Queen of the Day

Jen Larsen on Being Skinny and Happy and Why They Aren't Related

When I’m having a rough day at work or my boyfriend makes me mad or I’m feeling left out or my bank account is looking sparse, I think to myself, “Man. If I were just 20 pounds thinner, none of this would be getting to me.” Okay, so that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but there have certainly been times when I’ve thought my happiness is dependent on my weight. Doesn’t everybody think that every now and then?At 300 pounds, Jen Larsen could relate. Before getting weight loss surgery, her doctor said,

“It’ll be nice to be able to walk down the aisle of an airplane, right? To fit down the aisle, and to not see that look of horror when someone sees you coming.”

After the surgery, Jen would go on to lose 180 pounds over the course of a year and a half.

“I lost a lot of things along with the weight,” says Larsen. “I lost my sense of self. My sense of proportion. My sense of dignity, of maturity, of control. I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect—and that completely astonished me.”

What Jen didn’t lose with the weight was the emotional and psychological stress that had come with being 300 pounds. Those things didn’t go away when she was one day able to fit into a size 2. She still felt depressed and couldn’t understand why she still felt depressed, “despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.”

And while Jen (who has written a book about her weight loss journey called Stranger Here) may still be sorting those things out, she does have a little advice (which, thankfully, doesn’t include Cosmo-style anecdotes):

“… don’t love yourself even though you’re not perfect — love yourself because you have a body and it’s worth loving and it is perfect. Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is.

And of course that’s totally easy and I have just caused a revolution in body image. Let’s all go home now.

Right. So, I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know how to make it happen, and I don’t know what to do except keep yelling about it, wherever I can. Saying there’s no magic number, and there’s no perfect size — and of course you know that, but we have to keep telling each other because it’s hard to remember sometimes. We have to keep saying it. We have to figure out how to believe it.”

Featured image courtesy of Refinery29

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1122102785 Chelsey Sue Nickerson

    I weigh about 100 lb. and I’ve been battling depression for about 7 – 8 months now. Being little doesn’t mean having no worries. I don’t know how many women have told me, “Oh I wish I were as little as you are!”. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. They have loving families and friends who cherish them. As long as you have those two, it doesn’t matter what it says on the tag in your jeans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504852593 Lexine Pishue

    It’s interesting how the myth of “thin = happy” hurts both sides. It means that fat = unhappy, and that thin != unhappy. Thin people are divorced from their feelings, because they should feel SO LUCKY to be thin, and fat people can’t be happy, because that’s just ludicrous – they could die/inconvenience others/be an eyesore at any moment! I love that we are getting to see the complications in these stories more and more. The happiest I’ve ever been is now, because I’ve finally accepted, embraced, and actively love the body that I have, not the one I thought I wanted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581109347 Elizabeth Glass Turner

    I think you have to love something else more than you dislike what you see as flaws about yourself. You’ve got to have perspective. If you grab a kid from getting hit by a school bus, the kid’s parents aren’t going to be like “yeah, but she has cellulite.” Love living.

    I worked in a nursing home. Ask any of those residents if they regret having a tummy pooch in their 20’s. If you need perspective – and we all do sometimes – visit some babies, small kids, and old folks. None of them have the burden of being anything other than honest.

    I’ve been everything as an adult from 143 pounds (thinnest) to 235 pounds (9 months pregnant) and now I just want to be fit enough that I can make my health a non-issue for my brand new daughter, because how I welcome life will affect her attitude towards her own little body and potential someday. I want to be healthy and fit enough to enjoy fashion and welcome whatever adventure waits around the corner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=675328063 Jen Larsen

    thanks so much, Parry. it is thrilling, every single time someone gets what i’m hoping i’m communicating.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2704267 Parry Ernsberger

      You are so welcome, lady! And thank YOU for sharing your story with all of us. I think you’re pretty great!

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