Enough of the madness for this plus-size woman

red eat neon sign turned on

Since the age of around eight or nine (a young child) I have been astutely aware that I am ‘big’ ‘fat’ ‘large’ ‘chubby’ ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ these labels have been ingrained into my being and defined who I am -until very recently. These labels have caused a self-fulfilling prophecy that has resulted in cripplingly low-self esteem and confidence, a binge eating disorder and more sadness than I could ever describe.

At the age of ten, I was able to tell anyone the calorific values of most foods (thanks to my Grandma giving me a calorie guide and telling me to stick to under a thousand a day. Oh and she also told me that no one would ever marry me if I didn’t lose weight?!) and I frequently used to starve myself for days on end. Aged 10. It’s no wonder that I fell naively into a starve-binge cycle with the bingeing ultimately winning.

Now in my forties, I am able to see and believe beyond those labels.

I used to wear cardigans over summer dresses in the scorching heat, and for years I would not wear anything that didn’t have at least a t-shirt sleeve. Colours worn were muted and dull and I would have the brownest little feet that would contrast with my milk coloured legs that under no circumstances were ever allowed to see the light of day.

Well over thirty years of my life has been defined by the number on bathroom scales and the numbers that are printed on the labels of my clothes.

Enough.

I refuse to spend any more of this precious life being uncomfortable and feeling horrendous.

I am no stranger to personal therapy, indeed I think you will find that I am one of the loudest cheerleaders that will always advocate for the wonderfulness of all it can achieve. Of course, the issue of my weight has been a prevalent subject that I have consistently worked on and of late small changes and realisations are magically changing my negative outlook and perspective.

My therapist asked me why I wear cardigans in the height of summer.

‘Well look-look at my arms!’ I said in a disgusted tone-squeezing my flesh together and wobbling it.

Her reply was: ‘Yes they are arms-they are just arms.’

Her nonchalance literally disarmed my self repulsion.

I am ashamed to say that I used to validate my own self worth and body image by comparing my self to women who were bigger than me. In my twisted mind, as least I wasn’t as big as them. How dreadful. No I wasn’t as big as them, but they weren’t going around in a full length black cardigan in the height of summer. In fact these women, that I dared to look down on, exuded a self confidence and a sense of fashion that I was light years away from.

To all the women that I ever did that to (even though you don’t know I did) I am sorry.

The following things that I now do (or don’t do) are having the biggest and most positive impact on my self image:

I don’t weigh myself-it wouldn’t matter what the numbers were-I would always step off the scales feeling awful and a failure. That action serves me absolutely no good at all.

I buy the clothes that I feel fabulous in-regardless of the size of the label. Likewise, if I try something on that makes me feel bleurgh-out it goes. For the first time ever-every time I go to my wardrobe, I can only pull out things that I am loving. No-I am not made of money and so charity shops and online market places allow my wardrobe to be ever changing and fluid.

I have stopped obsessing over food, worrying about what I am eating and judging what other people are eating. Having done every ‘diet’ or health plan under the sun, including starving myself, I am sick and tired of thinking about food and knowing the calories and points of things-it’s been decades of this taking up my brain power.

I have realised that as much I have been hating myself and my body shape, this is virtually the same for every other woman that I know. I know women of all shapes and sizes, of various ages and degrees of fitness and I am yet to find one woman without a single body issue and with 100% body confidence. It has never been just me. I have never been alone in this torment.

My size and shape is what it is. I exercise, walk and stretch frequently and my mental demons surrounding food and body-image are finally getting bored. Good job-they can bugger off for good with those awful black cardigans and that stupid book that my batty old Grandma gave me!

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