News Flash! Average is Beautiful. Then Why Am I Having a Fat Day?

I had planned to be a bit more timely with this topic. When I sat down to write as Glamour magazine’s plus sized picture first created its stir I found I didn’t have much to say. But today, catching sight of myself in the mirror (naked!) and then trying to find something to wear that felt good, looked flattering; I felt myself spin into the dreaded spiral, landing smack dab on my chubby butt. Ugh. I’m having a fat day.

I have a confession to make. Something I’ve told very few people. When I was in my twenties and I saw overweight people I thought, “Oh. No self discipline.”  I was the skinny kid. The pencil thin teen. I was so skinny in high school my parents were afraid I might have an eating disorder. They took me to the doctor and he told them I was a healthy, very active (I was a competitive swimmer) typical teenager with an enviable metabolism.

When this “thin” trend continued into my twenties - when I wasn’t even working out  - I patted myself on the back and attributed it to healthy eating (Seriously? I drank Coke with almost every meal!) and discipline. I simply didn’t over eat.

I was also diagnosed as infertile at this time. Every doctor, every specialist said, “You need more body fat.” So I tried. I really did. Ice cream is my weakness and I treated myself every day. I may have gained a couple of pounds but it didn’t make much of a difference and I couldn’t seem to gain any more. (I know. Tragic, huh?)

Then I hit age 35. And my periods slowed to about 3 a year. And I was tested. And this time the doctors and specialists said, “You’ve hit early on-set menopause. And weight gain is a part of it. You’ll need to be careful with what you eat.” I wasn’t worried. I’ve never had to worry. If I even THOUGHT about losing weight, wished I were a little lighter; the pounds simply melted away. So when the numbers started creeping up the scale I started thinking. I started wishing. As hard as I could. It didn’t work.

And then, the kicker. I got pregnant at age 40. “Pregnant?” You ask, “I thought you were going through menopause.” That’s what I said to the midwife. She laughed and asked me if I slept through 10th grade biology class? “If you have a period, no matter how sporadic, you can get pregnant,” she said. But I’m infertile, I said. “Evidently not,” she smiled.

I gained 35 pounds with my pregnancy and I’m still struggling with the last 15. Not bad? No. Because I was near the top of my healthy weight range when I got pregnant. This sent me over.

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I wear the same size as Glamour’s plus sized model. A size 12. I wish I were back in a size 8 but as I’ve learned, that method doesn’t work for me anymore. What annoyed me about this picture is that she looks pretty healthy to me. Oh sure, she has a little tummy but no back fat, no thunder thighs, her arms look fairly toned. Ok. So she’s in her twenties and I’m 45. I’ve been through childbirth. She probably hasn’t. But a size 12 is plus sized? Are you kidding me?

Now thank goodness she doesn’t look heroin-thin. That’s just scary to me. In fact, whenever I see models that are heroin-thin I have to turn the page as fast as I can. I can’t even get a good look at the clothes they’re trying to sell me. I’m just too weirded out.

Don’t get me wrong. I am positively thrilled for the Dove soap ads of real women. I’m glad the media is even questioning our portrayal of what “real” is. But all this cheering and amazement that we could find a normal, average sized woman beautiful is downright scary.

And frankly, it still made me feel fat. I looked in the mirror this morning, saw the same tummy she has and I feel fat. And frumpy. And plus sized. Yeah, I should lose a few pounds. But that is getting so much harder as I’ve aged.

So I sit here. Feeling fat. And all this media coverage saying size 12 is beautiful hasn’t made me feel much better at all.

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27 Comments

Filed under Self Image

27 responses to “News Flash! Average is Beautiful. Then Why Am I Having a Fat Day?

  1. eastkentuckygal

    I hope that you can stop feeling fat. It is so terribly hard not to be influenced by media perceptions and then create expectations for ourselves, but I’m sure you are basing much of your expectations on your past size. You already know the truth that a size 12 is not fat and that size is not found in the plus-sized section at the clothing stores. In fact, since the 5th grade size 12th was my thinnest size until just recently. The model in that picture is a beautiful real woman. Even now, that I am 100 pounds lighter than I used to be, I probably would be considered plus-sized because of my build, despite the fact that I am below a size 12 now.
    Your body did what it couldn’t do when you were pencil thin. It gave you a baby. It did an amazing thing and kept you at the weight you needed to do it in a healthy way. I hope you can find comfort in that.
    The important thing is to eat healthy and get your exercise. Traditional foods and yoga (especially Kundalini) has helped me tremendously. I wrote a post sometime ago called “A Woman’s Perfect Body”. It has a link in it to a site that has pictures of Olympic athletes. You should take a look at those.
    Be blessed.

  2. If the ACTUAL average size for American women is a 14 and the average for British women is 16, then why do we listen to those sadists? Size 12 beautiful? Heck, yes! And it sure as heck isn’t “plus.”

    We’ll know they’ve gotten the message when there are as many clothes sizes on the regular racks OVER size 12 as underneath them.

    Why are the larger sizes “plus” if the smaller ones aren’t “minus”?

  3. I think this picture has been doctored. Other than a saggy tummy this girl is not a plus size. A little lipo and she is as good as new. Gimme a break!

    As for fat days, everyday is a fat day for me because I’m fat. See not so hard to say. I am okay with it most days but still get a little freaked out once in a while.

  4. I was a lot like you. I didn’t start gaining weight until my mid-twenties when I had money to buy food and wasn’t exercising any more. The day I couldn’t fit in my size ten jeans, I died a little because, not only was I “getting fat,” but for the first time I saw myself in a negative light and I wanted to be “beautiful.” So much for my feminist beliefs.

    I think our society needs to push Healthy Is Beautiful. Maybe then we wouldn’t have fat days. And I wonder if she had a kid because my tummy looks a lot like that now and before kids it was a tight bulge, not flabby. ;-)

  5. I don’t know what to say about that photo. She’s got gumption!

    I was always the skinny kid too. I am in my early forties now and I weigh the same as I did in high school but I have to say it doesn’t look the same. I think I’m just loosing muscle and gaining varicose veins! :0(

  6. I meant to say that I am losing muscle! Yikes! I think my mind is going too! :D

  7. Thank you, thank you! You so eloquently expressed what I felt but couldn’t put into words. What you said at the end, “So I sit here. Feeling fat. And all this media coverage saying size 12 is beautiful hasn’t made me feel much better at all” is so honest and exactly how I feel yet afraid to admit since I feel guilty for not going, “Rah Rah Big Is Beautiful!” when I know I should. (btw, found you through The Bloggess, in case you wonder how I got here…Yeah I was reading through the comments because comments left there are always funny too… Or maybe I need to get a life…)

  8. My goal is a size 12 LOL!! It is all in your attitude, I may be full figured but I have a full outlook and attitude always!!

  9. Submom – You are welcome. It’s always comforting finding others who feel the same way. Thanks for taking the effort to find me!

    Beth – Thanks for the reminder about attitude. You are absolutely right!

    And to all of you – I felt so much better after I hit “save” and my post was revealed. I feel amazing after all of YOUR dear comments. Thanks for sharing, encouraging, commiserating.

  10. This is what I like about your blog….It is honest and funny.
    As for the size 12? I am a size 12 too. You know, we enjoy food, we enjoy life and until the doc says lose weight, I am going to keep enjoying life. A size 8? Not possible, unless, I am willing to work really hard and be obsessed with my food intake. I like food too much! Thanks for making me smile.

  11. Velva,
    I never dreamed that I would be below a size twelve without starving myself and spending most of my day exercising. I have since found out that I was wrong. The only exercise I do now is Kundalini and Hatha yoga. I started out with some cardio, until I found my way to yoga. I love food and love to cook. That is why I was ecstatic to find traditional foods and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Eat Fat Lose Fat as well. I can eat whatever I want following some preparation and ingredient standards. I eat full fat everything including dairy. I have lost 100 pounds without starving. I believe my body has stabilized after years of improper nutrition. I could go on and on forever, but I am definitely an advocate for healthy is beautiful and an advocate for real food (not this low fat stuff recommended by popular nutritionists.)

  12. I am a recovering anorexic…but part of why I became anorexic was because even though I used to have an ultra-speedy metabolism, I gained a bit of pudgy fat in the onset of my puberty…A tiny reason, but one of the factors nonetheless.

    Anyway. I think the image of “fat=bad” has already been ingrained SO deeply into our brains that even though society is trying to change that around, it will take maybe 1-2 more generations before that will be welcomed and digested. Right now this idea to embrace your body, whether large or small, is JUST now taking place…how many years has society conformed to its own ideal standards? There’s been the “plump=beauty” age, the “crazy-skinny waist = beauty” age, and much more. I can only hope that now is finally the turning age for a much healthier and permanent idea that “whatever size you are= beauty” age….

  13. I love this post. Our stories are very similiar! I too was the super thin girl in High School, swim team, volleyball etc. Parents took me to the Doctor because they were convinced I had some kind of hidden eating disorder. Nope. Just thin and active….until freshman year and I discovered martinis and potatoes! lol I flux between an 8 and 10 and can honestly say that I think it doesn’t matter your size, the media has helped each and every one of us have a ridiculous number of fat days. I now focus on happy and healthy and am learning to embrace my extra 5 – 10 pounds.
    My goal…to make sure my girls are happy no matter what size they end up being. Hard in this airbrushed world!

  14. She looks gorgeous! And, for a change, human.

  15. Jan

    I agree with Momma Zen. This woman looks happy and healthy and human. Look at her radiance! Jane, I hope you are feeling better about all this. We all have fat days, but we must (must!) stay focused on the beauty of our essence, our inner beauty, I really believe that.

    I do not believe the media does us any favors about this issue. That is why I stopped buying all those women’s magazines years ago. Most of them do nothing but build upon our insecurities, that we must be and do more to be liked, pretty, accepted. Not to mention, every issues of every magazine has weight loss articles in it! (Try to find one that doesn’t.) Focusing on our health helps, along with the truth of who we are as divinely-sourced, naturally beautiful women…

  16. i feel incredibly insecure about my weight, especially after having my son (he’s four now). i can’t lose any of the weight i gained and, obviously, my tummy is suffering from serious stretching which just makes things worse. :(

  17. Velva – Thanks. And you’re welcome!
    Kelli – Your first comment had me inspired to pick up my yoga again. I have at home and on the 14th I’m joining a class to make sure that I keep it up. Thanks for the inspiration!
    burpexcuzme – whatever size you are= beauty age! Great idea!
    Modern Mom – I know what you mean. I can’t believe that I thought I was “fat” when I was a size 8.
    Momma Zen – She looks completely healthy to me, too. That’s why the “plus size” label bothers me so much.
    Jan – Thanks. I’m feeling much better about my size. Interesting you bring up the women’s magazine issue (no pun intended). I’ve let all my subscriptions lapse. The only ones I receive anymore are Body & Soul and Southern Living. I guess I was rebelling against the content and didn’t even realize it!
    Cindy – Sending hugs. I’ve felt the exact same way from time to time. I’m feeling better now…hope you will too! Your son doesn’t care, trust me, and that’s what counts!

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  20. I’ve stopped most of my mags, as well. Mostly read Real Simple and Parents/Parenting these days. Try to not let the feelings get to you (although this is an older post, I found you through If Evol. Works) because you’re you and like you said, she’s like 20! And that’s what her problem is, ya know? ;)

  21. Beauty is in the mind, not in the weight. It all relates back to your mood. I hope you feel beautiful now :)

  22. I just love that pic so much. Glad I stumbled across it one more time. We gonna see you recreate that pose? :p

    Seriously, though, nicely written post. I look forward to checking out the rest of your blog.

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