Are YOU Happy You’re Fat?
posted by: Catherine
On February 19th, I was making breakfast for my three kids when a story on the Today Show caught my ear.
Joni Edelman (can I just call you Joni? We’re friends, right? We really should be) dared to say what I think a lot of women out there feel: That body image has so much less to do with overall health than it does our mental state.
In her piece, she talked about her “thin” days, what she did to achieve the “perfect” body…and how deeply unhappy she was while she was doing it.
And that’s what caught my attention.
Oh, Joni. I feel for you, girl. I’ve been there myself.
While I can’t post pictures of myself with 6-pack abs like you did (mainly because I never had them) I completely get where you’re coming from. Because I do have pictures of myself in the months after my husband’s death when I’d lost about forty pounds in two months and looked better than I ever did…but I’d never been more miserable.
“You look amazing,” people would tell me all of the time. “What are you doing?”
“Not much,” I would lie. “Just working out.”
When I look back on that time, the irony is astounding to me. During the most miserable days of my life, almost everyone I knew told me that I’d never looked better. What they saw was a woman who was getting herself together after an unimaginable tragedy.
What I see when I look back at pictures from those days was a woman who couldn’t eat or sleep, who worked out constantly because she couldn’t sit still (just in case her grief caught up with her). I see someone whose smile never reached all the way to her eyes. I see someone who was so insecure with the new life she’d been handed, she thought the only way to happiness was to gain the acceptance of others and that meant making herself look better on the outside so that no one really knew what was going on inside.
Joni said it best:
“This isn’t to say that thin people aren’t happy (duh), but this is to say that being thin is not: A. A cure for sadness or B. A guarantee of happiness.
It is to say this: Happiness does not require thinness. Fatness does not presume sadness.”
She’s completely right. I feel like we women lose that message when we talk about health and fitness. It shouldn’t be about fitting into someone else’s image of what we “should” look like; it should be about what makes us feel good. And if that’s training for a marathon because it gives you a sense of accomplishment, do it. Or going to a water aerobics class because you like the people in the class – fantastic. Hiking with your family so that you can spend time together? I can’t think of a better reason.
I guess my point is…do it for yourself. Or don’t do it at all.
And, for crying out loud, whatever you choose – cake, no cake, work out, or couch time – don’t feel guilty about it.
There is a woman I know who, every time she sees me she asks, “Have you lost weight?”
I realize that she means this question as a compliment because her weight is extremely important to her; she works out constantly in order to maintain a certain appearance. And that’s great…for her. But after dealing with my husband’s death and attaining the wisdom that comes with being in my late 30s, I’m kind of over that.
That’s not to say I don’t want to be healthy. Just bear with me.
I just don’t even like that question because there is so much more to me – there is so much more to all of us – than a number on a scale. And I’d rather talk about those things.
And to answer her question…no. I haven’t lost any weight. If you saw me on the street, you might think I need to lose a few pounds. And, truly, I’m okay with that.
Because when I look at myself now, I see a woman who has gained back all of those forty pounds…and she’s happy. Her eyes crinkle when she smiles. She is secure with who she is. She fully enjoys her glass of wine on Friday night and can’t wait to split a dessert with her friends when she gets a night away from the kids. She works out several times a week, but will usually choose a walk in the sunshine over weights at the gym. She is content. She is the me who emerged from the wreckage that was created seven years ago.
And, like Joni, I couldn’t be happier with how she looks.
Catherine Tidd is the author of CONFESSIONS OF A MEDIOCRE WIDOW. She is a mother who always tries to find humor in distressing situations and continues to write so that she can keep telling her kids that she’s busy and they need to get their own snacks. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.