I’m fat. Fat and sexy. I used to just be fat, and then lately, I’ve realized that I can love my body just the way it is. I’m not a bad person because I’m fat. I’m just fat. I’m not lazy or ugly or undeserving of affection. The word “fat” carries so much negativity with it that a friend of mine will not say it in front of her sons. She doesn’t even want him to know what the word means. My daughter, on the other hand, will pat my butt and say, “I like your fat butt, Mommy.” To us, “fat” references the quantity of fat cells one has. It’s not a value judgment.
For so long, I thought I sucked. I had been told I was a dirty rotten sinner for so long, I came to believe it in a way I don’t think the church ever intended. I came to believe that without Jesus I was worthless. I believe that deep in my heart, I knew this was false and so I had to find some reason that I sucked so. I chose my weight. It must be my weight that made me suck. It became my excuse for everything. Why didn’t I have more friends? Because I was too fat to be outgoing. Why didn’t I have a better job? Because I was too fat – revealing to potential employers my innate laziness and lack of enthusiasm. Why didn’t I get the full ride scholarship to Bible college? Because they saw that I was fat and “knew” I lacked self discipline and self-control (which is a fruit of the Spirit, revealing also the immaturity of my faith).
At some point in the last three months, I’ve realized that I am a valuable person, regardless of my weight. I don’t have more friends because I don’t go want more friends. I have a few close friends and that’s the way I like it. I don’t need a bazillion friends. I need a half dozen close friends that I can call up and hang out with when I need companionship. I didn’t get the scholarship because I didn’t apply myself in school. I didn’t do anything above the bare minimum. I didn’t get a better job because I was doing nothing to better myself. I didn’t look good in pictures because I bought crappy clothes because, after all, I didn’t deserve anything better.
Since coming to believe that I am valuable, I’ve changed some things in my life. I’ve spent some money on clothes. I went jeans shopping. The pair that fit best happened to be on sale for twelve bucks but I’d have paid the full price of forty for them. I went to a consignment shop and bought some cute shirts, spending about thirty dollars on five shirts. (Notice I didn’t go to the Goodwill…because it sucks here.) I bought a sixty dollar swim suit. I spent a hundred bucks on underwear (bras and panties). I’m scheduling a “spa” day for me. The hair cut will cost about sixty dollars and the wax another sixty. But that’s okay…I am a woman and I should not hid in crappy clothes that wear out in six months. I don’t have to have a bad hair cut (or in my case, no hair cut whatsoever). I don’t have to have a fifteen dollar Wal-Mart swimsuit that I’m embarrassed to be seen in. I don’t have to wear a shirt that I’ve had for over seven years and is full of holes. I don’t have to wear jeans that fit badly. We have the money for me to dress like I respect myself and so I’m beginning to.
I no longer stress about working out. I still try to get to the gym a couple of times a week. I need to be active for my health. I’ve no problem with that but I don’t beat myself up about it. I feel no pressure to have “perfect” attendance at Curves. I don’t pay a lot of attention to what I eat. We try to buy healthy foods so there isn’t a lot of garbage to snack on but when there is, I simply try to partake moderately. By not focusing on my weight all the time, I’m not focused on food all the time and it doesn’t control me the way it once did. It’s like Israel and porn. The more he stresses about not looking at it, the more he’s thinking about it and the more he wants to look at it. If he just relaxes and doesn’t beat himself up when he does, than it’s not that big of a deal. It’s the same way with food. If I think about eating healthy all the time, than I’m thinking about food all the time and what I can’t have and then I just want to eat all the time. (Right now, I am seriously having some cravings, even though my stomach is full of lunch and iced tea and I am absolutely not hungry.)
I don’t worry about not looking like the women on TV and in magazines. A number of months ago, we watched Dove’s Evolution video, Pro-Age, and Onslaught videos, and my personal favorite, True colors.
After watching these, I realized that I had let the “industry” tell me what was beautiful. I’d been frustrated because I knew that my body would never look like “theirs” no matter how much fat I removed from it. I knew this but felt deep inside that maybe if I just did more sit-ups or regular cardio maybe I’d bring about a miracle. It was magic thinking and I’m done with it. I realized that I am who I am. I began to love my body. It’s amazing. When’s the last time you walked into a store and instead of criticizing the way the entry doors make your hips look fat, you focused on the feeling of your leg muscles as they move your body forward? Do you know that we can’t make robots walk? They’ve been working on it and working on it and are beginning to make head way but nothing beats the human body for walking. Feel each muscle as it contracts and relaxes. Feel your biceps. Lay flat on your back and move your arms above you, feeling the beauty as they move in the way you tell them to. It’s amazing.
Oh, and the average American woman is 5’4″ tall and 154 pounds. The average model is 5’11” and 117 pounds. Most of us will never, ever, ever look like a model. They are freaks of nature. You wouldn’t judge a Chevy Aveo for not being a Lexus. Don’t judge your body for not being freakishly tall and thin. You are you. They aren’t comparing themselves to you. Don’t compare yourselves to them.
Okay, so as this happens, Israel’s friends start to notice and it’s very flattering. When he worked at Pizza Hut, I knew the guys wanted me for my cookies (as in chocolate chip cookies, not a euphemism for something else). This is something new. I find out that I am, in the current shape I am in right now, desirable to other men. This sounds so funny to say because I should have known it but when your world view is skewed it affects everything. Subconsciously, I believed that Israel found me beautiful out of duty. He loved my body because we were married. To find out that he desires me because I am desirable is amazing. It was revolutionized my life. I feel so alive and so powerful. I have power. I chose to use it for good but I have power. I am not helpless. It’s part of what has given our sex life such power of late. I could be sleeping with any number of other guys but I’m not. I’m giving something of great value to my husband every time I choose him. And vice versa. He’s giving me something great as well. We are mutually choosing to be with each other, not out of desperation or duty, but from free will.
This has also affected how I spend my time. Since realizing that because I was fat did not automatically make me lazy and undisciplined, I find I don’t have enough time in the day to do all the things I’d like. Unlike before, where I spent too much time watching TV and movies and playing stupid games on the computer, I now don’t have enough time because I’m reading books that teach me things and reveal things about the world at large. I’m writing more (obviously). I’m researching things that are important and/or fun. I’m learning German. I’m trying to learn to belly dance-which is a ton of fun. If I can find a class here and then one in Germany, I’m going to be so psyched! My house is cleaner because I’ve realized that being fat does not mean I’m dirty and slovenly. It’s not necessarily less cluttered because I’ve also realized that there are more important things in life than having a clean house. My quality of life is improved by a clean house. It is more improved by reading lots of books and listening to lots of different music. But I can clean the house in about thirty minutes now, instead of the two or three hours it used to take me. I am comfortable throwing things into the closet to deal with another day (probably the day we move) because it doesn’t mean I’m a fat, disgusting, slob. It just means I’ve more important things to do then stress about where that pile of knick-knacks should go.
I think what I’m trying to communicate is this: it doesn’t matter what your weight is. It matters what your state of mind is. Example: if, a year ago, someone had taken me out and bought me really expensive, well fitting clothes and given me a “make-over,” I would not have been transformed. I would not have been happy with the clothes. I would have still looked “fat” in my eyes and it would simply have reaffirmed what I dreaded to be true: even with expensive, great clothes, I was still ugly. Until I felt beautiful within my own skin, I would never feel beautiful on the outside.
I just finished “The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life” by Wendy Shanker. A lot of my mental changes have come about because of this fabulous book. If you receive this book from me for Christmas, do not be offended. Everyone, fat, thin, zitty, short, tall, curly haired, big-nosed, apple bottomed, bow legged, has something to learn from her insights. If you have something you feel insecure about, you can learn from this book. If you are completely satisfied with yourself, good for you. You still need this book. It will give you insight into the heads and hearts of those of us who are working on self contentment.