I was just looking at my weight history and I realized that I have maintained my weight under 170 lb for exactly one year. That’s one whole year without a significant re-gain. I dipped down to 161 at one point and bounced back up to 174 at another, but for the most part, I have hovered between 165 and 169 pounds.
I fluctuate in and out of my “healthy weight range” according to the charts. For a woman who is 5’8″ my cut off weight between being “normal” and being “overweight” is 167 lb. Which is total bullocks of course. I think there’s something about being a little bit out of the acceptable range but still choosing to accept myself the way I am that makes me feel like I’m a rebel. Charts be damned, I will decide what my body should look like and what weight I should be. Nobody else.
I received a message once on a weight loss site where a completely random stranger took it upon himself to suggest that I lower my goal weight from 180 (that was my original goal) to 150 because “a woman cannot be healthy at 180.” That message punched me right in the gut. You know that feeling you get when someone says something to you that they probably have no idea how it will make you feel, but it just demoralizes you and gives you that sick feeling… “maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not good enough, maybe I DO need to be thinner… maybe, maybe, maybe.”
That message came at least a year and a half ago and it still stuck with me to this day, as I hover just above the normal weight range as prescribed by the medical community. And the longer I think about it the more I come to this conclusion (I apologize in advance for the swearing, but this is me and this is how I feel): Fuck that guy. Fuck every person who has ever tried to make me or any other person feel like he/she isn’t good enough exactly the way she is. Fuck all the people who think it’s their business to tell me, or any woman, or anyone, how they should look, what they should weigh, what they should wear, or how they should take care of themselves. It’s none of anyone else’s goddamned business. Nobody but me. MY body, MY terms.
As time passes I find myself becoming more and more comfortable with the “new me”. Sometimes I find myself wanting to lose 10 more pounds or change my body composition further. But as time goes by those moments become scarcer, fewer, and further in between. The more I see myself in full length mirrors or candid photographs the more I realize: I like myself exactly the way I am.
Some people lose a lot of weight and then weight loss and fitness becomes their job. I can understand this. It’s awfully tempting to change careers, get a degree in some kind of nutrition and be a life coach or some sort of personal trainer. But that’s not me. The things that I am passionate about are art, writing, politics, body image… I have come to realize that I am fulfilling a unique position in the weight loss community. I am showing people that it is OKAY to stop. It is okay to decide that enough is enough. I feel amazing, I look great, I am fit by anyone’s standards.
It seems like everywhere I look there’s a “motivational” poster like this:
What is the dream exactly? To have a body worthy of having your head cut off and objectified into a faceless torso of perfect abs? To be that girl who guys walk by and go “Ooh Baby!” That’s not MY dream. My dream is to be a successful artist, a loving partner, financially comfortable, to travel the world, to have a gallery show, to make a short film, to be a good friend, to learn, and many other things. In the words of Beauty Redfined: I am capable of MUCH MORE than being looked at.
Fitting into the prescribed mold will not bring me happiness. I refuse to objectify myself. I don’t think most people realize exactly how difficult it is to be okay with your body, especially as a woman, when everywhere we look there are all these messages telling us that if we tried a little harder and weren’t so quick to give up, we could have these perfect flawless bodies and the world would be ours. That is such bullshit. I’m NOT a quitter. I work really hard. My goals are just different than the ones they keep trying to tell me to have.
Look, I’ve lost 120 lb. I could exercise until the cows come home and eat a perfect diet and I will never look like that lady. Because I will never have surgery, I will always have flaws and scars from being obese. I am not a disembodied torso. I am a person with a history. And I am trying to be okay with myself. It takes a bloody hell of a lot of effort, I have to tell you. It’s no wonder so many fall into the traps of eating disorders and body hatred. It’s practically shoved down our throats at every turn.
The outward appearance of my body is not what’s important to me. It is not the end all be all of life. I didn’t set out on this weight loss thing to become obsessed with my appearance. I am simply not that vain or shallow. I am healthy by all measures, fit by anyone’s standards, and above all, I’m happy! The obsession has to stop somewhere. Enough is enough.
I cannot honestly think of any other blogger or weight loss person I have read who feels the way I do. It seems like everyone is always striving for those few less pounds, those few less inches, that added definition. It seems like nobody can be happy as they are. I mean, if that’s really your life-long goal, to be a fitness model or competitor or some such thing, I certainly do not begrudge you that. But can we stop with the assumptions that every woman who does not look like the above headless torso lady must be miserable about her appearance? That’s what I want to keep talking about as I go forward: self-acceptance. Weight loss doesn’t have to take over your life. It is effort enough to maintain my weight, and I think I’ve done it pretty comfortably for the last year. Can I picture myself living my life this way forever? Absolutely. But not much more than this. The gym is not going to be my main activity. I have too many other things I’d like to do. I really don’t think I’ll be lying on my deathbed one day thinking “I sure wish I’d gotten that tummy tuck, I could have had abs.”
I’m inspired by people who help people. I’m inspired by people who make major changes in their lives for the betterment of themselves and their families. I’m not inspired by posters like the one above. I find them objectifying and insulting. I also feel that they ignore the true benefit of working out and eating right: health. And health cannot be found in one’s outer appearance. If you want to “be an example to your family”, there’s a lot more to it than having a low body fat percentage (and no head):
I am good enough the way I am. I hope I maintain my weight for another year and many more to come, no matter what anyone else thinks of me.