I recently saw a Facebook post from one of my long-time friends who wrote that her six-year-old daughter came home from school one day complaining that she was “fat.” Now, I had only just had lunch with my friend and her daughter over the holiday break and I can one-thousand percent testify to the fact that her daughter is most definitely not fat. She is intelligent and creative, shy but inquisitive – in short, she’s pretty much a dream come true. But even if she was “fat”, would her “fatness” negate all of those things. Does being “fat” make you less intelligent? Less important? Less worthy of love?
No, it doesn’t, but somewhere along the way, society has trained us to think these things. That an extra hundred pounds – hell, even an extra ten pounds – somehow makes you less worthy of everything.
I know because I’ve been there. My whole life has been plagued by feelings of unworthiness because of my own body image issues – because I am not the size two stereotype of American beauty. While I don’t remember the exact moment that my weight became the focus of my self-image, I also can’t remember when it wasn’t a part of how I evaluated my worth.
A distinct memory of being driven to the nutritionist for my weekly appointment – at which I would be weighed and evaluated by the less-than-caring doctor, where my weight was the focus of the conversation between him and my parents – still haunts me to this day. It was as if I wasn’t in the room – and for all intents and purposes I wasn’t: my weight was. That was the only thing that mattered in those moments – not my self-esteem, or my misunderstanding of why it was so important for me to lose weight – all that mattered what the number on the scale. I would starve myself for days before those appointments just to devour a simple compliment. And from those appointments came the feeling that I was only doing something meaningful if I was trimming down my waistline.
I have never been skinny. Even as a young girl, I was the chubby kid. It has always been a part of who I am. I heard the sly snickers, the concealed remarks about my weight all through junior high – man, that is just a rough time for anyone. Even in high school, I remained a bit introverted because I told myself that no one wants to be friends with me because I wore a size 12.
What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and shake some sense into the younger version of myself. For so long, I told myself that I was insignificant as a person because of my weight. I battled the scale through my entire teenage and young-adult existence. And forget being able to feel pretty in clothes – this shirt is too tight; it’s shows my curves. These jeans make my ass look big. This tank-top reveals my flabby arms.
On a daily basis, my self-talk was negative and just plain mean – it was filled with ideas that I would never tolerate someone else saying to me. So why was I allowing myself to say these things to me? Why was it okay for me to hate myself, loathe the idea of my existence just because I wasn’t skinny? Like my friend’s daughter, I was (and I’d like to think I still am) an intelligent, funny, caring and genuinely good person. But none of that mattered because I perceived myself as overweight.
So I hid my feelings of inadequacy. I hid behind sports – hey, maybe I’d lose some weight in the process. I hid behind humor – sarcasm is my middle name and if I could make people laugh at my words, they wouldn’t laugh at my ass. I hid behind my friends – meek shyness became my ally in group settings. I hid behind my grades – people would notice me for my grades instead of my size.
Then, there finally came a time when I had too much – too much noise from the outside world telling me I wasn’t thin enough; too much noise from inside my own head screaming at me that I’ll never be good enough.
I had an epiphany when I turned thirty. THIRTY! I wasted thirty years of my life defining myself by the number on the scale. I finally started to realize that I am so much more than a number:
I am a daughter.
I am a friend.
I am a wife.
I am a mommy.
I am a teacher.
I am an author.
I am smart.
I am funny.
I am kind.
I am loving.
I am worthy.
I am NOT my weight.
I am NOT my size.
I am NOT what society tells me to be.
I’d be lying if I said the negative self-talk vanished completely. It hasn’t. I’m not sure that it ever will, but I can say that it is more of a whisper now than it ever has been.
So when I read a blog post where the blogger was begging authors for more “real” women in books – ones who weren’t perfect, my main character instantly came to life. She would be me – or I would be her. Let Love Heal, my third book in The Love Series, features a curvy, not stick-thin, heroine who faces many of the same body image issues that I’ve faced my entire life. The overall take-away from the book is that you deserve to be loved – no matter what size or shape, you are worthy of being loved.
So if you’ve ever felt like you’re not enough – not pretty enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, take a second look and realize that you are all of those things and more. Even when the world screams at you that you aren’t, whisper to yourself that you are.
PURCHASE LET LOVE HEAL TODAY: