Weight, Struggle and Love

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I find women’s clothing sizing methods to be extremely bizarre. You go from Girl’s sizes to Junior’s sizes, to Women’s sizes and on to Plus sizes. Girl’s sizes are identified by even numbers, Junior’s by odd numbers, and for Women’s and Plus sizes, it’s back to even numbers. Seriously? Who came up with this?

All my life I have struggled with my weight. I am five feet two inches tall with German bones. And when you’re only 5’2″, a few pounds up or down on the scale makes a big difference in your appearance.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of my body and when you’re self-aware from a very young age, it has an effect on your self-image. For me, my physical body-image has almost always been negative.

In junior high school, I was in the double digit sizes for Junior’s clothing (size 11 or 13) and for someone who’s 5’2″, this is chubby. I was painfully aware of my weight while going through puberty which did a number on my self-esteem. By the time I entered high school, I was sure that no boy would ever be interested in me and that I would never get married (which was extremely tragic to me because what I  wanted most was to get married and have children).

The summer between eighth and ninth grade was kind to me and somehow I managed to lose some weight. When I went new clothes shopping for my Freshman year, to my surprise, I was a size nine! I was ecstatic and my self-esteem was boosted significantly. I concentrated on my studies and tried not to concern myself with boys. In the middle of my Sophomore year, I got a part-time job as a file clerk in an office. I was quiet, kept mostly to myself and most of my co-workers thought that I was in college. I didn’t tell them otherwise.

When I started my Senior year of high school I was a size five. Imagine my elation. Even a fair number of schoolmates noticed…and commented. But the boys still avoided me. I remember talking to my mom about this. She chuckled a bit and said, “Honey, the boys avoid you because they are afraid of you!” What the heck? I thought she was crazy.  She then explained to me that my self-perception was askew and that I was so used to seeing myself as “chubby” that I couldn’t see myself for what I was. And according to her, I was petite, thin and full of sex appeal.  She said that this coupled with the fact that I was a serious-minded girl made high school boys “turn tail and run”. What?! Now it was my turn to laugh.

The funny thing is, she was right. On graduation day a boy I had a crush on during Freshman year walked up to me, gave me a hug and said, “I wish I had asked you out but I was always afraid of you.” Oh my goodness, I thought I was going to fall over! Instead, I laughed and told him that it was okay because there was a guy that I worked with who wasn’t afraid of me.

I was still working for the company I had gotten a job with during Sophomore year and by Senior year I had come out of my shell a little bit and had gotten to know a few people. One in particular. He was some years older but took a genuine interest in me. Some may think that’s creepy but that man and I got married.

After I gave birth to our first daughter (Girl1), my mom took me shopping for my birthday. I needed some new clothes because not many of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Before I got pregnant I was still a size five but four months after I had my daughter, I was a size two, the smallest I had ever been. And can you believe that I still complained about my thighs?

It’s been a long time since I’ve fit into a size two and I have spent my whole life learning to be confident in and with my body. I still fail in this area at times but I try not to obsess over my clothing size and concentrate more on choosing things that flatter my body. And perhaps more importantly, I am confident in who I am.

My sweetheart has seen me at my best and at my worst, has loved me through thick and thin, through three pregnancies and encourages me when my skewed self-perception gets the better of me.  It’s been thirty years and he is clearly still physically attracted to me and tells me on a regular basis that I am beautiful. He is my biggest fan and my longest admirer. He is mine. And really, what more could a girl ask for?

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