Sharing this story isn’t easy. I don’t want or need people trying to tell me I’m not fat, or that I’m beautiful, or whatever people choose to say when I talk about my weight. This isn’t a pity party or a cry for attention.
And I definitely don’t need anyone throwing rude comments my way. Those comments won’t even be read.
I simply want to let others know that this is something I’m living with, and dealing with, and accepting.
The title of this post is My Truth on Being Plus Size. I say my truth because I have no idea what it’s like for someone else to be plus-sized; I only know how it affects me and my life, how it’s affected me in the past and has shaped who I am now.
Like a lot of overweight people, I’ve thought a lot about my size. I’ve thought about how it has made me self-conscious; how it has made me feel unworthy; how it has made me hate myself, doubt myself and try to hide myself; how it has even made me try to apologize or justify myself, as if my body was something that was a nuisance to strangers. And the weird thing is, as much as I’m still trying to be okay with who I am, full-figure and all, I still catch myself thinking all of this.
Even as I type this post, I can feel my face getting warm, no doubt reddening with shame, or maybe embarrassment, as if I shouldn’t even be talking about it. But I’m going to talk about it anyway. So it here it goes, here’s my truth on being plus-sized.
On Growing Up
I wasn’t an overweight kid. In fact, I didn’t really see a big weight gain until grade eight – after I had starved myself to lose weight. By grade four I started to get pudgy, no longer that gangly thin kid, and even at the age of nine kids could be cruel. It was little comments here and there, but over the years, as I steadily got pudgier, I started to sink more and more into myself.
The summer before grade eight I went on my first diet, practically starving myself for weeks, checking my weight obsessively through the day. I lost 20 lbs. in about a month and felt great. Of course, as soon as I started eating regularly again, not only did I gain all of that weight back, but I gained more than double that and for the first time had to wear a size 16.
Grade eight was a weird time. It was the year my mom finally let me wear whatever I wanted and I dove deep into goth fashion and punk music, just before it became cool. I got made fun of quite often, but being alternative gave me a comfortable shield to hide behind. But it also gave me the confidence I needed to stand up for myself.
On High School
I ended up evening back out to my “regular” weight quite quickly, weighing about 160 lbs. and wearing a size 11/13 at 5’6″. Most of my friends were only 100 – 130 lbs. and I felt like a giant next to them. Girls were still wearing double zeros and XS shirts.
I hated myself.
I hated that I couldn’t seem to lose weight (and I really didn’t even know how). This was in 2004 when the emo craze first hit my high school, so I spent grade nine wearing blue jeans and band t-shirts, not really wanting to draw attention to myself any more.
When I did lose a bit of weight in grade 10 I started wearing whatever the fuck I wanted, inspired by my favourite bands, like Bikini Kill, Subhumans, Misfits, Conflict and Crass. I dyed my hair bright red, got pierced a few times and started waxing off my eyebrows and drawing them on. I got my first pair of Doc Marten boots – 14 eyelet black steel toes, and made a denim vest.
But after I had my daughter at 17 I suddenly became very self-conscious of what I wore. I wanted to look like a mom (whatever that looks like!) but I also wanted to find clothes that flattered me.
I remember when I was pregnant I cried every time a new pair of pants no longer fit. At one point my pre-pregnancy pants wouldn’t even fit higher than my knees.
Being 17 and pregnant is hard in many ways, but for a girl who constantly obsessed over her weight, it was hard dealing with my changing body. The cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins that seemed to appear overnight, and just got worse and worse, were almost more difficult to deal with than the actual weight gain. They were permanent and I knew it.
And for the first time, I tipped the scale well past 200 lbs. reaching up to 225 lbs. by my last doctor appointment. I can still remember the nurse slowly tap-tap-tapping that old scale, waiting for it to balance, and saying “Oh my” as it kept going. I can still remember my doctor lecturing me on the importance of eating healthier and getting exercise. In fact, he told me that if I didn’t change my habits I was going to be left with “a underweight, unhealthy baby and a fat body”. Hearing that at 17 was depressing, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.
A few months after I had Sidney I lost quite a bit of weight and settled into my “regular” size 11 pants at 170 lbs. My body always seemed to go back to that size no matter what I had put it through. For a while I even got down to 155 lbs. and wore a size nine.
And then I went to college.
On College and the Freshman 50
There’s this stupid saying that college freshmen usually gain about 15 lbs. their first year in school. Studies show it’s actually about three to 10 lbs. over two years. For me, it was more like 50. By the time I got to college I had already gained a bit of weight, but by the time I graduated I was the largest I had ever been, weighing even more than I did when I was nine months pregnant.
To be honest, my body does not handle stress well. Hell, I clearly didn’t handle stress well. But I was also super depressed for various reasons I won’t get into, and so I ate even when I didn’t need to. I also ate a lot of fast food because I just didn’t have the time and I never learned how to take care of myself properly.
And I haven’t lost that weight.
On Being Plus-Sized Now
I’ve been practicing self-love and gratitude for a few years now, and it has certainly helped, but I still think negatively about my weight a lot of the time.
Fitting into spaces sometimes sucks. There are times I’m when I’m at school and I feel my anxiety build up because the pathway between desks and students seems too small to fit through and I don’t want to squeeze past everyone. There are times when I’m out with Nick and he glides through the crowd, and I’m left behind trying to fit my body through the tight spaces. Or when I’m trying to sit in a chair at the mall, but my hips seem to hang over and it’s uncomfortable as fuck. Swings aren’t always that comfortable either.
Worrying about weight limits suck. I sat on my friend’s new stool and I thought to myself, “Oh my god I’m going to break this.” So every time I sat down or got up I made sure to take it slow. At some points, I decided to just stand because it seemed less stressful.
I worried about going to the carnival and wondered whether or not I would fit on the ride, checking the people in front of me and sizing them up, only to see if they were bigger and if they fit.
I’ve tried on dresses or shirts where the tag showed my size, but once I squeezed it on I couldn’t get it off, panicking with my arms stuck straight up, barely able to move and worrying about whether or not I was going to rip right out of it like the Hulk.
Feeling ashamed of eating sucks. Like everyone is judging you based on what you have for lunch or dinner like you’re a monster for indulging in chocolate or fries (my biggest guilty pleasure). God forbid you give the fat girl an ice cream cone. At every dinner out and family party, I’ve sized up my portions and compared them to those around me, never wanting to take more than the person next to me, even trying to take less most times, and especially refusing seconds.
And then there’s this stupid feeling like I need to justify to other people why I’m overweight.
What’s been especially frustrating lately, though, is wanting to have fun with fashion, but being afraid to try. I’ve told my mom a few times that any time I wore makeup I thought of that saying “putting lipstick on a pig” which is actually a rhetorical expression used to describe products that are packaged fancy but are just shitty products, but to me, it feels literal. Like trying to look good by putting on makeup is just a futile attempt, and everyone knows it.
It’s clear I have a lot of work to do on my self-esteem.
And What I’m Doing Now
But I have been making changes as far as it goes to say “fuck it” and start doing things for me, despite being plus-sized.
No longer do I go to boot camp because I hated it, and there was a huge emphasis on weight loss rather than health. Now I have a gym membership and workout at home, doing things I love and not workouts that make me vomit.
I stopped obsessively recording what I eat and trying to calorie count. Instead, I aim to eat more fruits and vegetables and look at what I’m putting into my body versus how many calories each thing has.
I started wearing more fun and colourful clothes, ignoring whether or not the bold patterns make me look bigger. I’m sick of hiding behind black.
Over the last few years I’ve been teaching myself how to be healthy, and I’ve learned a lot. I know genetics are against me, and I have a lot of bad habits I need to change. But just because I’m plus-size doesn’t mean I’m any less worthy than someone who’s not.
Can anyone else relate?