Growing up a chubby girl in the Midwest, the concept of self-love was something that I didn’t realize was an option for me. Having been put in Weight Watchers for the first time at 12, I learned that numbers on the scale and the tag of my pants were the measures of worth.
With damaged self esteem at such a young age, the following years were full of crash diets, binging, drinking, questionable dating choices, and plummeting self-worth. This was my reality until my 30’s hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was preparing for my wedding, and with everything involved in that I was just done with the cycle. I was tired of it all. Tired of obsessing, tired of not believing my awesome fiancée could really love me, and really just tired of spending energy on being mean to myself. Finally, I decided that I look how I look, and that I could not keep setting unattainable goals only to fail and hate myself for it.
I started practicing self-love and self-care.
I started measuring my worth on things outside of the weight on a scale, and it turns out there was a lot to love, especially my big ol’ booty. Four years later, here are the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- I deserve to experience Joy. This is a big one. After years of feeling as though I wasn’t allowed to be happy as long as I was fat, the realization that I can be happy AND fat was a strange moment. It was one of those moments you see in cartoons when the huge eyed mouse has a lightbulb pop up over his head, and everything changes. I found the point of practicing self-care and self-love: claiming happiness and acceptance for yourself regardless of your size, shape, height, job, gender, relationships, and all. You deserve to experience joy as you are right now.
- It is ok to say no. Sometimes doing what is best for you is saying no to someone else. And that is OK. You don’t have to please everyone else all the time, you are allowed to do what is in your best interest even if it is saying no.
- My body is amazing. Am I fat? Yes. Am I healthy? Also yes. I have strong arms from carrying my kid. I have a butt that my husband is obsessed with. All my parts are in perfect working order allowing me to cook, garden, dance, laugh, binge watch, and so much more. My body is pretty damn awesome.
- It takes work. Like any other relationship, loving yourself takes work. Some days it is a struggle, and some days it is easy. I promise you though, on the days that it is a struggle if you can find even ONE thing to love about yourself your entire perspective will shift and it is worth it.
- Life doesn’t start at the end of a diet. Here’s the deal: you are alive and living today, so live your life right now. Stop waiting to lose however many pounds, stop waiting for the perfect job, stop waiting for the perfect relationship. Because you know what? Perfection is fluid. There is not only one ideal of perfection, and right now, in this moment you are perfect. Live your life, don’t wait.
These are the lessons I’ve learned so far, and know that there are still many more to come on the journey through life. I know that if I can continue to love myself and give myself the care I need, my capacity to love and care for others will only grow alongside my happiness. I wish you joy today, so go on with your bad self and radically love you.