I get asked occasionally how I came by the confidence I have about myself and my body. This kind of question is rather insulting. I’m not a small person. I am what society calls “overweight” or “fat,” and in many ways, society shames those of us with non-supermodel bodies into thinking that we don’t deserve to be confident, or feel beautiful, or really be seen at all until we “get healthy” or lose weight.
I spent the majority of the first three decades of my life trying to come to terms with my body type, and failing miserably. I rarely felt attractive. I never felt confident. I felt I needed to be invisible, because I offended people with my body simply by existing. Even when I was at my smallest size or lowest weight, it wasn’t enough, because I still didn’t fit in the clothes at the stores my friends shopped. I still had to shop “plus-size” stores or be relegated to the plus-size section of department stores, which by the way, usually means matching pant and sweater sets that did not at all fit in with my age or my style.
Then there are the ways that I would shame myself. Whenever I would eat out, before I would order my food I would go through a litany of reasoning as to why it was okay for me to order what I wanted, regardless of what other people were “clearly” thinking about an overweight woman ordering a double cheeseburger. I would compare myself to my friends, who were always smaller than me, and therefore more worthy, desirable, and attractive than I could ever be. If I shopped with them, I imagined that I could feel the employees in the stores looking at me and thinking, “She doesn’t belong here, nothing will fit her.” I even went so far as to make excuses for the people I dated regarding how they treated me or what I had a right to expect from them, because they were “compromising” by being with me, an overweight person who no one could possibly want simply because I was awesome.
I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m not sure when the switch flipped, or if there was a defining moment or a series of them, but I know several things for certain now:
- I’m beautiful. Not beautiful “for a fat person;” just beautiful. Period.
- I can order whatever food I damn well please, and chances are, no one really cares enough to think twice about it. And if they do, they have the problem, not me.
- My body is not a compromise. My body may not be everyone’s “type,” but not everyone is my “type” either. That’s okay. I have an amazing husband who loves every curve, squishy part and fat roll that I have, unequivocally.
- I am worthy of the same love everyone else is.
My confidence comes from somewhere deeper. It didn’t come from anyone else telling me how worthy or beautiful I am, it came from me recognizing all of the awesome things about myself that have nothing to do with my weight. I am confident because I know I am a good person. I treat others the way I want to be treated. I don’t judge people, and I have dedicated my life to helping people heal and grow. I know I’m smart: I’m resourceful, intelligent and driven to keep learning every day of my life. I’m a good friend, daughter, sister, and wife. I’m the most beautiful woman in the world to the one person whose opinion actually matters to me: my husband. I’ve learned to appreciate my body in ways I never have before, by figuring out my own sense of style, what works for me and what doesn’t, and what makes me feel good and comfortable and stylish. I’ve learned to accept not being perfect and not aspiring to be, and that no one else is perfect either. Everyone has their insecurities, no matter how they may look to the outside world. And I’ve learned to operate by this principle: “What other people think of you (and if they’re thinking of you at all) is none of your business!”