I read some of my old journals the other day. You know, the kind where you use a pen and write words on paper. (I believe that’s considered retro now, that’s how old I have become.) Entry after entry I talked about how I needed to lose weight. The pages were filled with body hatred and self-loathing, interspersed with boy drama. But the idea that I didn’t deserve love because I wasn’t thin, the notion that if I couldn’t get to a certain weight, nothing in my life would ever work out, was ever-present. It made me so sad to read. Because essentially I’ve spent my entire life feeling bad about my body.
I’m a week away from 40 and still haven’t figured out how to fully accept my size. I have wasted so much time and energy on this. I’ve been on every diet. I’ve been fatter; I’ve been thinner. I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve tried everything except self-acceptance. I would go out on a limb and say that one of the biggest regrets of my life is that I’ve never been able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful.”
The biggest bullshit lie I’ve ever swallowed is that thin equals beautiful. I’ve spent a lifetime unable to love myself or feel worthy of being loved because I am not thin “enough.” This message is delivered to us pretty much everywhere we look. I’ve found it reinforced in the media ad nauseum and in my relationships, particularly with some of the men I mistakenly chose to give my heart to. The guys who said I’d be “really hot” if I lost weight (but they’d still have sex with me) or who claimed they didn’t know what they’d say if a friend of theirs commented on my size (no one ever had) or who casually mentioned over dinner that his friends looked down on him because he dated me (because of my body) (I never met these friends and assume they were imaginary). I could go on but I don’t really want to fall into a shame spiral this early in the morning.
When I turned 30, I quit smoking. I was an “occasional smoker” I’d say, but then I was smoking on breaks at work and on my drive home and at parties and after dinner and well, I was a smoker. But on my 30th birthday I gave it up, finally, after many failed attempts. I thought about how I wanted to become a mom and be around for as long as I could for my kid I’d someday have and so I quit.
For my 40th birthday I’m giving myself another gift: I’m quitting body hatred. I’m not going to stop working out or eating vegetables or taking care of my health. I’m just going to drop the ridiculous guilt and shame cloud that I’ve lived my entire life under. My problem hasn’t been not knowing what to eat or how much to work out. Rather, I’ve been stuck in my body loathing, operating from a place of hate and embarrassment rather than self-love. It’s just that, you guys, I’m tired of feeling less than because I weigh more than someone told me I should. I’m fed up with it defining my worth. I’m over the bullshit and done living out the lie.
Happy birthday to me.