Monday, October 20, 2008

The Weight of a Big Girl on My Shoulders

Saturday was my mom’s birthday, so in true mother-daughter fashion, we did what we do best: we went shopping. It was a good day – with not even a hint of an argument, we were both having a good time and enjoying each other’s company. And then out it came: “You seem to have lost some weight, what are you down to now,” she asked.

I must admit, she was clever in her asking. The question came out of left field, and I, surprised, said, “What?” to which she replied “Ooh! Let’s look over here! I need to get…”

It was completely planned. She had a plan of retreat, because she knew full well how it would likely go – so why ask in the first place? I’ve got to figure she just can’t help herself.

Ever since I left home, I’ve gotten the questions. The “how are you doing” has always referred to my weight. I use to buy into it. I use to let her rhetoric influence what I did, and more importantly how I felt about myself. If I was gaining weight or staying the same, I would feel defeated – like a lost cause, but if I was losing, I would come home from a day with my mom and feel like I was on top of the world.

Okay, so this dysfunction was primarily my own. Allowing my mood to be completely ruled by the outcome of what my weight was, relative to what it was the week before that is no way to live AT ALL.

Luckily, I’ve kicked that for the most part (hey, we all have our, “Holy crap! I-just-ate-an-entire-pint-of-Ben-&-Jerry’s" days). The funny thing is, once I let go I’ve actually lost weight. Only now I’m having some conflicting feelings about it.

I feel like a sell-out, namely because of this blog. Luckily this feeling of guilt comes and goes. Like I told my coworker who told me I was “wasting away”, I’m actually really fucking far from wasting away. As in, wasting away is China, and I ate the shovel that could dig me there.

And then there’s the anger and disgust at someone feeling proud of me for having lost weight. In my opinion, weight is a personal issue. You can encourage me to be the best be I can be or to be a good person who affects positive change in the world, and you can be happy for accomplishments of mine like my new promotion or a job well done with derby sponsorship, but I get sickened by attaching such weight to something so superficial that doesn’t mean dick. With so many other important things in all of our lives, why put so much importance on weight?

At the same time, part of me feels awesome that I didn’t completely fuck up my body by yo-yo dieting for years and years. I have to admit, I’m kind of astounded at this weird side effect of my not caring, and it is kind of cool – I’m not going to lie. Just yesterday I was dancing around the living room in my too-big pants in front of J, singing “I’m in the 170s…”

As a life long big girl, only other big girls wouldn’t see the irony of my being elated at the 170s (the high 170s, at that) – a number that might make many women faint if they were to wake up and see that on the scale.

The truth is, all the stuff that I’ve done and accomplished that really matters has been done by a big girl. I put myself through college while working at one point five different jobs as a big girl. I bought my house as a big girl. I’ve held various publishing jobs as a big girl (and this big girl just recently got a big promotion to match). And I’ve played derby for nearly four years. All this is great, but I think the best thing I’ve done as a big girl is get to know myself.

Many times people who are big or who look different or who have a disability fixate on what they perceive to be the problem and can never get past that and work toward becoming the best person they can be. That’s really what this blog is all about. I may talk about derby a lot, because derby is really a metaphor for the rest of life (and I love derby). It’s more difficult to do things physically, emotionally, and because you don’t always have the trust and buy-in of others because you’re big, but you can still do it. It may be harder, but it will make you better, and it will show others that their fixating on your weight isn’t worth their time. Hopefully seeing someone accomplish something one wouldn’t expect will cause he or she to stop the discrimination of big people, weak people, poor people, and different people. And hopefully as that stops, the people who can’t get past their weight or whatever else on their own will finally be free to find themselves and be the best they can be.

As for my mom, I can only continue to do what I did on Saturday – ignore her comments on weight and hope that my actions speak louder than the number on the scale. Maybe it’s a lost cause with people of her generation, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to show her what I think is really important. And whether I’m 220 or 180 or something else, I’ll always have the full weight behind me, driving me to show her and others that this big girl, and other big girls, can do whatever the fuck they want.


Anonymous said...

This was amazing. I just happened to stumble upon your journal and, as a big girl, understand exactly where you are coming from. My mother is the same way. Thank you.

Midlife Crashes said...

I really appreciated your comments about all the things you've accomplished "while big." You can't put your life on hold for some magical number on the scale--in fact, don't put it on hold for the perfect job, perfect mate, or any other reason. Just live "big" every day!!

Tess said...

"The truth is, all the stuff that I’ve done and accomplished that really matters has been done by a big girl."

No shit, right? This blog really resonates with me. My mother fixates on weight and I have, unfortunately, spent a great deal of my life so far following in her footsteps. I was weight-obsessed as an eleven-year-old girl and started dieting before I weighed 100 pounds...and I'm talking really unhealthy dieting. The thing that always gets me, though, is my mother's comments about how I was "so skinny as a child." In her mind, I should be long and thin because my siblings once nicknamed me Kermit. I had this conversation again last week. "Mom," I protested, "why are you holding me to the standards of a nine-year-old's body?" I used to work hard to fit into her image for me, but now I work to make her think about living life rather than putting life on hold while trying to fit into the cutout images we have invented for ourselves. -AD

Melissa said...

It was good seeing you at the Championship bout. I remember you telling me that you don't know how I do it with raising a child, working, and going to school. Reading your blog, I don't know how YOU do it! Give yourself some credit. You are a strong, powerful woman who is getting exactly what she wants out of life. Good for you. And you look fantastic, btw. I hope that comment the other night didn't make you feel uncomfortable. As a person who knows how it is to struggle with weight, I couldn't help but tell you how great you look.
~Melissa L.~