I am 26 years old, an occasional size 10, a frequent size 12 and I’m 5ft4.
These are my numbers. Well some of them, the ones I feel most comfortable sharing. These days I feel like my life is dictated by numbers, most notably the number on the scale (which I’m less keen to share.)
I know I’m not alone. In today’s society I am just one of many in a sea of despairing women (and men) obsessed with their body image and weight. Dieting and exercising relentlessly, putting my frame through hell and back to lose a couple of pounds, to go down a few numbers, to fit. Where I am trying to fit though? Or rather, what am I trying to fit – what are we all trying to fit? Well, a size 8 pair of skinny jeans ideally, but I’d like to feel like I was one of the lucky few society viewed as ‘beautiful’. That would be nice too.
So here’s the thing, despite the fact that at times I am a walking cliche’ and at others I am bordering on hysterical, I have common sense. I know that despite my numbers I am worthy of love, of friendship and ultimately, of happiness. These are my fundamental rights as a human being and being a size 6, 12 or 20 should not affect that. It does not affect that. I tell myself this on a daily basis.
Despite my numbers I am beautiful. I may not be beautiful in a ‘conventional’ sense but everyone is in their own way right? Because beauty is subjective, and what is lovely to one is hideous to another and vice versa – you get the picture. I know I am not a swamp monster living at the bottom of the lake. I have flaws, sure. But so does everyone – I know this.
I also know that in the end, none of these numbers I obsess over so are going to matter. When I die, no one will scrutinising my pile of ash and wondering if it could be just a tiny bit smaller. The only thing I’ll need to ‘fit’ in to is a box placed six feet under the ground. I know that sounds morbid, but it’s true. So in the scheme of things, does my weight really matter?
Well, yeah, kinda.
Because even though I know the aforementioned to be true, it’s not what I really think and it certainly doesn’t change how I feel.
When I look in the mirror I can remind myself of all the lovely compliments I have ever received. I can think about my adoring boyfriend and how he loves the way I look. I can tell myself ‘ beauty is subjective’ – but when I look in the mirror what I see is fat. What I feel is fat. And what I think is, sure, I’m not a swamp monster, but I’m out of proportion and people are going to stare at me.
I do this every single day, multiple times a day, and that feels truly horrible. I stopped wearing jeans because I hated how they highlighted my legs and made them look even chunkier. I don’t wear tight-fitting clothing as it shows my lumps and my bumps. I can’t wear baggy clothing as it looks like I’m wearing a sack. Sleeveless dresses are out of the question because my upper arms are shameful. I wear skater dresses and black tights. It’s what I wear everyday in order to feel comfortable going out in public. To flatter my horrible figure as best as I possibly can.
And even though I know my weight shouldn’t affect my happiness, it inevitably does, especially when it leaves me feeling so ugly and restricted. I exercise every single night. I am on a constant diet and I have been for 8 months now. A lot of my day revolves around how I look because I am always thinking about what meal I can eat and how many calories it contains, or how I can improve my workouts and boost my weight loss. I spend more time than I care to admit researching diet and exercise plans. When it comes to weigh in day, my whole week can be ruined entirely by the absence of a loss. To say it affects my mood, is an understatement. It positively controls my mood.
Finally, I know I am deserving of love and friendship. But this is the thing. It doesn’t feel that way. I annoy absolutely everyone I know by accusing them of lying, by disbelieving anything nice they say, by flying off the handle. I almost always feel that people are looking down on me, that they are judging me or trying to deceive me. At best I think people are just trying to be nice because they are sympathetic.
And that’s the struggle of it all. It sounds so conceited and vain – that’s why I don’t talk about it so much. Because it makes me feel ashamed that something as insignificant as how I look could shape my life in such a negative way. But I know I am not alone with it, there are other people who feel exactly like I do and suffer just like I do.
I see it all the time on social media. And I see the hate too. When a large lady tries to show some body positivity to herself she will often be ripped down with critique such as ‘it’s not healthy to be that weight’ ‘you shouldn’t promote fat’ and etc etc. We’ve all seen it.
Truthfully weight can be an important issue for many and we should be striving to be active and eat healthily. But in the same vein it’s important to show kindness to yourself, even if you’re overweight/fat/obese…because being horrible to yourself is damaging and it leads to a path that’s hard to come off of. Ultimately it won’t help you.
I’ve spent so long being horrible to myself that I have forgotten how to be nice to myself, and that’s pretty sad. If only I could have kept just a little bit of kindness and support for myself, perhaps then losing weight would have been easier / less of a punishment and more of a journey. Whatever the case I would have been a happier person and that’s what really matters.
In the end your numbers and my numbers are really nobodies business but our own. If people compliment you, or critiscise you always try to remember that it’s your body and it doesn’t exist to please everyone. Body positivity is important for everyone regardless of size and of shape and in the long run feeling comfortable with who you are / what you look like is going to be far more productive than giving in to the hurtful and destructive thoughts that our society sadly forces upon us. There is always going to be someone who disagrees with you and your lifestyle. I’d like to think those people are welcome to their negative thoughts. Instead of imitating what they think and taking it out on yourself, stick to what you know to be true – show yourself some kindness, you are deserving of it and you are not alone!