Body Love and Dieting: They’re Not Mutually Exclusive

At the recommendation of a very dear friend, I have started reading “Things No One will tell Fat Girls” by Jes Baker aka “The Militant Baker”. If you’re not familiar with either of those names, here’s the SparkNotes version. “The Militant Baker” is a blog written by Jes Baker which is all about body love, body image, feminism, and fatshion. To be completely honest, I’ve never read her blog. Jes is, in short, one of the biggest voices in the body love world right now.

I’m currently twenty-seven pages in and I am struggling. I just finished reading a guest essay about diet culture and how it’s basically the root of all evil. The essay is called Living the Dream at 250 Pounds or “Why Diet Culture is Full of Shit and can Suck my Lady Dick” by Virgie Tovar of #LOSEHATENOTWEIGHT. Basically, the essay says that if you’re dieting, you can’t possibly love yourself. Which…what? I do agree that diet culture can be toxic when taken too far. When people cross the line between dieting/healthy living and pro-ana (anorexia) ideology. Eating disorders are incredibly serious and it’s very possible to cross that threshold from “dieting” to “disordered eating”, trust me…I’ve crossed it. But losing weight in and of itself, isn’t harmful. Wanting to get healthy so you no longer get winded from a flight of stairs isn’t harmful. Wanting to make sure you live a long life so you can see your nieces and nephews grow up isn’t harmful.

I’m currently eleven pounds shy of my highest known weight, actively following Weight Watchers and exercising, and I’m honestly the happiest I’ve ever been. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see something or someone I hate. I just see myself; a 25 year old woman who has a great job, a beautiful home, and an adorable but trouble making puppy. I see a woman who went on vacation this summer and wore several two-piece bathing suits and didn’t bother covering up. I have a boyfriend who treats me like a princess, and loves me exactly as I am, but also gives me his full support while I’m on this weight loss journey. A boyfriend who makes me feel beautiful even when I first wake up and have mascara in the corners of my eyes and ogre-like morning breath. Making healthy choices and going on daily walks, which I happen to love, doesn’t negate any of that. It adds to it. When I’m outside on a sunny day with my puppy’s leash in one hand and my boyfriend’s fingers tangled in the other, I feel incredible. I feel light, and happy, and truly blessed. When I make dinner and it’s mainly green beans and broccoli with a little bit of grilled chicken, I’m excited to eat because green beans and broccoli are fucking delicious.

I’m getting more and more heated as I write this. Because seriously…fuck anyone who tries to take my happiness away from me. Fuck anyone who says that because I’m following a certain diet I obviously hate myself. Fuck anyone who tries to tell me how I feel. This body of mine, this fat body with all its rolls and stretchmarks has gone through a lot with me. It’s gotten me through dance recitals and golf tournaments. It has taken me all around London, Paris, the Netherlands, Croatia…It has been broken, and bruised, and burned, and scratched but it’s still here. It’s still here to take me on walks, to be loved by my boyfriend, to be fed more green food than it has had in all its 25 years. I love this body. I love what we’ve been through, and I’m excited about where we’re going.

I don’t know if I’m going to even finish this book. As I wrote this little rant I realized I may not even need it. If it’s a guide to loving yourself, I think I managed to reach that point without it. If it’s anti-dieting propaganda, it’s two-hundred some pages of garbage. I’m done with things that try to dictate my feelings and my life. Fuck all of it. I love myself.

Bite, Chew, Swallow

You could feel it building all day. Or, not building. Crumbling. You could feel your grip on it slipping through your fingers like the grains of sand that made up the beach you frequented as a child. You know you have no choice. It’s going to happen. You don’t want to binge. You’re not even hungry. But you keep shoving the food in. You’re terrified. Bingeing is terrifying. Not because of the amount of food/calories you’re consuming, but because of the complete lack of control you have over the whole thing. Your body is acting completely independently from your mind. You don’t even take the time to consider what you’re doing. You hardly take the time to breathe. Bite, chew, swallow. Bite, chew, swallow. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until there are no more bites to be had. Until your spoon scrapes the bottom of the container. Until your hand reaches the slippery bottom of the bag. Until the plate is no longer home to a mountain of pizza rolls, but to a few crumbs. The only evidence there was ever a mountain there to begin with.

You’re struggling for air. You’re uncomfortable. You can feel the consequences of your unwanted actions settling in to taunt you. Have you always been able to feel your neck? If you turn your head side to side, will it sway with you? Your jeans feel too tight. Did they cut into your flesh when you put them on this morning? Are they even really doing it now? No. It doesn’t work like that. Your feet begin to tap restlessly on the floor. They want to take you to the scale. Your mind isn’t ready to deal with that. The back of your throat itches. Clear it. Your fingers twitch. Run them through your hair to stop them from doing something stupid. Something you’ve never gone through with before, but have thought about doing over and over and over again.

Your brain slowly starts to come back online. Blink, blink, blink. Notice the carnage surrounding you. You want a drink of water to wash the lingering taste out of your mouth but you’re not sure your body can take anything more. A groan. Was that you, or the floor boards protesting your weight? Go upstairs. You can feel the masticated food slosh in your stomach as you go. Track down the biggest sweats and sweatshirt you own. The ones that should make you feel like you’re swimming in cotton. The ones that trip up your feet like vines in the jungle. You strip off your clothes, not making eye contact with mirrors. Not making eye contact with yourself. Don’t look down. Your normally massive outfit feels suffocating. Deep breaths. You climb into bed, ignoring the squeak of the mattress and frame. Deep breaths. Tomorrow is a fresh start. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow you will be better.

Plus Size Musings

I find that I have a very difficult time separating body positivity from complacency. For me, being okay with my body means being okay with being fat. It means not wanting to lose weight. But I do want to lose weight. I don’t want to be fat. I guess it might just be the ironclad grip society has on me. Actually I know that’s exactly what it is. Despite knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being fat, I still don’t want to be labeled as such. Is internalized fatphobia a Thing? It must be, and it’s becoming increasingly more apparent that I’ve got it.

It’s such a strange situation to be in, knowing that what you think and feel is, for all intents and purposes, wrong, but not being able to change your way of thinking. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly reminded that I’m fat and that it’s Bad. I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror and see a curve or roll in a place it really shouldn’t be. Every time the store doesn’t carry an article of clothing in my size, or I have to pay extra for it, or I have to order it online and pray that it fits when it finally arrives 5 to 7 business days later. Every time an airplane stewardess asks me, in a hushed voice, if I need a seatbelt extension. Okay so that last one has only happened once, just this week in fact, but it was still humiliating.

The problem is that it’s always on my mind. My size is always on my mind. Even when I’m spending a day relaxing at home, and I’m sitting on the couch reading a book, I’m consciously aware of every roll, every single minuscule piece of skin that’s peaking out, how my neck must look; does holding my head like this give me a double chin? It’s exhausting. And that’s just an easy day. That’s a day where I don’t have to worry about what other people are thinking. On those days, it’s almost impossible to get myself out of bed in the morning. Walking down the hallway at work is a chore. Going to the cafeteria to get a salad is a nightmare. What all of those people must be thinking…look at that fat girl, getting a salad. What is she trying to prove? Does she really think we believe she normally eats like that? If she did, she definitely wouldn’t be the size she is.

Some days there just isn’t enough false confidence in the world to get me through. People tell me to “fake it till you make it”. Well I’ve been faking it for 24 years now. When do I finally get to make it? When do I finally get to look in the mirror and be happy?