There are all of these mommy-blog wars lately. I’m sure you’ve heard about them- people getting their garters all askew over something one mom wrote/said that was intended or unintended to be hurtful to other moms who are trying their best -gosh darn it! Righteous indignation is established. People feel judged, ridiculed and overwhelmed at what parenting has become with all the rules and identifiers that prove how good of a mom you are or are not.
The weightloss world is very similar. There are things one just does not do and things one must do. And things you think you’re supposed to do but that might offend some people. Know what I mean? I thought not.
Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but every time I post a comparison picture I think of three different reactions-
1. You’re happy for me and happy to help me celebrate: Wahoo, Tamara! Good on you! Celebrate your success!
2. You’re motivated. You see me and think, “If she can do it, so can I!” Comparison pictures got my booty going, especially when I was able to make my own to see how far I had come. I think that mine just might do that for someone else, so I post them.
3. You hate me. You are bitter and wonder why I continue to shove my success as a weight-loser down everyone’s throats. You might think that I’m putting other fat girls down by choosing horrible before pictures and fabulous afters while I’m judging one as hierarchically better than the other based solely on my weight.
I always worry that my pictures will be seen as pious and holier than thou. I always worry that people will look at them and feel bad, like failures, like I’m pointing out how much better and more successful I am than them because I have managed something that seems so unattainable.
If you knew me ‘then’, you know I was a very happy heavy girl. I was active, loved, educated, successful and happy in my skin- for the most part. I know I tell sob stories of moments that were hard, but everyone has hard moments. Mine were just compounded by being in the skin of a fat girl. I’m making light of it here for a point- I have always loved myself.
It’s important to recognize and state that when I make these comparison pictures, I’m rarely saying I was unattractive in the original ones. I choose them based on the view they provide, and since i didn’t allow for many pictures back then, my options are limited and not always the best versions of me. However, I think fat can be very beautiful- it balloons out artfully, full and lovely, plumping up skin and making beautiful curves. My skin now hangs off my thighs, my torso; on my face, wrinkles are prevalent even though one year ago I look fresh faced, young, botoxed and plump. I like my appearance now, too, but it needs to be clear that I like my ‘then’ appearance, too. Sometimes, in the comparison pictures, it is difficult for me to decide which one I like better. That was a hard thing for me to contend with at first. I was looking from the before to the now and I liked them equally. It was strange. I was torn- I felt dedicated to defending the party line of always being beautiful no matter what size I was, and I had to balance that with the pride of a healthy accomplishment that was evident in any comparison pictures. Once I realized I was confused by liking the before and during I felt pretty happy about my statement that I’ve always been happy in my skin.
I was ready sustain my life as the fat girl advocate, the one who doesn’t back down, the one who stands up and says that the way we treat fat people is wrong. And I was going to do it by living the life of a fat person and speaking openly about it. But then I had my babies and realized that life is short, any limits you place on yourself only cut minutes off your life and richness from the experience. I realized I can still be an advocate for the fat girls, but I can also advocate for that from a place where I am not the extreme example.
I hope you see what I saw in those other women who inspired me. One was the woman who I thought was like me- happily relationshipped, fat, happy- like my sister from another mister!- and all of the sudden she lost a bunch of weight and I wondered if she could do it, why couldn’t I? Or my friend who has battled weight forever and all of the sudden she lost 70 pounds. Or the family member who lost a bunch and just seemed to melt away one winter. Or the myriad of women and men I know who have lost weight and I never expected them to, and I realized if they could do it there was no reason I couldn’t.
What I hope, though, is that people look at me like I looked at the other women who I considered in my league. I hope you see a woman who was pretty happy who just decided to make a change. I hope you see this person who had given up on losing weight, who thought she was medically incapable of losing weight, who had decided to be content as a heavy person- I hope you see someone you see a little of yourself in and, if you’re interested, my story can propel you forward enough to establish some determination.
I never come from a place of shaming anyone. I come, first, from a place of astonishment at my own success. Seriously, I’m in constant disbelief that this is my life. After that, I then come from a place of celebration. I have to shout it from the rooftops to make it seem real! Like, if I don’t tell and show it to someone it won’t be true! Lastly, I think posting my pictures might just inspire someone else at the very moment when they need it. While this is never my primary motivator -to provide inspiration (I think it’s unhealthy to look to others being inspired by me to propel me forward- I can’t sustain that infinite shrinkage model!), it is fun to hear from people who are making positive changes in their lives partially based on what they’ve seen me do. It’s amazing to effect that positive change.
Cheers and best of luck.
*These are all before/during comparison photos that I have posted at various times this year. And what a year it has been!
***jump for skin… LOL