Tag Archives: self-esteem

Sidewalk Reckonings

I’ve never been a walker. It was always painful for me. Somehow, over the last six months, maybe the stretching routine I’ve gotten into, perhaps the weight I’ve lost, walking has become comfortable, even enjoyable. I daresay I may even have a cute bounce in my step instead of the weary old “do I have to?” not-so-stride. I walk a lot these days. Sometimes even on purpose. And I usually take longer routes.

I KNOW. WEIRD.

Seemingly a tangent, but totally not: Continue reading

Fat Girl No More: How I Lost 50 Pounds

Two piles of “fat” clothes sit in garbage bags by my front door, waiting to get donated, like the two bags I ditched last week. It’s the end of an era.

I’ve been buying clothes lately, the last two weeks. It’s been emotional hell. I’m about a size 15 now (down from 22/24), and that makes me almost too big for most “normal” stores, and too small for “fat girl” stores. It’s been a bit of a chore.

It’s been hard, because getting to know your body when it’s not your body anymore, well, it’s a journey. I decided my judgment was shit, ultimately, as I found myself shopping emotionally and not critically, so I made the choice that anything I bought I’d put on ice until I went to a half-dozen or more stores, and then I would Assess and decide then what should be kept of all my purchases.

Well, today was assessment day. Several shirts are going back, as well as a beautiful fire-red winter coat, because they’re all too large.

At last weigh-in, three or four weeks ago, I was down 50 pounds. I’ve probably not lost anything since, or not much, and don’t care, because I continue to improve and change my ways, my clothes keep getting looser, and that’s my REAL goal, not a “number”. The real weight I think I’m down, though, is probably closer to about 85 pounds over the last 5 or so years. It’s 50+ this year alone. Continue reading

The Business of Unhappiness

Body image. Stand any one of us in front of a mirror, ask us to reveal what we dislike about ourselves, and an unhesitating list would be quickly forthcoming.

Industry knows this. They count on it. All the way to the bank.

If you’re happy about yourself, why would you ever spend all that disposable income on beauty products, clothes, and other distractions that keep you from looking inside, where true self-image resides?

I read a fascinating Huffington Post article on the economy of waif-thin models. It spoke of how having models thin is benefiting someone, somewhere, and until the public starts demanding differently, designers will kowtow to those in the industry who have everything to gain from keeping women thinking they need to be a size zero to four for any real chance at happiness in life. (I’ve written about anorexic models before and, as an overweight feminist, it’s always been an issue for me.)

You ask me, I think that fashion will never show real women for the same reason that science will probably never really “cure” cancer. There’s too much to gain from the downside — illness and our discontent. The upside means people become healthy and well. If they’re healthy and well, they’ll be happy. If they’re happy, they won’t want or need as much. If they don’t want or need as much, then how in god’s name will industry get their hands on all that tasty money in people’s pockets?

Your insecurities, people, are keeping industry going strong. Your insecurities are helping you contribute to the overall good of society. Productivity, consumer confidence, retail bottom lines — they’re all fed by your insecurities.

Why in god’s name would you want to feel better about yourself? Is that really the Modern Way? C’mon! Don’t smile on one another, don’t love your brother, don’t even love yourself! Piss, moan, whine, and feel shitty in the morning. That way, you’ll feel like you need to “treat” yourself and swing by Starbucks for a Venti Caramel Macchiato, and why the hell not one of those tasty apple fritters? Then, you’ll feel like shit for being so bad, you’ll beat yourself up at work, and say you need to go to the gym. That’ll cut into your day more than you’d planned, you won’t have the time to cook properly, so now you got to go blow your wad on take-out. But the take-out’s all cooked with oils and fats you can’t even imagine, so what would be 450 calories if you made it at home’s actually closer to 1,000 in take-out, and now the workout you just did’s completely pointless. But that’s okay, you’re planning to buy a new pair of jeans and shirt on the weekend anyhow.

See? It’s a cycle. It seems to work for you, it sure as hell works for industry, so why would we ever want to start feeling like it’s all right to be a few pounds overweight with a grabbable ass?

Personally, I’m losing weight. Most of the time, anyhow. Lately I’ve gone off the hook and have eaten badly and not exercised, but I’m back on track.

I’m doing it because I don’t like feeling fat. I don’t like having little to no energy. Or not feeling strong. And not meeting goals. I didn’t like movie theatre seats cutting into me. I didn’t like my doctor looking at me with grave concern as he told me I was toying with the odds on diabetes. I don’t want to be THAT way.

But I sure as hell don’t want to be skinny.

All I want is to be happy. It may have taken a lifetime to realize it, but it occurs to me that Happy doesn’t come off a shelf in a store.

Too bad there’s a few billion consumers who’ve missed out on that epiphany so far. Which keeps industry wringing its hands with glee.

This brilliant image is by a San Francisco photographer named Cheryl McLaughlin and you can find her here. This image is for sale.

Oh, Fuck, I Look Like WHAT Today?

Mental note to self:
It is stupid, incredibly so, to take self shopping on first day of new heat wave because, self knows thyself, and knows bloating always comes with a heat wave. Plus, stomach wasn’t feeling well, so shopping in that state?

Fully crossing the threshold from “idiotic” to “stupid insane” because now my “Wow, I’ve lost so much weight!” is “Fuck, why do I look like THAT today? Who’s been fucking around with these mirrors, anyhow, and what, in God’s name, is WRONG with those fluorescent bulbs?”

(Of course, looking like shit is a risk you take any time you go to Value Village, isn’t it? I swear, some sections should have signs like, “For those who plan to never be laid again” or “Clothing for your repressed inner-virgin” or “For those who just don’t give a shit” or “Knits your grandmother made you wear”.)

And this is why living in a nudist colony makes good sense sometimes.

Or… living alone without roomies or other people, so I can look however I want and enjoy it. Yet another fantastic thing about being single. Where are those old Joe Boxers of mine, anyhow?

Some Thoughts on Self-Image

I got an email last night that made me ecstatic. A reader wrote to let me know that I’ve played a big part in her rediscovering her self-worth after an emotionally abusive and cruel relationship (because he was an abuser, honey, and don’t ever think less of him). These kinds of emails make me feel like all the grief I go through to try and generate something reasonably fresh on a daily basis is worth it.

Really, I get no money out of this blog yet and I’m trying to figure out a way to do so, and I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later, but right now? Nada. Screwing up the energy to write every day sometimes seems futile… and then I get those occasional emails that blow my mind. “Me? I did that for you? WICKED.”

Self-esteem, self-worth, self-love… my god, how furtive they seem. One would think that loving oneself would be an easy thing to do. Sadly, the opposite is more true.

You know, I have a hearing problem. I wear two hearing aids, they’re small, they aren’t always perceptible, and while I’m having some issues with hearing right now, normally I’m pretty good with it, despite fucking hating it. But I was just thinking a bit ago about being deaf. Could you imagine? Probably not. I can. I’m pretty much deaf (25% – 50% hearing) when I roll out of bed in the morning, and to tell you the truth, I enjoy the silence while I can. I’ll often wait an hour or so to put in my buds – I’ll write in quiet and ignore the world. I wonder sometimes what being deaf all the time would be – living in your head, never breaking free of those wheels turning constantly in the corners of your mind.

You wouldn’t be able to escape yourself, for good or for ill. Sounds, I’ve come to learn, provide ample distraction from who and what we are; that bus rumbling down the street, birds chirping, a dripping faucet, an asthmatic wheezing nearby. I sometimes wonder if my lack of hearing is part of why I’m such a contemplative individual. Perhaps.

There was a time when my contemplation led to self-loathing. Nowadays it’s a coping mechanism, and a cottage industry, it seems.

I find that a lot of people I know are often a little daunted at the prospect of being alone too long, as if being alone means being lonely; the two, however, are not related.

I honestly think it’s impossible to be a well-balanced person if you can’t handle being alone, but maybe that’s me reading too much into my lifestyle. Self-love, self-worth, it comes from knowing you’re good company. It comes from being able to realistically see yourself as others see you, not through your hyper-judgmental eyes. After all, how accepting are we of average people streetside? Much moreso than we are about ourselves.

Thanks to the media, we’re surrounded by beautiful people who are airbrushed for magazine covers or filmed in soft light, and then we spend our days walking into shitty fluorescent bathrooms, staring in dirty mirrors, and we wonder why we’re not the sex gods the rest of the world seems filled with. It’d almost be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

Becoming realistic about what each of us has to offer is one of the hardest things to ever learn. Becoming secure when naked is a difficult task to accomplish. It’s not something that occurs overnight, and god knows I’m still on my journey. In this relationship I’m in now, I’m comfortable with him naked. It doesn’t sound huge, but it really is. Lying around naked with your lover is a great way to get past insecurities and to focus on matters at hand. It has taken me my whole life to get to this point.

I’m a bonus-lover gal. My ass has got some grip room, if you know what I’m saying. I’m fit, I’m active, but I’m, well, chubby. Cute, but chubby. My weight has been something I’ve hated my entire life – and the hatred is one of the things my mother is to blame for, as she always reminded me to watch my food and things like that. The food’s always been a minor issue, but it was exercise that was my bane. These days, I’m getting pretty active and I’m liking the toning I’ve got. Sixty pounds down, another forty or so to go.

I noticed something incredible a couple weeks back – I went swimming. I’ve gone swimming off and on for the last year and a half, after not setting foot in a pool for about 15 years, thanks to insecurities. When I first re-entered the pool after all those years, I felt like I’d just come home again. I forgot how much I loved the pool. I wasn’t happy about being in a swimsuit, but I did it again anyhow. Two weeks ago, I put the suit on and strutted – not walked, not strolled, but strutted – out to the swimming pool, my towel dangling at my side instead of being held like a security blanket in front of me. After, I got nekkid and showered with the ladies. I used to shower with my suit on and change in the bathroom. Not anymore.

(After all, go to the pool and really, really look at the other people. What in the hell do you have to be ashamed of?)

And it felt fucking awesome. It dawned on me that sometimes insecurity is just a bad habit, something we get so accustomed to being that we simply don’t change, when the reality is we can. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. I’m proof positive. (Thank heavens.)

The struggle to love one’s self

I am imperfect. Maybe it’s a newsflash to you, but it’s something I’ve been far too aware of for my entire life.

As a kid, I was plagued with health problems. It wasn’t until my early teens that my epilepsy went away and we discovered that the causes of my endless troubles ultimately stemmed from a rare kidney disorder.

Nearly two decades later, my health issues are things of my distant past, but I’m still a member of the bonus lover plan. I’m not some svelte sexy thing who’s able to squeeze into a size six, and some part of me doubts I ever will be. No, like my personality, my body’s larger than life, and it suits me fine.

I’d rather not ever be thin, despite struggling to lose nearly 20% of my body weight these past two years. During that journey to toneness, I’ve gained a better sense of self than I’ve ever known. Who I am, though, is larger than life, and that’ll never change. Presumably, my body will remain the first clue of my nature for others.

On that same journey, I’ve discovered something else. The “ideal” beauty is seldom our “real” beauty in the eyes of the everylover. While we all lust after our glossy magazine celebs, when it comes to having them as lovers, day in day out, we wouldn’t be interested. Why is that?

I’ve been trying to understand the seemingly incongruous nature between lust and desire. I’m more than able to lust after nearly any man I see, since sexuality for me isn’t a formula, but rather something almost impalpable. You have it or you don’t. When it comes to desire and attraction for the longterm, though, I find myself zeroing in on men who carry a little extra weight on their large frames, provided they dress well and groom well. What is it that makes me want them? I’ll never know, but I know they’re what’s in my mind when I touch myself in the dark.

The point is, we all have a certain make and model that drives our desire, and it may not be worthy of a glossy magazine spread, but they’ll spread just fine for us, thank you very much.

Until this past year, I was always aggressive in my interpersonal dealings, in an attempt to mask my everpresent insecurities. Somewhere along the way, probably when I escaped death last August in a scooter (think Vespa-ish) accident, I realized the insanity of not loving myself for who and what I was, since I had almost ceased to be and had another chance at this merry-go-round called Life. Loving myself then became my number one goal.

After all this time, all this work, I can say it’s true now. I’m a vixen in my own right, in my own way. I’ve also discovered something I’d forgotten: No man has ever complained about my body size to me. The contrary. Back in the day, though, I thought they were trying to make me feel better. I didn’t want to believe they could want me or love me for who I was… because what would that say about them, then?

Now, what it says about a man is evident to me: They understand passion, desire, and they know it when they see it. They see me for all of what I offer — intelligence, wit, charm, stylings, deviousness, sensitivity, romance, dominance, submissiveness, all wrapped into one package that’s just the right size to hold the dynamism of what I bring to the bed and to life as a whole.

A few years ago, I read a study that revealed those who were carrying a little extra weight generally had better sex lives. The scientists were at first stymied by this discovery, until they realized a very simple truth: Food, when done the way food ought to be, is as erotic and sensual as anything we can experience. Those who were overweight were in touch with their sensual selves and sought to enjoy all the delectable goodness offered by life, in whatever form they came, be it bed-bound, baked, or otherwise.

I have found myself besieged by young women of late, all of them emailing me about their inabilities to orgasm. I find myself having to keep explain to them that they got to love themselves — physically and emotionally — before they can handle the Big O. The odds are against them, though, and it’s largely why we sexually peak in our 30s. As young women, we suffer through the most inexplicable expectations from society and the hang-ups we develop are legion. There was a good mainstream example last year in the form of a short-lived TV show called Life as We Know It, with Kelly Osborne in it. A guy fell for her, but admitted he couldn’t handle having her as a girlfriend, because what would his buddies think if he was slapping thighs with a tubby girl?

We live in a society that’s so hung up on appearances that we’ve forgotten the beauty that comes from within. We’ve forgotten how incredibly hot and sexy it can be when someone simply digs themselves for who they are, regardless of their appearance, and can bring that passion and goodness into play in every thing they do every day.

I recall once being asked why I wanted to lose weight. I bit my lip, looked at the ground, thought about it, and responded “Because I want my inside beauty to match my outsides.”

These days, on a good day, I know I already match. In the last decade of my life, I have overcome enormous obstacles — the death of a parent, massive debt, illnesses, a couple near-death experiences, and writer’s block that hounded me for half a decade. But my greatest accomplishment is this: Loving myself.

One of my all-time favourite quotes is Oscar Wilde’s. “To love one’s self is the beginning of a life-long romance.” What can I say? I’m a romantic at heart, and now it shows.