I sometimes struggle with my body image. In my 33 years of life, I have seen bodies constantly judged near and far including my own. In my case, always being judged for being too big or that dreaded “F” word….Fat. It’s not a new world problem. I have many memories that stem from my childhood. That’s right…finding out that being bigger than everyone is something “bad” at the age of five. Where did this come from?
My first recollection of body image was when I was in first grade. So, 27 years ago to be exact. I was the girl made fun of for having a “fat mom.” The kids used to tease me on the playground. I am not even sure how anyone knew that my mom was plus size being that she worked during the day and never volunteered at school. All I remember was that I would tell the kids, “Stop it.” And one day another girl’s mom came to class who also happened to be plus size. “Erin, your fat mom is here!” “That’s not my mom,” I shouted. I think after that instance the teasing quit. Either the teacher heard it or I was known for being a tattletale – I probably told on the kids when I had had enough.
My next memory was in fourth grade. There was a boy I liked. We actually liked each other back in first grade, but then the years in between of boys are gross set in. I remember he was in another class and I had a messenger go and tell him that I liked him. The messenger came back and said something like, “A.J. thinks you might be fat, so he’s not sure if he can be your boyfriend.” I remember him coming over and looking at me. I happen to be wearing black jeans that day (yep they slim at every age), so I looked thinner. I was deemed not fat and we became boyfriend and girlfriend for a week. I can still remember that feeling of worry that I was too big. For the record, I have always been a bigger girl. You can see on old pictures that my bones are wider and I have a different shape. I never really noticed I was bigger until kids started pointing it out.
Middle school and high school were that typical awkward age where everyone struggles with body image. Bullying was a thing back in the day also. I had the unfortunate experience of having my locker next to a body bully throughout seventh and eighth grades. Middle school was already awkward enough and then I have this guy telling me to “move your fat butt” or calling me “big” when he was trying to get into his locker many times a week. You know how skinny those middle school lockers are? If every kid came at the same time, no one would be able to get into the lockers. I hated seeing him, hated that lockers went in alphabetical order, and I think finally one of the popular girls told him to stop being mean to me. Bless her kind heart.
Luckily moving onto high school, a few people came between our last names so I never had to be next to his locker ever again! High school was fine for me. I did sports and weight training. I had an athletic build and tons of muscle. I didn’t really care about how others viewed my body. If any personal issues with body image, they stemmed from my own personal feelings. I had minimal boyfriends and didn’t even care about the opposite sex. I was really into my friends and my sports. Being a size 12/13 throughout high school meant nothing to me really. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone and no one made me to feel that being a little bigger than average was anything for everyone to know about.
Fast forward to today. I am a plus size mom.
I am my mother, the mother that kids used to make fun of when I was in first grade. Black pants won’t hide my wider hips and my thighs that touch. I have had children come up to me on the playground telling me that “I am BIG and kind of fat.” I am praying no one is making fun of my boys at school because of my size. And I do not know how my boys view me. I think my one son has called me chubby once and was immediately told by his daddy to never say that about your mommy. My whole family isn’t cookie cutter. We have many different looks in our family. Different sizes, shapes and colors.
After having three kids in four years, my body and mind just couldn’t keep the extra weight off. I am a comfortable size 18/20 now. I can’t usually shop at the cute little boutiques, I always search for an XXL at Target (only sometimes it fits) and I do feel bummed when I can’t find something I like in my size. I feel self-conscious at times when I actually have the time to think about myself and give myself self-care.
In mom world, I sometimes feel judged. I am not the hottie mom at the gym, nor the mom who looks to have stepped off the cover of vogue magazine. I will never be, it’s not in my genetics. Sometimes I feel overlooked as a mom friend. Just because a person is plus size does not mean they are unhealthy. I have a pretty clean bill of health and so do my children. I do need to lose weight to maintain that health as I age. Easier said than done, right? For the past seven years, I’ve given 99.9% of my heart, mind and body to my kids. My body hasn’t been taken care of like it should be. I finally have all my kids in school so I can put some time in for myself. It will take time, but I know I can do get to my goals with the support of my family and friends.
My husband: The sweetest man. You see, I think when we started our relationship we were the same weight. He’s six inches taller, but pretty much the same weight. Ten years later and I weigh more than him. To be honest, it bothers me. I am the bigger one in the relationship, but it doesn’t matter to him. He still thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world. He loves me for me and loves me the way I am now. I mentioned something to him about how I looked before we had kids, if he wished I could go back to looking like I did before. He said, “No, you sacrificed your body for one of the greatest loves, our children.” Bless his heart, my kind and good husband.
So to end this entry, what do I want to see?
I want moms to see moms for who they are, not what they look like. We are all moms just trying to get to the end of the day with the kids fed and no one injured in the ER. I will tell you that struggling with your weight and having any kind of addiction to food is a very hard thing to overcome. I know from personal experience. You need to eat to live, but sometimes you are living to eat. That’s another post for another day, but there may be battles that you cannot see or a health issue you cannot see, so please be kind. We all have our own battles, but the kindness of others can put the smallest cracks in those battles, with the hope of one day breaking free from that battle.
As for your children, please be mindful of what you are saying around them. Kids pick up what you are saying. Calling someone fat or any other similar adjective may be brought to school or to daycare. If a family member says it, they may think it’s okay or an acceptable thing to call or say to someone. I still remember the hurt from 27 years ago when a bunch of first graders were calling my mom fat and making fun of us. Not cool, and I won’t forget it. But from the pain, I can teach my children how to be respectful to all so that none of their classmates will be impacted by their words. It will stop there with my children.
And for my other plus size moms….you are beautiful, you are you, and you are a good mom. Don’t ever forget that.