This is a photo of the hips and thighs that have consumed so many hours of my mental energy during much of my existence on this planet. (Yes, that is the Fila “F” on those pants — they were on sale!) These hips and thighs have never done anything offensive to me. They’ve never betrayed me, they’ve never been broken or diseased or weak. But I have waged the most ruthless war on them over the past 10 years, and I think I’m ready to put it to bed.
I was a chubby teenager, and I didn’t even know that until recently when I saw old photos of myself that my dad brought home from his cubicle after he retired. At that age, I had no relationship with my body whatsoever. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t even have one. My mom told me she never said anything to me about my weight because first of all, I was still healthy, and second, she never wanted to make me feel like my weight should have something to do with my self-worth. Despite this wonderful decision she made for me in my formative years, I still managed as I got older, like literally every girlfriend of mine, to find enough room in my life — in my educated, first-world life — for an extreme body hatred phase.
I lost about 10 or 15 pounds between sophomore and junior year in college because I was trying to work through the idea that my first boyfriend, the person I lost my virginity to, cheated on me repeatedly. I wasn’t even trying to lose weight, I was trying to not be angry. When I returned to school, I received more compliments than I ever have in my entire life. To up the ante after this rush of new-found confidence, I took speed-like diet pills, ate very little food, and ran for 60 minutes every day senior year of college. I rang in my 21st birthday weighing 108 pounds, and as someone who comfortably rests at about 120, I was so proud of that.
How rude it is to be born with this beautiful, healthy, functioning human body and to repeatedly and obsessively reject this privilege. I’m 28-years-old and I think I’m just now learning to look in the mirror and see the entire image. I don’t look at my face and then at my thighs and then at my collarbone and then at my arms and then at my hair and then back at my thighs over and over and over — I see an entire human being. I see the way all my parts move together, and it looks pretty good to me.