I was 25 and in my hometown, at the restaurant I worked at growing up. I was between jobs and had moved back in with my parents after leaving Philadelphia and a job that made me incredibly unhappy. I humbly returned to the restaurant I had worked at as a high school student in order to make some money and pay the bills while I figured my ish out.
One afternoon as I was cleaning the soda machine a coworker came up to me with a swimsuit picture of me off of my Facebook from when I was 17. She said, “Wow you used to be SO skinny, what happened to you?”
It felt like she had slapped me in the face. I tried to laugh it off and was like “I don’t know, I got fat I guess.” Then I excused myself to the bathroom and cried quietly.
That moment is burned into my memory as one of the most hurtful and embarrassing encounters I’ve ever had with a person.
2021 is my year of healing and I have thrown myself whole-heartedly into several personal goals. One of which I have been calling “Operation Hot AF by 30.”
It’s not a weight goal or something that can be measured by a number.
I want to get into great shape and look really good by my 30th birthday in October. I want to feel empowered and great about myself entering a new phase of life.
It’s a health and confidence goal.
A happiness goal.
I have been completing Whole 30s (more on that journey here) and have a regular exercise regime that I now practice and am LOVING.
The idea to permanently break up with the scale actually came from the Whole 30 program.
For 30 days you eliminate inflammatory food from your diet in order to reset your body and health. There is an aspect of the program where you are not allowed to weigh or measure yourself for the 30 days of the program because weight loss is not the point or purpose behind Whole30.
I have completed 3 ½ at this point and I have found myself over time weighing myself less and less.
There are better ways for me to track my health vs an arbitrary number on a scale defining my relationship to gravity in any given moment.
Still, I struggle. That photo my coworker whipped out of me in 2017 has become a skinny phantom that haunts me regularly. I would take progress photos of myself and crop them next to that photo, making myself feel wholly inadequate and horrible about my 29-year-old body.
A realization hit me the other day that I need to stop doing that.
My adolescent 17-year-old body is not a goal that I am ever going to reach. I was still growing and maturing. I wasn’t even all the way through puberty. I don’t crop pictures of myself when I was 7 next to my adult body and that is exactly how asinine it is to try and think I am going to get back to the size 00 I was in high school.
I developed more and more curves over college and beyond. I also take medication to help manage my mental health. Weight gain can be a side effect. Let me tell you if I have to choose between wearing larger jeans and being so depressed to the point of suicide, I will pick the larger pants every single time.
Society places unrealistic expectations of body image onto women that have become woven into our self-worth from an incredibly early age.
Tina Fey sums it up perfectly in her book Bossypants:
“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
Not only do we place these impossible standards onto ourselves but weight gain and loss can be a topic of conversation with loved ones and colleagues. After a breakup with one of my exes I lost an incredible amount of weight in a very short time because I was so heartsick I could not eat. I can’t even count the number of people who kept telling me how great I looked and asked me what my secret was.
Why do we think it is okay to comment on other people’s bodies or weight?! It’s NOT OKAY.
Weight gain or loss can be the symptom of something that has nothing to do with what is going on on the outside but a fierce mental health battle he or she is waging on the inside or something else medical like chemo treatment for cancer. It is awkward and confusing, even hurtful, to get positive feedback on something that is coming from a place of deep pain or illness.
In 2020 I had become the heaviest I have ever been in my life. Call it COVID and all of that. I was dating my now ex-boyfriend and he said the second most horrible thing I’ve ever heard after the restaurant bikini incident. He said “I am no longer sexually attracted to you,” under the guise of trying to help motivate me to lose weight.
It devastated me that someone I loved so deeply could say something so hurtful and demeaning. And it was odd because his words did not match his behavior… our intimacy was as regular as ever so I have no idea if he was lying or just taking one for the team or picturing me at a smaller size.
This is a BRIGHT red shiny flag and I am so grateful I am no longer in a relationship where a partner would tear me down like that.
I hope there is a man out there who would love me unconditionally… especially once women start families, post-pregnancy bodies are not going to look like the pre-pregnancy bodies because that body grew a mother fucking human being inside of it and that is utterly awe-inspiring.
Bodies are awe-inspiring and worthy of love. And it’s time we start to focus on that, over a number.
Body acceptance and body positivity are huge movements on social media right now. I too really want to try to love myself no matter the number on the scale or what the tag on my clothes says.
Self-acceptance is going to be a lifelong journey for me–this I know.
I recently posted on social media how I had been feeling about weight gain and loss and the response I received from others was overwhelming.
Both men and women reached out to tell me much they related.
I had someone say that she had recently gained weight and was struggling. I honestly told her that I didn’t notice whatsoever on her social media and the only thing I ever thought while liking her photos was how happy she looked.
That’s all that matters.
Being happy and healthy.
There are toxic people out there that will scour social media and say “Oh wow did you see how much weight so-and-so gained?” I have old acquaintances that felt it was their mission to point it out or pull up other’s social media and I am glad not to be a part of those conversations anymore.
That type of behavior comes from a place of insecurity or anxiety that isn’t about the body on the receiving end of it, but the person hurting on the inside.
A number doesn’t define you. A photograph doesn’t define you. Stretch marks or a bigger pair of jeans, don’t define you.
What defines you is your heart.
It’s your strength, compassion, integrity and bravery. It’s what makes you laugh, what makes you cry and what makes you feel alive. It’s what makes you, you.
That’s the commitment I am making–to loving, nourishing and elevating that woman.
That’s the goal I’m striving towards.
That’s the relationship I want to cultivate, cherish and grow.
The old relationship?
I’m done with it.
I’m breaking up with feelings of inadequacy, self-comparison and constant criticism. I’m breaking up with the idea that a little floor troll can evaluate my worth, health and beauty as a human being.
I’m breaking up with the scale.