It’s over. You’ve taunted me enough. Things are…complicated…so I’m just going to go ahead and end our relationship here. I know it’ll be harder on me than you, but still, I’ve got to go.
I hope you understand.
I never really had an issue with my weight until I got to high school. Throughout my childhood I was used to being taller, bustier, and, yes, chubbier than all of the other kids. Although I wasn’t obese, I was the chubby-cheeked girl with the grown up body getting hit on by men by the time I was 11. Confusing. But I never hated the way I looked. I was cool with my body. My parents always told me I was beautiful, and by that time, I’d heard it enough times from people who weren’t related to me to start believing it might be true. Despite being teased sometime, I was always funny and tall–and tall girls could front like they were tough enough to beat you up if you talked smack about them–so it worked.
When I got to high school and boys were on the menu, things got tricky, and I lost whatever self-confidence I had built up over the years. High school is already the time when teenagers start to feel self-conscious about everything, so when you’re a shy, chubby girl (who pretends to be tough), crushing on one of the star football players can be interesting, to say the least. Luckily for me, he was cool about my infatuation and we became friends. But throughout high school I was always “just friends” with several guys and I always blamed it on my weight.
College ushered in a new era. I was still tall, and chubby, and funny, and friends with a lot of guys. But things started to change. I started to care less about what people thought of me (or what I thought they thought) and more of what I thought of myself. I started to date, and despite what I felt about myself, men again began calling me cute, pretty, or beautiful. It felt good, but I still wasn’t sure they were being truthful (ugh. low-self esteem, much?). My junior year in college I joined a sorority and ended up losing about 30 pounds. Although my body changed, it didn’t necessarily change how I felt about myself. I was still unsure and still suspicious of the intentions of men, but I was open. And so were they.
I moved to NYC a year after graduating college and my life changed dramatically. I don’t know how it happened, perhaps I just felt invigorated by being so far from home and nobody knowing me, but for the very first time I was feeling myself. I was open, I chatted up men, met interesting girlfriends, and fell in love. Life felt good and for the first time I didn’t think of my body. I’d eat whatever I wanted and walk a million blocks (it WAS NYC) and never stepped on a scale. Looking back, those were some of the happiest (and thinnest) times of my life. Not only because of the newness of it all, but because I was comfortable–for the first time–with my body. And there wasn’t a scale in sight.
Years later, I’m older and have lost and gained the same 20 pounds for the past three years. I’m over it. Recently I made a deal with myself. I’m going to live healthier WITHOUT being tied to the numbers on the scale. In times past when I’ve gone on fitness binges and dropped 20 pounds in a month, I was obsessed with the numbers. Go up a pound? I’d feel depressed and like a failure. Go down a pound? I’d celebrate with a scoop of ice cream. I wasn’t winning…at all.
With so many messages telling women–especially Black women–that we aren’t perfect, that we’re fat, that we need to lose 20 or 30 pounds, it’s hard to have a healthy relationship with the scale, let alone the body that goes on it. So I’m giving up. Not on my health, but on measuring it by such a limiting number.
So instead of being tied to the numbers on a scale that really don’t mean much at all, I’ll continue taking pole dancing (which is GREAT) and Zumba classes, continue cooking healthy meals, and continue seeing my body change in ways that make me feel empowered, strong, and yes, even beautiful.