Some wishes DO come true!

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

Somewhere, over the rainbow....

When I first found the Fatosphere back in October of last year, I wasn’t looking for a place full of righteous indignation.  I wasn’t looking to become an activist.  No, my initial reaction was much more self-centered than that.

I just wanted to like myself.

I had spent so long absolutely abhorring myself that I was exhausted with it.  I was just so tired of looking in the mirror and saying those hateful things to myself.  Some part of my brain knew that this wasn’t a healthy way of thinking, but the rest of my brain said “but we don’t know any other way to think!” When I found the Fatosphere, and saw that it was filled with people of all shapes and sizes saying that being fat was actually okay, and that liking myself as I was wasn’t a crazy thought, I seriously thought I’d found my lifeline.

Here were people that were saying that I didn’t have to lose weight to become an acceptable human being – even to myself.  I didn’t have to hate everything about myself simply because I didn’t fit some unrealistic, unattainable (for 99.999999% of the world’s population) “ideal.”  I had the right to expect to be treated with respect and dignity just because I exist.  Because I am a human being.  I am a whole person, with strengths and weakness, with thoughts and feelings.  I just happen to also be fat.  That fatness is only a physical characteristic – it is not now, never has been nor ever will be the sum total of what it is that is “me.”

But all I wanted was to be able to say “I like myself.”  And mean it.

Very slowly at first, I started to feel better about myself.  But choosing to immerse myself in the on-line presence of people like me was bound to do that.

Then the rollercoaster that is my life took a downward spiral for a little while, and I didn’t even touch my computer for 4 months.  Not even to check my email.

Then in the spring, something in my head just snapped and part of my brain said to me: “you KNOW what you need to do.  You need to get back in the Fatosphere and back into blogging.  You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you do.”

And I did.  Part of me felt apprehensive – I’d suddenly dropped off the face of the Fatosphere for months and here I was, about to jump right back in with both feet.  How was I going to face the inevitable questions* about why I just disappeared like that?  But I knew that I had to just let come what may, because for my own mental health, I needed to get back into it.

Around the same time, I joined the Fatshionista community on LiveJournal.  Posting pictures of myself took a lot of courage, but it was so good for me.  Again with the mental health.  Seeing all these women – of all ranges of fat; from what I would think of as “totally NOT fat” to the higher end of the fat spectrum – and realizing that they were ALL beautiful, all in their own way, went a long way in re-programming my brain to think “well, if they’re all beautiful, why can’t I be, too?”

And there’s the crux of the matter.  “Why can’t I be beautiful, too?” Short answer: I can be.  And so can you, and you, and you.

Long answer: beauty, in the sense that I’m talking about it, is an intangible thing.  There is no set formula for what is beautiful and what isn’t.  As opposed to physical attractiveness, most people can’t pinpoint down to the slightest detail what beauty means to them.  One person might find nature beautiful, while another might find something like architecture beautiful.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder – because each person’s particular likes and dislikes are all different.

People are supposed to be different.  Different colors, different heights, and yes, different weights. The mere fact that I happen to weigh more than what society tries to force me to think is “acceptable” does not negate the fact that I have my own unique beauty.  And again, so do you and you and you.  You over there?  Yeah, you too.

In the last few months, since I jumped back into the Fatosphere with both feet, I have come a longer way in accepting and liking myself than I had in the 32 years before that.  Let me repeat that:

I have learned more about accepting and liking myself in less than five months than in thirty-two years of existence on this planet. (Nearly half of which have been spent in some sort of counseling.)

I have finally gotten to the point where I like myself the majority of the time.  No, I haven’t found self-esteem nirvana, but I have come so far in such a short time that I’m still finding it odd.  I find it odd when I look in the mirror and I don’t immediately put myself down for some flaw or another.  (I still have flaws, of course, I just don’t feel the need to put myself down because of them.)  I look in the mirror and I finally see me – not some warped, hate-filled version of me that has never been accurate.  And me?  Isn’t so bad, really.

Other people have noticed it, too.  My rise in self-esteem has been one of the major factors of my marriage becoming what my husband and I both want it to be.  I finally started to see myself the way my husband always has, and it has brought us closer in ways counseling (which we tried once) never did.  Nothing has ever worked like my learning to like myself.

Friends have noticed it.  I’m so much happier now than I ever was before.  In my life.

Even strangers notice it.  How else would you explain the fact that I’m suddenly getting hit on left and right?  I can’t remember the last time somebody hit on me before I started feeling better about myself.  Now, it’s every time I go out.  It’s surreal.  I almost feel like I must be in someone else’s body, because these things just don’t happen to me.  So I just take it as a tangible sign that this internal change must be visible externally, in some way or another.

I started out this journey just searching for a way to like myself.  What I found was so much more than that.  But that one wish, that I wished so very hard and very long for?

It came true.

Well how do you like them apples?

* – I don’t want it to sound like I’ve got some huge massive ego and the whole Fatosphere was going to be sitting around wondering “where did nuckingfutz go?”  However, I had been so active – commenting on pretty much everybody’s blogs, practically every post – that I was sure somebody would have noticed my absence and would ask about it.


Friday Fun: I feel good!

In my journey, I have learned that part of coming to love myself means acting in a loving way towards myself.  Putting everyone else’s needs first and myself last is not acting in a loving way; if anything, it’s horrible.  I wouldn’t want my husband or any of my 4 children to think they ALWAYS came last to me, so why would I treat myself that way?  And yet, I do.  Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am a mother.  I’ve noticed that most women (ALL of the women I’ve personally known who do this) who always put themselves last are mothers.

So, even before finding the fatosphere and getting the boost I needed, I had started to do things for myself that make me feel good.  About myself and in myself.  I started with getting my nails done.

For a long time, I thought my nails were the only nice things about me.  Seriously.  You know those psychological exercises where you have to come up with x amount of nice things to say about yourself?  I could never do those.  I honestly couldn’t come up with a single nice thing to say.  Until I started getting my nails done.  Then they were lovely and long, strong, and brightly colored.  And the nail polish lasts for more than one day!!!!

Now, since finding the Fatosphere and having my self-esteem skyrocket (comparatively; as opposed to what it was before), I’m slowly finding more and more things I can do for myself that are beginning to be fun, to make me feel good, whereas before they felt like a chore.

Like shopping, for example.

Since I started looking at myself in a whole new light (and I mean that as much literally as figuratively), shopping for clothes has become something I look forward to every payday.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go and blow our entire budget on clothes.  I have a maximum limit I allow myself to spend on clothes each month, and I tend to shop almost exclusively off of sale racks.  (CLEARANCE is a word that will make me squee with excitement! 😆 ) But before, I would put off buying new clothes as long as possible, because it was sure to be an experience that would end in tears.  Finding nothing that fit properly, and the dissonance in sizing between different designers would have me blaming my body for every thing that was wrong with the clothes.  Having had it drummed into my head that it’s the clothes’ fault, not my own, means that if I pull something off a rack that should fit and doesn’t, I don’t get upset.  I just try on a different size.

And getting out of my “swimming in my clothes” comfort zone means that I’m discovering new things every time – like the fact that I can actually fit my fat ass into some 16’s and even 14’s (I’m usually around a 20, UK).  Discovering that has opened up so many more options to me, places I didn’t think I was “allowed” to shop at, simply because I was TOO fat.

And the relatively recent upswing in plus size fatshion (meaning OMG, now I can find CUTE clothes in plus sizes!!!) means that I can buy something new and look at myself and think “Oh, I look cute!  Fat, but cute!”  Living almost my entire life up to this point thinking that the words “fat” and “cute” (or hot, sexy, whatever word strikes your fancy) were mutually exlusive, being able to say that is a BIG deal.  And it leaves me on a natural high for the rest of the day.

My hair is another one.  I used to HATE it.  I mean HATE.  I would say I was going to shave my head and people would laugh.  Only I wasn’t joking!  I hated my hair so bad that going bald seemed a better option.

But just a couple of months ago, I discovered Naturally Curly, and following the tips and tricks there has made me come to actually like my hair.  It’s a rare day now when I have what *I* would call a “bad hair day.”  Some people would look at me and think that I look “messy,” or “dirty,” just because of my hair (it’s impossibly curly and will never look “tame”), but it’s me.  It’s the hair I’ve had since I hit puberty (I had straight hair until then), and I can’t straighten it.  Oh, don’t think I haven’t tried.  I’ve tried everything short of harsh chemical “fixes.”  And instead of going straight, it just goes straight OUT.  However, like I said, since following the steps outlined on the Naturally Curly site (which goes along with the book Curly Girl), I have come to actually like my hair.  Considering it wasn’t that long ago I wanted to shave it all off, that makes me feel good too.  🙂

Of course, there are things I can do to make myself feel good that don’t cost money, either.  I can cuddle with my children.  Or with my kitty! 😀  I can go for a walk with my iPod.  Getting the chance to go walking/hiking with my Hubby, that’s a definite one.  Although that usually costs some money, as we usually go a good ways away from home when we do.

Sometimes it’s as simple as locking myself away in a room with a book.  Or a long, hot bubble bath with soft music playing.

Of course, these things don’t always work.  There are times when I’m just too stressed out – but those are the times I need them the most.  Because while I might not come out of it feeling “good,” I’m certainly feeling better than I was!

What makes you feel good?

From no self-esteem to arrogance in 8 short months. Just ask me how!

That was the last sentence of a comment on Fillyjonk’s promotion of Stacy Bias’ The Fat Experience Project.  I’d already read about it at The Rotund, but I was responding specifically to a comment made by FJ herself.

Please check out the project and send in your stories — I want to see Shapelings represented here. I think you guys are the perfect subjects for this project; you are strong-minded and rational, but you deeply understand the shame and fear that comes with having a non-standard body.

My first thought, after I had a good, thorough look at TFEP?  “Maybe I should send something in…” My next thought?  “Wait.  Would that be too arrogant of me, to assume that she’d want something from ME?” Then I had a good laugh at myself.  To go from complete self-loathing to worrying about being too arrogant?  That just proves what an impact The Fatosphere has had on my life.  And, arrogant or not, I think I probably will send something in to Stacy.  She might not use it, but what the hell, right?  🙂

If you haven’t had a good look at it yet, please do.  The site is very well designed, and although Stacy’s only got a few articles posted as of yet, what she does have shows the range of diverse voices that she wants to portray.  It seems like it’ll be something good for everyone involved – not just us Fat People, but those Thin People that might stumble across it and learn something from it.