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!”