Quick content warning on this piece: No numbers are mentioned, but I discuss some disordered eating habits, mild body dysmorphia, and body-related shame. Be kind to yourself, only read if you’re in a good place and won’t be triggered.
Nobody likes their body in high school, right? I remember feeling fat, then gaining weight and yearning for my old “fat” body, all while having a very conventionally “thin” body anyway. My body issues reached their peak during my first year of college when I went so far as to look at the calorie content of a treat, like a cookie or some ice cream, and then go running at the gym until I’d “worked off” the treat. To be fair, this only happened occasionally, but even in the moment, part of me knew there was something deeply wrong with that way of thinking.
Then my mental health went completely off the rails with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts, and luckily for me, my body issues weren’t incorporated into my mental health issues. It was like my brain was dealing with too much other negativity, it just couldn’t handle the body negativity too, so it got thrown out the window.
And that’s how I lived for about 8 years. Sometimes I saw my arms in a photo and disliked them, or I would get winded walking up one flight of stairs and think “damn, I should really work out,” but overall, my body was largely irrelevant to me.
Even when I got pregnant and gained far more weight than the doctors recommended, I actually felt incredibly beautiful. I loved the way my stomach expanded, I loved my newly gigantic booty, and I even liked my face’s new roundness.
Then I had my baby, and my body went back to being largely irrelevant because I didn’t have enough energy to scrutinize myself. I just focused on keeping my new little potato alive and happy.
But it’s been nearly 8 months now, and my body has not gone back to “normal.” I am officially plus-size, and I am having some very complicated feelings about it.
On good days, I actively love my plus-size body. I feel voluptuous and sexy and I feel large in a good way. Like I take up more space, and I like it. Sometimes I see myself in the mirror and I want to take a picture because I just like how I look.
Before getting pregnant, I was what’s known as mid-size. Mid-size means you aren’t sample size, but you aren’t plus-size either. You’re in between, and even though that body was beautiful too, there are a lot of perks to being solidly plus-size instead of floating in between. I no longer feel torn between the size I actually am and the size I think I “should” be (I know I said my relationship with my body was good before, but it wasn’t, like, perfect). Basically, now that I’m plus-size, I feel like I can own my largeness instead of trying to downplay it.
Plus, this feels like the size my body naturally wants to be right now, and I am working on listening to myself more. I don’t eat garbage every day, but I also don’t deny myself tasty food just because it’s not the healthiest option. I eat what comes naturally (called intuitive eating) and this is the body that has developed as a result. I do not want to change my intuitive eating patterns, because any nutritionist worth their salt will tell you that is far and wide the healthiest relationship you can have with food, so a big part of me is happy to reside in whatever body shape results from eating intuitively.
To be clear, this section is not about the “bad” parts of being plus-size. It’s about my negative thoughts surrounding my newly plus-size body.
Basically, I spend way more time thinking about my body now. Just like in high school and the beginning of college, I sometimes catch myself in the mirror before getting in the shower, naked, and just stand there pinching the areas of fat that I wish I could magically banish. Or I’ll put on pants and have to deal with the new pouch of fat on my stomach that hangs off my body, and my mind is automatically flooded with horrible, mean thoughts about my body being “disgusting” and me being “horrible and stupid” for existing in this type of body. Or I might reach for a tasty but unhealthy snack and automatically think something cruel about how I don’t need it and I’m weak and stupid for eating like garbage.
My new life as a plus-size lady has also opened my eyes even further to the lack of plus-size representation in basically all areas of life. I knew it was a problem before, but, selfishly, I didn’t realize how bad it was because it didn’t really affect me. On TV, in books, on Instagram, on YouTube— why do all these ladies have the exact same body type? Their bodies are beautiful, but dammit, I want to believe mine is too, and some representation would go a long way in making me feel a lot more normal in my body.
Here’s where it gets complicated. See, my feelings about being plus-size can’t just be sorted into “good” thoughts or “bad” thoughts. There’s a lot of in between. A lot of thoughts and beliefs that are kind of both, or sometimes neither. And I feel like discussions of weight often lack the nuance to address these beliefs. Either the article is shaming fat people or encouraging body positivity, when in reality, being a person is much more complicated than that.
Honestly, there are days where I miss my old body. I just miss feeling comfortable, I miss knowing exactly what my body looked and felt like. Now, this body feels…not always bad, but definitively different. And I miss feeling familiar with the body I live in.
And the clothes! I have to buy a whole new wardrobe now. After being the same-ish size for almost a decade, I had built up a beautiful wardrobe of clothing that reflected my exact style. Velvet pants, peasant tops, crazy patterened leggings, jeans that fit just right— all of it is useless to me now. And that makes it really tempting to try and lose the weight through dieting, so I can get back to my old clothes.
You might say “Megan, just buy new clothes, then that temptation is gone,” but here’s where we throw in another factor in the discussion about body positivity: money. My old wardrobe was the result of nearly 10 years of buying just the right items every couple of months. I can’t just go out and buy all that stuff right now, that would be a full paycheck and then some. And I can’t go thrifting because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so basically, I’m stuck wearing one or two things that really fit, a few things that don’t really fit but are passable, and staring longingly at all my nice clothes, just taunting me and whispering about diets and weight loss.
Then there’s the family stuff. Plus-size bodies are very normal in my family, but body acceptance and positivity is not. Nearly every aunt I have (and it’s quite a few, I come from a large family) has been on every diet in the book, from Adkins to Keto or even intermittent fasting (AKA, anorexia). For a long time, it looked like I might not follow the family pattern of weight gain and stay “thin,” but now here I am, in the plus-size club. And it’s really hard to keep a positive, or even neutral, mindset about being plus-size when I am surrounded by people furiously trying to change their plus-size body.
Part of my silly monkey brain wants to lose weight so that I’m not like my family, plus-size and hating my body, but the slightly more evolved part of my brain knows that trying to lose weight will lead me to exactly that mindset. If I truly want to be different and break the cycle, I need to learn to accept and love my plus-size body, and maybe provide a healthier mindset for other cousins facing the same dilemma.
In Conclusion, I’m Fat and I Want to Be Okay With That
So basically, I’ve gained a lot of weight and I don’t see myself losing it any time soon. I’m fat, and I’m trying to be okay with that, or even happy about it (PS, it’s not okay for anyone else to call me fat just yet, I’m still adjusting to calling myself that in a non-derogatory way).
My body is different, and I’m adjusting. I’m trying very hard to refute my natural inclinations for self-loathing, and I am doing everything I can to honor my body’s needs and avoid any kind of dieting. Some days I absolutely love how I look. Other days, not so much. It’s complicated, and I thought I would share because I am absolutely positive that there are other people out there who feel exactly the same way.
So let me know what kind of plus-size content you’d like to see.
Do you want mirror selfies showing off my belly rolls? Do you want to hear about how I am slowly, painstakingly rebuilding my wardrobe almost entirely from Amazon? Subscribe by entering your email in the box on the right side of the screen, and let me know what you want to see!