Last week I went to have pictures taken. It used to be my least favorite thing to do in the world: freeze an image of my ugly, fat body in time to be seen by myself and others for decades to come. At best I thought these pictures might make good "before pictures" for when I finally got around to losing the weight and magically transform into a beautiful butterfly. "What's the point of taking care of myself?" I thought, "Polish a turd, it's still a turd!" Sure, I would go through phases of trying on makeup and nicer clothes. Sometimes I would even start to diet and lose a good 10 or 20 pounds. But, in the end, I still thought of myself as a "turd" -- someone whom no amount of polishing could fix. I would unfailingly return to my bun and my comfy pants; I didn't believe I deserved much more. I still based my conception of beauty on the size of my waist. This conception was only reinforced by the well-intentioned, but nevertheless hurtful comments by friends and family urging me to lose the weight so I could get a "nice body to match my pretty face." I felt sad, worthless, and unloved, burdened by the idea that happiness was 80 lbs away.
A few months ago I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful man, who, much to my surprise, actually thinks I'm beautiful the way I am. I laughed at him, at first, thinking he must be either blind or crazy. But he kept saying it over and over and over again with such sincerity that I actually started to believe him. Suddenly my pictures seemed less horrific, even the "bad" ones! I started buying nicer clothes, dressing up more often, and wearing makeup again. I was no longer used these things to bribe myself to lose more weight as I had in the past; I was truly starting to love and accept my own body ... fat and all! I even started doing things for myself, such as getting facials and doing my nails. I was feeling good!
I was feeling so good that I decided to do something very daring: have boudoir pictures taken. I liked the pictures that I had taken of myself at home, so why not spend the money to have them professionally done? After many appointments to prettify myself for the camera, the day finally came! But when I finally got the opportunity to go through the pictures and select the best ones, I was in complete shock: I looked so FAT compared to the other women in the sample pictures! Fortunately the initial shock wore off and I was able to select some pictures that I liked. But even though I felt the pictures I had selected came out well, I was nevertheless still devastated. I had been hoping to come out with a few "PG" ones to show a select few friends, to prove to them once and for all that I am beautiful the way I am. But looking at those pictures and comparing them to the pictures of "beautiful women" in the photographer's sample book, I realized they would probably only see the same thing I was seeing: my big belly. I'd once again be the pitiful fat girl, except this time I would be the pitiful slutty fat girl.
After crying for a bit, and many consoling reminders of my true beauty from my saint of a man, I finally realized: that is fucking messed up. Why in the world should we be taught as young women that only skinny, bony women are sexy? Why should I feel like I have to hide my belly fat at all costs, while showcasing my large breasts (which are also technically FAT)? Why should I have to feel judged, pitied, and humiliated should I happen to mention that a top didn't fit? Why should I feel shame when my friends rant about some "fat bitch"? (What does her being overweight have ANYTHING to do with her being a bitch, anyways?) Why should I feel humiliated when a classmate loudly announces that she would never date a certain man, because he was way too fat? Who does it help? No one, as far as I can tell. But it causes a whole lot of hurt.
More importantly, I realized that in spite of the progress I had made, I was still a part of the problem. I still didn't think I was beautiful, solely because my belly had fat. I hate to admit it, but I also would have had similar thoughts about any other girl my size or larger. I need to change the way I think of myself before I can begin to change the way both others see me and I see others. I need to have a healthier image of myself before I can begin to be truly happy, which is what I deserve to be.
I hope you'll continue reading. Hopefully this journey will be a lot of fun. I can't imagine how pandering to my physical and mental needs wouldn't be!