If I were to break down my life into categories that describe my experiences, there would be a handful of columns or pillars, if you will…
I’d say that there are bout five or six “Life Experience Pillars,” but here are few examples:
Pillar 1: Performing life.
Pillar 2: Romantic relationships.
Pillar 3: Weight Loss and Body Image
A lot of my friends think I’m absolutely nuts. The last time I could even be considered “big” was when I was ten years old. I went through a growth spurt as a pre-teen and have been a pretty healthy size my whole life. But the conversations that dominated my household during my most important years were always about the same thing:
Fat. Being big. Hating skinny people. Dieting. Low-carb. Low-fat. Size charts. measurements. Being put in the back. Feeling invisible. Size 2. Size 13. Hip size. Breast size. Hair color.
You can say that this is just how girls are as they are discovering their bodies, but in my house it was extreme. It was all we talked about. I know now that this was the result of insanely low self-esteem, and a common held belief by many of the women in my family that your worth was based on how you look, and nothing much else mattered.
This attitude sunk into the heads of the ladies around me. It really affected us and it’s infuriating.
I grew up believing I was “overweight” —and that it actually mattered.
I remember being taught in Kindergarten that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that the most important things in life were being kind and being a good friend.
So why on EARTH did that part of my growth and learning become less LOUD than the voices in my head that told me to keep losing weight?
It sure made adolescence a pain in the ass.
And you know what?
I’m 28 years old and I still bitch about it.
I still have to fight that little voice in my head that wants to start screaming any time I’m bloated.
I still look at “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days” articles on pinterest.
I still have to quiet the part of me that wants to punch a thin woman in the face while she happily eats a donut or two.
I still look at the beautiful dancers at my theater job and ache over how I will never look like them, when all I wanted as a child was to be a ballerina. I entertain those sorrowful emotions until I knock some sense into myself for being an idiot because WE SHARE THE SAME COSTUMES and I’m being ridiculous.
Maybe I am insane.
But what I want to express is this:
I’m so SO sorry for contributing to this unhealthy culture regarding size and body image by complaining OUT LOUD about my size or what I look like. How SHITTY is that to other people?
I am sorry that I openly talk about having “fat days” like they’re a truly negative thing. They’re not. They’re just a thing that happens to everybody when they retain water. It’s not a big deal.
I am sorry that I whined a little about finishing a half marathon and not losing any weight. (That should NOT have been a thing in my head when I made a big life accomplishment. But it was. And that is a failure on my part.)
I am sorry for the amount of time I spend on this subject when I could be doing so many other things with my time.
And I think, most importantly, I am sorry for believing that no one else went through this kind of struggle. I’m sorry that because I see my friends being successful in their lives, I assume that they must never have this mental fight that I have with myself almost every day…
THIS IS A REAL THING PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE OF FAT SHAMING AND SKINNY-GLORIFYING.
At what point are we just going to decide that what we are, in this very moment, is good enough? That our bodies do not need alterations? That the only thing that should be propelling us to eat healthy and exercise is the sheer fact that it makes us happy?
I try to run because it makes me happy… I like the feeling of accomplishment. It should have absolutely NOTHING to do with a desire to be skinnier.
I would really like to kill that part of my brain that still believes that I run so that I can be skinny.
It has definitely shrunk over the years, but it’s still there.
I’m sorry that I haven’t just made a choice to halt the negativity towards the way I look and to just have a good time living my life.
The self-hate is not worth the energy. It is hurtful to myself, and it is hurtful to those around me.
I’ll close with this letter.
Dear Sad-Fat Dragon:
I love you. I love that you have given me the passion and fire to encourage other women to love and accept themselves. I love that what once started as a negativity toward my body eventually led me to love physical activity. However, it’s time for you to shut the eff up and let me be happy with the way I look.
Forgive me as the words spill out of me like the tears I can’t hold back. The past two days have been filled to the brim with reasons to cry, and I have. A younger me would have judged myself for the blubbering I’ve done over the past months, but forget it.
I am a different person now than I was before. Cells have been recreated, I have been hugged more, loved more, given more, offered more breaths of life to keep living and keep loving.
Why was I given more days to experience so much life, and breath, and beauty, when those not so far from my home, my community were not spared?
They wanted a night on the town– no different from my brothers and sisters right here in beautiful Long Beach. Long Beach, a place in which I have learned to become a better version of myself– my mind, and heart, and soul has been expanded because of this place that I chose on a whim, chasing after a boy.
But I look around me and I see how goddamn lucky I was to have followed that boy that broke my heart and tore me apart to a shell of a human so that I not only could rebuild, but so that I could be so closely connected to these beautiful people around me every single glorious day.
Everything is a gift.
Everyone of you is a gift to me.
Readers, friends, those who I will never meet– the vibrations of you matter more than I could ever comprehend.
And then, I am over here, experiencing what it feels like to be congratulated by my loved ones to put one foot in front of the other for three hours.
That’s not hard.
Sweating for pleasure is not hard.
Watching your community break down and cry is hard.
Watching your people argue over the definition of love and equality is hard.
Watching your friends feel pain and anguish over the fact that their neighbors might see them as less than any other human is hard.
Watching your people lose all faith in your country is hard.
Going for a long run is NOT HARD.
It was merely a lesson. A lesson that when we put limitations on what we are capable of doing, we can never change. It was a lesson that dedication and hard work can reap incredible results if you just don’t fucking give up.
We can’t give up on ourselves, and I know for a fact, that my brothers and sisters are so much stronger than I am on my own.
They have proven it to me over and over and over and over again and have given me a reason to run in the first place.
And although running is not hard, music is not hard, dance is not hard, and art is not hard — at least not in the way this ridiculous fight is hard,
I will run longer, sing more beautifully, dance with less conviction, and create with as much fucking purpose as I have in my tiny little human form because it’s everything I’ve got.
And if our steps, our struggle, our creation, our breath gives us a reason to celebrate who we are, then GOD DAMNIT we better do it.
Because that’s love.
I don’t care who you are, love is love, and we have the power to choose LOVE over hate and separation every day.
Every day we live is a chance to choose kindness and passion and love.
Thank you for inspiring me to run, sing, play, and create.
But more than anything,thank you for inspiring me to love greater than I ever thought possible.