When I weighed 40+ pounds more than I do now, fashion usually meant disguising my body to hide all of the lumps and bumps. I didn’t like how I looked and so I never put a lot of thought into what I wore, other than does this hide as much as possible? Loose clothing, baggy t-shirts, stretch denim – the less skin visible, the better.
Now that I’m within 10 pounds of the “normal” BMI range (wow, does THAT feel weird to say!), I’m trying to re-evaluate what I wear. I know I need to dress better, in both home and work settings.
When I come to work during the day for meetings, I’m expected to wear business wear. I see my peers dressed in beautiful tops and either fitted pants or skirts, and I envy them for looking so good. I have yet to purchase a button-down top because I worry that when I sit down the buttons will bulge from my belly sticking out. And skirts are completely a no-go – I can’t imagine letting my coworkers see my bare tree-trunk legs.
Here’s the real problem: I still have a disconnect between my eyes and my brain. I look in the mirror and all I see is fat. A lifetime of criticism from those close to me has left me incapable of seeing myself as anything other than a fat girl. I keep telling myself that it’s not so bad and I used to be so much heavier, but my brain still interprets it as jiggly upper arms, big belly and thunder thighs.
I still feel my 5th grade teacher poking my belly and saying I’d better have a growth spurt soon with a belly that big. I still remember kids teasing me for my large thighs at the 8th grade pool party. I remember a family member telling me I should focus on losing weight rather than going to grad school, as losing weight was more likely to help me find a spouse someday.
I’m haunted by even darker moments from earlier in childhood, moments that remain buried deep in my memory, but I now realize were likely contributors to my desire to hide myself from the world with a layer of fat.
I’m working against a lifetime of psychological abuse. I’ve distanced myself from the worst offenders, but it was too late - my subconscious adopted the worst of their weapons and wages war on my psyche daily. I didn’t get fat because I lost track of how many doughnuts I was eating – I mean, I DO love food, but food addiction alone can’t explain why I’m unable to visualize myself at a healthy weight.
But progress comes in small doses, and I’ve already shown a lot of progress to lose nearly 50 pounds in a few years. The internal sabotage clearly isn’t as strong as it used to be, and while I may never be able to completely silence the negative self-talk, I can work on tuning it out.