I’ve been back and forth with whether or not to post this. The reason being I know how easy it can be to trigger an eating disorder trauma with a post like this. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone feeling bad about themselves or being triggered by what I write so please, if you struggle with your feelings about your weight, read this with caution if at all.
But right now I really want, no, need to talk about how I’m feeling about my weight.
I’ve always been quite chilled out about my weight. I’ve never been one to put it on fast, I’ve always been naturally quite slim. And it’s very easy for me to tell my friends who have been unhappy with their weight that they look great and not to worry – because they really do. I have so many curvier friends who look wonderful and who don’t need to lose a single pound in order to be more attractive or to feel better about themselves.
I’m really pro-diversity and whatever feels good when it comes to people’s weight. If someone’s skinny then they’re skinny. If they’re larger, they’re larger. It’s never been an issue for me – I’ve never thought anyone more or less of a woman because of their weight or size, or more or less attractive.
That’s why the feelings I’ve been having about my body for the last few weeks have confused me so much – in fact completely knocked me over.
The reason being: I feel fat. Yes, I hate that word. It’s a terrible word and I’d never use it to describe anyone else. I don’t feel it about anyone else. I don’t judge about anyone else. But when I look in the mirror, lately, all I see is fat. The worst kind of fat. The “fat” that’s used in the most derogatory way, the “fat” that’s all my fault and the “fat” that will be the thing that stands out on my wedding day, in my wedding pictures, forever.
Every rational bone in my body is telling me it’s just a bit of extra weight, it’s normal, my back’s been out, I’ve been working from home, exercise has pretty much gone out of the window, of course I’ve put on a few pounds. It’s not a big deal. My BMI is smack bang in the middle of the “healthy” range, plus I’m still squeezing into size 10 jeans…
Except none of that matters. It doesn’t matter that I don’t think a bit of extra weight looks bad on other people. It doesn’t matter that I know I’m perfectly healthy. It doesn’t matter that I know I can probably lose a few pounds if I put my mind to it. The anxiety that’s come with it has started to spiral out of control. I’ve started to avoid looking in the mirror, to delete photos of me the minute I see them. I can’t even look down when I wash without feeling tearful.
So what’s brought on this sudden body-shape anxiety? Well, for a start, I have put on weight. Not a lot, but enough for me to not feel like myself any more. I’ve always been smaller and the shock of zips getting stuck, of jeans feeling tighter and tighter, of them not fitting at all has hit me hard. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with putting on weight, I just wasn’t expecting it. It creeped up on me and now, I think the biggest issue is I don’t know how to identify myself any more. Am I now officially in the larger category? Is my body how I imagine it or has it changed beyond my recognition? Can I lose this weight or is this who I am now? While most people’s weight fluctuates, mine never has. This is new territory. And why do I feel the need to categorise myself by my weight at all?
The second thing is the wedding. The obsessive need to look like “me” (whoever that is) in my wedding photos – the pressure to fit into a dress that the shop ordered a size smaller than I would have liked on the somewhat bizarre assumption that I’d definitely lose weight before the big day. The first dress fitting is in a month and I feel like I’ve lost all my confidence in my own body.
I’ve talked about weddings and body confidence before and how there’s a degree of pressure to look perfect for your big day. I just never realised how susceptible I was to it until now.
So yes, while I might preach about how feeling good is more important than looking good, I’m afraid I’ve fallen victim to the idea that I need to look like a perfect version of me. Despite my logical, educated self telling me not to worry, a dress is just a dress, a body can change, it probably doesn’t even need to that much, I have to say I’ve not been feeling great about myself.
I’m afraid I can’t offer a solution in a neat, bullet-pointed structure. This is a journey I need to go on before I can dare to tell anyone else how to handle it. But all I can say is, I hope that whatever my body shape, I can start to see myself as beautiful, like I see all my friends and people who are pretty much the same size as me as gorgeous. I hope I can apply the standard I apply to the rest of the world to my own body – and I hope I can get through this without it taking over the joy of getting married in just six months now.