Monday, July 18, 2005

What comes first?

After reading the Tomato's latest installment of Love Handles, I started thinking about what comes first- self-love or weight loss? Do you have to love yourself first to loose weight or do you learn to love yourself after you have lost weight? I hear it all the time: love yourself as you are. Sure. I like that idea in theory but what about existing in a world that is prejudiced against fat? How do you walk out into a world that is hostile to heavy people and still think you are fabulous, chub and all?

When I was about 22, I dropped approximately 60 pounds thanks to Oprah, Bob Greene, no fat in my food selection and daily exercise. For the first time in my life, my internal process met up with my outward process and I metamorphisized. I went from a fat, semi-depressed, angry-on-the-inside kind of girl to something altogether different.

For a while, it felt great. Boys who would never have noticed me before, all of a sudden were asking for my number. I responded like the fat girl I had always been, forgetting that my outward appearance was now drastically different. I began to feel resentful. Who are they to hit on me now? Where were they when I was chubby? Is it my thin body they are attracted to or is it that the thinness allows them to see the real me? Is fat a cover up? A security blanket to hide behind? A reason to blame the world for its indifference, for its shaming, for its cruelty against anyone who doesn't fit into a societal "norm"?

I had a lot of questions. Obviously.

I am the first to admit that I am heavy. I don't feel comfortable in my body, regardless of how many men I date or how many people comment on my "pretty face." It isn't that I think myself unattractive. That isn't it at all. It's just that, after gaining all that weight back, I don't feel like I am in the right body. Somewhere in between is where I want to be- not that 22 year old self and not this 32 year old self. Between too thin and too heavy. I want to feel at home in my own skin.

And so I struggle. I have the internal debates. I feel the shame. Recently, I was talking with some close friends and they were surprised to discover that I often bow out of things because of my weight- like certain forms of exercise or going to a certain restaurant that has especially small booths. They were suprised to discover that I think about these things. I guess because they don't see me as "that fat." And yes, I tend to be neurotic but is that going to far? Is there such a thing as "too fat"? And does that "too fat" threshold change depending on whom you are talking to?

I see it rampant on internet dating sites. Men who would, by the look of them and the text of their profile, be a perfect candidate to be my boyfriend, are ruled out because they prefer "slim, slender, athletic and toned, average." Do these men realize the average size of women in America is a size 14? Does anyone get how fucked up it all is- I mean Marilyn Monroe would be too fat to model if she were alive today. . . and she is drop dead gorgeous. The curves! The softness! Now that is a woman's body. But it isn't their fault for liking what they like, is it? Does it take a brave person to say, "Fuck what society says, I love my fat girlfriend!" Maybe. How do you get to that place where you accept yourself and your size?

What do you think?


Lushy said...

"How do you get to that place where you accept yourself and your size?" Beats the hell out of me. Let me know if you figure it out!

Bob Merrick said...

Will you write my column from now on?

Anonymous said...

After years of struggiling with the on-again-off-again ten lbs., i finally solved it by gaining thirty and staying there. my body and i have made this angry kind of peace. we don't much care for one another, but we're stuck in this together.

there all sorts of moments in this post to which i want to scream AMEN. as for answers, though, i have none. do tell me when you find them.

Tonawanda Kardex said...

I think people have a right to their preferences, and there's many people out there who like women of all sizes. Meaning, there are men who like skinny chicks, and there are men who like average chicks, and there are men who like athletic chicks, and there are men who like soft chicks, etc. If someone rules us out based on any physical characteristic (too short, too fat, too big a nose, too small breasts, etc.), it's their choice. We shouldn't take it personally; we just have to realize we are who we are and there are people who will like us just the way we look.

Of course, you just hope you like them the way they look, too. ;) But seriously, the key is to be comfortable in your own skin. If you're not, the above doesn't apply because you don't want to be who you are. Once you get to a place you are comfortable with, you will always find men who like that physical type. It's a given; different strokes for different folks. It's what makes the world so great. :)

And yes, you do have a very beautiful face, Nessy. :*

passer by said...

If you want to loose weight, and your body feels better with less weight, why don't do it?

And that decision is something you have to take yourself. Nobody but you can change that.

sue said...

Oh, boy... this is a can of worms. I, too, have had this struggle. First with being very skinny in high school and young adult-hood, then gradually gaining, losing, gaining, etc. There is a point you have to say 'enough' and decide you are going to be the way you are and you just have to get to know this person. Hopefully, love and acceptance will follow. I think you have to like yourself and be comfortable with yourself first, then IF IT IS TO BE you will lose weight. If not, then so be it. You are a beautiful girl, and I for one can relate to the "she has such a pretty face if she'd just lose weight" comments. What's MORE IMPORTANT is you appear to be a beautiful girl INSIDE. Yep. (stepping off the soapbox now)

BTW - Did you ever see the movie where the picked-on ugly fat girl loses weight and gets plastic surgery and goes out and kills everyone that was ever mean to her? ... Mwaaaahaaahaaa ;)

kim e said...

Passer by, if you can't understand that there is more to losing weight than 'if you want to, just do it' then mind your own beeswax. It would take hours and hours for me to go through every one of my issues on the subject.

Sizzle, I feel for what you're going through. I know it because I own it as well. It's a heavy weight to bear, and I'm not talking about the pounds.

Ikatron said...

Start out slow pick one thing you are going to work on a week and ease into.

Also going back to when you were 22 the guys were attracted to you because you were happier not to your skinniness.

It's kind of like when you start dating someone you suddenly get asked on a bunch of dates even though you may not had one for 6 months. Its a glow of happiness.

Society sucks for making us feel the way we do about ourselves and our bodies.