Body Image and The -isms
If you couldn’t tell by the title of this, yes I may have some body image issues- Also I’m fat. Yes, I said it- FAT. FAT fat Fat fat fat. I’m still trying to own the word and not base my entire identity around it.
For as long as I can remember, my body image always had something to do with my weight, either by my family, school bullies, friends or even myself. My mum loves to tell stories of younger me- skinny, who looked almost malnourished. Apparently, from a very young age I only ate: 1. Food without color, 2. Candy, 3. Water. I remember falling sick at primary school, maybe age 7, because I threw up my breakfast after being force fed before school. I remember the hours just sitting at the table refusing to eat, or really not being able to. My mother did try supplements to help my appetite, but as she says often ‘the other children ate a lot, so it made me worry less about her and not think I was a terrible mother’. But funny, I also remember loving McDonald’s double cheese burgers and fries (from the 90’s, doesn’t taste the same), and bagel bites when we came on vacations to the US.
Fast forward age 10, I get thrown to boarding school, and the the eating started. By the time I graduated at age 16, I was already at least 150 lbs, except I though I was fat already. Compared to other school girls, I was “bigger”. I had bigger breasts than most people my age (D cup at age 13), a little tummy pouch and jiggly arms (ah, young me, so foolish). Then I came to the US for college and well, the whole thing went to shit. I remember weighing 160 lbs when I started college, and weighed at least 180 lbs by graduation.
At this time, well- I was “HUGE” (in my mind and apparently the mind of everyone else). I grew so self conscious, dieting, working out, not wearing clothes that didn’t have sleeves, investing in a lot of shape-wear to hide my love handles. I remember buying the ‘body magic’ for over $50 at the time. But at the same time, there was a weight thing going on at home (another story with my siblings). Talking to relatives it was ‘ah- you need to stop eating oh, you’re putting on weight’.
I remember the diet programs I invested in- Nutrisystem, South Beach Diet (consisted of mixing water, lemons, and cayenne pepper- apparently was done by Beyonce to lose weight for Dreamgirls), Herbalife, Fit Girls Guide, Lose it Nigerian, Cabbage soup diet, Phentermine (someone told me I was basically doing speed) and then the big one- Quick Weight Loss Center.
Quick Weight Loss Center (QWLC) was by far the most expensive diet. I was 23, just got my tax refund, and just hit 201 lbs on the scale. It cost roughly $1000 and I did lose weight. A whooping 30lbs in 2.5 months. It was a restrictive and bland diet and I cheated sometimes. I looked good, but I didn’t feel good. I became a lot more critical of myself- wanting to lose more weight faster to look skinnier. I went down almost 4 dress sizes- From a 12 down to an 8. And then I stopped the diet and suddenly I was 210 lbs 6 months later. I still continued trying to lose weight- till I stopped early this year. I just stopped. At age 28, I decided I was done.
But there is still my internalized fat phobia- just because I say I’m not going to lose weight, doesn’t mean I liked the body I was in. My stomach got jigglier, my waist line was there somewhere, my bras were somewhat tight and uncomfortable, my neck got more rolls, and people still said “you should try to lose some weight oh- fat is not good”. It didn’t matter if I was healthy (which I am- no weight related illnesses here), It didn’t matter if I had finally worked to eat healthier and I wasn’t gaining weight, It didn’t matter that I was depressed and anxious, It didn’t matter that my career was finally taking off, It didn’t matter that I was in the middle of nowhere by myself, and it didn’t matter that I was just plain old tired.
Lizzo. Lizzo has played a great role in me accepting the skin I’m currently in. Lizzo came out, loud and proud and unapologetic. She exuded the confidence I wanted to exude and she was very loud about it. At first, I was taken aback- how dare this fat woman be everywhere- but I realized it was my Fat-phobia making me judge her. When I started to love my skin and appreciate me more, I also started to appreciate her more. I started to look in the mirror naked- not for my flaws, but for the beauty. I started to think sexy and in turn feel sexy. I started to take more pictures- and post them.
I’m still getting there. I’m trying to buy sexier clothes, not thinking about dating in terms of size but in terms of me. My friends, mother and sister have been great- reminding me of how beautiful I am, and how loved I am regardless of my size. The rest of the family and the world can really fuck themselves and their fat-phobia.
Yes I am a 29 year old, size 14, 230 lbs, small footed, light skinned, talkative, large personality, smart, badass woman. I love colors, and the MCU, and Harry Potter, and Lizzo, and Beyonce, and sitcoms, and good food, and wine, and martinis, and vacations, and the beach and other things that make me uniquely me.