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

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