Today, let’s talk about body image. Don’t worry, nothing trite about loving yourself first to attract others to you, or, God forbid, becoming the kind of person that you would fall in love with… gah!! I guess those things have their value, and I have subscribed to both of those philosophies (even if they are not that far apart). No, what I want to talk about is this: If you are fat (like me) and yet, still think you are fabulous (like me) … how does that play when run up against a love interest who prefers non-fat, potentially less fabulous women.
I say potentially less fabulous because, let’s face it. A naturally skinny blonde is NOT gonna have the same issues with body image as those of us of a more curvy nature… and consequently… those of us who have come away from that with a sound and viable self-respect will by default have MORE depth to draw from. Argue what you will…. fat and fabulous beats skinny blonde hands down, every time, in that department.
So, that said, what if the guy you fall desperately in love with prefers the skinny blonde… and despite that glaring flaw, you have chosen to allow him to worship you anyway? Hmm…. I bet you haven’t thought of it that way. If you have, welcome to fabulous. If not… let’s chat.
My husband is Danish, and so his field of women has been saturated with the skinny blonde type. Danish women are naturally taller, thinner, and blonder than the average American chick. We live on convenience food and media. Danes… much less so. We are at a cultural disadvantage, but also, there are the genes. Scandinavian genes are just programmed for tall, skinny and blonde. It’s hard to fight nature. So he never did. He has always preferred a slightly boney, washed-out version of what I would call healthy… lol
Enter me. I am fat. There are no two ways about it. I have not always been fat, but I have almost always felt fat. So even when I weighed 125 pounds and was a size 6… I felt fat. My hips and ass have always been on the large size for my frame. Which is not a bad thing. I was voted “Best Ass” in my workplace when I was a teen. I still get compliments from men who prefer a larger, warmer woman. But I digress. When I was a small child, my grandmother watched me hop off a stool in her kitchen and told me I had inherited the “Brumley Basketball Butt”. Yup, round and bouncy… that is my ass. Was, is, will likely always be. When I was a teen, I wanted to model, but my mother told me I was “too hip-py”… Even though my collar bones were visible beneath my shirts. Yup… fat ass. What can I say?
So no matter how thin I have been, and I have been on the dangerous side of thinness for my frame… I have always had enough bounce to spare.
Enter life. Two disastrous marriages (I didn’t get enough abuse the first time around, figured I’d go for me more with hubby #2), three kids (whom I love dearly, but let’s face it… pregnancy + stress + bad marriage = fat), and decades of letting my self-esteem take daily beatings… I went from bouncy to fat. And I stayed fat.
I have dieted. I have lost it all. I have gained it all back. I know I can get thin. I just haven’t been able to STAY thin since my 20’s. I am actually working on it again now… but that is likely another few posts in the future…
So, I met my current husband (#3) after YEARS of nearly ecstatic single-hood. I spent years and time getting my head straight after the two decades of disaster following high school. I “found” me, I took care of ME…I really LOVED me. It was a lot of work to get there, believe me. Anyone coming out of an abusive childhood and abusive relationships knows how much work it is to get to a place where you LOVE yourself. I am amazed and grateful I was able to do so. THAT is likely another post, as well.
When I met my love, I was at the peak of dating. I had decided nearly a year earlier that I was done being single, that I had something to offer a relationship, and dammit… I wanted to be IN one! I had dated several guys, nothing serious. I met guys from work, friends of friends, online, you name it. I vowed to not let any chance pass me by. I was reading, “If the Buddha Dated” and if you get a chance, you should too. I was also reading Rori Raye (online dating guru), and if you get a chance, you should too. LOL
I had a LIST. I was talking to 27 guys on a regular basis (circular dating), and had a short list of 6 guys that I was pretty into. Along came Henning (lucky #7)… and I was hooked. From our first conversation, I was done for. But I played it cool and our friendship grew. He lived in Denmark, I lived in the USA… so I didn’t really place a lot of weight on a “relationship” happening. But then he was coming to the US for vacation… and mutual friends were pressuring us to hook-up. So I agreed to meet him.
From the moment I met him, I knew he was the guy I wanted. He was just the right combo of physical, mental and emotional traits that I admire. I never even considered, not for one second, that I wasn’t HIS. And that’s where this all gets interesting.
It never occurred to me, not during our visit (in which he spent the last hours in my bed, of course), not during the ensuing weeks, and then months of communication where we eventually decided to be a “thing” and ultimately that I should come to Denmark… not once during ALL of that time did it EVER occur to me that … perhaps I was not his ideal. I was THAT fabulous, in my own head. Really.
But then, during my first visit to Denmark, he let it slip one night during a very intense conversation, that I was not his type. That he had seen me, initially, as a fat house-wife type… definitely NOT girlfriend material.
Yeah. Wow. That’s what I said. I nearly dumped him right then. I spent the next day (I was meeting friends of his for the first time) playing nice. It was really hard, but I WAS stuck in Denmark with no exit ticket for a week or so… so I opted to give him a chance to redeem himself.
And… guess what? He never has. Not really. I married him anyway. Why? Because he loves me. He loves me as much as I love him. It stopped mattering to him that I was not his “ideal”… he had fallen in love with me in spite of the way I look (which, I must say, to me… is still pretty damn fabulous… but I AM partial to myself).
So here is the deal. He confessing his sins damaged me more than probably ANY of the abuse I suffered in my life. I ended up completely reevaluating how I saw myself. I dieted and lost weight, then gained it back over the following months. My skin broke out because I started doing shitty things to myself in the name of getting skinny… which, obviously never works. I ate junk. My blood pressure spiked. I ended up severely depressed. I even let him talk me into cutting my hair (don’t worry, I’m growing it back) I did more physical damage to my body than I had done since high school. But that was just surface damage. That the man I loved fell for me DESPITE his lack of initial attraction to me… that broke something inside of me, which I had to really work to fix. And make no mistake; it was MY job to fix it.
I had opened myself to this man, had removed layers and layers of armor that had been built up over the years… I laid myself bare before him, intentionally and mindfully… and he skewered me through the heart. And it still hurts. It does. I am not going to delude myself, or you, and say I am all better now. It can still bring me to tears, remembering that night. I have a raw place inside that can’t take very much tweaking or poking before it begins to bleed. The balance point of our relationship was his view of me at that time… and it could have gone either way, honestly.
But there is this… I AM fabulous, and he saw that. In spite of being fat, in spite of being not blonde, in spite of being not young… that being inside of him, which resides under HIS layers of armor, recognized ME. So I forgive him for being stupid. Mostly.
My message is this. If you are fabulous, if you DO really love yourself, if you really ARE that person that you would fall in love with… that is still no protection from the damage that can be done from within. Make no mistake. His lack of vision regarding me was all him. The DAMAGE that was caused… that was all me. I allowed myself to see ME through the eyes of someone else… and that… THAT… is the biggest danger to self-esteem.
Letting go of how others see you, even your nearest and dearest… and deciding that the person you see every day in the mirror only answers to YOU… THAT is the best gift you can give yourself. THAT is where self-esteem begins.