I thought about all the ways that I could write this article. I wanted to give the eloquent, positive affirmation rhetoric that gets the people’s juices flowing.
I want to be honest and as raw as possible so that you, the reader, hear what I’m saying without all the gentrified bopo performative talk.
The last few years, I’ve really been doing the best I can to learn to truly fall in love with the vessel I have been gifted to navigate this life in. This has not been easy. I don’t always get into my background or experiences as much as I could; but these things heavily impacted me and the person I have been growing to become.
I know I make confidence look easy. I hear it all the time from women who message me to tell me so. And I’m humbly flattered that so many of you see that and feel encouraged by it.
However, I’m not exempt from the insecurities that many of you experience.
I am 450 lbs and that weight has fluctuated immensely in just the past few months. Bodies that look like mine are everywhere, but media and entertainment outlets would rather you believe they don’t. They have created the narrative that bodies like mine are disgusting, a strange fetish, something to not be honored nor respected. And if you look like me you must go to the extremes of punishing your body until it’s molded into something more acceptable. My body is a warning picture for metabolic syndromes and illnesses, my body is the poster for heart health ads warning about strokes and other deadly cardiovascular disease.
It’s heavy stuff, no pun intended.
Most of my life my struggle was about how I looked. Sucking my stomach in, hiding my arms and legs, picking the clothes that were safe and wouldn’t highlight my visible belly outline so that I could camouflage the unsavory aspects of me. And this was all when I was infinitely smaller than I am now.
It was a gradual process before I would feel comfortable to wear a sleeveless shirt or shorts that exposed the cellulite in my thighs. And that part? That part was the easy part. The hard part was the mental gymnastics that I STILL to this day engage in to assure myself that I am worthy of existing in a body like mine.
There are moments when I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror and I adore what I see. The belly that carried 3 phenomenal gifts, the curvature of my hips, the softness I feel I emit, the innate feminine energy I exude. In those moments I soak all of me up and feel beautiful.
But other times it’s the opposite.
Sometimes as I limp past a mirror I am met with a discomfort in how my gait has changed since arthritis. I feel encumbered by the walker and the rollator. I look at my body and wonder how I ever got to this size. I feel pressure to wear the shape-wear that will give the illusion of neatness that doesn’t exist on my body. I sometimes grab my belly and wonder how if my journey in life would have been different if I had the ideal body.
In the past year, my neck has been the center of focus for many people who happen to visit my social media. Hyperpigmentation has been added to my hashtags so that I can educate the ignorant. I never worried about the color of my neck; it’s been this way forever. But suddenly I’m looking in the mirror wondering if I should buy the lightening cream, and constantly worrying I’m a diabetic when I know I’m not simply because people keep insisting I am because of my neck.
In the end, I always ground myself. I pray, I practice healthy habits that bring me comfort, and most importantly I remember that I am not obligated to be perfect. Nor am I obligated to pretend as if I am perfect.
Learning self love and self care is not ego driven for me. I don’t desire to be the shining example of fat pride, disability pride or any other pride for that matter. I simply want to learn to honor the gift of life that has been bestowed upon me, to plant seeds of happiness in a well nourished patch of soil so that joy can grow and flourish. In order to do that, my thoughts can’t be tied to the commercialism of these words.
So when I show up in a dress that hugs my belly, I’m not making a statement; I’m exploring and challenging my comfort. When I take the picture with the rollator or the cane; I’m simply reminding myself to normalize myself in this body.
It’s an added honor if it does inspire someone else.
I never want anyone to think I am happy go lucky all the time. I’m not. I’m the epitome of imperfection in thought and action. I just know that I don’t have to be defined by my weak moments, my mistakes or the imperfections real or imagined.
I also want you all to understand that self love and self care does not mean being without negative thoughts. Instead, it’s about doing the things you need to get past those negative moments, and doing so with the love and compassion you’d give someone else.
As I’m closer to my weight loss surgery, I find myself thinking about these things more often…and today I simply decided to share them with you. I don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok.
Until Next Time,