Over the winter I noticed that I was avoiding a decent size chunk of my closet. I was selecting the same type of outfit over and over again; leggings, a long sweater or cardigan, and boots. Now, to be fair, I love this kind of outfit. It’s a perfectly acceptable go-to around these parts. But I wasn’t wearing it because it was cute. I was wearing it because most everything else was too tight. And I don’t mean snug. I mean sausage casing tight.
I hadn’t weighed myself in years. For the most part, I have fluctuated in the same + or – ten pound range for years. And I’m on the tall side, which hides a multitude of sins. But it had become unavoidable, finally. I asked my husband where our scale was, if we indeed still owned a scale. Unfortunately, we did.
It was a dark day.
I have two teenage daughters, and they have never seen me on a diet. The last time I tried to take off some weight was for my sister’s wedding, and the girls were too young to remember much. My husband and I endeavor to speak and act in positive ways toward our imperfect, yet healthy and completely functional bodies. We’ve tried to model moderation and stewardship, but never in the context of attractiveness, just overall common sense and good health. In our image- and -sex-obsessed culture, it’s just not very many steps between wanting to be skinny and self-hatred. (BTW, eating disorders are so diabolical that they have the lowest recovery rate; even lower than drug, alcohol, and sex addiction.)
So I found myself in this place where I needed to figure out a way to explain to my older and far more observant girls why there was a change in my eating habits. I wanted to anticipate their questions and have thought through my answers.
Why do I need to lose weight? Am I unhappy or unhealthy?
Who am I losing weight for? Has someone made a comment or have I been embarrassed?
Does my doctor think I need to lose weight?
Do I not feel pretty anymore?
Are these extra pounds making it more difficult for me to do things I want or need to do?
Needless to say, I did not immediately have the answers to all of those questions, but I thought it was worthwhile to take the time to think it through. I didn’t want to come across as a hypocrite (though sometimes I am) about weight and beauty. I routinely say things to my girls like . . .
Beauty is not a number or a shape.
There are all kinds of beautiful. Be your own kind.
There are far more beautiful things than appearances. (Kindness, self-sacrifice, intelligence)
Daddy loves my curves! (Ugh, gross Mom.)
My body isn’t perfect but I like it and am thankful for it.
(Confession: Sometimes it’s hard not to let it turn into a skinny shaming session, because while those bodies types are rare, they are out there, and in their natural state, can be beautiful, too!)
Anyway, I thought about it for a few days, talked with my husband, and came up with this:
I am going to try to eat less sugar and processed food so that my clothes will fit again.
But after much consideration, that was the long and the short of it. I wasn’t unhappy, hadn’t been embarrassed, still felt pretty, and still wanted my curves. I’d just lacked self-control, and over the course of a couple of years, gradually gained my
weigh way out of my jeans and into yoga pants. (Scandalous.)
Please don’t not think that I have this figured out. I don’t. I struggle with my culture’s narrow definition of beauty. I like to feel confident and proud when I go out in public. It makes me feel more powerful, like there is more opportunity for me in the world, and that I might just be able to seize it when it presents itself. But it’s just a feeling. I am not any different. I am the same woman who occasionally makes a bra-less gas station run. My steps are just as ordered by my God regardless of what shoes I am in.
I really like shoes.
And to close on a high note, it’s much harder to lose this weight than it was ten years ago. Everything is lower and slower than it used to be. Except my expectations.
AIN’T LIFE GRAND?