Every time I come home to visit my parents, my mother is on another diet or pursuing weight loss in some form. She pretends like she’s not actually on a diet when she definitely is ("It’s a lifestyle change!"), she puts herself and her body down at every opportunity ("Oh I look pregnant in that photo, you can't even tell I've lost weight!"), and she takes every possible opportunity to tell me about her weight loss goals.
I think she knows deep down all that truly matters is health and wellness, that the numbers should be immaterial -- but she just can't let go of them. The need to fixate on them has been burned into her habits so completely that it can't be undone.
My mother's internalized body issues could not be easily ignored in our household. Her persistent focus on her weight eventually transferred to me, as I plumped up during puberty and realized that I was meant to be dissatisfied with the extra fat I'd acquired.
I've learned and unlearned a lot since then. I know now that health is not simple, that it can be vague or invisible -- that it does not measure worth or morality, nor can it be determined through size alone.
So whenever she starts talking about weight loss, I put my "Health At Every Size" shield up and tell her I don’t want to hear it. But it’s like her need for validation is more important than my desire not to be pushed into that same weight-loss mindset and she just keeps talking anyway.
She’s "getting older" and "doesn’t wanna develop health conditions," she says, projecting vague future health threats based on pseudo-science bullshit. She's trying vegan before 6. She can't believe how easy it is. She’s lost 7 pounds and feels SO MUCH BETTER.
I don't know if her constant chatter about weight loss over the course of two days prompted me to do so or not, but I found myself stepping on that scale despite how much my brain screamed, "THIS IS A HORRIBLE IDEA THAT WILL JUST MAKE YOU FEEL HORRIBLE."
The numbers read 240. A new high.
Not only that, but I've moved from a size 16 to 18 over the past year- - a fact I'd been kind of in denial about, but have finally faced and moved past in favor of stocking up on summer fashions.
No matter what I do, or how mindful I am about my eating and exercise habits (without pushing myself into unhealthy habits), the numbers keep crawling upward.
So, I've gained weight. So, my ass is bigger than I feel like it is, and I don't realize it until I see it in photos or try to squeeze it into a pair of jeans that fit perfectly not so long ago. But I’ve lost so much baggage.
I've come a long way, mentally and physically, over the past few years. If my body has decided to change, so be it -- it doesn't negate all the very real and positive progress that has taken place in my life.
I wish I could impart these things on my mother, who is honestly one of the most mindful people I know when it comes to healthy habits.
She walks and/or bikes for miles every single day, usually taking my dad along. She tends a massive garden and does a hell of a lot of yard work. She completed a one-month every-day yoga challenge, regularly attempts to recruit me into her Zumba classes every time I see her, and is always pushing positive thinking in every possible way -- except when it comes to addressing the state of her own body.
I just hope one day she can look at all the healthy habits she has made for herself and know that they are enough. That the extra fat on her body need not be feared.
I object to the “good fatty" “bad fatty" dichotomy that says I am only allowed to be fat if I am actively seeking weight loss, at all costs -- especially if it means pursuing it for the rest of my life, which it does -- because I know that my fatness is persistent, regardless of my habits.
I have gone the “good fatty" route and found that it led me to disordered and unhealthy eating, so I know that it is healthier to embrace my body’s fatness. I am the boss of my own being and I know what my body needs in order to find wellness, more than anyone else.
When I talked with my mother about this article, she couldn't understand why I needed to make this proclamation. Who was I trying to convince? Why was it so important that I articulate myself in this way?
Because it is an opportunity for me to process all of my experiences, look at them square in the eye, and move onward.
I remain in awe of this body that withstands so much pressure brought on by panic, anxiety, illness, and pain. It is mine to appreciate, at any size or form it happens to take, and I maintain the right to be able to recognize that -- especially as my body type is demonized in our society far more often than it is accepted or respected.
So, I am perfectly OK with being the fattest I've ever been. Because my body is a damn good body.