Banishing the Diet-Mind

This is the year I can’t be bothered to do a “lose weight” resolution.

Normally, I don’t do resolutions in general. Can’t be bothered to try and keep them, and the moment I break them.

But every year, whether spoken or not, I always have “lose weight this year” bouncing about in the back of my head.

It’s something I fight. Because despite all of the things I’ve done in life, all the things I’ve overcome, all the things I’m working towards currently…it’s this damned resolution that rings in my ears every year.

Because if I can do it, I can be truly successful.

Let’s unpack that, shall we?

Over the last few years I have climbed the ladder at work, and won awards for doing that thing I do so well. This year I have decided to get my MFA in creative writing, and am completing applications in between my other projects. I hope to get a short story published this year. I’m branching out socially. I actually think I’m enjoying it even. I take pictures and I SMILE, for goodness’ sake!

None of that makes me successful, to my Diet-Mind. I’m still fat.

How sad, right?

Most of us fat folks have a Diet-Mind. The Diet-Mind is that voice that sits in the back of your head and speaks to you when you’re at your lowest moment. It convinces you that the problems you’re having will somehow go away if you lose weight. Typically, that isn’t how it works, but the Diet-Mind is pretty convincing. It gives us something to change, to fix, to hang on to when there’s nothing else tangible to blame. We shift it inward. And next to the deep part of your soul, in a dark cave, the Diet-Mind lurks. Waiting for the moment to strike.

Sometimes we give in to that Diet-Mind, the harpy. Polishing its delicate claws, the Diet-Mind seeks to needle its way into our delicate psyche. We can’t be happy with our myriad of accomplishments.

I finally made it into Headstand!  Diet-Mind: Doesn’t matter. Your belly hangs.

I made it to the end of the trail. I’m not even out of breath! Diet-Mind: But your thighs rub together though. Ew.

This outfit came together perfectly! I look amazing, and I feel— Diet-Mind: fat. You feel fat, hon. Because you are.

-_-

The Diet-Mind seeks to undermine our self confidence at every turn. No celebrating, because at every turn, we’re reminded that we are fat.

As if we didn’t see that in the mirror this morning.

Bit by bit, the Diet-Mind whispers into our ears about how we’d really look fabulous if we dropped about 20lbs. Think of the inversions you could make! The trails you could hike! You can’t do that now. You’re fat. You’ll embarrass yourself. Listen, how about you wait until you’re not overweight, ok? Let’s work on that first. Then you can hike, and do yoga, and dress properly. Come on, now. Be realistic.

The Diet-Mind is negativity incarnate.

I’ll pause here to say–sometimes, for some people, the Diet-Mind is a kind soul. It helps some of us get to the next level, to make a good decision for our health. For some people, the Diet-Mind is a life saver.

For others, quite a few of us, including me, the Diet-Mind seeks to destroy us from the inside. It wraps itself around our self worth, our confidence, our core well being and strangles what bit of positive thinking we have. If it isn’t our Diet-Mind being horrid, it’s someone else’s Diet-Mind telling us: hey, look, it can be done! She fixed herself. You can do it to! What’s your excuse? Or even still: I worry about you. Won’t you work on this? For me?

But…I’m not broken. I’m just fat. How can my fat bother you, exactly? I live in my body, you live in yours. Let me be happy in my body, you be happy in yours.

That’s it.

That’s all.

If I’m looking to lose anything this year, it’s the Diet-Mind. It knows when to rear its ugly head, normally when I’m at my highest stress level, and tries to convince me the way to serenity is losing 70lbs.

But being smaller won’t get my paperwork done, though. It won’t get this manuscript written or proofed. It won’t get me clients. It won’t improve my makeup skills. Won’t change my style–I’m already fierce.

What my Diet-Mind actually gets me is lower self esteem and lower confidence. It makes me think I’m not worthy of companionship, and that me being fat is why.

And absolutely none of that is true.

If I had to make a resolution this year, and call it a resolution, it would be this: to love myself more. To be kinder to myself. To accept myself in all of my flaws and failings, and to recognize that all of these come together to make this person. That makes ME. And loving myself as I am, in this body, is OK. Yes, it’s a radical act, but it’s mine to make, and I do so proudly.

Diet-Mind, you are no longer free to take up residence in my brain. Begone!

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Opinions Positivity Rant

Fatshion Friday: Trends that Scare Me

So, to close out my week of things that scare me…and the challenges I’m issuing myself, let’s talk about clothes.

You know I love me some clothes. 😀

Often, what I choose to wear is dictated by two things: what I love, and what is best for my body type. But sometimes being so safe makes me think I’m missing out on some good trends. Sure, every trend isn’t for every one, or every body, but it’s good to test out new things.

I wasn’t sure if skinny jeans were something for me. Sometimes I think that just because it’s made in my size doesn’t mean it’s for me to actually wear.

Bought three pairs, and I love their versatility. I even have them in pink!

Now, I wore a body con dress for the first time a couple weeks ago. Folks with bellies are not advised to wear body con dresses, because it accentuates the belly.

Wore it anyway. Rocked it.

And yet, there are still some things I would love to try and I’m scared to do so. Different attracts attention, and I have to be ready for what it brings. Curious about the things I’m digging? Here are a few things I’m challenging myself to buy and wear this summer:

1. Short Shorts:

From Torrid

Image 4 of ASOS CURVE Exclusive Denim Short With High Waist

From Asos

These shorts are so cute! And I fear they are not going to be as sexy on me as they are in pictures. Now I do shorts, but normally I wear longer shorts like these because I worry about them riding up and looking weird. This has not stopped my lust, and perhaps all I need is the right pair to work for me. I’m up for the challenge.

2. Crop Tops

master piece crop top plus sizes

From CustomPlus

From Forever 21+

Sigh. I love everything about the concept. I see how they are styled. I know that crop doesn’t equal my belly on full display. I still can’t wrap my mind about how it would look on me, and if I could pull it off. I still want to try. I just hope it doesn’t go horribly wrong. The crop top brings me to the next trend:

3. High Waist Jeans

From Plus Size Fix

I can’t figure out how high waist jeans work. High waist skirts, yes, because more than likely they’re so stretchy I can make them come completely over my tummy and sit comfortably. Now, if one adds a zipper and button to the mix…does it dig? Do they go up high enough to not create a higher muffin top? There are logistics that I just don’t get. And yet, if I find a pair in the store I can try on (*stares at companies that make me shop for these things online*) I will, just to see if I can make it work. Don’t know if I’m brave enough to buy, but I’ll try it on.

And finally…

4. Rompers/Jumpsuits

From Monif C.

From Kamishade

jumper

From Forever 21+

Rompers confuse me too. I think they’re adorable, and super comfy, but having to get naked to pee…well, it’s a bit disconcerting. What if it’s an emergency? Is there an emergency drop thread that would allow the garment to fall quickly when pulled? Also: it’s very belly focused, not that it’s stopped me before.

But this is one trend I’m taking by storm. That last romper I posted from Forever 21? I bought last week. And I’m going to wear it next week on one of my off days.

Stay tuned. 🙂

Retail Therapy Shopping

Taking Up Space

Author’s Note: With all the talk of going bold this week, I figured I’d share this piece from my idea journal. NSFW language in here.

I’ve made it a point to shrink. I don’t want to take up space.

Being fat will do that to you.

I don’t want to draw attention.

My love of bright color is tempered during the week. An all black wardrobe doesn’t turn heads; a neutral eye and lip color palette doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to take that seat. I don’t want to inconvenience those I have to sit next to. If I can’t estimate I can fit, I’ll stand for the whole 45 minute ride home.

And if I do sit, I squish into my seat, hoping I don’t encroach on someone else’s space. Arms folded, bag held against me or resting on my feet so that even my bag doesn’t take unnecessary room.

But I take up space, no matter what I do.

My hair, whether in a high puff, free, or pinned, takes up more space. If I am off and have on loud lipstick or bright shadow, even if I am in the most neutral of outfits, I am noticed. Sometimes people express their admiration with a smile; their dissension with a raised brow. I pat my hair self-consciously. It flattens, then springs back to life, reaching full height.

I still take up space. No matter what I do.

It’s something like springtime. It’s getting warmer; soon it will be hot. I set my arms free, full and squishy. I go to yoga class and stretch them skyward in Warrior 1. I spread them wide in Warrior 2. I notice the fat hanging. I fling them back in Warrior 3; take flight.

Easy to fly when you can’t see the “problem”, right?

I work hard to stay on my mat; keep my mind on my practice.

Taking up space. No matter what I do.

I can’t help taking up space. I’m done apologizing for it–whether it’s changing my outfit because “no one wants to see all that” to putting on all neutral makeup forever and ever amen because I don’t deserve color.

I don’t deserve to take up space. I don’t deserve to demand it.

I reject that shit.

I deserve space, I deserve to take it up, I deserve to adorn myself as I please and take up as much space as I need.

As much as I desire.

Don’t like it? Then move and create your own space elsewhere. Leave me to mine.

I’ll still be here. Taking up space.

Deal with it.

Dedicated to those who need an ego boost this week.

Positivity Stories

Pretty Like Barbie

I saw this picture on Facebook the other day:

Facebook

There were a few likes. The comments that followed were interesting to say the least. Most thought that having a fat Barbie would make kids aspire to grow up and be fat.

Let’s look at that.

I was a fat kid, fat teenager, and am now a fat adult. I grew up playing with my Barbies, making them go on adventures through the stars to the moon and being every occupation from a chef to a teacher to a rocket scientist.

I totally wanted to be Barbie: independent, adventurous, and brave.

I moved to a city with no family and only a couple of friends, learned to navigate it, and went through a trial that tested my courage. And I came through it with flying colors. I realized that dream.

I loved Barbie’s outfits; the fact she had enough clothes to take her through any situation. She had all types of prints and colors and sparkles and tutus. I had an organizer for the amount of shoes she had. I have an organizer for all of the shoes I have (and it’s too small), so I realized that dream.

What I didn’t aspire to was to look like her.

As I kid, I envisioned having Barbie’s persona. I never thought I would look like her.

Barbie isn’t real. So that was impossible.

But then, during the course of the discussion, my friend and fellow blogger Shecoul brought up a very good point:

How many of my female students thin or fat have self esteem issues? A good 90% of them because of things like this. And it starts with dolls and dress up at a young age in my opinion.

This is true. Kids tend to emulate what they see, as I did when I played with Barbies as a child. But in my opinion, my complex with my body didn’t come from the doll. It came from the peers who played with me and told me I wasn’t pretty like Barbie. Because I wasn’t pretty like Barbie, I couldn’t be an astronaut or rocket scientist. Until I looked like her, I was lacking.

And where did they get this idea? Likely from the adults that gave them the Barbie to begin with.

People have a habit of using characters and personas as a litmus test of how their lives should go. You can’t live a life based off of someone else’s experiences. But when you tell a child “Look at you! You’re pretty like Barbie!” then that child will measure his or her peers in the same manner.

And the next thing you know: the child who is fat is not pretty like Barbie. Now that child is ugly. Logically this child knows, as I did, that one can’t look like a piece of plastic. And yet, when I knew that this is what stood between me and acceptance I grasped for that goal like a thirsty person reaches for water.

Eventually I learned that goal was like the curse of Sisyphus: destined to fail from the beginning. Took me years to get there, though.

So what’s the answer? Making Barbie look normal? Now, that Barbie above is exaggerated to say the least. But who can say that isn’t someone else’s normal? Who is the arbiter of normal, anyway? Is there a council somewhere that decides these things?

There could be, in a perfect world. But until we get that perfect world, we have to make do with what we have. If we can’t get some diversity with Barbie’s body, then we need to get some diversity within our thought process. It begins with the adult that gives the child the doll. It begins at home.

May we all be like Barbie: adventurous, brave, and fabulous. That is an attainable goal in life.

Opinions Positivity Stories

The Evolution Begins: Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

New to this series? Here are parts one and two.

When I got to sunny Miami, I was in for a few shocking realizations. One, everything outside of my part of Louisiana is HUGE. Two, water really does come the same shade of blue in the Crayola box. Three, I have a ridiculously thick Southern accent (and no, I don’t hear it when I speak.) Four, I am desirable.

Let’s look at that last part.

For years, I concerned myself with what others thought of me. I still did my best to march to the beat of my own drum, but it was still couched in trying in some form to fit in. And honestly, I had to realize that wasn’t going to happen. At least, it wasn’t going to happen on the level I’d hoped. All of the teen movies coming out showed that with faith and a bit of luck, any ugly duckling would blossom into a swan.

That’s bull. You’re already the swan, you just need the eyes to see it. I wish I would have.

While shopping for school clothes, with my mom before the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I noticed I was turning some heads. I immediately felt self-conscious. I’m thinking, okay, I’m so fat folks got to stare me down? Did I grow an extra head? Do I have yet another zit? What is going on here? What is this madness?!

Nope. Apparently, I ain’t too bad to look at.

I really wasn’t sure what to do with this news. For years, I’d been told otherwise by my peers, and made to feel otherwise by family at times (“I’ll pay you if you’ll lose 50 pounds!”) And now…I’m…pretty?

I wish I could say I was modest when this realization hit me. Nope. I went from having zero self-esteem to conceited. I would create outfits that today would make me cringe if I had photographic evidence of my wearing them.

But I rocked them with reckless abandon.

What’s interesting about this is that I’d always tied self-worth to weight. I dressed to look smaller. If I was quiet, no one would notice me or my fat. Blend in, be silent, keep the people away. Then I could be liked, loved even. I could be special.

And I discovered I could be all of those things and fat. Serious business, y’all.

By the time I made it to college, I understood I didn’t have to conform to be a part of a certain circle. There were plenty of circles to be a part of, and hey, I could even make my own! My mind continued to evolve, and I was a better person for it.

Whether I’m stepping in heels or sneakers, I continue to put one foot in front of the other. Time marches on; the world spins; I rise.

The Evolution Continues.

Stories

The Evolution Begins: Crawl Before You Walk

Part One of this series is here.

My mother got engaged and married before I finished my freshman year. We were moving to Miami that summer, a world away from my home state of Louisiana.

Before we moved, my stepfather (“Pops” hereafter) got me a pair of beautiful black heels for my 15th birthday.

He got me a name plate necklace and bracelet too, because I saw his and thought it was so pretty.

But those heels? Oh, oh, my. High heeled, open toed, and the heels had these swirly embellishments on them. Now, Pops was well aware that I didn’t do dressy clothes often outside of church, but he figured that was where I’d wear them.

Nope.

Wore them to school with a pair of hip huggers I’d gotten for Christmas that year. The jeans had swirly black embellishments to go with the design on the shoe, and I had a nice black top to put with it.

Walking into the gym that morning, I heard a couple of whispers. I realized folks didn’t quite know what to say to me. I’d gone from demi-feminine to ultra-feminine in one day, and now I fit in. Kinda. Or maybe it was that I not only looked more like everyone else, but that I was even capable of pulling it off. It wasn’t a complete switch. I incorporated it into my “tomboy glam” repertoire: some days sweats, some days heels, and every day, at least to me, I felt I looked great. Until…

I started getting the backhanded compliments: “Wow, your outfit is so cute! You really aren’t a boy!” The ultimate one? “You can really dress. If you lost some weight, you would be perfect!” And although it hurt me, I didn’t drop the new look.

Yet all I could think was: really!? I don’t win here, do I? Of course I didn’t. But I was still too young to get that it wasn’t a matter of impressing everyone else, it was a matter of embracing myself as I was. Of course, I dieted and wanted to be pretty (cause you can’t be fat and pretty, don’tcha know), but I never really got that there is so much more to beauty than the outside. Your outfit is only a part of you, and it isn’t even the important part.

It took me changing states to change my perspective…

To Be Continued.

Stories

The Evolution Begins

I had blending in down to an art. I was the smart kid, pretty quiet but caustic when pushed too hard.

I was remembered before the big exam and forgotten shortly thereafter.

In middle school, I wore a uniform, and on rare occasions we were allowed to wear dressy clothes to school.

I was reminded, with an accompanying eye roll, that “dressing up” did not equal pants. I wasn’t really a dress or skirt kind of girl, outside of church. But, I complied, if only to fit in for a day.

First day of high school, I was proud of myself. I’d had a babysitting job all summer, and I could buy all of the clothes I wanted. My big purchase was a pair of Nikes. They looked like they had swirls all over them in a gradated blue that made me immensely happy.

I bought matching sweats and tees to wear with these sneakers, along with earrings and nail polish. Not totally tomboy, not totally girlie.

I loved it. Naturally, the first day of school I set off a bit of confusion for my classmates. “Why is she dressed like a boy?” “But if she’s trying to dress like a boy, why is she wearing earrings and nail polish?”

It was confusing for them, but not for me. I liked my style. I stood out a bit, but I was okay with it. I felt foxy. I could be fierce in my sweats and sneakers, honey! Couldn’t tell me nothing.

At least, that’s how I looked on the outside. I tried to keep my head high when the kids sneered at me. At my attitude, my supposed confidence. Daring to be happy.

And when I got “unruly”, you know, thinking I had some rights to live happily, I was reminded: “Yeah, you can dress, but you’re still fat.” “Don’t smile. Your teeth look a mess.” “Why you got so many bumps on your face?”

I did my best to keep my head high. My mother was a constant support, but it’s hard to hear a lone cheer amid a chorus of negativity.

And then, something happened to change my mindset…

To be continued.

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