Yesterday, I was pulled aside at church. After lowering their voice, my fellow member asked how much weight I had lost. I responded, saying that I had lost about 35 pounds since 2010. He replied and said “I glad you lost the weight, you getting well...you know...”
Yes, I do....you wanted to say fat.
My utter disdain for volunteered discussion of my body has not faded with with the growth of my confidence, and I believe it never will. From years of being “chubbier” than one side of the family (my mother’s) and “skinnier” than the other, I have been exposed to a lifetime of body comments. “Cenetta, you keep eating like that, you’re gonna be looking like your aunts” or “Cenetta, you haven’t eaten very much, you’re so small.”. After experiencing the pressure from my family to be a certain size for so long, I grew self-conscious of my body.
From family, to random happenstances, like a Russian ballet teacher, who pointed out “flaws” like a bigger butt than the rest of my naturally thin dancers, or a tailor telling me my body wasn’t proportional, it seemed that I was destined to have a noticeably abnormal body. My genetics had given me my mother’s legs and arms, long with thick thighs, and had also given me my father’s sisters’ tendency to put weight on my belly. It became difficult to find jeans that fit properly, or to find shirts that fit my stomach AND my A-cup bra size, and I retreated into clothing that was loose and far too large for me. That trend continued well into college.
While in college, I gained the “Freshman 15” and the “Sophomore 15” and the “Junior 5”, despite being a Dance minor, and being active almost daily. I couldn’t understand why, but in an effort to lose weight, I stopped eating beef and pork. I lost 20 pounds, in 6 months with no other changes. I was proud of myself, yet when I went home, I found that my parents still commented on the things I ate, threatening weight gain. I realized that I had enough.
I pulled them both aside and told them that I was aware of the weight I had gained, and that I was doing my best to be healthy, however, my body was (and is) not up for discussion, unless I ask.
To this day, they still make comments, as I am now back to the weight I was before college. I feel far more beautiful now than I ever did. Even though I am still getting used to showing a bit more skin, like wearing bikinis, I love my body, especially because i’ve worked so hard to get it. I am appreciative of my long legs and my thick thighs, and the loose clothing I used to wear, in an attempt to hide my body, has been given to Goodwill.
But my body is STILL nobody’s business. Tell me I look beautiful, but using my weight loss to confirm it, only confirms one thing: Society’s belief that weight is one of many direct ties to beauty. I was beautiful at 165 pounds, and I am beautiful at 132 pounds. It took me a long time to appreciate what many people saw as flaws, but they make me who I am, and I love every pound. Even if I choose to lose them.
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