Baby Girl…You Look Fine

The "mirror" in the ladies' restroom at one of our favorite restaurants

The “mirror” in the ladies’ restroom at one of our favorite restaurants

Baby girl…you look fine. I’m sorry, what? Me? Were you talking to me? I look…FINE???

The sign you see in the picture hangs in place of a mirror in a ladies’ restroom at a local restaurant that we frequent. The first time I came across it I smiled. The second time I saw it I had a moment of self-reflection.

Here is the sad truth. I do something to myself that I would never do to anyone else. I fat shame myself. (Side note- while I am carrying extra weight and my BMI classifies me as “overweight” I am not fat. Also, I am not at all fond of using the word fat and would not direct it at another.) I can build twenty other women up while simultaneously kicking myself to the ground. No, I don’t stand in front of the mirror spouting derogatory names like fatty, chubby, or chunky…well, not often anyway. I am more subtle than that, and at times I can even be contradictory about it. My self-shaming takes the form of overeating followed by stern lectures given silently as I settle down to sleep for the night. “Well, you did it again. Now you have to start over, again, in the morning. You have to do better. You are only hurting yourself and pushing your goals that much farther out of reach.” I also do it by hiding. Yes I want to go to dinner with friends, but no I won’t go because I can’t fit into any of my clothes! Or when I do venture out, I feel the need to announce my weight issues immediately upon my arrival. Nice icebreaker, no? “Hi, my name is Karen, and I am the elephant in the room.”

Let’s consider this for a moment. Putting aside the damage I am doing to myself, look at what I am doing to those I care about. Think about the awkward situations I am creating for my friends, what level of discomfort I am forcing them to endure. My friends who have loved me for years. My friends who tell me that I am beautiful inside and out. My friends who are not likely to notice or care that I have put on weight. And what of my husband? I can jolt out of a sound sleep the moment he rolls over and slides his arm around my waist. Holy mother of all that is sacred…he’s touching my STOMACH! He is unaware that I am in pure panic mode thinking about his hand on my wobbly stuff. Can you imagine the hurt it causes him when I thrust his arm away or roll out of reach? I have had this conversation with him, and he knows that this is my issue to deal with. Again, as with my friends, he has loved me for a long time and a wider midsection is not going to change that. Secure, confident me knows this. Insecure, fat shaming me still has her doubts… Ok, now we have the “Aha!” moment. I will no longer allow this behavior. I will no longer put my loved ones in this position. Friends, I am sorry I ever subjected you to this! To my husband, please hold and squeeze any part of me you wish, as often as you can!

I ask of myself, starting right here and now, to be as kind to me as I am to others. I have always had to work hard to maintain my weight. That isn’t going to change, and I’m okay with that. I workout six days a week because it’s my passion. It’s my happy time, my de-stress time, and my “I am a badass” time. I gained this weight as a result of quitting smoking after a twenty-plus year habit, and I am better off for it. The combination of quitting smoking and hitting my forties sent my metabolism into a coma. I’m forever begging it to HELP ME OUT here, just a little! Beginning today, I will tell myself that I am strong, and that makes me sexy as hell. I am eighty days into P90X, a high-intensity extreme home workout program. I am pretty sure I can do more push-ups and pull-ups than the average guy. These arms can carry a 40 lb. bag of cat litter and eight bags of groceries in a single trip. These legs can power me through a three-hour mountain hike. I will be proud of what I am and what I can do! I hereby banish fat shaming forevermore!

I have joined a weight loss challenge group, and the competition has motivated me. I am making smarter food choices, and I am paying close attention to portion sizes. I have had small but progressive losses for three consecutive weeks. I am not looking for thigh gap. I am not meant to be a size 2 or a size 4. At 5’10” with an athletic build it’s not in the cards. I want to be the strongest, fittest, and healthiest me that I can be. If I can do that in a pair of size 10 jeans I’m perfectly content with that. I will continue to work toward my goals because I believe in pushing yourself to achieve and to be better. Most importantly, though, is that I will be good with where I am today while looking forward to where I will be tomorrow. I will motivate and encourage me in the same way that I motivate and encourage others. I will allow myself to be enough.

All of which brings me back to the sign. I am going to have an 8 x 10 print made of this picture. I am going to place it on our bathroom mirror at eye level. I am going to remind myself daily. I am going to walk out the door with my head held high while saying, “Yes baby girl…you DO look fine!”

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53 thoughts on “Baby Girl…You Look Fine

  1. First of all, congrats on quitting smoking!!! I know how hard that is! I too gained weight after and was totally ok with it. I am healthier and that’s what matters most. Look at you being brave and putting this all out there for everyone to see…an inspiration! This entire post sounds so familiar. It took a while to be comfortable in my new size but I am way more active and feel so much better and not being a size 4 anymore is totally ok. Keep up the good work and keep us posted on your progress! Sounds like you have the weight loss challenge down good! 🙂

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    • Thank you for your kind words! I’m pretty much an open book, but even for me to be this honest about this topic left me a bit breathless. I think there are many people who experience something similar. I hope sharing my thoughts makes them feel better about themselves. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • A fabulous post and you are not alone in the way you feel and I identify with the uncomfortable feelings of being held where you don’t want to be held! I too have yoyod with my weight and have literally wasted years worrying about it. I have been a size 10 (uk), drank like a fish, ate like a dustbin, smoked and took laxatives. I was unbalanced. Now I don’t drink, smoke, take laxatives and I am a lovely size 14-16 (on a good day) but extremely contented (most of the time). I know where I would rather be….. Sorry for the long reply. Thank you for sharing xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so sorry to hear that you feel not comfortable about your weight, but as I can see on your picture you look totally ok.
    You know, I have this attacks when I am eating like an elephant. It is a stress, I guess you used to smoke before in a stressful moments. Or you cut your portions too much and you feel hungry. Anyway, just replace the smoking habit with other healthy one, like drinking tea (or posting in your blog:)) each time you have a desire to go and eat it all – I suffered from it for a while. Still I have the constant fluctuations in my weight
    And you know, after all it is about how harmonic you are. I know a lot of people with extra weight who are just perfect. They are 100% comfortable, they live normal life and they are fine. I had even one girl in my dance school, she was like 10 times more energetic that we, half-dead anorexic girls:)

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I think when I quit smoking I shifted the addiction to food. It’s been two years now since I quit, and I am started to get better with watching my food intake. Yes, blogging has kept me busy at night instead of in the kitchen! You are 100% right- I am learning to be comfortable with me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this!! Every word reverberates into my soul. Seriously, I have gotten so bad with this issue that I cancelled out on a dear friend’s wedding when she asked me to be her maid of honor…. Last minute! How egocentric is that? It’s about the bride, not me! But I could not get past that I looked like a beast in the dress she wanted me to wear. Body dysmorphia much?? Anyhow, at BlogHer 2014 conference there was a live band called The Mrs. They went around and put decals on our hotel room mirrors that said “I’m Enough!” Google their name and their video called “I’m Enough” and tell me what you think of the message they are trying to spread? Meanwhile, I love your writing!
    Stephanie

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I can’t tell you what it means to me for you to say you love my writing! I’ve received the best messages since posting this. If I can change the way one person feels it’s worth baring my soul. I had not heard of The Mrs. I love the video and the message! That line, “the time I’ve wasted on comparing who I am to who I should be” wow, does that sound familiar! Thank you for introducing me to this group! Karen

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  4. When we finally get a house, I’ll have that written on the wall in big block letters 🙂

    Your post just made a home in my brain. It’s true for so many of us, and we need statements like these to remind us that we are enough, that we are fine, that we rock just the way we are.
    – Jill @ kyaruandbunnies.wordpress.com

    p.s. – P90X? Totally bad ass.

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  5. Hi, this article really resonated with me. I am on day one of quitting smoking, after a 35 year habit, plus at the same time trying to lose weight after just being diagnosed with Diabetes 2.
    You have shown that BOTH of these things are achievable, and good on you for your success. You SHOULD feel good about yourself, as you have worked bloody hard to get where you are. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. Oh my. I’m sitting on my couch spending some time reading posts and comments, waiting for Bad Judge to come on the TV, The Biggest Loser is on and I open this post. By the middle of the third paragraph, I am thinking I do that, that’s me she’s talking about. Your words touch so many of us, as I read them tears well up in my eyes as I recognize all your behaviors in me. You are incredibly brave for sharing this and I am glad you did. I want to get that “mirror” and give it to all the tween girls in my life. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you so much. I’ve been overwhelmed by the supportive comments and messages I’ve received since posting this. I wish I could share this message with young girls the world over in the hopes that it might resonate with some. Thank you for reading! Karen 🙂

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  8. Can I just say that I love this SO much? I, like so many others, can completely relate. I feel like this so often. I have done the same thing to my husband at times, refusing his love for my body, simply because I felt so self-conscious. Oddly enough though, I feel like as I have decided to let my husband love me, I have started to love and accept my body more. Anyway, I think you are awesome. I love this post! I applaud your efforts! Way to go, and thank you for being so real, Karen! It is so refreshing!! 🙂

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  10. I wrote something similar a few months back. Congratulations to you for not getting these trivial matters affect you in any form. And for the record, this post helped me a lot. Specially because I’m not JUST a teenager, but a rather chubby teenager which only makes it worse (you get the drill)?
    I too am gonna tell myself how strong I am inside out. 🙂 Thank you.

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    • Thank you! You as teenagers have much more pressure to conform to a certain image than I did at that same age. I am glad to see that there does seem to be just the slightest shift in the media to not portraying the bone-thin skeletal look at attractive or desirable. Please do tell yourself every day how strong you are, and then own it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Weight has been an ongoing issue in my life also. I can still hear those old tapes running through my head saying that I will never be thin enough or good enough. Even after I had a gastric bypass, it was not what I thought it would be. I started to gain some weight back and couldn’t look in a mirror. Finally, I remembered what I always told my children, Grow where you are planted.” Meaning to learn to be happy where you are. Don’t look back or forward, just right where you are. When you can be happy there, that is when change will come. I am finally free of that obsession and feel great in my own skin. Thank you for this post. Love your writing.

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    • I am so glad to hear this as it gives me hope for the future! We need to treat ourselves to the same kindness that we treat our loved ones…and to follow the same advice that we give. I love that phrase, “grow where you are planted”. Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, Karen. The most important thing will working out is that you feel happy. Happy mind make your body feel happy as well… That quotation is more to myself, I suppose. Hehe 🙂
    Nice to visiting your blog. 🙂

    Greeting from Indonesia

    Rana

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! What a coincidence! I found your article because I just came back from vacation and ate at that restaurant and wanted to copy the sign so I googled it. I’m 50, so my first reading of it was the old fashioned ” fine”, as in “ok”. It made me grin from ear to ear and feel great for days because what your readers may not know is that the sign is painted over the ONLY mirror in the bathroom. I thought of the thousands of women who’d gone through there, anxious about their hair or whatever, and they are told “it’s ok. You look fine. You are worthy of love.” We worry so much and I’m currently looking for my own mirror to paint over and hang in the front hall to remind myself to relax, I’m loved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Dianne,
        I am glad that you found your way here, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to comment and leave this story! I want to make one of these mirrors for my house, too. Isn’t it awesome to think how many women (and girls) have been touched by that sign? I keep the picture of it on my phone, and I look at it when I need the reminder to be kind to myself. You have made my night by confirming that it had an impact on you too. Thank you so much! 🙂
        Best,
        Karen

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  13. Love the realistic approach to changing your life course! Arrrg! OK I’ll let my partner hold my love handles; because like all else in life, it will become easier! I too put on15 lbs after a major surgery/quitting smoking; did 3 rounds of P90X (hated the Yoga) and live with a 3/4 full cup of warm amber colored liquid joy 🙂 Look forward to reading more of your posts

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  14. I just finished my latest round of P90X today (I did two prior as well). I hate the yoga also, although I’m sure I need it. I like the X3 Yoga from P90X 3 much better (30 short minutes)! Thank you for the read and the comment- sounds like we’ve been on similar paths. I am working on the weight, but more importantly the mindset. Best, Karen 🙂

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    • Karen, from one baby blogger to another, you ARE fine. I have also been having a load of ‘fat’ issues lately, and you have been really supportive of me, as always.
      You should not beat yourself up. We all feel crap in the New Year, and want to make changes; you are already doing that and I admire your dedication.
      You are a fantastic writer, have a loving husband, are are a bloody nice person! Don’t worry about a couple of extra pounds, they’ll go soon enough. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s because I’ve got a vacation coming up soon and have not met the goals I set. I am good about being encouraging and supportive of others, but I need reminders to be the same of myself.

        I swear you are like my soul sister from across the ocean! Thanks for the support, and what do you say we both stop being mean to ourselves?? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I bet you have set yourself some pretty tough goals and that is why you are upset that you have not met them all. Don’t worry! You are the only one that knows what goals you set, and you are beating yourself up for no reason.
        Yes you definitely need to be encouraging of yourself, and not demanding of yourself!
        By the way, I am honoured to be your soul sister, and we must be kinder to ourselves this year! 🙂

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  17. What an HONEST post! I love this – and you are amazing! I can’t imagine how hard it would be to quit smoking after 20 years… and on top of that, to continue to make such drastic lifestyle choices like working out 6 days a week! I love this reblog! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. We can be so mean to ourselves! It’s interesting that you say you push your husband’s arm off of you to prevent him from feeling your squishies (evidently that’s not a word). I tend to avoid my husband a lot when I’m feeling down on myself. Aside from wanting to be healthy, that is my second top reason for working out. When I work out not only am I happier, but the people nearest me are are happier too. With that said, congrats on the workout programs. That’s great! I hope you’re still doing it.

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    • It definitely radiates outward when we feel good about ourselves. I am still on the workouts 5-6 days per week. Exercise is my stress reliever and sanity tool. If I can get the eating in line with the workouts I’ll be good to go. I don’t want to be “skinny”, I just want to be healthy. And like you said, a good part of being healthy is not being mean to myself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This still touches me deeply. Send me your address so I can send you something special for your mirror. Did I ever tell you that after I birthed twins, (and years later) I got a hold of that yellow police tape that says, “Caution Crime Scene” and put it around my midsection? Alright, well I didn’t….but I fantasized about it. My husband was forbidden to touch me. And it was off limits to EVERYONE else too. I wouldn’t even let myself be hugged. We’re so alike….

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  20. Hmmm… I do have access to crime scene tape… 😉
    Thank you for reminding me, I watched the video again this morning. The message does stay with me for a while, if only I could make it stick!
    On the hugging- my MIL has this awesome party trick where every time she sees you she’ll say, “Come and give me a hug”, but what she’s actually doing is sliding her hands around your waist and doing the fat check. Nope, not traumatizing in the least…
    I will email you, and thank you for “getting” this!

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