Something completely devastating happened to me recently: My five-year-old daughter called me fat. While I am fully aware that children often say things without understanding the meaning of their words, the fact remains that she isn’t wrong. I’m overweight and I know it. In fact, the medical term for my weight is “morbidly obese.” Not only am I approximately 100 pounds over the suggested weight for my height and age, but in the 12 years since I graduated high school, I have doubled my body weight.
The trail that led me here was really quite simple. It started with the typical “freshman fifteen” that continued through college as I tried to balance 5-7 classes each semester with 25-30 hours working retail each week, not to mention the lack of funds for healthy eating. My first job out of college came with a 50-mile commute, meaning there were lots of bad eating habits happening in my car.
My two children are a mere 22 months apart, meaning I spent 4 years consistently either pregnant or breastfeeding. I also take multiple anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to help with my mental illnesses. Add to all of that my severe lack of culinary skills and my loathing of exercise, and you have a perfect storm to create a 30-year-old, 5’4” woman who weighs nearly 250 pounds. It’s quite the sad situation.
While I hate looking at my body in the shower and buying clothing in the plus size section, I am actually more disgusted by the fact that my daughter (who is still two months from starting kindergarten) recognizes my body as flawed and “fat.” I find it disheartening that she has the ability to judge the body of another and use her words to hurt, whether it was intentional or not.
What are we doing to each other? What are we saying to ourselves?
I have friends who have incredible looking bodies that feel a constant shame about their appearance, and about who they are. I see celebrities stand up and say that we should stop “body shaming” and “embrace our curves,” yet I walk into Kohl’s and find that all of the designer brands max out at least two sizes too small for my curvaceous body. We see our friends spending insane amounts of money (and spamming our social media) on these products to “trim the fat” or “get skinny.”
How are we ever going to love ourselves if we are constantly viewing ourselves as flawed because we are unique?
Sadly, I don’t have the answers, but I do know this: I’m never going to be 120 pounds and a size 6 again, and that is okay! There really is no go-to guide, we have to figure out what works for us and our lives. Yes, I do want to be healthy and live my life to the fullest, but not at the expense of hating the skin I’m in right now. That’s the real lesson in life that we need to be teaching ourselves, those around us, and the children in our lives: we are all unique and we are all beautiful. The goals for my body right now are to stop hating it and teach my daughters to embrace theirs just as they are by loving my own.
Featured image via Unsplash.