Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learning To Accept Myself As I Am

Prompt: The world lied to me, I thought.

I tend to get really frustrated in discussions where people put out the idea that society encourages girls to be skinny, and is in general more accepting of skinny girls.  I've spent my whole life as a skinny girl, thanks to genetics and a very high metabolism, and it's been no bed of roses, let me tell you.

Let's start with my home life, from before I ever started school. Because the doctor was always telling my parents that I was underweight, my mother was always trying to force me to eat more, hoping I would gain weight. No matter how much I ate, she would encourage, and sometimes even try to force, me to eat more. There was a period of time where I had to drink a milk shake with an egg in it after dinner every night, because the doctor told her that would help me to add pounds. It didn't work, and I think it's one of the reasons why, as an adult, I am not a huge fan of ice cream and can make a carton last for months (which drives the rest of my family NUTS, I might add!)

Once I was around 10, even my friends started getting in on the act. I can still remember, 42 years later, the day my three best friends and I were sitting in the cafeteria and they all ganged up on me, telling me that if I didn't eat everything on my tray, they were going to take me out on the playground and feed me grasshoppers.  The thing is, I almost always ate more than any of them at lunchtime...I wasn't skinny because I didn't eat, and they knew it...but the only way they knew of for a person to gain weight, was to eat, so I obviously just needed  to eat more food (protein, apparently, since they were going for grasshoppers!  LOL).

Shopping for clothes as a preteen/young teenager was a major nightmare. While other girls my age were shopping in the juniors department, this seventh grader, who weighed about 50 lbs., was still shopping in the kids department, or wearing clothes my mother made for me. I dreaded shopping trips, knowing that it was going to be almost impossible to find things that fit AND looked age appropriate.

And try having people you don't even know, or barely know, thinking it's okay to ask you if you have an eating disorder. By the time I was in high school and college, that was a common occurrence. When you're doing everything you can to GAIN weight, and you can't seem to get past 80 or 90 pounds, those kinds of questions are not helpful.

Even getting pregnant didn't help, except for a few months. I gained about 25 pounds with my first and third, and a whopping 50 pounds with my second....but no one could actually tell I was pregnant until I was 7 months or more along.  And because pretty much all of the weight was baby, I was able to wear regular, non-maternity clothes home from the hospital all three times--and by breastfeeding, I was back to my pre-pregnancy 95 pounds in six weeks or less.

About the time I turned 40, I finally put on a few pounds to reach what my doctors had always said was the ideal weight for my height, which is 125. After so many years of being below that, there was a period of time where I found myself feeling FAT--fortunately I was able to get past that rather quickly and realize that,for the first time in my life, I looked like a normal person.

So that was when I finally began to accept myself the way I was, and not worry about how other people saw me. I am saddened sometimes that it took 40 years to get to that point, and that I was so hard on myself before that, trying to make myself into someone else. On the plus side, my experiences guaranteed that weight was never a discussion with any of my children...they were encouraged to eat when they were hungry, and to stop when they were full, and they were accepted and loved no matter what their weight or body type.

The next time you feel jealous of someone who is thin, and has it "easy," I hope you'll think back to this post and remember that it might not have been the life you think it was.

1 comment:

  1. Well put! Love this post. So glad to hear from the other side of things. So fifteen you hear from those who have been 'fat' their whole lives and have finally dropped the unwanted pounds. No one ever thinks of the person struggling to gain weight to be 'healthy'. I'm glad you are finally able to comfortable with yourself.

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