changing my identity

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I was always a fat girl. Maybe not in reality, but in my head. In elementary school I was tall and strong, and bore no resemblance to my ballet-dancing, gymastics-twirling little classmates. Once I hit middle school I began gaining weight, and by the time I was a freshman I wore a size 16. I was officially a fat girl, bigger than all my friends.

I stayed about the same size, ranging from 185 to 205 pounds, all the way through high school, college, and beyond. I tried diet after diet, but I never did more than move to the low end of my range before I would self-destruct and begin eating in earnest again. I decided fat was just the way I was, that I was not destined to ever be a normal sized girl.

Nearly three years ago I met a nice boy, and inexplicably, the extra weight started to fall off. Even more importantly, my emotional eating and bingeing got a lot less severe. For the first time, I think, I didn't have to worry about how fat or ugly I was or whether I would ever find somebody to like me--I finally had value and didn't need to sit around loathing myself anymore.

I lost 30 pounds in a few months, and suddenly I didn't recognize myself anymore. I would stare at my reflection in mirrors, trying to re-learn the shape of my face and the new way my arms looked when they moved. Clothes were a mystery; I spent hours in dressing rooms, trying to find new clothes to suit this new me.

And now I am losing more weight. I'm down to a weight lower than I've ever been. I've started staring at my reflection again, trying to learn the nuances of this changing body--the way my muscles and bones show more. It's contradictory, too, though. I feel so thin sometimes, as though I should be a supermodel or something. But in the mirror I still have a flabby tummy and saddlebags, my arms have some jiggle to lose and my thighs are anything but slim. I'm stuck between the new me and the old me--what am I? Am I thin or fat or normal? Am I slender or chunky? I can answer these questions based on numbers, BMI and body fat and the size of my jeans, but at a deeper level my identity's a bit confused at the moment.

I've heard it takes several months to fully adjust to a new weight, and it makes sense. Regardless of sizes and numbers, our view of ourselves is deeply ingrained and doesn't change overnight. I think this is one of the problems I had with dieting in the past--I wasn't a "skinny girl", so why should I act like one, feel like one, or eat like one? It wasn't who I was. Identifying with a healthy, thinner version of myself helps me act accordingly.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm happy to know that I'm not alone. I still notice beautiful clothing items in the large sizes. This is quite funny because I used to complain about the lack of nice clothes when I wore larger sizes. Oh, the mind is yet to follow that I'm several sizes smaller than what I used to be. Mind you it will take a while to find a personal style in the NEW YOU!
    4364 days ago
    I can understand that. I still go into stores, pick up L's, or size 14 pants, when in actuality, the S is the one that fits, the jeans are actually size 9, but I have the larger girl firmly cemented into my head. I am so used to picking up a L, digging to the bottom of that pile, I just do it.

    I also have begun to take two sizes in with me. The one I usually pick and the next one down. Last time I did that, I had to have a friend go to get the NEXT size down....

    It takes a while get your head to catch up wtih your terrific results!!
    4364 days ago
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