This is my body, today, right now.
Some days I look in the mirror and manage to convince myself that my body is "not so bad" but rarely - and possibly never - have I ever really believed my body was beautiful.
There will be people who comment on this post to say "of course your body is beautiful and of course you are worthy of love right now," and they might mean it, but it might just be what they think they're supposed to say.
It's crazy that when I see a photo of a plus-size person being depicted in a TV show or an ad I think "good for you" but sometimes I can't convince my brain that they are "beautiful."
Let's not even get into the representation of plus-sized women on TV. I struggle to name one show or movie where the "big girl" isn't expected to portray some kind of fat humor, where "sassy and fat" isn't part of her persona, or where she is the main love interest without any caveats or mentions of her size.
There is a reason when a "big girl" decides to show her body or model people call her "brave." Because it feels brave. It feels courageous to go "against" everything society has fed you and create an option of yourself, FOR yourself.
Showing my stomach goes against my natural inclination to hide, my built-in defense to "disguise" the less desirable parts of me. Some days it's my thighs, some days it's the fat under my arms. Always something to cover for fear of offending some poor onlooker.
The only reason I am able to look at myself even SOMETIMES and convince myself that my body is "not so bad" is because of the women who have shown themselves before me.
Only lately have I seen women my size represented in underwear ads, clothing ads, workout ads, and television. I am truly grateful for those women paving the way for the rest of us to begin to accept themselves. And it IS brave. By putting themselves "out there" they open themselves up to criticism, internet "trolls", people telling them to "get healthy" or "get some exercise."
So many days I have looked in the mirror and my only consolation to myself is envisioning a future body. A smaller body, a body with fewer rolls, perkier boobs, more toned arms, less chin.
And why this mental negative connotation with my flesh vessel? Why such a terrible relationship with the vehicle that transports my consciousness? What does my size represent to others that makes it so repulsive? It is truly their concern for my "health?" The size of my body, the weight I carry, is a representation of what and how much food I have put into my body and how much of that food my body has chosen to store for later use. Why is that "disgusting?" Is it about control?
I've been many sizes throughout my life. I grew up, even in high school, with my clothing label size embedded into my brain as part of my identity. I remember my friends bragging about their size zero. Girls don't just say "I wear a size zero," they say "I AM a size zero." I was a size 14 most of my life. I didn't get to shop at the "normal stores" with my friends. I didn't get cute underwear or cut-off shorts, or crop tops. When they did start making fashion for plus-sized girls it was all floral print. Something about my size says I want to be plastered in colorful flowers? Yuck. I am not my size, I am a person.
I have lost and gained weight many times. I am aware of what it takes to "convert" my body into something more "pleasing." But I have never lost "enough" I have never felt "thin." My relationship with food is a deeply engrained emotional habit.
My mom told me a story that when I was little, my dad came home while I was having a snack. I heard the door open and I ran into the backyard to quickly shove the rest of the food into my face so he wouldn't see me eating. From a young age, I was told I would never "get a man" if I didn't "lose weight." But as a kid, I never had a logical understanding of the purpose of food, or its qualities, or what a calorie was, or how to even reach this magical unattainable goal of losing weight... "Being skinny." I had no idea about the concept of caloric intake vs the amount of activity needed in a day.
As a kid with exercise-induced asthma, running or sports of any kind always had a chance to launch me into an asthma attack. I played sports anyway but my asthma would always catch up with me. It didn't help that despite me having fun, after 5 minutes or so of intense activity, my face would turn an alarming shade of red, causing my coaches to pull me from the game even when things were going well.
At my thinnest adult weight, I was a size 12, still "plus-sized" to society. Plus-sized- do you hear what that says? It says there is a "normal range of size - and you are beyond that." Plus-sized.
At 5"10, a size 12, people said I looked great, complimented me. "You look like a model," I heard. I still only saw my flaws. After the death of my father at my heaviest I was almost 300 pounds, a size 22. Every day my fiance suggested a "mall cookie" to comfort me from the pain of loss. I watched myself gain weight and I didn't care, because I was already "un-saveable." I got stretch marks in brand new places, I felt I had lost all chances of ever having the hypothetical mystery body I wanted. I was too far gone so I might as well enjoy some pasta. It hurt to walk, I stopped taking photos of myself because there was no acceptable angle. I had to change my relationship with food. I started both Noom, and Healthy Wage at the same time. I was able to teach myself about food, "proper" portions, creating a habit of movement, and making good choices about what I put in my mouth, and bought from the store.
I reached my first goal. At my current weight and size, I still dream of "being a size 12." I want desperately to change my mental relationship with food and exercise, but these biological and neurological patterns and pathways are so hard to break. I've lost weight before, in huge chunks, I've won weight-loss contests, I am capable of maintaining control for a while. Over the past 7 months of quarantine, I've maintained my weight at a steady number, which I consider a victory.
I am slowly changing my relationship with food, and with my body. One difficult day at a time.
I post this because my weight is something I ignore, something I pretend I don't struggle with. I project so much "confidence" most people would never know I had these thoughts or feelings. I am confident about my personality, my message. I am confident about representing women of a larger body type in a way that portrays us with grace and strength.
Even being on a "metaphysical journey" where I know exactly what my body is - it is a vehicle for my consciousness to explore the physical plane, it is a gift so that I can experience one small pinnacle of awareness in a vast universe- I still have a journey of self-love to discover, because I am human, I exist within this very society and I have to work from within it. Pretending I don't wake up every day and hate some part of my body is not working.
But I am working on it. On days when I am struggling with accepting my body, I deem my body "goddess body." I remind myself that this is the body that carries the goddess, in all its glory. After realizing that my body is a gift from Earth, sort of on loan if you will, I realized I'd been terribly careless with it. I now tell myself that treating my borrowed vehicle with respect is an act of self-love. I remind myself that I enjoy fresh, whole foods, and that processed foods I grew up on make me feel tired and icky. I remind myself that movement and exercise feel good, and ultimately if I take good care of my gift, my exploration vessel will last a little longer.
I love myself NOW -not just on a better day in the future. I love myself on every part of my journey. My experience is beautiful, I am beautiful. Right now, today.