleeve, or that in the very back part of my evil little brain, some devil is saying that the attractive man at the bar is sizing up my thighs and has decided not to talk to me because of them (actually putting that into words is super embarrassing and depressing but it’s true)
I know this is ridiculous and not true, and these issues actually have nothing to do with the size of my thighs — it’s all mental. It’s me looking at myself and thinking I’m not good enough and only I can make that better. It is 100% up to you, how YOU feel and how you see yourself. I mean someone twice my size could look at themselves in the mirror and see nothing but a perfectly stunning person, and that is amazing. It shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I realise my lack of self confidence is entirely my problem to sort through and slowly I am, and I will share that journey with you, but first, I’d really love to assign some blame for these issues, so hey, let’s try.
Like many of us, I grew up in an environment where weight loss was a big topic of conversation. I was surrounded by the notion that losing/maintaining weight was something to strive for and it was a constant battle we had to fight. It wasn’t about being picked on for my weight, but being consistently bombarded with fad diets, seeing beautiful woman criticising themselves and always hearing there was “wrong” food and “right” food, it all really imprints on you. It makes it feel like everyday there are choices and your decisions mean you fail or succeed. It’s about ‘being good’ and earning that treat or ‘being naughty’ and suffering the consequences. We want to teach our children to be healthy, and this is often the way it’s done. We don’t get taught to love ourselves and our bodies, we get taught to eat 5 serves of vegetables and 3 serves of fruit. I mean, I am overweight and I have been sad about this, hence, I have done weight watchers (several times) and have been to dietitians, to try to solve this “problem”. These are the solutions on offer. No one actually asks ‘why do you feel you need to lose weight’ or ‘why aren’t you happy when you look in the mirror’. It was just about the calories and points and kilos per week. It’s no ones fault, it’s the reaction that’s drilled into us by our society, but as I’ve gotten older and seen other options, I’ve realised that being exposed to this way of thinking, negatively effected my relationship with food and my body.
We can perhaps place a little blame on an ex boyfriend too. My first proper boyfriend when I was in my early 20’s was never large by any means, but he lost some weight about a year into our relationship. I was not confident with the way I looked or felt and went on about losing weight too. Naturally, as a silly girl, I wanted him to say ‘don’t be ridiculous, you are perfect the way you are’ but he was one of those honest, practical types and he took this VERY literally. He was constantly watching what I ate and on about me shedding some kilos. He got so frustrated when I didn’t and made me feel like a million dollars when I did. He made it feel like it was 100% my goal and he was just helping, but he wanted me to lose weight. He admitted he wanted a skinnier girlfriend, plain and simple. Looking back, I know that it came from his own issues and I wasn’t unattractive and I didn’t do anything wrong, but geeeez, being 22 years old and being told I was too large and he was embarrassed by me is pretty hard to swallow. It did a lot more damage than I thought and took a long time to get over. I’ve summed that up pretty shortly and unfairly. I was not a great girlfriend either, I mean how annoying is it saying I want to lose weight and then eating the whole world in front of him, but the way he made me feel certainly effected the way I saw myself.
Please let me be clear here. I am not a sad, large girl who has been ‘messed up’ by the world and is a victim in all of this, because I am none of those things, and it is my choice to be the way I am. I’d like to blame someone because it’s easier and yes, I do feel there are factors that contributed to the way I think, but I just ate a packet of chips, cheese and crackers and an egg on toast for dinner, and I’m pretty sure the ice cream is coming out soon and no one but me made that choice. I know if I would like my tummy to be flatter, I could not eat those things and make better choices, but this is the charm in me. The constant battle of what I actually, truly want. At the time, the wanting of the chips is MUCH greater than the flat stomach and for whatever reason, I just can’t connect the two together. Frustrating isn’t it! I mean, you put your hand in hot water, it will burn. You constantly eat carbs and high fat food without exercise, you will put on weight. I get it, but I rebel, because deep down I still don’t know if my need to lose weight is for myself. Is it because I want to see something different in the mirror and genuinely want to be smaller? Or because I think that’s what I need to do for a man to look at me and to fit it in with the world? Or am I just sick of thinking about it and want the ‘battle’ to be over so lose some damned weight? It comes back to ‘The Struggle of the Should’ chapter for sure, because I know I will NEVER get anywhere unless its 100% my choice and I just don’t know if it is.
This constant back and forthing is quite exhausting. Even since I started writing this my position has changed a hundred times. I’m like ‘oh screw the world, this is what I look like, deal with it’ but come later in the week when I want to wear one of my party dresses that is a liiittttllee bit tight around the belly, I’ll be like GOD DAMN WHY DID YOU EAT THAT BLOCK OF CHEESE ON MONDAY NIGHT?! I am slowly getting better at not letting it upset me or dominate my thoughts, and I am listening to my body and what makes me feel good about myself, but it’s still there, lingering, and tugging at my brain. The thought that, when I’ll lose weight everything will be fine. What it needs to be is, when I look in the mirror and love what I see, everything will be fine. That is where my energy goes now. Yes, I am overweight and that isn’t good — you should have a healthy body and treat it kindly, but you also need a healthy mind, and for me, the latter controls the former and I won’t be able to make any physical changes until my brain knows why.
Stay tuned for more on the eternal struggle!
Ps. Literally drinking a glass of bubbles and eating a big packet of chips as I finish this (and bought a block of the new m&m chocolate) It’s a journey people…