Self-confidence is trendy, and size doesn’t matter– they say. I’m not talking about a little junk in the trunk. As Meghan Trainor taught us, a bit of that bass ain’t a bad thing. But big is not beautiful. Fat is not fabulous. How could I be so insensitive? After all, beauty is subjective, so who am I to judge? Before you rush to expletives, hear me out…
It’s true our society is obsessed with size. As a reformed anorexic, I’m well acquainted with the size-equals-status quo. I spent years in starvation mode, depriving myself of sustenance for the sake of appearances. I was afraid of food, and rather enjoyed the feeling of my stomach walls clamping shut. Starvation felt safe. I was in control, and no all-you-can-eat buffet was going to take me from my size zeros. But genetically, I’m not so tiny. In fact, many of the gals in my genepool are short and “thick.” Although I have a small-ish frame, I’m no size zero.
The healthiest me, the one who works out and eats well, is slim not skinny — never skinny. So why was I forcing my body to be something it was not? Why do any of us trade who we truly are for what we view are the socially acceptable versions of ourselves?
We live in a world where authenticity is sometimes awkward, grueling, and so incredibly difficult for those who are different. We’re suffocating ourselves with limited beliefs about what we should be. We like to categorize things, put people in tidy boxes because if we can’t put a label on it, we don’t know how to rate it. But there’s more to humanity than skin color, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, economic class and size.
While all of that bothers me, it’s not the sole reason I dislike the big-is-beautiful trend. The truth is, obesity is a problem and big is not beautiful…nor is it ugly. Also, it does not represent lazy. Like skinny, big is yet another label, a distinction, a term that we can allow to be significant or utterly meaningless. When it comes to self-respect, big shouldn’t ever be part of the equation. Nor should small, because it works both ways. We can say big is beautiful, or skinny is sexy. In either case, we are judging by appearances. It all comes down to this:
Weight does not equal worth…but it can make a great difference in health and quality of life. So let’s never mind the way big looks. Let’s talk about what it does, how it feels, and what it takes from us physically when our bodies are “big.”
My grandmother was my hero. I loved her mind, her voice, her laughter, her ability to make me feel like the most beloved being on earth. I didn’t concern myself with her size. So what if she was a little “fluffy,” or as she liked to put it, “pleasingly plump.” That just meant my arms had to stretch a little wider when I hugged her, and she took more space on the sofa when we sat and read our poetry. She told me I was a brilliant writer, and one of her favorite people in the world. And she was mine. Fat? Oh, I suppose she was. She was fond of fudge, cookies, and cheese puffs in the afternoon.
But she was happy. Diabetic? Yes, she was insulin dependent. Her excess weight and lack of exercise in her later years also left her homebound, then landed her at a nursing home, in a wheelchair, and battling Alzheimer’s Disease.
Fat is fine, they say? I disagree. Perhaps a slimmer grandma would have had similar problems… but probably not. We know what studies say about obesity, and I won’t delve into that, though the research exists.
So here’s when size matters:
Size matters when it steals your mobility, or damages your health. It matters if it makes you feel insecure, less than your best, or afraid to pursue opportunities and adventures.
I can’t help but think that if my sweet plump grandmother would have been more health-conscious, I could have had more time with her. She might not have spent her last years in a wheelchair, in a nursing home, poking insulin into her gut.
And that’s why size matters — sometimes. Love your body, friends, but remember to be good to it, too.