Since the awkward years of puberty, I have always been overweight. It’s been a thing my whole life. I was that 13-year-old girl who was called “fatty” by bullies at the public park. And I was the 20-year-old girl called “fat ass” by a really cute boy in a room full of other really cute boys. I have the sad stories. I have the stories of public humiliation. Social equality fanatics would have a heyday with the body shaming I’ve endured for 30+ years. But despite all of the evidence society has stacked against me…the opinions of literally millions of people and an entire industry devoted to defining standards of beauty…even as a young girl, I couldn’t shake the deep belief that my FAT had absolutely nothing to do with my VALUE.
Yeah, you read that right. I’m a lifetime fat girl with healthy self-esteem.
I’m not talking about the big girls who wear short skirts and midi-shirts so the world can admire their rolls and cheer “you go girl.” I’m not sure I would qualify that as self-esteem, so much as giving the world the middle finger. Nah. I’ve never claimed fat as the new “sexy.” I believe in dressing for the body you occupy. Which means I live by the mantra: “Just because it buttons, doesn’t mean it fits.”
You see, I’m pragmatic. Fat is just fat…connective tissue used to store energy. And, yeah, some people have more of it than others. Maybe from hormones. Maybe from over-eating. Maybe from unlucky genetics. Maybe from Lays potato chips being a-hella-lot cheaper than wheat grass smoothies. But, yeah, regardless of how it was acquired…fat is just a lifeless, biological function of the body. Which is why…even in the midst of heart-breaking public shame…I could never understand HOW IN THE HELL connective tissue had the power to define my worth.
So, at some undefined moment in life, with endless encouragement from my parents…I decided that the world was stupid. And in order to live my best life in the body I was given, I was going to have to cling to the truth that my value and my body were completely and dramatically UNrelated.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a lifetime fat girl with healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean I’m STOKED about having cellulite and jiggly arms. Nope. I avoid mirrors when I’m naked. I get my feelings hurt when people say “you have a pretty face.” I wish I had one or two less chins in candid photos. And I’ve had my fair share of scary moments wondering if I was going to exceed the weight limit on amusement rides. I feel the feels of being overweight. I just don’t stay there.
I don’t hide in over sized potato-sack clothing. I don’t lower my dating standards because I think I don’t deserve an attractive, amazing man. I don’t try to make myself invisible. I’ve never cried in a changing room while trying on swimsuits. I’m not ashamed to stuff my face with donuts in a public place. I don’t assume everyone in the room is thinking about how fat I am. No, in fact, I just assume NO ONE is thinking about my weight. Which gives me the freedom to simply offer the best parts of myself.
I have deep, meaningful friendships with people who love every part of me. I have a great job where I have influence and am valued for my contributions. I embrace adventures near and far. I love fashion and makeup and all things girly. People laugh at my jokes. And there are many kids in this world who adore me and think I’m the coolest thing since Legos. Yeah, I live a full, full life. Divorcing my value from my body was a great decision.
But, you see, somewhere along the line…I over-corrected. I wandered so far away from my physical self, that I completely abandoned the temple that I was given stewardship over. I am Imago Dei…created in the image of God. To separate myself completely from my body meant that I separated myself from God’s holy creation. Which is why, over the last year, I have spent many counseling sessions crying large crocodile tears over the broken relationship I have with my body.
If you want to hear that story…stay tuned…for more confessions of an atypical fat girl.