Last night I got home from the grocery, whipped myself up a little something for dinner & decided to watch a movie. I’d heard great reviews of the new Netflix original, Dumplin’, starring Jennifer Aniston & Danielle Macdonald, so I decided to give it a shot. Two hours later I was crying happy tears & singing Dolly in the tub as the credits rolled. Maybe it was a bit cheesy, but the message was clear: We are all enough & we should all embrace who we are apart from others’ expectations.
But, that’s not always a truth I’ve trusted.
I am a curvy girl. With exception of a very unhealthy time in my life when I didn’t eat often, took diet pills & worked out way too much, I almost always have been. When I say almost always, I mean from childhood. I was never a really big girl growing up, just curvier than my peers. But, I heard the adults around me talking about it & so I quickly developed a sense of not being enough, or rather being too much, because of my weight.
Even the people who I loved & who loved me most commented on it often. They said things like, “We just want you to be healthy” & “We want you around for a long, long time” & made it obvious that they thought I was fat without every using that word. The irony is that my internal health was at its worst when I was at my thinnest, & my annual physical numbers have never been above normal range, even though my pant size has pretty much stayed in double digits.
I was also mostly miserable when I was skinny. I had an ass that wouldn’t quit, but I also craved toxic attention & thought very little of my worth outside of the approving glances of boys at college parties.
I was the least me that I have ever been when I was thin.
Fortunately, the ways I got & stayed small were not sustainable, so I had to give them up & submit to my natural metabolism. I gained the weight back (+ some) & while I felt better about myself on the inside than I had in long time, I still had the pressure to find a way to shrink my curves into a desirable state of submission.
In truth, I can hardly recall people praising me for anything more than they praised me for intermittent weight loss. As I began processing the bigger picture of my battle with my body, I started responding to that praise with one sentence…
My value is not in my size.
I didn’t always believe it when I said it, but I knew it had to be said, for both their benefit & mine.
It angered me more than I can say that the focus was on the physical when there is so much more to me. Praise me because I am resilient, intelligent, strong, creative, loving, loyal, fun…not because of the number on a scale. Tell me I will have a great life if I keep pursuing my passions, not that I might be married if I had a more defined waist.
(Side Note: Marriage doesn’t always equal bliss. I have many friends getting divorced from the people they rushed to marry to not be alone or to prove they were lovable. I will never believe that a romantic relationship is required to be fulfilled. That being said I am single, boys, & if you like to laugh I might just let you take me out. Wink wink.)
My mental liberation from the physical frustration began when I was introduced to the body positive movement. First on Instagram, then through fabulous new friends & amazing old friends experiencing similar enlightenment. It was refreshing & exciting to see people like me celebrating their size & owning their personal style regardless of whether the fashion industry meant the look for an apple shape or not.
Over the last couple of years, I have continued to wrestle some, but I can finally say that I love my body for what it is today not what it could or should be tomorrow.
For those of you thinking that it’s foolish to disregard inches & pounds, rest assured that I will still get those annual physicals & I will keep defining wellness by the internal measurements that matter most. I’m not encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle. I am discouraging shaming by size.
It might be a pain to strap the lavish ladies into a bra (aka – boob jail) every morning, but when I look at them in the mirror I feel hot…in a completely respectful way. I still have an ass that wont quit, it just takes up more space in a seat, & that’s okay. I do wish my waist was more defined & I am working on taming the curves a little so my heart stays as healthy as it is, but I’m going to wear what I want, shake what my genes & love of sour patch kids gave me, & embrace life as I am without ever again feeling like I am not who I should be.
I am me.