“This is what most girls are taught — that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.” Roxane Gay, Hunger
I have spent a majority of my short-lived 25 years dreaming of my “after photo” moment. You know, that moment you put one photo of you, heavier and sadder and frumpier, next to the “NEW AND IMPROVED” you? Everyone oohs and ahhs at this hotter version of yourself and you feel like a whole person again. You realize all those color coded portion control containers you used and virgin’s blood you drank finally paid off.
I have fantasized of all the things I would do with my after photo body. Things I told myself I could never do in my before photo body. Things like improv classes, having an orgasm, wearing rompers, being in ANY PHOTO EVER. I have convinced myself that this after photo body would bring me the love and happiness I so desired. That by being a certain number on a scale, I would somehow have discovered the answer to life.
Of course, that is all total bullshit.
Life has nothing, (but also everything, according to society), to do with a number on a scale. Or the size of your jeans. Or whether you’re blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, inverted nipples. Are you ALSO a member of the saggy boobs matter movement?! Man, human bodies are fucking weird and beautiful.
I have reflected and reflected and done more reflecting on my body ad nauseum. I have before photos. Tons of them. All various weights. Weights you could call thin, heavy, or my personal fav, “her face would be way more attractive if she lost 15 pounds”. As I write this, I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am not at my thinnest weight and I am not at my heaviest weight. I just am, and I am 1000% content with this.
I realize now that a number never mattered. It had everything to do with what I thought of myself. It turns out that when you hate yourself, you hate yourself no matter what number the scale says.
Listen. I don’t know jackshit. But I do know what worked for me when it came to being able to live and love and find peace with my body. I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Welll, for the most part. I still cringe at the idea of bikinis and am very pro boob job. Who cares. I AM FINALLY FEELIN’ MYSELF AND I WANT THIS FEELING FOR EVERYONE.
It came down to two things…
One. I had to say fuck you to diet culture and learn to love food again. Diets and restrictions trigger my eating disorder because I want what I tell myself I can’t have. When you have something you’ve told yourself you can’t have you feel shame. Shame manifested itself in my life as a five year long eating disorder I am still managing today.
Confused about diet culture? Read Isabel Foxen Duke and avoid anything with the following words: meal plan, X day challenge, clean(se), whole, containers, shake, good food, bad food, paleo, elimination, beach, body, anything on your TV past 2 AM, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Two. I refuse to exercise with the goal of weight loss. Instead, I focus on what I want my body to be able to do and then train accordingly. Can I run for thirty minutes without stopping? Can I hike Glacier National Park without wanting to die? Can I go three rounds in the boxing ring? Can I grind on my partner without dog panting? Can I decrease my bike commute time? Can I lift heavy shit? Can I do manual labor for eight hours? Can I do one armed push-ups like Demi in GI Jane? DO I FEEL STRONG AND CAPABLE?
This moment, right now, is that after photo moment I always dreamed of. I knew I would get here one day. Here is a video of me getting punched in the face at the boxing gym to celebrate. Thank you for being here and sharing this moment with me.