I read somewhere recently that to lose weight, you need a lightning moment. You need one of those moments when the curtain of denial slips aside and you realize that you’re not just big boned and you’re not meant to be this size and that other people do see you as fat, and you can’t just go on the way you are because it’s not how it should be after all. Something has to push you of complacency and make you want to change things.
I had my moment standing in a dressing room trying on bridesmaids dresses for my sister in laws wedding two years ago. I’ve always felt really self conscious around my perfect perfect perfect sister in laws, and something about this day made me feel incredibly bad about myself, worse than I’d felt about myself, maybe ever. Maybe it was because all the dresses we tried on looked terrible on me, or because I had to hold the dresses up in the back with my arms twisted around me since they wouldn’t zip, or because a stranger told me it was nice to see how the dresses looked on a bigger girl. Maybe it was because we all went out to lunch afterwards and my sister in laws talked about how fat they were (they weren’t) and how fat all their friends were. Whatever the reason, I’ve never felt so much like the fattest girl in the room.
That was my day. That was my moment. What I wanted most of all was to never feel like that around those three women ever again. I had no more motivation than that, at the beginning, but that day made me feel so bad about myself that it made me powerful. Because even though I’d been overweight for a long time, somehow I hadn’t thought of myself as fat until that day.
When I went home this year at Christmas, I felt great. I felt proud as I ran a 5K in 10 degree weather. My neighbor told me I was “so skinny”. My mom gave me clothes that were too small for her. I felt perfect. I bought size four jeans at American Eagle when I was Christmas shopping with my brother and they felt like a guarantee – an iron clad promise that I was skinny, no matter what. After all, “fat” girls don’t wear size four American Eagle jeans.
The jeans weren’t enough. When we left and went to stay with Mr. E’s family for his birthday, all of a sudden, I was fat again. I felt rolls bulge over the waistband of those same jeans. I felt eyes watching what I ate. Mirrors made me cringe. I felt bloated, puffy, like the biggest girl in the room. I avoided having my picture taken, avoided talking about weight. I ate salads. I’d worked so hard. And still, I was right back there, again, the big girl in the yellow bridesmaids dress, arms twisted behind me, quiet and sad and fat.
I’m not sure when I realized this. I know it wasn’t a lightning moment. But I’m starting to think that maybe I could lose all the weight in the world, I could wear any size jeans, I could lose these last five pounds and be at my goal weight and more, and I wouldn’t ever feel skinny, or even ok, around my sister in laws. Maybe, those two years ago, I was wrong. Maybe, just maybe, losing weight won’t fix how I feel around the three women who make me most insecure in this world. Maybe there’s something else I need to fix.
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