Recently, someone I love very much remarked that I shouldn’t wear my new striped sweater because I’d gained weight.
I’d like to blame my teary and pissed off reaction on “that time of the month”, but the truth is that that time has passed and thinking about it still makes me emotional.
A couple of weeks earlier, I’d worn the same sweater to work and gotten a couple of compliments on it. I was so PROUD of myself for buying it, because I am overweight, and everyone knows we big girls aren’t supposed to wear stripes. But I LIKED it, dammit. I tried it on and I thought it looked good. So few clothes me feel good so I bought it and wore it proudly. In fact, I wore it that day because I liked how I looked in it, despite the fact that yes, I have gained weight recently. Whatever the reason (note I didn’t say excuse), it’s happened, and once again, probably for the 100th time in my life, I am working on fixing it.
In truth, I can get over the bit about not wearing the striped shirt, because the cliché about big girls not wearing stripes is just that: a cliché. I like the shirt, I think it looks nice, and even if it isn’t slimming, who the eff cares. Wearing black is not going to hide the fact that I’m overweight. I’m gonna wear it. End of story.
The part that still gets me is that I have gained weight. That bothers me. It also bothers me that this person brought it up, even though I know it was with good intentions. And my reaction to it being brought up bothers me, too. Among my many angry thoughts: “Of course I’ve gained weight. Don’t you think I know that? And don’t you think I hate it and I think about it every second of every day?” Because I do. If not every second, then at least every 10 minutes or so.
Yet, in the same breath, I am also being told (often by this same person), that I don’t give myself enough credit, that I doubt myself too much, that I sell myself short. Article after article lately has been telling me that, as a smart woman, I’m hardwired to sabotage my success because I don’t believe I am owed the same things that a man thinks he is owed. According to these articles, I have to learn to love myself, to believe in myself, to accept myself for what I am and to charge ahead and take on the world.
Ok. I’m supposed to love myself as I am…but find a way to change everything about how I look. Yeah. Does that sound weird to anyone else?
Rationally, this is not a quandry. I DO like myself. I think I’m a smart gal who tries to do good and remember how lucky I am. I wish my clothes looked better and were smaller, sure, but generally, I don’t look in the mirror and hate myself like so many women do.
But then, I go outside, and rationality is taken over by emotions. I compare myself mercilessly to those who are skinnier than me. I wonder if every time someone sees me eating something other than kale, they are silently tsking at my unhealthy habits. I see all kinds of people eat more than me, and I KNOW many of them don’t exercise as much as me (though some exercise more). It strikes me as unfair, and my six-year-old instinct to stomp on the floor in frustration comes out. And if I’m honest with myself, I probably go eat something bad because I know that the road to fixing this is long, hard and despite what diet books might say, NOT FUN. It is NOT FUN to not eat the foods I like or to have to push away my food while everyone else is chowing down on their big portions. It’s a little tough watch those who have the skills and discipline to cook big, healthy dinners for their family and then chomp on the leftovers while I slink out the door to go buy my lunch. Or to see people who drink shakes for 6 weeks, work out like crazy, and suddenly look amazing. I hate shakes. I have never been able to do shakes for more than 3 days without prompting a bagel binge. Just thinking about shakes is making me want a bagel right now.
I’m not looking for solutions from this post. I’m not looking for sympathy. I know this is my issue, and mine alone, and it’s up to me if I want to solve it. Rationally, I realize that I can love my overweight self and still try to lose weight. I know this, I get it.
But I wish it wasn’t so hard. I wish I could take criticism of my weight without it making me cry. I wish the fact that I am healthy by most other measures could overshadow the fact that I weigh too much. But I know it doesn’t. So, I’m off for a long walk with the pooch, and to try to figure out how to cook a healthy dinner for one tonight. One day at a time.
Tomorrow, I’m wearing that striped sweater.