It was a charming spring day about a year ago when my mother walked in my room, arms full of denim.
“Hey hon, my 6’s are too big for me. Do you want these?”
“Sure!” I got up and opened my drawer, taking the pants she handed me and shoving them in my drawer.
“Great! Thanks. I don’t think I’ll need those again.”
She walked out of my room and closed the door gently behind her, taking my confidence with her.
My mother wears a smaller size than I do. And although that’s not her fault, the realization was a low blow. I was riddled with guilt. What is wrong with me? Why am I not tall and slim, like my mother? We all knew I was supposed to be. It seemed to hang in the air every time I stood on a scale, every time we went shopping, every time I had an extra scoop of ice cream. Why is she not like her mother? Why am I not the way I expected?
The people I love remind me that it’s nothing short of miraculous that I didn’t wind up with an eating disorder. Sometimes when I stand in front of the mirror, I remember the times when I wouldn’t eat at home for days, too anxious and paranoid about being watched. I heard the comments about others’ eating habits, I didn’t want to be the one under the microscope. It was easier to avoid food entirely.
But here’s the truth: avoiding won’t solve my problems. I have a right to feel comfortable eating whatever I want, with whoever I want. The opinions of others don’t determine whether I should be wearing a size 6 or a size 2; I decide that.
I’m done eating foods with ulterior motives. I want to eat innocent food – food that is delicious and fresh and fills my stomach and warms my heart. I’m ready to start giving my body some grace for never being hungry at 6 o’clock, but always at 10. I’m ready to ride my bike and run and jump and live, to eat when I’m hungry and eat the food I’m hungry for. I am never going to give up my quality of life to gain the appearance of a higher-quality life.
This is my dream, for you and me: that we would stop listening to the people shouting their opinions at us, on how we should look or who we should be. That we stop feeling too big for our lives, and we have the courage to clear away the life junk and make a space for ourselves. That we would breathe deeper and laugh louder and stop sucking in our stomachs to fit into other people’s expectations. That maybe we could stop trying to squish our personalities into paragraphs and ideas into 140 characters. There’s enough room for us in this world; let’s live like it.
120 pounds is something I will proudly carry, because this is my life and I’m going to live it. 120 pounds is nothing to be ashamed of.