Recently I have put on a bit of weight. And by a bit, I mean a whopping 12 kgs. (27 pounds!) I have never really dealt with weight issues before, but as a pretty short gal, I seem to have ballooned in the last 2 years and am just getting wider, and wider. Most tragic of all, the weight seems to like hanging around my chin. Or shall I say chins?
A few weeks ago, I stepped on the scale for the first time in about a year and I genuinely thought the scale was broken. So I rushed to a second scale and alas, it was not. I felt sad, and confused, and devastated. But instead of confronting why I had put on weight (3 years of extreme stress, anxiety, comfort eating, and despair) I shrugged it off and made some self-deprecating jokes….. Jokes that were f**king mean, but somehow made me feel like I didn’t have to deal with it. Or perhaps made me weirdly think I was.
Yesterday I went to my besties birthday party and spent a good hour deciding what to wear. Old jeans no longer fit me, and I felt pretty hideous in everything else. But eventually, I settled on something that felt comfortable, even though I didn’t feel very good about myself. Nevertheless, I ended up having a brilliant time at the birthday, except I couldn’t stop talking about my bloody weight gain to anyone and everyone who would listen.
I bumped into an ex-boyfriend and told him all about it, I saw old friends and mentioned it to them, and I even told a guy from Tinder about the extra 12 kg’s I am hauling along – and all were very kind and lovely. But, why did I do this? Was it some weird thought of if I mention it first and get the elephant out the room (literally), then it’s less awkward? Did I want to declare it so they knew I had it under control? I wasn’t mindlessly piling on the pounds? Was there some power in me knowing about it? Would they feel less sorry for me? Was I now that funny fat chick as opposed to that sad soul who got a bit fat? I don’t know. But I am interested in why I felt this immense need to talk about it, justify it, and explain it. As if I needed a reason, an excuse, or a story. As if I was only worthy if my weight gain was a result of medication, or stress, or sadness?
I am a feminist, I studied Gender Studies, and I follow many inspirational and fierce womxn who have embarked on journeys of self-love. They bravely fight against societies damaging and stringent confines and proudly fight against a culture where body shaming is the norm. These womxn astound me and I believe in everything that they stand for, and yet, I find it so hard to feel that same self-love for myself. I find it so challenging to feel comfortable in my own skin when my physicality does not represent a desirable norm. A norm, in terms of weight, that I once happily and mindlessly embodied. But now I am no longer an embodiment of that, I am being so mean to myself. I hate body shaming culture, and yet I happily and cruelly shame myself?
Self-love is brilliant and empowering, but it’s also extremely difficult. I am not quite sure how to shut out the negative voices, how to take up space. I find myself wanting to shrink away and I am finding it hard to embrace where I am right now. So instead of practicing kindness and self-love, I keep making bad, mean, horrible jokes about how fat I am in an attempt to conceal how I really feel. (I mean look at my freaking chins comment at the start of this post) And the truth is I feel lost, and a bit lonely, and scared.
Self-depreciating humour seems funny initially, but it’s actually socially and psychologically damaging. So why do we do it and what are the consequences?
Abbey vermeal writes; “There are many causes that I think this humor could be attributed to: as a defense mechanism–if I make fun of myself, then others can’t–as an attempt to speak on an actual concern or insecurity that is easier to admit if disguised as a joke.”
It strangely allows us to voice that which haunts us, but it can cause long-term suffering and pain.
Jessamy Hibberd, a clinical psychologist shares;
‘These ‘harmless’ jabs mean you’re focussing on why you think you’re not doing well and accepting a negative commentary about yourself. In turn, this will have a negative impact on your mood, make it harder for you to gain confidence and build a realistic picture of your capabilities.’
So, I have decided to be kinder to myself and treat myself as I would a friend. When a friend picks up weight, I hardly, if ever notice, and it in no way diminishes my love or respect for them. So why am I not treating myself this way? To love and nurture the space I am in, and to allow myself to heal without the cruelty of my inner critic. I am hurting myself, and breaking my own heart. It’s time to love this vessel that allows me this precious life and to stop being so nasty to myself.
I am going to Thailand on Thursday and in the weeks building up to the trip I have been dreading the thought of showing my body, wearing my bikini, and exposing myself. But perhaps, this is the best thing to happen? A chance to put my goals into action. To enjoy myself no matter what the scale, or the mirror says. To truly love myself unconditionally. I know in my head that my value is not dependent on my physical appearance, but it’s hard to get that message to the heart. But I have to try, because I am breaking this little heart of mine, and it so desperately needs to be loved and held. By me.
If anyone has any self-love tips, I would absolutely love to hear them?