3,500 calories equals a pound.
An apple is a zero-point food.
Black pin-striped pants are slenderizing.
A V-neck top can elongate the torso and give the illusion of a slimmer face.
These are just a few of the myriad of weight-related nuggets of information I have picked up since I was a young girl growing up with wider hips and fuller arms than my childhood counterparts. My thighs touched. My friends’ didn’t. I had large breasts at 12. My friends didn’t. Throughout high school, my 20s, and three years of my 30s I fluctuated between a size 12 and 14. And of course, ridiculously, thought I was fat.
But if you grew up in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, there wasn’t much in the way of representation of different body types for girls. We had Christie Brinkley in the ’80s and heroin chic in the ’90s. Kim Kardashian’s voluptuous bum and Queen Lizzo’s curves were years away, as was the body positivity movement. A size 12 was seldom seen in the glossy pages of fashion magazines.
I struggled immensely with body image, thinking there was something wrong with me because no matter what I did, seeing a clothing label with the number 4 on it was elusive to me.
Then, in my early 30s, I went on a diet. I skipped breakfast and lunch, dined on salad for dinner, and ate air-popped popcorn for a snack. Exercising became a twice-a-day obsession as well as weighing myself. I dropped 40 pounds.
Finally, after years of yearning to fit into single-digit sizes, I could wear whatever I wanted. People complimented me on my weight loss and even envied my new body. What they didn’t know? I wasn’t satisfied. I didn’t think I was thin enough. I was angry I still had thick thighs and loose skin around my twice-C-sectioned belly. I was insecure and had persistent feelings of not being good enough. I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin.
Looking back on that younger version of myself, I want to tell that girl she should have loved herself. I want to hug her, tell her she was good enough. I never really got to enjoy those years of being thin because I was preoccupied with perfection. Also, maintaining that body was a full-time, exhausting gig that caused disordered eating habits.
As time passed and I grew older and bigger, something interesting began to happen: I learned to like myself. Liking oneself should have nothing to do with a number on the scale or on a clothing label. It should have to do with who you are as a uniquely beautiful, lovable human being. You are worthy of loving yourself and liking what you see in the mirror even if you’re fat.
I am now fat.
In the past, I would offer an explanation for my size in hopes of convincing people I didn’t fit into the stereotypical narrative of being lazy and unhealthy. Menopause, depression, metabolism-slowing mental health medications. But now? I don’t do that anymore. My body is my business.
When I look at myself, I first see a person who is caring, funny, hardworking, creative, and full of empathy for her fellow humans. Next, I see a body that nourished and grew two beautiful children, a body that fought off a critical case of COVID-19, a body that is capable of healing, walking, standing, and dancing. Lastly, I see my lovely curves, my shapely bosom, and a cute heinie too!
It might surprise people to hear that I’m happy and fat. Fat phobia is unfortunately very real and there are people who can’t fathom that an overweight person is worthy of being loved and respected. I’ve witnessed people poking fun at an overweight girl while ignoring her slender friend with a vape pen.
As a culture that is fixated on the female form, I find it interesting that people often equate being overweight with being unhealthy and miserable but being skinny with being healthy and happy.
It’s refreshing that, slowly, archaic ideas are now questioned and the body positivity movement is flourishing. All over my news feed and FYP on TikTok, I see beautiful women who look like me, refusing to suck in their stomachs or edit their mermaid thighs. I have such admiration for curve models such as Ella Halikas and Tess Holiday who deliver messages of self-love and confidently show you can look fashionably fabulous at any size.
I am fat and fabulous. I am fat and happy. I am so much more than a number on a scale. The truth is, that cliche was correct all along. What’s on the inside is what really matters.