This post deals with abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
Not just chubby, or curvy, but technically morbidly obese.
My physical presence demands attention whether I am seeking it or not. Some find me repulsive.
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What is my evidence that others find my mere existence repulsive?
How about the man on the plane next to me texting his partner about how awful it was that he had to sit next to a ‘fatty’ and the witty exchange that followed.
Or walking into a clothing store to buy some cute earrings when the assistant approached me to save me the awkwardness of trying on clothes by telling me that nothing in the store could possibly fit me.
Or my ex-boyfriend telling me that no other attractive man would be seen dead walking down the street holding my hand.
Or the tinder match who, when I turned down his offer of a ‘mind-blowing’ night together, informed me that I was 'a disgusting fat c**t anyway who he was only offering to pity f*ck’.
Or never being able to wear the dressing gown at day spas and having to awkwardly leave the dressing room still in my own clothes because they are too small.
Or the way fat people are depicted in movies or TV shows. If they are presented as endearing in any way at all it is because they are the funny character, otherwise they are usually the character that makes you cringe in disgust. I could go on and on.
All these experiences, among others, wear me down and make me feel like a horrendous, invalid use of space.
How audacious of me to exist. I get it.
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People look at me and they are scared that they could turn into me. People also look at me and they presume.
They presume that I never exercise; that I eat nothing but junk food; that I have chosen to be this way. Their presumption blinds them to my story and my beauty.
I am making a choice to love my body because it has tried its best to protect me.
I first started putting on weight as a seven-year-old, after being sexually abused. I then went through a massive growth spurt at 12 and turned into an athletic and fit young girl who had curves in all the right places.
The unwanted sexual attention and later on, advances, were too much to deal with. I ballooned again in my mid-teens and have been ‘plus-sized’ ever since.
I have spent so long deeply hating myself, physically and wholly. It was in dealing with the abuse I had experienced that I began to realise how my body and sub-conscious was lovingly trying to hide me from these harmful encounters.
I love my body for looking after me this way. I may still struggle with my stretch marks, cellulite, belly and flabby arms but love is a choice and I am choosing it.
I love that my boobs have helped me to still feel sexy. I love that my body is soft. I love the pleasure my body gives me. I love that I can look into my eyes and see beauty that comes from the resilience of overcoming trauma. I love myself.
Part of loving myself is caring for my body. In the past this has looked like extreme dieting of less than 650 calories a day (that usually lasts a couple of days or weeks, max); or going to boot camps where I leave crying because I am not physically capable of keeping up with the super fit people or completing any of the exercises.
But now, loving myself looks like me moving my body in a way that feels good. I am loving myself by not starving or bingeing but by eating foods that make me feel great. I’m loving myself by finding better ways to self-soothe than to get blind drunk. I am loving myself by learning to work with my body and not against it.
Yes, I wish I was a size 12. Yes, I wish I was capable of running a half-marathon. Yes, I wish I felt confident in my own skin. Yes, I wish I wasn’t discriminated against for my size.
But I am so grateful that I have made friends with my body and I will continue to choose to love all that I am.
If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.
Feature image: Getty.