Once upon a time there was a woman who weighed 273 pounds. Always a chunky child and teenager, she had gradually dieted and gained all the way up to this weight. Throughout the years, she would tell herself she was a good person – fun, kind, gentle – her only flaw was being overweight. People would sometimes taunt, first impressions were sometimes critical, sometimes she would not go to an event for feeling fat and unattractive, but still she carried on. Life was good – she was married, had a good job, great friends – if only she could lose the extra weight.
She would look at herself in the mirror, weigh herself endlessly while on a diet, or hide it and not weigh herself for months while she struggled with her weight. At size 24 she was definitely a full figured woman – an intelligent, good women with a burden she saw and felt every day.
Throughout her journey she realized that she must love herself and take care of herself, even if she did not love the body she was currently in. It became clear to her that unless she could look at her body as a wonderful carrying case for her soul and mind, she would not treat it with the love and respect it deserved. "It gets me around everyday, it holds my heart and organs in place, it keeps me breathing, seeing, feeling, touching, smiling, laughing, living – without it, I do not exist”.
Her life began to change.
The process was slow and steady. Eating well, exercising when she became able, taking care of and loving herself – including loving her body. Over time, she realized that this did not have to mean that she loved to look at herself or that body parts miraculously looked pleasing to her eye; but her large thighs, wiggly arms and large stomach with stretch marks were a part of her, and if she was not okay with them, how could she love herself fully? So the moments when she would look at her body in disgust, anger or hate became less and less until gradually her body became just that – hers… with its flaws. It was her, and she was okay with that.
Happily and with time, she lost the weight and became more active and fit. She began to enjoy doing things that she could not previously do: walk hills, cross her legs, climb stairs, ski, go to parties and not hide (in fact she became very sociable), go clothes shopping without cringing… and her body became her friend.
Two years ago, she realized that she truly had come to terms with her body. In the bathtub one evening she was playing with her stomach (by now she had lost more than 110 pounds), and when she squished all the loose skin, grabbing both sides, she noticed the form of a chicken! (yes, a chicken). By squishing the sides, the legs were in her hands, the chicken’s breasts popped up in the center nice and plump. She erupted in laughter – her skin had become a whole chicken! She laughed and laughed as she continued to manipulate her tummy without an ounce of disgust… only enjoyment at making shapes with her loose belly. The realization dawned of how far she had come.
Last year, she had a tummy tuck, as her skin no longer served a purpose. This year, she is going to honour her self-acceptance with a tattoo on her tummy – yes, a chicken! – so that she will always remember her former tummy with laughter and meaning.
***This is my story. And I hope that by sharing my personal journey and ‘bathtub’ experience, that you may be helped on the journey to loving and accepting your body. This year, make that your resolution. Whatever weight you are, love yourself and learn to touch your parts that you wish looked different. They are parts of you and you are a wonderful, total package. We all have something, not necessarily related to weight (nose, chin), to come to terms with. And your journey will begin….
I wish you all true acceptance and love for yourself this year. Happy 2008!
If you wish to tell your story, or have comments on this article please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. I will be posting my ‘chicken’ tattoo in mid-January on my website, www.theshapeyouarein.com