Weighing In

One of my VERY favorite blogs, Recovering Straight Girl, or RSG as she is fondly known, had a recent post on a subject that is very close to my heart. That would be WEIGHT. Yes, a very “heavy” subject, har, har. But just the fact that I made that little joke shows enough of how sensitive a topic it is to me, and to most women I know.

I am a big woman. I stand 5 feet 9 inches tall, which is 5 inches above the “average” female height of 5 feet 4 inches. I also weigh upwards of 200 pounds. I have been my height since I was about 15, so I’ve dealt with that for a while. I have not always weighed this much, but I have always been “big”. Now, when I look back at my high school weight of 145 pounds, I think…DAMN! I was freakin’ skinny! But did I FEEL like it? No, I felt like the biggest whale out of water in a world of girls who barely came up to my chin and whose pants would not fit around my thighs.

Never mind that I walked home from school every day (1.5 miles). Never mind that I played basketball. Never mind that in my senior year, I took to riding my bike all over town. Never mind that in college I swam a mile every day after class to de-stress myself and took ballet 3 days a week for 4 years. Never mind my activity level. It was always a number on a scale or the size of my upper arms.

When we sat around the table at home, the order was: My father at the head of the table, me on his right, my next brother at his left, my sister next to me, my youngest brother across from her, and my mother at the foot. Now, this is not a tirade against my father. I LOVED my dad, still do, always will. And he adored me. BUT, he had this thing about women “of size”. He was completely ashamed of my mother for being fat. And when I got bigger, one of the places where I was not so “svelte” was in my upper arms. At the table, he got into this habit of taking my upper arm in his hand and kind of squeezing it. He never made any derogatory comments (he was WAY too polite for that–to anyone), and, had I been a bit more secure, it might have just been his way of “hugging” me when we were both seated at the table. But.

But.

For me, it was a total judgment. His grasp said, “You’re FAT, and here’s the big, fat, flabby arm to prove it.”

To this day, I can hardly stand for anyone to touch me on that part of my anatomy. I can manage it when I am already sort of “lost” in an intimate moment, but otherwise, if someone touches me there, it’s like they are calling attention to how fat I am.

Over time, however, I have learned to embrace my body, to appreciate it and love it not only for what it looks like, but for what it can do and what it has done. My body, despite its “unhealthy” appearance (according to doctors, etc.) has very rarely let me down.

It hardly ever gets sick. It has a few aches and pains, but none so severe that they keep me from doing anything I might need to do. It’s borne a baby and kept her fed for a year when I had NO money to buy formula. My body has also kept up a good activity level as I slog through the years. I can still put my palms flat on the ground. I can do Downward Dog in yoga, and do a Sun Salute, even though I have to do a modified Staff Pose. I can do a Tree Pose standing on one foot, I can walk miles at a time when I need to, etc.

And, finally, it’s made a number of people happy in a “horizontal” fashion, including myself. And, to be honest, I NEVER had a guy I was with give me a hard time about my size. When other people did, including myself, I whispered this in my own ear.

Even my jerk of a 1st husband never called me fat, never told me he didn’t want to be with me because of my weight, etc. Maybe I was lucky enough to know better than to get with a guy who would be turned off by my size, or maybe I just attracted men who liked big women, or maybe the silent judgement of my mother by my father taught me better than I realized, I don’t know, but at least I never went through that particular hell.

And I have been blessed now with a wife who practially worships my body. Even though sometimes I feel like I’m twice as big as she is, she is so adoring and so loving to me that I can’t help but feel pleased and happy to be in this package if it looks that good to her!

Still, the biggest critical voice (as for most of us) was/is my own. Today, I love the feel of my body. Oddly, I think I have a very different perspective than a lot of women. When I am not in front of a mirror, my body feels strong, full, lush, voluptuous, healthy, and beautiful. Then, when I get in front of one of those damned things (especially in a store), I become Free Willy beached on shore, waiting for someone to come with a bulldozer to move me back into the water. Huge. I feel HUGE. I swear the mirrors in department stores are designed to make you look BIGGER. I never look that big in the mirrors at home. Seriously.

It’s a very odd feeling. It’s strange to run your hands over your body when you’re taking a shower, and appreciate the curves, the muscles underneath, the flexibility, etc. Then getting out, all that goes down the drain in front of the mirror and all you see is out of shape flab and droop.

Comparison is deadly. For me to compare myself to someone who is 5’4″, who was in the army, who used to be a body builder, etc. etc. is deadly. I work really, REALLY hard at not doing it. It’s why I just won’t have a “women’s magazine” around.

I am ME. Big as I am, taking up the space that I fill. The medical profession doesn’t help. You walk in the door looking like me, and they automatically assume you are on the verge of death from high blood pressure or diabetes (never mind that my last blood sugar was 77!).

I suppose the goal of this post was just to put my readers in a different pair of shoes for just a moment. I know that I try to do that, as well. While I rant about being judged for my size or my height, I too, am guilty of looking at that little blonde who “fits right in” and assuming her life is all hunky-dory. Indeed, it may be. But it may also be a living hell for one reason or another, having nothing to do with weight or appearance. I need to keep that in mind, and be less judgmental of others.

And if I can cut them some slack, I can cut myself some slack, too. We are all just fine, how we are. I think once we accept that we’re all human, then any changes we want to make to ourselves will come just that one bit easier.

Here’s to all of us!

GG

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5 thoughts on “Weighing In

  1. Amen to everything you wrote. I am an inch taller than you, have been since high school. I’m also pretty close to your weight, have been for about 2 years since I weaned my youngest child. I have the EXACT same opinions of my body, I love how eloquently you explained them! My activity level has declined in recent years and in the last month I’ve been trying hard to increase it, as well as keep junk food out of my house because I’m a “see food” diet kind of gal all the way. So far so good, I’ve been walking 2 miles a day and keeping only healthy foods in the house. It’s a big change for me, but one I’m glad I’m making. Thanks for putting my feelings into your words. What a beautiful post!

  2. me too. I am 5’7″ was 135 in high school. I’m 40 pounds over that now. Been walking since April and haven’t lost a pound although I feel better about myself till I look in the mirror….

    sigh.

  3. I really thought after I lost weight that I’d feel good about my body, but I don’t. At this point I doubt I ever will.

  4. This is a wonderful post! I have a friend who was born tall and big boned and heavy. She hated it. I used to grab her hand and say, “baby you are beautiful. you are the large economy size” she loved me for that. She is a big beautiful woman.

    I spoke to her yesterday, she confessed to me two really big things…she just kissed a girl for the first time and liked it and she has become friends with her ankles being just the way they are. Now i have no idea if these two things have anything to do with each other. I think as we age can become better friends with our bodies… but no matter what I told her that I get the toaster oven.

    oxox
    nina

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