“When people look at my body and be like, 'Oh my God, she's so brave,' it's like, 'No, I'm not.' I’m just fine. I’m just me. If you saw Anne Hathaway in a bikini on a billboard, you wouldn't call her brave."
January is a triggering month. Resolutions abound to lose weight, to diet, to shame the added softness on our flesh from holiday indulgence. Our cultural fatphobia rears its ugly head, and those of us with long term relationships with our obesity receive yet again messages about our failure for not being thin. Years of disordered eating, unhealthy relationships to our bodies, and painful experiences judge our present flesh.
The message about my body weight is incessant. Every time I visit a doctor, they ask about my weight even though the visit and my weight are unrelated. I was over 200 pounds when I was in the fifth grade and haven’t been less than that since. I’ve had people in professional settings ask if I knew I was overweight, and had coworkers get uncomfortable because my slacks showed my thighs.
It doesn’t matter that I exercise seven to eight hours a week; that I’m the super heavyweight masters powerlifting record holder in my state; that I’m competitive in strength athletics with people twenty years younger than my middle-aged, Santa-looking self. The world often just sees fat. Yes to the notion of folks being healthy at every size, but to understand that my humanity and my abundant flesh both demand dignity is to embrace fat liberation.
I am beautiful. I have curves and a comfortable embrace. My child loves my big arms and broad shoulders. He often sits on my stomach and I delight in the way my body provides for his comfort and pleasure. My partner adores my shape and wants me to be active and healthy, but not chase the dated dream of diminished size on the scale when that would coincide with unhealthy relationships to food.
Self-love is much more powerful than self-acceptance, and my self-love is for this fabulous and amazing body that inspires joy in my family and can rock peacock and zebra patterned tights while lifting. For every soft belly, for every tiger stripe stretch mark, for every inch of dimpled skin we put on parade at the pool or the beach: we are here. We are beautiful. We are sacred.
In soft folds and broad hugs, in ample flesh and bodily warmth, we are sacred. Represented and celebrated in fertility goddesses and laughing Buddhas, our curves have signaled the holy through the ages and our presence is a blessing.