Since I was 16 I’ve perceived myself as fat. There were a few years in there that I got skinny enough to not feel fat but other than that its been a constant struggle. And what I haven’t been able to figure out is whether I’m actually fat or just think I’m fat. In our society there is so many mixed signals that are very confusing and so I’m still not quite sure. Its impossible to get the hard truth because in America we skirt around reality. I had a russian friend who was dead honest about everything and I found that in her culture they’ll tell you your fat to your face without it even being considered a true insult. I remember I went shopping one day and bought a shirt that had a really ruffled sleeve. When she saw its she was like, “Oh, that shirt is so ugly!” (in a russian accent of course). If only she stayed in the US and didn’t move to Moscow…I’d have my answer by now.
When I was growing up my Mom would mention her skinniness a lot. I remember her saying once, “5 kids, size 5 jeans.” She liked the rail thin look and sometimes looked almost like a concentration camp victim. She probably eats about 1000 calories a day by default and is the slowest eater I’ve ever seen. My sisters are also very thin people naturally. My sister Sarah has had people ask her if she was anorexic in the past (she never has been) and my sister Leah is your basic nightmare because she is skinny with giant boobs. My sister Bethany has the smallest waist in the history of the world. Oh and my brother looks like a handsome Jack Skellington! So for me, I’ve always been surrounded by the thin and feel like a giant during family get togethers. I also feel like its so obvious how much bigger I am than everyone and think I try to deflect attention by being funny & silly at home.
In high school I was a size 8 pant and weighed about 145 lbs at a height of 5’6. I did every diet possible to lose weight. I did weight watchers and would go to the meeting with my Grandma. I did the cabbage soup diet which was a very strange diet where you eat cabbage soup everyday along with one or two other food items that change daily. I did Jenny Craig but that only lasted a week when I started dry heaving from their food. Then I tried starving myself which lead to binging and purging. My sister bought me a book about bulimia in an attempt to help not make myself throw up. I would write long lists of everything I hated about myself which included my weight, nose, crooked tooth, skin, butt etc. I had a very skewed vision of myself. I did The Zone where you eat mostly protein with limited carbs but it was hard to control my food since my Mom was obviously doing the shopping and cooking. I compared myself incessantly to my Mom and sisters who were very thin without seeming to work at it at all. What was ironic about this time period is that I actually got male attention not from the high school boys but from young men. I remember I was in a musical at our civic auditorium in town and I was asked to go with one of the cast members to see the premier of a movie he was in called, “Star Maps.” And then I had my first kiss from another guy in the play who was 22 (I was 16). I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all this attention at the time. I didn’t get it. Obviously my curves were attractive to men even though I just wanted to be a rail with no curves. I think at the time I thought they liked me despite the flaws of my curves where in reality they probably liked me BECAUSE of my curves.
After high school not much changed. I had a period of time that I was sick of dieting and decided to just give up. I gained 20 pounds. And then I was so disgusted with myself that I started a regime of running and then taking an endless amount of dance classes and I lost 30 pounds. I maintained my new weight of 135 by eating normally and exercising a lot. When I got married I maintained my weight until my husband started wanting to go on midnight runs to get donuts and hamburgers. I gain 10 pounds and stayed there for awhile. And then over the years I gained another 10. So when I got pregnant last year I was up to 155. At the very end of my pregnancy I was at 205 and looked like the marshmallow man. Now I’m back down to the high 160’s and am plateauing right now at this weight.
So now that you know everything what is the truth? Obviously I love to eat as is evident by the existence of this blog. So am I fat? At this current moment in time I’m definitely overweight by the BMI charts. I need to lose about 15 pounds to not be considered overweight. Of course I’m on the downhill slide from having a baby but still… Its like my Mom always would say, “you don’t have to look far to find people that have more than you and people that have less.” I’ll always find skinnier women and fatter women surrounding me. At the end of the day I choose how I feel about myself. Right in this very moment I feel pretty good. I could look better but mostly I feel I could look a lot worst.
My hope is that from here on out I can just live to be healthy and happy and not stress about the rest of it. Heck, I think I’ve stressed about it enough for one life time already. I think my story is unfortunately not that unique so if anyone out there has had similar struggles let’s swap stories. It always helps to know your not alone (or nuts!).