I have this problem:
Like, really confident.
Whenever I see a camera, I jump in front of it and pose. Whenever someone wants an interview or needs to film someone for a class project or a promo or a video shoot, I not only volunteer but insist on being in it. I speak in front of audiences of hundreds and web-viewers of thousands. I put on an outfit and think, “Yup, I’m cute.” When I enter a room, I don’t fade into the wallpaper or stand in a corner; I make my way to the middle of the room, the center of the dance floor, and smile and engage others.
I insist on being seen.
What you don’t see, though, is why I do it. I do it to stop being invisible. I do it to challenge people’s ideas of who the “chubby lady in that loud print dress” should be. I do it because I want other “big girls” to know that we have worth, that we have value and that we take up space in this world that we deserve.
But lately, I’ve gotten bigger. I’ve taken up more space.
Before my oophorectomy — the surgical removal of my ovaries to save me from getting cancer — I was already heavy. My butt is big; my thighs rub together; I’m too chubby to cross my legs in that sassy, sexy legs way; and my baby pooch is prominent. After my mastectomy, my body started to look a little less proportional because, dang, silicone doesn’t gain weight when the rest of my body does. So, I have these tiny breasts and a big old body.
But, I have, for years, embraced my double-digit sized body. You can’t miss me when I enter a room, and that’s the way (uh-huh, uh-huh) I like it.
after my oophorectomy, my body went into hormonal shock. I had a tough recovery which was complicated further by my hormonal roller coaster. Fatigue, a painful post-op, and then artificial hormones set in.
And, on came more weight.
And, this time, it tipped the scale (pun, maybe, intended).
I hit a point where, ouch, feeling big feels awful. Feeling big feels, well, just big. Not big and beautiful. Not big and sexy. Not big and sassy. Not big and confident.
The kind of big where my confidence is chipping away. The kind of big which keeps me from even attempting to go to my high school reunion. The kind of big where, urgh, I’m feeling embarrassed to take up space. Where I don’t want to be noticed.
The kind of big that puts big girls like me back into a shame spiral (my favorite term, courtesy of my sister Grace).
Until Grace (same sister) sent me this article where the author describes her feelings of humiliation based on her weight:
That’s the thing about humiliation—it sticks with you. It becomes a part of you. Because it’s not an external emotion, like anger, it’s internal. It’s losing your grip on the image of yourself you’re trying so desperately to control and project. It tears down the curtain. It undermines who you think you are as a person, and that’s frightening.
That’s frightening. And, it felt good to read it. It felt good to know that this is real. It felt good to know that this space, this feeling, is about me.
All of the years of building myself up, of feeling confident, about wanting to disrupt how we treat people who embrace big bodies, about being body positive are starting to wear thin (dang, did I just write that word? thin? see how it’s permeating my brain!!!)
I’ve been doing damage control — dressing up more, wearing flashy high heels, loud earrings, and even more dramatic makeup just so that I won’t disappear into the landscape. Bought some new red lipstick. I made a few plans to eat out so that I don’t feel like I am only good enough to hide in pajamas on my couch. I even cut 14 inches off of my hair, just so that I would be noticed.
Is it working? Yes.
It is permanent? No.
Is it real? As real as the grip in this gripe.
Peace, love, and, yes, still debating whether or not to go to reunion,