Do these arms make my butt look big? 🙂
Ah the positive side to big arms, make the butt look small, cute and round…like the rest of me.
It’s SUMMER, get out and enjoy yourself!
Remember this PSA from the 80s?
The tagline of the commercial came to mind as I read this article about how self hate is passed on to young women by their mothers.
The author, in a form of a letter to her “mum”, describes how she saw her mother as a “beautiful – in every sense of the word” until the day her mother called herself “fat, ugly and horrible”…and it had to be true because “mothers don’t lie”.
Tears streamed down my face as I read the article, and not for myself or for my own daughter (as I have no children), but for the many women I know who struggle with loving and accepting themselves. I was blessed to have a mother who was able to instill in me a very high level of self confidence. This was quite an accomplishment given I was an obese child. I honestly do not know how she did it, nor does she. She even ponders where all my confidence comes from, typically when she questions my decisive life decisions aka when we get in an argument. I’ve actually said to her “I learned this by watching you” or “you created this, you deal with it”. My mom managed to balance making accommodations for me as an obese child while still acknowledging my weight was a problem. Most importantly she never let me use my weight as an excuse, and she fought for what she believed was in my best interest. I took note of that, and that developed the advocate within me.
I am the youngest of five children. My mom, being the good Catholic mother she was, enrolled us all in the local Catholic school system. One problem, at age 5 I was already obese to the point the school uniforms were not available in sizes to fit me. My mother made arrangements for a family friend to make a uniform jumper for me. There was no fuss over this, I remember wearing a plain blue jumper to school until my special jumper was ready. I only recall one classmate asking me why I didn’t have a uniform, and it was a friendly inquiry. The next year when it came time for my First Communion, the same family friend made my dress. It was “Especially Made” for me for a special occasion of course, no fuss or comments about my size.
Some people may think that by making such accommodations my mother was enabling my weight problem. I assure you, she was not. This very same year, 2nd grade, was actually when I first learned I was fat. I guess my older siblings telling me I “weighed 100lbs” never sank in as a reality. But then again I was a child, I had no concept of what a normal # weight was and I was active. We didn’t have 24 hour cartoon channels or video games, I rode my bike a lot, I loved recess! The school nurse attempted a weight intervention with me, but she was unsuccessful. Mostly because even though I now knew I was FAT, and I looked different than my peers, my FAT didn’t bother me. The following year my mom signed me up for a 6 week kids weight loss class at the local hospital. I remember the discussion about the choices we make for lunch, and it was assumed was all drank chocolate milk, I think I was the only kid in the course who already drank white milk, who liked vegetables, and who was somewhat active. Years later my mother told me the course instructors told her I’d “always be fat”. I was a bit stunned, but I guess their rationale was the reality, my weight did not bother me enough to change.
My mom still did not waiver, I had to walk to school, I had a paper route, and sometimes she just bluntly told me “you cannot eat the same as your friends”. In middle school my Girl Scout uniform had to be made. In high school my marching band uniform was altered to the point no more changes could be made and I eventually wore an alternate uniform. When I got my first real job, at Taco Bell, again there was not a uniform immediately available in my size so I wore a solid color shirt until a uniform was available. As an adult weighing more than 500lbs, when my best friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding I did as I knew how to do and had a dress made in the same fabric and color as the other bridesmaids.
My participation in an activity or major life event never hinged on my appearance. My mother saw the importance of my participating in LIFE verses trying to make an issue about my size. After all, the reality is my weight DID indeed keep from many other activities, I would have loved to have participated. Show choir is one that instantly comes to mind, I never even attempted to audition because I knew I could not dance, reality might be I didn’t not sing well enough either. I also never auditioned for the high school musicals, even through I had performed in several children theater plays. I did however, work the front of the house, or backstage for all the musicals. When I got the job at Taco Bell, my mother firmly told me that if I quit the job as might as well not even come home. So despite the difficult time I had being 400lbs and on my feet for 6-8 hour shifts, I worked and I was a good worker.
The point is, already being limited by my weight in many activities my mother made sure I was able to participate in life, the alternative would have been to do nothing? To sit at home and watch TV? If you think telling me I could not do something because I did not have the right outfit was going to motivate to change my appearance, HA! It was just going to motivate me to figure out a way to get it done despite my appearance.
Going back to grade school. Once in my Brownie Girl Scout troop the activity was crab walk. In order to get the in crab position the leader told us to do a back bend until our hands touched the ground behind us. I tried but was unable to do a back bend, the leader quickly told me I’d just have to sit out of the activity. Instead, I got down on the ground and pushed myself up into the crab position. There was more than one way to get to the goal. Tell me it can’t be done, I’ll figure out a way to do it. I am an excellent problem solver, perhaps that’s due to a life time of accommodating my weight, but it’s an excellent skill much needed in today’s society.
It seems I developed a lot of my current “fight” at a young age. It was also during second grade that I saw my mother stand up for what she believed was in my best interest. I had been placed in the lowest reading level group, during class one day the teacher told me to stand up and turn around to read aloud to the class. I did not face the direction she wanted me to face so she grabbed my arm and turned me. She squeezed my arm as she did so, and I began to cry. She immediately made me write a note home to my mother stating I was crying in class. Upon reading my note my mother asked me why I was crying and I told her that the teacher had pinched my arm. My mom wrote a note back to the teacher stating that I had told her the teacher had pinched my arm. The teacher was told me “You write a note back to your mother and tell her you lied to her, your arms are TOO FAT TO PINCH.” So I sat there sobbing writing another note to my mom telling her I lied, yet I was not able to correctly spell the words for the note. Once my mother got the second note, she was more determined to get to the bottom of not only the incident but why I was in the class and not being taught at the level of my real potential.
But here is the key, she did not storm into the school and raise hell, she followed the procedure, she spoke to the Principal, discussed her concerns with my overall treatment and asked what it would take to get me out of that class. The answer was I had to be tutored over Christmas break so that I could be moved to the intermediate reading class. Now, my mom did not believe I needed tutoring, but she did as requested. After the new year I was in the intermediate class, and I was getting high grades. Actually, at the end of the year I was one of the outstanding scores on the standardized test for second grade. But that was not the end of it, my mother moved me and my two sisters to public schools after that year, and we all flourished in the new environment.
I can tell many stories of my mother taking the same approach and attitude when something needed TO GET DONE. No, she was not an overprotective or “helicopter mom” (that term or idea didn’t exist back then). She just took the reins when needed, sorted out a situation, and got decisions made.
I am proud to say I am a lot like my mother! She taught me the important things in life, appearance should not keep you from enjoying life, and be strong and stand up for what your believe is right.
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s SUPER SARAH!
SUPER MORBIDLY OBESE
It’s when you’re so FAT you’re past the standard Morbidly Obese category and are now SUPER Morbidly Obese. SMO is having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 50 or over.
Why SUPER? Trust me it’s not SUPER. Especially not for me. Please do not read this wrong. I am me, I LOVE me, others love me. BUT it’s frustrating when many do not understand or relate to my situation.
As much self confidence as I have, I’ve actually never felt like I “fit in”. I’m unique, yes. That’s me. I can relate to well to others, I have always had many friends and acquaintances. I was never a part of the popular crowd in school, but I also wasn’t shunned or teased a lot like many overweight or obese kids. I was a band geek, I had my crew, I mean I was a DRUMMER…drummers are cool. Except I played the xylophone which meant I was on the sideline, so avoided the whole “marching” part of marching band. So I wasn’t really a part of the drum line, I actually sucked at keeping a steady beat, but I could whack them mallets. WATCH OUT!
It’s a theme throughout my life. I’m sorta part of the group, I can relate, but not completely. We often think everyone of certain groups should “get along” after all they have a shared common experience. Um…just look at families and you’ll understand why that theory is not true.
It’s especially not true in the world of obesity or weight loss surgery. While I have been obese 34 out of 35 years of my life (I was born a relatively normal 8lbs), I will say I have been a “member” of the obesity/weight lose surgery community for nearly a decade. That was the time I was exploring having RNY gastric bypass and joined an online weight lose surgery community. At first is was an AWESOME experience, I met so many other people LIKE ME, struggling with weight and seeking a solution. I met several people who had surgery with the same surgeon I would have and was able to find out specifics about his post-op expectations and support. The site, the community support was very helpful. Throughout the years I have made many wonderful, and now long time friends from the internet.
However, I also discovered the harsh reality of judgement within the WLS community. Since my highest weight was 502lbs, even losing a HALF my body weight, still left me in the Morbidly Obese category. I was once blamed for “eating myself THAT fat”, by a fellow WLSer. Well, isn’t that nice and understanding and supportive. Of course, I also have Lipedema, which I did not know before undergoing WLS. So I’ve never been a SUCCESSFUL weight loss surgery patient, since I never reached “goal”, then I also regained 100lbs. So I must not be following the “rules”. Bad Sarah, such a failure.
Well a failure to people who measure success by weight and size. Not everyone thinks that way, as a matter of fact there is an entire Fat Acceptance movement. Fat Acceptance, where the name guarantees I’ll be accepted among them because I’m FAT, right?
I prefer Me Acceptance as I know many normal sized women who struggle with accepting themselves. I accept me and my fat, but I was also in denial about my HEALTH for many years. However, I’ve found that among the FA community I am judged because I had weight loss surgery. I attempted to not be fat, so I turned my back on the cause? Trust me baby got plenty of “back” to spare. I also have a different perspective about obesity being categorized as a disease and considered a disability. Those beliefs are based on my own personal experiences. I understand the fear and concern with negative labels, but I am also aware of the rights and power such labels can provide when needed. Sadly, I have needed both in my life, and to those who don’t understand, be thankful you’ve never been in the situations I’ve faced.
I feel like I’m stuck between two “communities” whose intentions are ones of empowerment and support, and yet because I do not fit specific expectations I am not fully accepted or understood. All I ask is before judging try to consider the other person’s perspective. I blog to share my story, I know I risk judgement by putting personal information out for public interpretation. I’m willing to take the risk for the chance to open some minds and eyes.
More awareness, to me, that would be SUPER.
I broke my blog yesterday. Well my friend made me break my blog. I was woken up by her text informing me I needed to permalink my urls. Whatever that means. No, she made sure to explain why I needed to do so, and included a helpful link to how to complete the task. I am above average computer savvy, and if I don’t know how to do something I will tinker and Google until I figure it out. My boyfriend is my IT department, he supports my desire to blog and kindly did the work to put my blog on a server and get me “set up”. While he is helpful, and a go to person when there are issues, I want to learn and understand this blog stuff on my own. So permalink url – I got this!
Click here, click there and bam DONE. I’m on separate IMs with friend and boyfriend. I quickly ask my friend to check a link for me. At the same time I proudly let boyfriend know of my new blog geek tech savvy status. Except well…404 Error. Yeah, as friend is telling me the link didn’t work. Boyfriend replies “can’t do that on the fly, it will give your links errors”. Yeah, now you tell me. And hey if you’re my IT why wasn’t this DONE when you set up my blog? And where’s my owner’s manual? I can go zero to frustrated in seconds. He actually teases me about how “someone so motivated and determined can get frustrated so easily”. He then says, “I’ll fix it tomorrow…off to class then work.” TOMORROW? I quickly, undo what I did and asked friend to check link and whew my blog was back to working order. I apologized to boyfriend, *slapped my hands* for messing around with my blog and told him I’d go eat my orange juice cereal.
Orange juice cereal? Yes, orange juice cereal, the breakfast of persistence. Ok, really the breakfast of impatience.
When I was three (yes I have a VERY good memory of my childhood, of everything really), my dad was making me breakfast one morning. He had poured me a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice but something distracted him before he could put milk on my cereal. Since I could not pour the gallon of milk by myself (I might have spilled that and made a mess), I opted instead to pour my glass of orange juice on my cereal. Liquid is liquid right? Of course, my dad was not happy and would not let me waste the cereal so I had to eat it, orange and all. To this day I do not like orange juice.
So I started thinking, WOW, I was that impatient at age 3? Patience is not a virtue I have, I know this, it’s weird to look back and see evidence of such trait when I was a toddler. I struggle with finding a balance between if you want something make it happen, and “anything worth having is worth waiting for”…I mean which is it? I know it depends on the situation. And it is a balance. Most of all try to gather as much information as possible and make an informed decision. My frustration typically stems from me doing JUST THAT and things still not working. Tech stuff is the worse, I once took a website design course and it put my laptop in a lot of danger of going out the window on several occasions.
Yes, I can be impatient but it’s because I’m doing the work to get things done, so I want it done and I want to do it correctly. I’m not just sitting around waiting for good things to come to me, I’m seeking them out, inviting them in. I’m researching, I’m learning, I’m trying. When I think of all I’ve learned through the challenges I’ve over come I realize with every struggle I build upon my skill set.
My mentor once said of me “a challenge is just Sarah’s next accomplishment.” True. I might get frustrated, I might need to ask for help and guidance but in the end I will succeed.
So maybe every once in awhile I have to “eat my orange juice cereal”, wouldn’t it be worse to go through life hungry?
I wish I could bottle my confidence and have Dove sell the sh!t
They say women will argue about anything, and that was evident this past week as an online battle brewed after the release of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches video. I wanted to write about the video sooner, but I’m glad life got in the way and I waited, because the chatter and discussion that has occurred makes me wonder, why do we care so much about what other people think of our looks? Why is there so much talk about the definition of beauty when everyone has different tastes and preferences?
When I first saw the Dove video I shared it on my Facebook page and commented that my picture on the left would probably look BETTER than the one described by the stranger. I’m beautiful, I know I’m beautiful and that is all that matters…to ME. Do I think everyone thinks I’m beautiful? No, I’m not vain. I’m realistic. My features do not appeal to everyone, but I learned long ago that I can only control what I was given and trying to please or impress EVERYONE is not possible, so I focus on what makes ME feel beautiful and not worry so much about what other people think of my appearance. Especially people whose opinions mean NOTHING in my daily life.
OMG, look at her socks!
Yes. Socks. It was the first week of my Sophmore year in high school, I probably weighed 350lbs, if not 400lbs. Wearing stylish clothes was not an easy task, options were limited due to my size, and family income. However, my mom always made sure we had a few new outfits to wear back to school. This day I was proudly wearing navy slacks (securely pegged and cuffed), and a rugby type shirt with navy, green, and hot pink stripes. I loved my outfit, I thought I looked stylish. We had to order the pants through a special Plus Size catalog and I was relieved they fit! During history class I was talking with my friends and overheard “oh my god, look at her socks” and noticed the girl was pointing my direction. I thought, what’s wrong with my SOCKS? They are JCPenney socks! They are just typical white socks??? I was so proud of my outfit, yet this girl found SOMETHING she didn’t like about it and made negative comment.
At that moment I realized no matter how hard I might try to impress others there will always be someone, or something negative to be said. I was not bothered by the comment, actually the rest of the year my best friend and I had a running joke when we saw this person, my friend would say “Sarah, are your socks ok?” Really, no tears were shed over someone judging my socks.
And from the other perspective, I do not give much thought to the positive comments and compliments I receive. Why? Because people often lie just to make people feel better and I do not need boost myself up on fakeness and lies. Growing up as an obese child I heard the phrase “You have such a pretty face, it’s such a shame.” Wait? What? Was that a compliment or a put down? What’s a shame? It’s a shame that I have a pretty face? Or it’s a shame that I’m fat?
Of course not everyone who gives a compliment is lying. And I often struggle to accept compliments, and not question the intention of the person giving it. It is hard. What I am talking about it not easy, even for me. The looks I get from others do sting, being judged negatively in the workplace because of my appearance hurts beyond emotionally but financially.
I learned not to value or devalue my self worth based on what others thought about me…period. I do not think I’m beautiful, I KNOW I’m beautiful. I am confident, smart, funny, and I have pretty eyes, a bright smile, and cute dimples. Those are the FIRST things I notice when I see a picture of myself. If prompted to find negatives I could comment about the break-out on my chin and my overgrown eyebrows. It’s funny, I took this no make-up picture specifically for this blog post to show the REAL me, then I realized I was still wearing my blue contact lenses and promptly took them out and retook the pictures. The REAL natural ME.
Saying I do not care about what others think of my appearance does not mean I do not take pride in how I look. There are also times when appearance matters, such as, work or special occasions. Self-confidence and pride in oneself allows for the inner beauty to shine through.
Self confidence is REAL beauty.
Of all the beauty posts I’ve seen in the past week, Colleen Clark comic gets it right: Our bodies do not define us.