“None of my pants fit,” my friend confessed to me on a walk. It was something I’d heard a lot and took comfort in — nobody’s pants fit after this past year. I join the many in the time-to-shop-for-new-clothes club, except my weight gain was more than just a couple of pounds…
…even more than 20 pounds. It snuck up on me as last year stretched on from one horror to the next. Before I knew it, I’d gained two dress sizes. A familiar panic flushed my skin as I realized I had to size up when shopping for shorts this summer. I’ve struggled with weight since I was in elementary school, and the familiar fear of being in a body that didn’t look the way I felt was something I thought I was done with. Then came the extra guilt of gaining weight while in a romantic relationship with someone. I still struggle to accept my partner’s unconditional love when my body looks drastically different than it did when we met. This is tricky because in my brain, thinner me is a different person with a different life. That person could land a boyfriend, but this person could never.
“You know that it’s just a number on a scale, right?” I heard my therapist say on the phone the other day. That number from the scale flashes in my head again, as it does so many times a day. What if I treated the number as what it is — information about body, which isn’t tied to my dreams or what kind of friend I am or even my health, necessarily?
I was discussing with a friend the fact that our bodies are made to be — and even meant to be — different sizes at different times, and that our weights will go up and down and that’s ok. We aren’t taught these facts about our bodies until we’ve already been led to believe the lies of diet culture and fatphobia. That clicked into place for me a little more and made me feel human — like it was my right as a human being to go through my body’s natural progressions of grief and survival. I began thinking about ways to embrace my body as it stands, even when I want to zip off this skin and run from it.
So, I’m giving myself a chance to really be present in this body, not scrambling toward my old weight from 13 months ago. I go on walks around my neighborhood so that my body can feel connected to nature and because I want it to feel good and be strong. I’m buying myself clothes in larger sizes, in between deep breaths. This summer I’ll swim in the ocean, probably in a bikini, wear short skirts, and laugh at a louder volume than is appropriate for brunch. I’ve hated my body for too long and I’m weary of carrying that. I just don’t want to anymore. This constantly shifting vessel has all the more right to revel in what it’s survived.
(Photo by Chelsea Victoria/Stocksy.)