Body acceptance isn’t just for big girls

“You’re so skinny.”

“What’s your secret?”

“Why can’t my weight just fall off like that?”

“You’ve lost too much weight.”

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

“You don’t understand what it’s like to not be happy with your weight.”

And that the one thing I’ve heard no matter what size I am, “You need to get on this scale because I don’t believe that you weigh that much.”

At my heaviest, I probably wore a size 18 or 20. I say probably because I didn’t want to buy clothing larger than the one pair of size 16 pants that I owned. At home I lived in two different pairs of 2XL fleece pants purchased off a discount rack at our local drug store, along with-shirts and over sized sweatshirts that were promo items from a friend’s business.

I wasn’t happy with my limited options, so I cut out soda and started to walk daily. Most days I floated between 185 to 200 pounds depending on where I was in my cycle and how many snacks I consumed while my husband worked second shift and the girls were in bed. I was able to fit into a size 14 and while not great, my options at the thrift store opened up a bit more, especially when I realized maternity clothing fit me well, since I carried most of my weight in my core section.

When someone would find out how much I weighed they would tell me that they didn’t believe me and that they were surprised that I weighed that much. My tall frame and dressing to flatter my body type helped to hide the belly that people often confused for pregnancy. Years later I can still feel the phantom burn of hands on my belly from a particular instance where a woman argued with me about whether or not I was expecting, especially when she claimed that she felt a kick. I had Mexican for lunch, so she felt something.

Because of my weight and my Baptist faith I didn’t wear shorts; I found that dresses and skirts were easier to find at the thrift stores, so one hot summer day I decided that I would start the “Year Without Pants.” What started as an experiment became my signature look and I finally started to feel comfortable in my skin.

When I started working out of the house full time, I lost a little weight and now floated in between a size 12-16 depending on the time of the month and season. I accepted myself and was genuinely happy in the skin I was in and had amassed quite the wardrobe from thrifting and sale shopping. I often got compliments on how I looked and no longer took ‘you look so fancy’ as an insult.

This was taken on vacation in spring of 2014. My hands are resting on my thighs to keep the flowy dress from blowing up and flashing the world I felt very uncomfortable in this dress as it exposed my upper arms and with the breeze highlighted my larger core and legs since I had to hold my dress down on the breezy day.

This was taken on vacation in spring of 2014. My hands are resting on my thighs to keep the flowy dress from blowing up and flashing the world I felt very uncomfortable in this dress as it exposed my upper arms and with the breeze highlighted my larger core and legs since I had to hold my dress down on the breezy day.

About 18 months ago, more weight started dropping off. It didn’t really bother me at first because after a knee injury and the limited mobility it caused me during recovery, some of my favorite pieces of clothing were getting a bit tight.

First twenty pounds, then 30, and then during a routine physical, my doctor asked what I was doing to get rid the 45 pounds I had lost since my last physical. I told her I wasn’t trying to lose weight. We chalked it up to a changes in life and hormones with hitting middle age and agreed we would keep an eye on it. When I hit 75 pounds of unintentional weight loss in a little over a year, I earned myself a referral to the GI doctor and a full body CT scan.

People noticed that I was losing weight and would tell me how great I looked, but they often looked disappointed when I told them that I had no idea how the weight was coming off and that my doctors and I were looking into the cause.

My standard answer to inquiries about my weight became “undiagnosed medical condition” because it would normally stop the tirade of trying to convince me to divulge my secret. Surprisingly, on more than one occasion, I had someone tell me that they didn’t care what the cause of my weight loss was but they wished it would fall off them as effortlessly as it had for me.

There were others who were concerned I had lost too much weight and confronted me about eating disorders, trying to feed me every chance they had. When I would politely decline their food advances I was met with hostility, because clearly I wanted to be this way.

Yes, I wanted to have to carry a stadium chair around with me wherever I went because sitting on any surface caused great amounts of pain in my hips. I wanted to have to go out and buy all new clothes and shoes because everything I owned no longer fit me. Yes I said shoes, I lost a half of a size and buying a 10.5 shoe is next to impossible.

I especially wanted to see the annoyed look on people’s faces when I complained about my plight with losing all of this weight. Women think it’s okay to complain about clothes getting too tight, but the moment that you complain that yours are falling off, you get eye rolls and exasperated sighs.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Heather.”

I find myself struggling to accept this new version of me. I had accepted size 14 Heather. Size 14 Heather was pretty, she loved being in pictures and had accepted the skin she was in. I am working on loving the smaller version of myself. I am trying not to look at myself and think how gaunt and unhealthy I look. I’m not unhealthy, all of the numbers in my labs and on the scale point to a healthy weight.

Body acceptance isn’t just about accepting those bodies that are bigger, they are accepting all bodies. Each day I work on accepting this new smaller version of myself a little more and mourn size 14 Heather a little less. But man oh man, do I miss her boobs.

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Comments

  1. My darling friend,

    I worry. You know I do. And I hope I never said anything that upset you. I know I held back several times telling you how much I worried when you’d seen me a picture or I’d see an instagram. I don’t love the way the weight came off and I know you don’t either but I’m so glad you’re working on finding and accepting the new Heather because I adore her already no matter what size she is.

    (But seriously, The boobs AND THE SHOES!?!)