Hi beauties! I hope 2017 is treating you well so far. How many of you are looking foward to the next episode of This is Us? I can’t wait to find out what happened to Toby (last seen on an operating table after having quickie sex with Kate then passing out during the family Christmas celebration).
I’ll be honest: when the show first started, I didn’t want to care about Kate’s character, played by Chrissy Metz. After all, with her almost singular obsession with weight loss and consideration of gastric bypass surgery, she perpetuates the false assumption that we fat women are all self-loathing creatures who can only find validation in a slimmer body. But I do care because she reminds me so much of myself.
(WARNING… this is going to get REALLY personal)
Unlike Kate’s mom, Rebecca, who fretted about her daughter’s weight because she wanted Kate “to be healthy”, my mother’s obession with my weight had nothing to do with health. It was strictly about aesthetics. She was beautiful and incredibly narcissistic. I’m her only child, adopted after botched uterine surgery rendered her barren. I was supposed to be her reflection even though, according to the agency that handled my adoption, my birth mother was short and “heavy-set”.
Initially my mother believed that a chubby baby was a healthy baby but when I grew into a chubby adolescent and teen, she was horrified. She constantly berated my body with such nuggets of nurturing encouragment like: “You look like a football player. Your shape is terrible. No man will love a fat woman. I wish Denise (my neighbor’s daughter who was, of course, slender) was my daughter. She’s so pretty and you’re so ugly.” Is it any wonder I had no sense of self-esteem?
My mother lied about my age to enroll me in gyms where I’d spend hours on vibrating belt machines to whittle away my waist and slim my thighs so I’d attain the hourglass shape she held as the epitome of beauty. Needless to say, it didn’t work. I was also put on countless diets, sometimes eating little more than a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a couple of tomato slices and a dollop of non-fat cottage cheese. To keep me “in shape” she’d hold weigh-ins right before I went on a date. If my weight wasn’t what she thought it should be, I’d have to call and cancel at the last minute. Nice, huh?
Oh, by the way, THIS was the body my mother found fat and repulsive and I could only see myself through her eyes. How I wish someone had told me how beautiful I was then… how my body didn’t have to be molded or starved. Maybe I wouldn’t have fallen for and married a man who turned out to be as narcissistic and cruel as my mother. But Rick said he loved me and no man was supposed to love fat, ugly me… so there!
Fast foward to 36. I had 2 wonderful kids but still no self-esteem and was riding the weight loss/gain roller coaster. Like Kate, I’d weigh myself only after removing every stitch of clothing, jewelry and making sure my bladder was empty. I even researched and attended a couple of “information sessions” on gastric bypass surgery.
Rick and I started seeing Dr Ron who had just opened an office in our neighborhood and said that the solution to Rick’s aching back and my newly diagnosed hypertension was a diet of no more than 1200 calories and 20 fat grams daily. So I carefully measured and journalized every morsel of food. Rick, on the other hand, drank quarts of black coffee with Equal during the day then came home to an 8 ounce bag of pretzels and 2-liter bottle of diet cream soda. I kid you not, that’s all he ate. OK, sometimes he dunked the pretzels in a couple of tablespoons of Marshmallow Fluff. Again, I kid you not. But, hey, it was way less than 1200 calories and hardly any fat grams!!!
So, much like Kate stood by while Toby was congratulated on his weight loss, I stood by while Dr Ron and his staff gushed over Rick’s 30 pound weight loss in the first month when I lost just a few pounds. That’s right… he lost a pound a day and it raised no red flags. In total he lost over 150 pounds in less than a year. Needless to say, he gained the weight back and then some but not before leaving me and the kids for someone he met online. Which prompted my mother to drop another of her nuggets: “He left because you’re fat”. It was really no great loss since Rick cheated on me many times during our marriage but I stuck it out because, hey, no other man could love fat, ugly me, right?
Fast forward to now. It took over a decade and the help of a great community of wonderful, fat loving, body positive people but I got off the diet roller coaster and learned to love myself from head to toe. I still have hypertension (which my current doctor says could be attibuted to my birth family) but I also developed the confidence to set boundaries with my mother and tell her “I may be fat but I’m happy!”. And I really am. And I hope that Kate will soon begin a journey to loving herself exactly as she is without basing her value on the size of her clothing or the numbers of the scale. Because Kate and I are so much alike.