Thursday, January 26, 2012

Body Shame

This post is the result of YEARS of suffering, not any one recent event. Just in case someone gets it in their head that they sparked this...you didn't. Don't worry. :)

I was always small. I stopped growing at age 12, topping out at 4'11". At my senior prom, I weighed 95 lbs. and wore a size 3. I was TINY.

Believe it or not, I had body issues even then. My little pooch of a tummy shamed me. I focused on my big nose, overbite, braces, acne...you name it, I was ashamed of it. I was almost never single. I certainly was attractive to SOMEONE. But I hated myself.

Fast forward through six years of college. I put on 60 lbs. The cafeteria offerings were atrocious. I didn't party; I can count on one hand the number of times I actually got drunk in college. With age and food choices, the weight started adding on. I was horrified. I'd go to the gym for a few weeks, then get tired of it. It was easier just to get fat. Looking back, I think I looked better in college than high school.

A month after I graduated college, my mom died. I packed on another 20 lbs. seemingly overnight. My boyfriend of 4 years moved in with me. We were poor and lazy and ate horribly. My weight fluctuated constantly. I finally broke up with him after years of emotional abuse, and moved on.

I met Simon. :)

We moved in together after 8 months of dating. We went out to eat a lot. He was on Jenny Craig and I joined it too, until I decided I'd rather cook and save us the money. $800 a month for Jenny food for two! Crazy! But once again, the weight crept on as life got busy. Simon proposed to me when I was at my heaviest: 200 lbs. (Unrelated, just pointing out that he loves me no matter what size I am).

We were engaged for a year and a half, and for the first few months, I planned on losing weight for the wedding...later. Suddenly it was 2010 and we were getting married in 10 months! I freaked. I worked my butt off and lost 30 lbs. in 6 months. I slowly lost another 5, then gained it back, then 5 more as the stress of planning a wedding got to me. At one point, I was told by a relative that my gown would look perfect if I "just dropped 5-10 more lbs." She meant well, she meant to encourage me, but I got pissed. I got married at 175 lbs. I hated myself for it at the time, but I know now that I looked beautiful.

After the wedding and honeymoon, we eventually tried to get back into eating right and exercising. I mentally rebelled every step of the way. 2011 was a constant struggle. I finally started seeing a therapist about my self-esteem issues. I went back to counting calories and tracking exercise, then gave up. All it did was depress me. Toward the end of the year, I stopped tracking, stopped weighing in. I've gained a bit back. I'm probably not back up to 200 lbs., but I really don't want to know.

You may have seen this picture circulating the internet:

At first, I was righteously proud of it. Yeah! Real women have curves! Embrace your body! But then I think about my skinny best friend who never could gain weight. The one who got stretch marks just from passing 100 lbs. She's beautiful too! We all are! We're all "real" women. Who's to say the skinny ones are "fake"? No one! No one has the right to judge us!

Then I saw this:

THIS struck a chord. THIS is the message I was looking for. THIS makes me proud.

My Twitter friend Danya jumped on this. She understands my struggle. She understands body shame. And she's sick to DEATH of it. I helped her create this logo:

She put it on t-shirts. We're spreading a message, a truth, a BATTLE CRY.

We REFUSE to be ashamed.
We REFUSE to conform to some arbitrary body standard.
We REFUSE to accept judgement from others.
We REFUSE to be told we're not healthy.

Health at any size. HAPPINESS at any size.

From now on, I will eat when I'm hungry. I will try to eat healthful foods. I will eat "unhealthy" foods sometimes. Because I FEEL LIKE IT. I will exercise when I can and when it's enjoyable. I will be ACTIVE, not just for the sake of burning calories. I will buy clothes that fit NOW, not ones I want to fit into "later." I will wear what I want. I will be happy with ME. NOW. Not later. NOW.

Please also read about the body shaming of children in Georgia, and visit Marilyn Wann's Tumblr of images combating the body shaming campaign.

It starts young. It cuts deep. It's so very hard to let go of.


I'm pretty sick with a bad cold right now, so I may not have come across the way I wanted to. Let me add a few things.

If you want to lose weight, that's your right. If you want to be healthier, more active, stronger, faster, etc., then AWESOME. I wish I had the strength you do. I wish I could count calories or track my weight without falling into depression. I admire you.

This was about my personal journey to acceptance. I want to be happy where I am. If you're going to be happier losing weight, then do it! All I want to say is to do it for YOU, not society. That's all. We're all beautiful. You're beautiful now, you're beautiful pregnant, you're beautiful when you lose 50 lbs. I am NOT against weight loss or being healthy.

All I want is for you to love yourself.


  1. I don't believe the intention of the images that compared curvy women to really thin women to be an attack on naturally thin women, but on the media's intention of obligating the 'unnatural' degree of thinness we see in the fashion industry.

    And I don't think it serves anyone any good to suggest that very obese women should be fine with their weight, particularly when their weight becomes a serious health issue.

    It's important that we send out a message to women (and men) that attaining unrealistic 'perfect' bodies as presented to us by Hollywood and the media is unreasonable, and that there is a large spectrum, from thin to heavy-set that is absolutely just fine; but that we must also acknowledge that either extreme of this spectrum is not necessarily healthy.

    1. I obviously chose not to go into that. I just believe we have no right to shame people based on their size. How someone wants to treat their body is THEIR choice. Yes, some obese people are unhealthy. Some skinny people are too. It's none of my business.

  2. I have fortunately gotten a bit bigger now, but as someone who has been very thin for most of my life I have been told on numerous occasions that I look too skinny, must be anorexic and that I'm not a real woman, both directly and indirectly.

    Of course some big and some small people are unhealthy, but sometimes people are just naturally small or in a lot of cases have medical issues that help dictate their size, so the assumption that every skinny girl is starving herself on purpose isn't always accurate.

    Being told the way you look is unnatural, unhealthy or abnormal isn't very good for the self esteem of someone who either just can't put on weight because they are naturally small, or has some other illness causing weight loss. So seeing people applaud these images as a good message for young women saddens me, just as it would if someone was mocking larger women.

    Great to see people sticking up for every shape and size.

    1. Thank you so much! Being best friends with someone who struggled with always being underweight really opens your eyes to the other side of the problem.

  3. I believe every woman is beautiful, no matter her size, as long as she's healthy.

    There is a limit, but weight 200lbs isn't it. Some women are just born with curves!

    I, personally, am very small.

    I, like you, am 4'11" and I've always been petite. I felt most unhappy, and unhealthy, when I gained 50 lbs after I married my ex husband. I decided I was tired of being unhappy, and kicked myself into gear. I lost those 50 lbs, and I was happy. Not happy because I was "thin" but happy because I felt healthy.

    Now, I weight about 120, and I'm still happy.

    It's wonderful that you are taking control and being happy with who you are!!


    1. Yes! I agree, I do feel better when I weigh less. I'd like to lose more weight. I just need to do it for ME in a way I feel comfortable with. Not because people think I should. Good for you hun!

  4. The problem I have is when people lie about their issues. I have a friend that said she doesn't care to eat anything but fruit. She was maybe 90lbs. Then she moved and started a difficult post-grad program and lost another 12lbs. She said it was unintentional. Then she later expressed to people that those "motivational" memes about "this" being hotter than "that" made her feel bad AS A RECOVERED ANOREXIC. Ok, now, we have a clearer picture. I think she's not recovered based on her current weight loss but that's neither here nor there. My long winded point is that people need to start being honest with themselves. If I overeat, I need to acknowledge that I put on another 10 because I keep overeating. People who lose too much should be as honest and not say they are "naturally" thin. They might not take chemicals or have surgery but naturally doesn't mean starving or dieting.

    1. Exactly. Part of loving your body is treating it well. I am overweight because I eat bad foods. I know this. I try to put more good than bad into my body because I love it. Starving, overeating, etc. are not conducive to loving myself and my body. We need to respect OURSELVES first.