My name is Maria, and I fat shame. I fat shame myself and take away my own happiness over pounds on a scale or number on a dress tag. I have struggled with my weight my whole life, usually I was on the winning side of that battle. After having kids, I began to lose that battle. I dedicated myself to nursing my babies, keeping a full time job and starting my own business. While I succeeded at those three, it wasn’t enough -I was fat, and I fat shamed. Failure over my weight trumped any achievement, any success that I experienced. My entire existence and emotional well being was contingent on the scale. For someone with a crappy metabolism, it’s hell on earth.
Last year, I lost close to 80 pounds. In all honesty, I was motivated by love. A dear soul sister and I decided enough was enough. We set out on a journey together to lose weight. She supported me when the sugar cravings and chocolate withdrawals made me homicidal. I worked hard for it. I was hungry, but I was happy. People would see me and comment on how thin and beautiful I was. I felt deserving of their compliments, of love and happiness. My soul sister didn’t continue on our journey. I loved her (and still do) exactly how she is. All her delicious roundness is perfect to me, why couldn’t I accept myself, extra pounds and all? I powered on alone to lose the weight. The image in the mirror encompassed my emotional well being. I was eager to meet people on my move to New Jersey, after all I wasn’t a lazy slob. I was avoiding all judgment.
Then, my first new jersey winter happened. I put on 23 pounds. I never quit the gym. I ate healthy food, but I allowed myself to indulge occasionally. I once again felt that pang of failure, defeat. I stayed home. I made excuses about my weight to family that came to visit. But, mostly I hurt. When my well intended cousin said, “why have you let yourself go?” I hurt deeply. She said other things as well, what a beautiful and loving home I have, what a great marriage I have, how proud I made her. But what stuck were those 6 words. I defined my worth with those 6 words. It didn’t matter that I’m a gentle and loving mom, a dedicated friend, a gracious hostess to many summer visitors, a loving and supportive wife. It only mattered that I was no longer a size 6.
Fat shaming is like a bad paper cut; no matter how many other body parts you have, the only one you can focus on is the one finger with the sting of the paper cut. Shouldn’t my weight be as important as a paper cut? Don’t I have many other attributes to focus on? Don’t I have much love to give and experiences to share with others? I felt judged. Probably because I judged myself so harshly. How could 23 little pounds unglue me to such an extent? Consciously, I know my worth is so much more than my weight, but somewhere deep inside there’s a voice that screams “you lazy failure, you’re fat again. You are undeserving of love and happiness.”
My struggle is no longer with my weight, but rather with that voice. At almost 38 I have decided it’s time to stop fat shaming. I love deeply and passionately. I stand up for others, I want to change the world for my 3 babies. I know the only way to start, is to begin to let go. My sole motivation for writing this piece is to let it go. This grasp that this number 23 has on me, I’m letting it go. That number will not own me. I will focus on the things that quiet down that defeating inner voice, “I love you’s” from friends and family, strong hearty work outs, giving time to others that need me. I have now lost about half of those 23 pounds. I haven’t lost the desire to be thinner, I just don’t want that desire to control me.
I want to feel proud of my other accomplishments, but every now and then that voice creeps up, and I must remember that I am worthy. “Quiet down,” I say softly, “I am worthy of love, especially my own.”
Maria is a mother, wife, twin, sister and Columbian cooking guru living in New Jersey. She is a friend of fun life * happy life and has contributed to this blog before. She is full of awesome stuff to say and we really think her writing regularly on her own blog (or more here) would change the world.
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