I currently weigh between 280 and 290 pounds. I wear a size 22-24 depending on where I am shopping. Between 2006 and 2007 I lost 40 pounds, going from 225lbs down to 185. I gained back up to 200 where my body stayed until I met my husband to be in 2008, when eating out, exercising less, birth control, and PhD coursework caused me to climb back into the 220s, then 230s, I was 250lbs when we married, and as we are about to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary, I am between 280 and 290lbs. I only say that because I haven’t weighed myself lately, and that’s around where I was last time.
That’s my weight journey from the past ten years. About this time in 2006 I decided to join Weight Watchers and it worked for me, until it didn’t anymore. Then life happened.
I have struggled with accepting my physical self for a long time. All the familiar tropes just stomp through my mind on the regular.
Being overweight is unhealthy.
Being overweight is ugly.
Being overweight makes you less desirable.
No one wants to have sex with a fat person.
I will finally be myself if I can let out the skinny person inside.
And on and on and on.
The only one I still can’t shake is the health one. I worry about diabetes and heart disease and my joints, but every time I go to the doctor my blood pressure is perfect and my bloodwork is clean except for a deficiency in vitamins B and D, which is understandable given that I work inside all day. I am making it out to the pool more though. 🙂 And I enjoy exercising when I can afford to go to the gym, which I will probably do this fall once the husband goes back to work.
So it’s been this whole lifelong thing. I’m not really ME unless I’m at a healthy weight. My mother has always been the best at making me feel this way, but as my eyes have opened lately I see it everywhere. You’re only really worth something if you’re thin (or at an acceptable weight). Fat people are there for comic relief, a shoulder to cry on, a stereotype. We’re not working hard enough, do we even care about ourselves? We must not have any control. We must be sloths and pigs. Look at all this shame YOU DESERVE IT. Ugh. I was tired just writing that paragraph.
Where are all the fat people? If a third of America is overweight or obese, where is everyone? Our movies, our tv, our commerce – where are we?
So enough about me, let’s talk about why you should read Lindy West’s book. I have three reasons.
- Representation is important! To hear a woman say that being fat is okay is what some women need to hear. Your entire life should not be about calories and losing weight. Every January shouldn’t be trying to be your best you when you’ve been your best you all along. This book will lift you up and help you believe that you are YOU RIGHT NOW and there isn’t a smaller, skinnier you jailed up inside that you need to work and sweat and bleed to release. Read this so you know you are not dirty, you are not gross, you are not out of control, YOU ARE YOU and don’t let people put their ignorance and shame onto you.
- A part of the book that was difficult for me to relate to but easy to empathize with is her experience with internet trolls. Jesus god I thought Catfish on MTV was bad. What people go through online when their personas are public is something I hope to never experience. I think it’s important to read her account of this so that we can be good soldiers out on the interwebs, ready to defend our friends and icons from terrible, ignorant people. I knew things were bad, I’ve read youtube comments. I just didn’t realize how creatively bad things get.
- An important part of this book is her relationship. Every time she wrote about her relationship in this book, it made me feel like I had fallen prey to one of the fat people requirements: you must look like your partner. You deserve to be with another fat person that looks like you because who else would understand or have you? And that’s basically what my husband and I are. Once someone mistook us for brother and sister. (ugh) But she writes that you should be with the PERSON you like the best and who likes you the best, no matter what they look like. Read about her relationship and the reactions to it, and be enlightened.
**Side note: You should listen to her segment on This American Life about being fat. <Link**
I’m not a completely different person after having read this book, but it definitely let a little more sunshine in on a life that seems to be gaining more and more intellectual freedom as it moves on. I want to write a handwritten letter to Lindy West so she knows I took the time to thank her for taking the time to help me love myself just a little more. It’s more important than you think.