I’m happy you’ve decided to read this. Whether you just read the first few lines or through to the end, my hope is that you find a spark of truth to lift your heavy heart.
The one thing that needs to sink in is this: Your body may have changed, but your value has not decreased.
I don’t know your story, or how you’ve ended up a different size than what you’d hoped. And I’m not here to argue whether your size is good or bad, or whether society should promote a different standard of beauty. I’m just here because I’m with you right now… I’ve gained some weight, and I’m hurting because of it. I want to share with you the words that I know I need to hear. Maybe they’ll help you too.
I know how it feels to put on a shirt that made you feel great a few weeks ago, but now is just not quite right.
To sit down and feel more of you gather in your midsection than you’re used to feeling.
To have your jeans grow tighter and tighter, to watch the definition of your jaw and cheekbones melt into a softer shape.
To be out of breath from a staircase that you used to take in stride.
To be too warm where you used to feel fine, or even cold.
To feel immense guilt when you even consider that cookie, those chips, that pie.
And that tearing disappointment when it’s a birthday and the celebration means food that makes you feel defeated.
When you reach up to scratch your back, and the softness of your flesh surprises you.
When you wave to someone excitedly, only to feel your upper arm shake.
To feel your stomach growl, but the extra flesh on top of it make you feel that it shouldn’t need any more nourishment.
To watch your favorite pieces of clothing get pushed farther and farther back into the closet, because none of them make you feel good anymore.
First of all, you’re not alone.
I know that you might feel ashamed, out of control, and that you’re probably aching. And I know that well-meaning people may tell you that you shouldn’t be. And I know that it doesn’t make your shame go away when they tell you that.
I know what it’s like to be chided and corrected for expressing the pain and unhappiness you feel with your body changing.
“Are you kidding me?? You look great. You should be happy with your body. I hate it when skinny people complain. You have nothing to complain about. You’re just fine.”
“What?! No one care what size you are. I don’t even think you’ve gained. Whatever. You’re just big boned. You should stop freaking out, it’s probably just a couple of pounds.”
I’m here to tell you that your pain is valid, even if you are the thinnest person around. And even if you’re not. I’m sure that you might still look perfect to other people. But if you’re hurting, you’re hurting and it’s okay to feel that.
It’s okay to hurt.
It’s okay to wish for something different.
It’s okay to recognize that you’re not the size you want to be.
It’s what you do with the pain that matters.
So what do you do? You need to love your body.
I know, I know, that’s really really hard and sounds mushy and maybe even frivolous or impossible.
But here’s the thing that’s really important.
Loving the way your body looks and loving your body are not the same thing.
They’re both good, and they’re both needed, but the former should not determine the latter.
You might be angry at your body, you might even hate it.
But listen, would you ever hate someone else because of the way that they look? I hope not. So why would you hate yourself because of how you look?
Maybe you don’t feel like you can love the way your body looks with the extra weight. That’s okay. That’s a starting place. It’s time now for you to love your body. Take loving care of it. Don’t deny it the nourishment it needs.
Yes, you need to eat. Yes, it’s good to eat. No, please please do not punish your body for the way it looks by depriving it of food. You would think someone who did that to another was a monster, because that’s abusive behavior. Please do not abuse yourself. Your body is not your enemy.
Secondly, find exercise that you enjoy. Don’t choose the one that punishes your body-
You would think someone who punished another person with exercise was a villain. Don’t be a villain to your own body.
Find something that makes you feel better. That makes you feel alive. That’s loving to your body and soul. Maybe it has a bit less of calorie burn than the thing that feels like punishment. Well, who cares. Because you must not punish your body for the way it looks. Bodies don’t thrive under harsh dictatorship. They thrive under loving care. And you want to thrive, not just survive.
Wear the clothes that make you feel like yourself. Things that don’t make you feel like sucking in your stomach or hiding your muffin top. Wear the things that make you hold your head high- whether they’re in style or not. And YES, you can buy your new body new clothes. Don’t wait “until you lose weight”.
Right-now-you is as deserving of something beautiful and nice as ever.
Now to address the most vulnerable question in your heart:
The people in your life who matter, who love you, who are key relationships in your life, the people who’s opinion of you could heal or break your heart…
yes, they may have noticed.
But they love you. Not only do they love you as much, they probably even love you more. Because you’ve lived more life, you’ve been through more, you’ve grown and changed and made discoveries since you were thinner. You have gotten more beautiful. You’ve won the hearts of the ones close to you to an even deeper level. You’ve cracked more jokes and cried more tears and listened to and told a lot more stories than when you were thinner. Your body has changed, yes. But so have YOU. And you’ve only gotten better.
Your significant other still wants to be with you.
And for the singles (myself included), the right person would never ever walk away from your current shape. They’d fall deeper in love with this version of you than the thinner you. That thinner you has nothing… NOTHING on the beauty and wisdom of right now you. That’s “past” you. Who cares if he or she was smaller?
So take loving care of your body. Love the way it serves you in every day life. Love the fact that when your child or girlfriend or mother hugs you- they’re hugging your body, because your body is you. And they LOVE you. Love the fact that your body can move to cook or write or build or dance or work. Love that your body is the visible aspect of all the invisible aspects of you. And with time, and love, and care and wisdom, I hope you can come to fall in love with the way your body looks too. Whether or not “thinner-you” makes an appearance soon or ever, right-now-you is as loved and as loveable- and dare I say, even much more so- than thinner you ever was.