Monday, September 12, 2011

Love in a Time of Obesity

Last week, my story left off with a “not-so-good” life-changing conversation. I knew I didn’t want to be fat. The solution seemed simple: stop over-eating and lose the extra weight.

But the problem was that I found such comfort in food. It was my happiness during one of the saddest times of my life. In order to lose weight and be “accepted” by my dad, I would have to “reject” all that glorious food that made me feel better when my insides felt so overwhelmed by sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. I simply wasn’t prepared to reject that sort of friend, even for love of my father.

I have one memory of sitting in my fifth grade best friend’s closet with her, sharing a box of Girl Scout cookies. She was frail little thing, every feature as tiny and thin as a baby chick, divvying the Tagalongs between us, while I sat with my double-rolled belly and open-palmed hands, my eyes greedily watching her place a cookie into it: “One for you and one for me, one for you and one for me.” She stopped there, carefully sliding the plastic pack back into the box and placing it back on her closet shelf. A measly two cookies was all I got, and the truth was, I wanted to tear that entire box from her bony little fingers and devour the whole bunch in one shot. At the young age of 10, I began to recognize the difference between me and my thin friends. When it came to eating, they could stop; I couldn’t.

My close friendship with food continued on into my teenage years. In ninth grade, I wavered between a size 12 and 14, hovering around 155-160 pounds. I remember sitting in health class when I realized that I fell into the "obesity" category on the weight chart printed in my text book. The teacher continued on with her lecture while I sat in shocked despair, staring watery-eyed at the page in front of me.

Puberty descended while my weight (and acne) ascended. And with it came the desire for love, for the Cinderella story to be realized in my life. But while romance swept over the majority of my classmates, I was left standing in the stagnant air, not a hint of breeze around me. A fear crept into my heart: if I don’t lose weight, no boy will ever like me and I’ll never have my first kiss.

But the mantra of my heart continued: “If you are fat, you are unacceptable.” And what I saw in society and the media only solidified that concept. I certainly didn’t see any of the “90210” cast posing in magazines with chunky girlfriends. I wanted to live out a “Hairspray” kind of story, but it wasn’t reality. The fat girls like me were always hugging the gym walls during school dances, so what hope did I have of any boy ever wanting to be with me when I was 30 lbs. overweight with a nasty case of acne? Not exactly a winning combination. And thus I began a determined hunt for the “miracle diet” that would evaporate my extra weight, hopefully leading Prince Charming to my door.

Looking back, I feel so sorry for that girl...

When did you first discover the direness of your weight situation? What have been your motivations to lose weight in the past or even right now?


  1. Oh, how I can identify with this post. When you are not loved and accecpted by the one man in your life that is to love you most, adore you most, encourage you most and praise you most, your heart will frantically search for someone, anyone or anything to just love you. I too feel sad for my childhood self. I look at pictures of me as a little girl and just want to reach into the dated photos and hold her, tell her she is beautiful and that she is loved. AND that is what would motivate me to diet back then. I wanted compliments, I wanted exceptance and I wanted "someone special" to notice me as someone special! Now that I have found love and exceptance from my husband who has never complained about my size, I have to wonder why do I feel the urgency to loose the weight now. Maile, thank you for sharing from your heart, and for walking through this journey with me. I adore you, "every inch", and I know that God is not done with me yet. He wants to remove the bars on my heart so my spirit is free for my body to follow!

  2. Jess, I so admire your perseverance and willingness to get real and honest about your struggle. It is such an honor to walk alongside you on this journey and I absolutely believe that God will give you the freedom you are asking for and seeking after. And I'm so so thankful that our paths crossed a year ago (this month!!). I love you, my friend.

  3. So loving your openness. It is so rare for people to speak candidly on this subject and I find your perspective refreshing. I did the opposite of you-skinny growing up-chubby girl in mid twenties. I actually under-ate at one point to make myself scary skinny, which was not great. I can imagine that it was quite difficult to go through being overweight in your youth. I hope you are so proud that you were able to work through that!

    As far as the question you pose: I have only recently discovered the true direness of my weight situation. My problem is far less about the actual food and a great deal more to do with emotions I don't feel prepared to handle. Feelings of shame, unworthiness and of being a victim seem too much to face at times. I think the extra weight I carry is an outward manifestation, a signal to others and myself that I feel rejected, overwhelmed and used up. Even though I have begun to experience a lot of healing in my interior life in the past several years, I am finding these outward manifestations of shame with my body to be the last pieces of my healing puzzle. One step at a time! I just started taking on the amazing task of learning to value and care for the self, not just the interior self, but the exterior self. Cheers of fizzy water with lime to interior and exterior health! And here's to swimming laps and writing down everything I eat. ;)

  4. Maria - I resonate with these words you typed "I think the extra weight I carry is an outward manifestation, a signal to others and myself that I feel rejected, overwhelmed and used up". I wonder the same things but I am scared to say them out loud myself.

    Why do I continually feed myself when I am full? Why do I constantly treat myself? Is it really because I'm rewarding myself or is it out of guilt of already being fat and not caring enough to change?

    Maile - thank you for continuing this discussion! You mentioned in the blog that you feared if you stayed fat that no boy would ever kiss you. I found a boy WHEN I was fat who loved me no matter what. Maybe that's part it? Kevin fell in love with me while I was heavy, so does it really matter? So many questions!

  5. Wow, ladies, so many great thoughts--I only wish I could sit down with all of you over a cup of coffee and really dive into this stuff!
    A quote from "A Course in Weight Loss" by Marianne Williamson came to mind as I was reading your comments: "Your body is merely a screen onto which is projected the nature of your thoughts."
    This idea just hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. I think when our insides are so broken and hurting, our outsides can't help but be the same way. And that's why I'm such a proponent of the "inside-out" approach to losing weight that you mentioned, Maria.
    Brenda, you got the dream that I always wanted: for a boy to love me when I was fat. But I suppose if I would have got what I wanted, I would have never found Shawn, who assures me that he would have fallen madly in love with me if I had been heavy when we met:)
    Ladies, thanks so much for giving voice to your struggle here. I love hearing your perspectives and experiences. You are such a lovely set of ladies!!!!