This is not a “bagging on the skinny chicks” post, so please, don’t take it that way. If you do, then you probably ought to do a little self examination of your own. Everyone needs love themselves for who they are…and to help myself with that, I’m endeavoring to write more honestly, to use my blog in a way that will help me on my path to physical health. And part of good physical health is emotional health, and writing is very good for me emotionally.
And I need to explore my past to improve my future. Please excuse me while I slice open a vein…
I am an 80s girl through and through. And, if you were an 80s kid with me, you know that decade was not made for curvy people.
Every pant was high-waisted and tapered. No hips allowed. And for those of us with an hour-glass figure, we had to buy pants a size too big and then have our MeMa dart the waist by at least an inch. (what? Only me?) No wonder everyone thought I was fat. I was relegated to Chic and Lee Jeans. UGH. The horror.
Yes, I was told weekly by my basketball coach that I was fat and needed to get to a goal weight of 118-125. I weighed 135-140, was 5’6 and played 2 hours + of basketball a day.
But I was “fat” because I had tits, hips and thighs.
Look at “Fat Mel” from 8th grade. Yeah. I know. Ridiculous.
But think about what kind of damage hearing how fat you are when you weigh 135-140 lbs when you’re 14 years old. That number is always my “fat” number, mentally. So imagine how bad I felt about myself several years ago when I was 100 lbs over my “fat” number? Talk about self-esteem issues!
The other problem with the 80s’ idea of the perfect physical shape was the clothing.
I wanted to be the girl who could wear the White Patch Levis. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The ones only the hot girls could wear? (At least, in my mind those were the only girls who could wear them. The skinny girls with no hips.)
And I wanted to be in the club. I wanted to be a broomstick, not a brick house. Because in those days, girls were shamed into believing they needed to change their bodies to fit in. Coaches snatched our candy bars from our hands and told us we needed to eat more salads–NO DRESSING. Daddies told us we’d never find a boy if we didn’t lose weight and compared us to our friends. “Why can’t you be more like them?” It didn’t matter if the friend they were comparing you to was having sex, doing drugs, boozing it up, smoking cigarettes, or failing school… it mattered that they looked good in their basketball, softball, cheerleader, you name it Uniform. And of course, in their White Patch Levis.
I spent a lot of time covering myself up, trying to hide my body. I wore sweat pants and t-shirts almost everyday. I used the excuse of having only 5 minutes between the end of school and the beginning of basketball practice to change, but the reality was, my clothes became my wall. I developed a witty sense of humor and had friends from every walk of life (which I’m grateful for, to this day) and I pretended to not care what anyone thought about me. I got good at feigning confidence. But at night, when I was alone, I would flip through the Spiegel and Esprit catalogs and pray that my hips would go away. Those magazine pages (especially the swimsuit ones) were tear-stained and ruined by the end of the 80s.
What a horrible thing to do to a child. To put such unrealistic ideals in their heads and to make them ashamed of their body shape. To try to force them into being just like everyone else. Those expectations are hard to overcome, even as an adult.
I’m 44 years old. I’m 60 lbs over my current ideal weight and I have never loved myself more, nor have I ever felt sexier.
But it has taken a LONG time for me to get here, and trust me when I tell you, I still struggle everyday with loving myself for who I am. Not because I’m not awesome (I’m totally awesome) but because in the back of my mind, I’m still the 14 year old girl who just wants to be skinny so people will approve of her.
I think we have come a long way in the fat-shaming world, BUT we’re not fully there yet. If we were, things like Mike Jeffries saying “fat chicks” can’t be one of the “cool kids” wouldn’t happen. Shaming children in any way is wrong. One of the things I swore I’d do as a parent was to build my kids up for who they are and teach them to celebrate their individuality and revel in the differences of others. And they both do that, rather well, thankfully.
I tell you all of this to let you know the reason I still struggle with my weight. Not because I’m worried about being “fat” because I’m not. I’m sexy. The dudes dig me (and the chicks, too, tyvm) and frankly, I dig myself. I struggle with my weight because ultimately, I want to be healthier. I’m a very fit fat girl. What I want to be is just fit. There’s always going to be someone who thinks of me as the “fat girl” and that’s okay. They can label me however they want, that’s their problem, not mine. I’ve spent 30 years overcoming trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, but I’ve finally given up trying to please anyone but myself. That is so freeing.
Welcome to my world, folks. I’m a little damaged, but I’m not broken. My extra padding has protected me.