Do you ever judge yourself by the numbers on the scale or the way that your clothes fit ? Have you ever got into that horribly negative headsapce that you are nothing but a dress size? Mamamia reader Emma Steggles has been there. She writes:
“When Mia wrote about Hamish Blake putting on weight her piece really resonated with me. I too have put on weight. Quite a lot of it, in fact. I became ill and my doctor prescribed some medication and while the medication did wonders for my illness it had side effects, one of which was an increase in appetite. But it wasn’t just the tablets; it was the illness itself too. While I was ill I was less active as well; eating more and moving less are not the right combination. So here I am…
I had never been teeny-tiny; just a healthy size 12-16 (depending on where I shopped) and like most women I wasn’t 100% happy with my body. Not totally unhappy, which is how I would describe myself now, but there were parts of my body I didn’t totally love (hello thighs). Even so, I was confident with my body. I liked how I looked and buying clothes was fun. Wearing them was even better.
Today, not so much. I hate clothes shopping. Hate it. At my current size there are fewer places to shop which means there are fewer options for outfits and less fun to be had. Plus I’m getting married and at the stage where I need to find a dress. I don’t even want to talk about wedding dress shopping.
But the clothes are only a small part of it. Putting on weight has changed the way I think about myself. I now think of myself as a fat person. Now, I know people say that fat is not a nice word to use, but even if I changed it to “plus-sized” or “overweight” my point is the same: I now identify myself by my size. When I bought size 12 jeans I didn’t walk around thinking of myself first and foremost as “size 12”; so why has this changed? I am so many things – female, brunette, short, etc, etc… – Why do I now see myself mostly as overweight?
I think this is how other people see me too. Last year when I was going for a job interview I was worried that I might not make a good first impression because of my size. I can’t even explain why I thought someone might think badly of my because of my weight, I certainly don’t judge people by their size, except that being overweight seems to have so many negative connotations. When I’m in the lunch room at work, if someone makes a comment about what I’m having for lunch (e.g. “That smells good Emma, what is it?”) I think their subtext is “Shouldn’t you be eating a salad?” and I try to casually drop into conversation that I’m going to the gym that afternoon. Sure, maybe it’s all in my head, but my question is – how and why did it get in there?
When Mia wrote about Hamish putting on weight she noted the jokes he made at his own expense, I heard him do it on the radio too. I don’t do this, no way. Make excuses to justify my weight? I do that: I constantly hear myself telling people about being ill and putting on weight after that happened, not that they asked (see first paragraph). Try to hide my size? I do that too, even though it’s pretty much impossible to hide: I don’t allow many photos to be taken of me anymore, I mostly buy clothes online to avoid having to go to shops and I definitely don’t talk about what size my clothes are. But draw attention to the fact that I had to buy a new jacket because I the old one won’t do up any more, hell no!
Writing this is very scary too, because I haven’t spoken about it to anyone, but when I started typing I kind of felt empowered. Maybe that’s the answer; to stop hiding.”
Does your weight factor into your self image? Do you define others by their size?
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and you need help please contact The Butterfly Foundation. The Butterfly Foundation provides support for Australians who suffer from eating disorders and negative body image issues. They also provide support for their carers. They can be contacted through their website at http://www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/ or on (02) 9412 4499