Today, I Threw My Scale Away
I am an-almost-26-year-old woman, so to say that I have struggled with weight issues would be an understatement. It isn’t really supernatural that you can navigate over to a site like HelloGiggles, or Jezebel–or even Pinterest and Facebook–and be bombarded with weight loss / weight gain / “thinspiration” / body pride subject matter. Every woman, and I really think I can almost confidently say “every woman” understands the struggle of living in a country (or even a world) that is so harsh and critical about women’s bodies.
I grew up not skinny, not even kind of skinny, to be honest. My family was poor: I totally get that if you have “no other option,” it is so hard to “eat right.” And honestly, food and our choices with it have changed a ton since I was younger. The 90s felt like the 70s (oh, cause I apparently know what the 70s felt like?). We had an excessive amount of sugary cereals, tons of “easy to make” food for working families (like Hamburger Helper, macaroni and cheese, chili dogs, you know, the good stuff) and way, way too many carbonated, caffeine-spiked beverages. We were the really, really cool family with the really, really cool mom who worked a helluva lot so we always had stocked cabinets full of crap: big tubs of Jif, lots of Wonder bread and enough Hostess snack cakes that we could have passed for the outlet. That and we always had a fridge jam-packed full of delicious store brand soda. To this day, I would prefer a Safeway Select can of anything to the real stuff. When I refer to my childhood fondly, it is almost entirely because of the excessive amounts of crap I consumed. Honestly. Who wouldn’t want to gorge on pop and Chips Ahoy! and kiwi lime ice-cream floats while watching the history of Steve Martin’s filmography with your brothers while your mom was working? Then, you wake up early and play Donkey Kong 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! on two player with your brother, getting up only to grab something else to snack on. Delicious life. That’s the good stuff. But, you know, adulthood happens to the best of us, so in college, I decided to stop eating numerous pints of ice-cream every week, and not working out ever. It did not begin as a weight loss journey, it was literally good use of my free time during a relatively lackluster quarter. And I lost fifty pounds that year. I was working out five times a week, had started drinking nonfat milk, had stopped eating a scone from Starbucks every morning, and I also became a vegetarian. I was pretty tiny for my size, for the first time in my life. But this is where it gets funny. I was fat for a big chunk of my life, yet I never had body image issues until I was 22ish. I lost fifty pounds relatively quickly, which means I would inevitably gain some of it back. I started working for a coffee shop that year, and I obviously had a hard / awesome time being around pumpkin scones and whipped cream beverages without consuming my fair share of deliciousness. I think I probably gained fifteen pounds back, on and off throughout the next year or two. And then, like Mama Oprah, I began to fluctuate throughout the years. I have never gone back to my heaviest–215 pounds–but I have worn anything between a size ten and a size fourteen in the past few years. My ex-boyfriend and I broke up like forty million times in the past three years. (don’t worry, no more of that nonsense from this girl.) Every time he broke up with me (ugh, I said no more of that nonsense), I would like immediately lose twenty pounds. I am not an emotional eater–god, I almost wish! I am an emotional DON’T EAT JUST TAKE NYQUIL AND SLEEP kind of girl. Super unhealthy, just like my last relationship. So there are times when I’ve been a freakin’ rail. Curveless, and sad, and even my hair was kind of limp and lame, and that just is not right for a girl with bomb curls like myself. We broke up last December–February (because you know, these things take time) and I lost a ton of weight, and was getting SO much attention from men, and it made me sick because everyone would ask me what my secret was, and I’d be like “um, depression?” because I was not proud of my body, I hated it. I hated being skinny because of a man, because I couldn’t stomach anything more than a bottle of red wine and sometimes an avocado. I started drinking a lot of cheap beer and staying up late and spending time with a different boy who I also should not have really been spending that kind of quality time with, and then I gained twenty-five pounds. By last summer, I was just feeling really awful about myself. Did you hear that? I hated my body when I was skinny, and I hated it when I was fat again. Is being a woman lose / lose? Absolutely not. I started seeing a nutritionist in my little town last September, and I was lucky because she kind of doubled up as a therapist, and I was able to talk to her about my history with food and my body, and also about my former relationship that sucked not only the fat off of my body, but the soul out of it as well. I upped my protein, and kind of accidentally got into a running group with some girls (and sometimes boys!) from work, and I lost twenty-five pounds. Ah-gain. But this time, healthily, for really the first time in my adult life. I sat having a cocktail with a really close friend of mine right before Christmas, and as I quipped something cutesey to the bartender, I looked over and caught him smiling at me kind of mysteriously. I kicked him under the table and asked him what his face was about, and he goes, “you have always been so beautiful, but why are you so extra beautiful lately?” And I told him it was because I had lost weight and he interrupted me, saying, “no, no, I’m not like that. It’s something else.” And I thought about it. By the time he walked me home, I finally realized what it was. It was not that I was “skinnier” again. It was that I had finally settled on a weight that felt right for me. A body that can run six miles NBD (okay, just kinda a BD), but also still have my twice-a-week-margarita-chips-and-salsa date without feeling guilty. A body that holds the soul of a young woman who loves herself. A body that loves warm chocolate chip cookies, and loves eating them, and loves not counting the calories. A strong body, that sports curves, and huge hands, and large feet, and quite a bit of height. It is home to a ton of curls, a wide, genuine smile, and honey colored eyes. It boasts lips almost as plush as its hips, and the hearts of all human beings that it meets. I looked at him and told him he was right: I was extra beautiful because I was finally really happy. This person is not fat: Fat and skinny are arbitrary words. You are beautiful solely from loving yourself. This girl loves herself. (And I haaaaaate numbers anyway, so why in the world did I even think I should pay attention to one?)