The average American woman weighs about 162 pounds and wears a size 14. Average. According to that statistic, I am slightly below average (1-2 sizes to be exact). I am on the high side of normal BMI, but by no means am I significantly overweight. Of course, I would love to be in better shape, to shed a few pounds. Most days, I feel about average.
But not that day.
Last week, I found myself in a situation where a sub-group of people in a room was singled out, and valued in a certain way for being skinny. Now, to be sure, the women in this same sub-group are beautiful, talented, smart, and hard-working. But that wasn’t what they were being lauded for (at least in the words of the speaker). No, they were the skinny ones. And the rest were… well, that was not exactly discussed.
It was one of the handful of times in my entire life that I have been utterly embarrassed and shameful of my body. This body which has birthed three beautiful girls, which has carried me through 37 years of life. And happens to have about 25 extra pounds hanging on it. Oh there have been unflattering photos that showed by booty a little too much, or caught me slouching with a little muffin top goin’ on. But in THAT awkward moment, I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. In that moment, I wanted to run away and not come back. And I sobbed on the way home that night.
I know what your first reaction may be.
“Who would do that?”
“I can’t believe ANYONE would say that.”
But that’s not what this post is about. In defense of the speaker, I’m sure he/she had no idea how his/her words were coming out of his/her mouth, or how they were being received. The fact is, it doesn’t matter. In this life we cannot control what another person does. But we can control our reaction.
And that’s what I’m not sure of. How do I process these feelings of shame? Are they founded? Should I just suck it up and lose weight? Or does this go deeper? Is God allowing that place in my heart to be pricked so that he can work on it?
That first reaction I had — the one that made me want to disappear — that’s not the way to handle this, I know it. I’m too stubborn to give up on anything because of a few extra pounds.
But then… I feel myself going in the other direction…
(Begin dream sequence)
Speaking to myself, I’d say, “Oh, yeah? Well, I can lose weight! Just watch me.” And then I’d do it, and go too far. I’ve been there before. My Middle/High School ballet teacher told me to watch my thighs and hips, they were getting bigger, you know. She was just looking out for me. And at 115 pounds, I began to see myself as fat. And at 15 years old, I would starve myself to drop weight, until I couldn’t take it anymore and then I would break… and secretly eat. It never got bad enough to make me sick. However, the cycle began.
In college, when my boyfriend made an offhand remark about how my legs were getting flabby, and “did I want to work out more?” I took it a little further. I started to get disgusted with myself whenever I would eat. I couldn’t describe it, but the offending calories just had to come back out. And they did. Quite often, for about 6 months. At that point, God sent a friend who had been through full-fledged bulimia to confront me. Thankfully, shortly after that incident I gave my life over to the Lord and he freed me from the fulfillment of that particular dysfunction.
I was really proud of myself in 1999 when I got back down to 120. I didn’t realize that I had gone too far, and would have kept going, had I not gotten pregnant with my first child. God saved me again!
So what do I do now? How do I finally get healthy without eventually becoming unhealthy? What do I do with these feelings of shame? I did the Mamavation 2-week challenge with the fabulous Leah Segedie, and started to feel great. But I always sabotage myself. I’m AFRAID. Ashamed to be heavy, but scared to do anything about it.
I’m praying that God will show me, and I know He will. In the meantime, I’m just hangin’ out, me and my thighs! (ha ha)
Tell me, can you relate?