Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I've been thinking a lot this week about middle school and high school. I regained about 10 pounds over the last few months--so much so that none of the "skinny" pants I bought myself over the summer fit me anymore. I had to go out to Penney's and get myself some new dress slacks in the next size up. At first this didn't really bother me, because I know a good tailor and figured I could just get them taken in when I lose the weight again (and continue losing after that until I reach my goal). But then it did start to bother me, partially because I met a guy last week that I really like. All the old feelings of inadequacy started to come up, and the fact that I had to go out and buy bigger pants made it all so much worse. In thinking about why I had this reaction (the classic "I suck and he would never like me anyway" reaction), I started thinking about my early and mid teen years. I was caught then in the vortex of what I call the "Fat Girl Code." I don't know if it was like this everywhere, but at my school at least, if you were fat and tried to wear makeup, jewelry, and dress nice, you were made fun of even more than you were if you wore plain tee shirts, a pony-tail, and no makeup at all. Even if you had killer acne, it was better to be bare-faced. The implication, at least in my mind, was that if you're fat, you shouldn't even bother trying to look nice, because your only motivation for looking nice is trying to distract people from how fat you are. (What's so terrible to me now is that when I look back at pictures of my from this time, I wasn't even that heavy. Maybe, like, 20-25 pounds overweight.)
It took me a long time to get past that mindset of, "keep your head down, try not to make waves or cause trouble, be a good person, and maybe no one will care that you're fat." Instead of burying myself in school work and making sure I was perfect at everything except my appearance, I finally started buying myself nicer clothes and wearing makeup. I cut myself some slack in other areas of my life and focused on me, rather than on using internal attributes to distract people from my outward appearance. And when, in this past year, I started losing serious weight and could shop in the regular sections of stores, it was like a whole new world for me. I'd been watching "What Not to Wear" for years and doing my best with plus-sized clothes, but now I could actually buy myself nice things from stores like JC Penney instead of Lane Bryant, and that fit in with "the rules" on TV.
But, the fatal combination of buying bigger pants and meeting a nice guy almost sent me spinning back into my high school days. I was riddled with thoughts of how ridiculous I must look, being the size I am and trying to look nice, thinking this guy would be interested. But really, the only ridiculous thing here is that I allowed, for a day or so anyway, some jerks from high school to make me feel bad ten years later. Because honestly? I am worth it. And I remember that when I was on my way down the scale, I felt fab-u-licious at this size. So why should I feel any differently now? I'm still 30 pounds lighter than I was a year ago, and I'm a different person now. I've learned that weight loss, the hardest, scariest thing of all, is something I can accomplish. I've learned that after 45 minutes on the elliptical, when I'm drenched with sweat and hobbling over to the stretching station at my gym, I feel so strong, like I'm capable of anything! And I've learned that I can take a Zumba class, something that would previously have fallen into the fat-girl-trying-to-be-sexy taboo, and rock it and feel awesome about myself after. I guess, long story short, I've found a way to make my insides and my outsides of equal value--because both are valuabe, and the good feelings I get from taking care of my body aren't something I care to lose.
I finally went back to the gym this week, after all these stressful months of not being able to afford it, and I did 45 minutes on the elliptical, even though I haven't seriously worked out since July. In this case, my body needs to be an example to my mind. My body snapped back into go-mode like it was no big deal, and that's something my mind needs to learn too. Yeah, I had a setback mentally this week; I lapsed back into hiding, self-pity mode. But just like my muscles and the elliptical, my mind needs to snap back into place too. I'm not that shy, mousy, terrified of being teased high school girl anymore. I'm strong, I'm confident, and I'm worth it. I just wish that way back then, she knew she was worth it too.