Self-Exploration: Scaling my food issues

A scale and tape measure. Image courtesy of Pixnio.

Since I started at William Jewell College, I’ve obsessed over my weight.

Maybe the word obsessed is too strong, maybe it isn’t strong enough. I’m not certain, though I think it is important to examine this.

Compared with other people, regardless of gender, I think we are all too aware of and critical towards our weight.

So, I say obsessed, but I’m not sure what qualifies as normal. Perhaps our societal normal isn’t a healthy normal.  

I’ll say that, for myself, I was fairly aware of my body at all times. I’ll consider myself obsessed, because I allowed that awareness to negatively affect my decisions and my health.  

I didn’t think about my weight directly every hour of the day, nor did I consistently weigh myself. In fact, I rarely knew exactly what my weight was. I estimated around 110 pounds and left it at that.

I internally encouraged skipping meals, believing it would help me keep my weight low. Not eating was fraught with issues besides weight, but I cannot ignore this component.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve gained weight. Now, I fluctuate around 140 pounds.

The first time I saw that I’d gone over 120 pounds, sometime during 2017, I’d had a sinking suspicion my body was different. The scale’s confirmation of that was awful – I remember feeling sick.

In 2018, I felt my body change again, more so than before. Where I once was a size four in jeans, now I needed a size eight or 10. My shirts bumped up from smalls to mediums. When I curl in on myself, I can feel my stomach press against my thighs.

Honestly, if you’d told freshman year me that I’d gain weight in college, I’m pretty sure I would’ve doubled down on not eating. The person I was then would be terrified to be where I am now. When I received a physical exam sometime after my first year at college, my doctor told me that my weight, about 115 pounds, was perfect. It was healthy and right for my body – any higher and I could be considered overweight.

I said I didn’t think about my weight much before now, and that’s as true as it is false. I didn’t calorie-count. I truly barely weighed myself.

But every time I put on clothing, every time I saw myself in the mirror, every time I contemplated eating or actually ate, I thought about my waist, my stomach. I thought about my thighs and I thought about the spaces I could not fill.

I thought about how 115 pounds was healthy and anything otherwise meant I was unhealthy.

The last time I weighed myself, several weeks ago, I was 145 pounds. I think it was the first coherent moment that I stared down at a number higher than I expected and felt something like satisfaction.

2018 was the first year of my life with therapy all throughout it, and this allowed me to examine myself and, among other things, my issues with eating. I realized that, though I personally didn’t dislike the sensation of forgoing food, it was a terrible habit. I also sought to heal from internalized fatphobia.

Ironically, I love food. I love all kinds of food and actively enjoy eating and exploring new cuisines. One of my favorite things about travelling is trying new food. My favorite type of shopping is going out for groceries.

I know that I’ve found peace with gaining weight, that I consider it healthy for myself to weigh what I do. I know that, thoughtlessly, I enjoy the subtle differences I’ve discovered.

Talking about this is a little uncomfortable. It is weird seeing my weight and size changes in writing, and it’s odd knowing that anyone can read this and see how I’ve changed.

From the outside, I assume my body doesn’t look that much different.

Despite myself, I want to blend in, to adhere to normal standards of acceptability. It’s a pressure put on me in part by presenting female, the expectation that my body must conform to a series of unhealthy beauty standards for some omniscient male audience.

My goal is to accept my body as it is. My goal is also to divorce my personal concept of beauty with acceptability or worth. My body does not have to be beautiful to have worth and no one’s aesthetic opinion about my body matters but mine.

I weigh what I weigh and I’ll grow the way I grow.

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