It was 2013 when I gave birth to my daughter. Motherhood, especially when unexpected, comes at you so fast that it catches you up in the rapture. There was so much about that time that was a blur because I didn’t spend a moment of it outside my head, outside of the moment of being a mom. It was a shock to no one that I was hit with post partum depression, but it was a complete shock to me that within nine months, and the one month of the baby being outside of me, I gained 75 pounds.
Since the 6th grade I’ve been 185 pounds. That weight followed me well into early adulthood. The numbers taunted me in some way. It was inescapable. I remember always hearing and being told how “big” I was. Never fat, never chunky or thick – just big. This descriptor would never escape my vocabulary. The self deprecation was just apart of the joke at some point. Other kids teased me and pointed out what I would consider to be this fact and instead of hopelessly defending myself, I joined in. The jokes weren’t with them but to my friends. It was how I kept them from ever stating the obvious. It took me years to finally realize that this idea of being “big” wasn’t what I thought it to be.
This family of mines isn’t full of giants but we’re above average. All of my female cousins are 5’8″ and above with the males being only three to five more inches of that. My height wasn’t daunting but with my weight, my broad shoulders, my shape and size – being called big wasn’t the worst description of me. What I came to realize is no one had ever called me fat or talked about me in the same ways they talked about the fat girls. Of course it wasn’t far off. Even now I still hear the classic, “I mean, you think you’re big but this girl had you beat.” (All meant with good intentions but that never settled well with me regardless.) I knew big was a kind word for fat, of course. So it’s really no wonder why fourth grade to present me felt so … uncomfortable inside of this body.
This adjective added on by classmates and even sometimes friends made me aware of myself in ways I didn’t need to be. The relationship between food and I became strained and the only thing on my conscious at times. Never did I eat out of comfort or boredom. Never have I eaten because “food was life” and it was all I cared for. What I now know is me excessively eating foods that I like and know (aka can easily cook) was lost to a younger me. I skipped meals because to not eat was to not gain weight. Unfortunately the sad emotions did the work on my behalf but still, why bother if I was just going to get fatter?
This didn’t result in a eating disorders of any kind. When you’re raised with a woman who knows how to cook, there’s no skipping too many meals. Plus I admittedly loved food. I didn’t live to eat but I loved the flavors of certain dishes, the variety of herbs and spices, the textures of different meats. I appreciated and liked food as most people who enjoy food do.
As I got older I started to notice how the importance of exercise was on me. I was never athletic and it was never forced on me, but I wasn’t lazy either. By the way of the world I was just big. And then I turned 19 and no longer had great food and only the access to what I needed by the way of walking there. Being 175 was amazing, even though I couldn’t focus on feeling good when I wasn’t happy. What life was like for me was not just this strained or weird relationship between me and food or me and the way that other saw me but truly the relationship between my body and I. It was because of other people that I just really fucking hated myself.
Before my 22nd birthday I was a mother and well overweight. Stifled with postpartum depression, this hatred ran deeper. Now at 25, I’m much bigger than ever before and even at that post pregnant weight I had. The gaining of more weight was not by choice either, but there’s something different happening here: I’m exhausted. I’m almost 250 pounds and even though I’m doing my best to not be it, I’m also not upset with myself about it. For once in my life, despite the poor circumstances of my disability and my living situation, I’m happy. I’m single, and happy. I’m a mother of a healthy toddler, and happy. I run three businesses and I am so very fucking happy.
The years spent hating my body have worn me out to a degree that I would have never imagined myself at 13 years ago. I don’t have it in me anymore to hate myself for the way others have seen me and have forced me to see myself. Because of my disease, I am ready to lose the weight and take back more of me that I lost years ago. For once I’m mentally free of this pressure to be perfect and thin and in shape for someone other than myself. I’ve been so aware of the room I take up that I’m finally happy to be in a mindset where I no longer take up space but everyone else is really grateful to occupy this space with me. I stand out in a crowd, and that doesn’t bother me like it used to. My hair is short and blue, my shoulders are wide, my arms are big, my legs are thick, and I am happy about all of it.
There’s no more time in my life to hate myself. I’m all of 25 but I’m also all of fed up with knowing for as long as I could know myself in a mirror and know my body, I’ve hated it. I won’t lie and say that I’m head over heels in love with how I feel in this vessel of mines, but I’m happy to get to know it. These stretch marks, these scars, these hips, and (hopefully) these thighs will all follow me into the phase of my “comfortable” body. This comfortable body I want may or may not be thin. It may or may not have rolls in the back and a muffin top all around. It may or may not be deemed beautiful by the masses but it will be the body I feel good in, and that’s what makes me happiest to know.
This journey hasn’t been easy, and some days I find myself to be completely full of shit and hating every last little bit of myself. But, no matter how I feel on certain days, I’m happy to have my own definition of big and to define it on my own terms and by my own standards. This life has gone by too fast for me to hate the only thing in this world I have control over.
If you hate your body for what others have told you about it, listen to me when I say: Find yourself in there and learn that person. Love yourself because you’re worth it. Change when you’re ready or change never but just know those are your terms to live by.