My Raison D’Etre


I’m not the average girl from your video

It didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t quite like the other kids. While other 4 and 5 year olds were blissfully riding bikes, catching frogs, and playing in mud puddles, I was holed up in my grandmother’s house reading. Ok, well, I did enjoy the occasional mud puddle, but if there was a book about mud puddles? Damn the actual puddle! Let’s go and see if someone was gonna go on a journey inside of one in my book.

This love for the written word became my crutch in later years. When I didn’t think that folks would love the rest of me: with my fat body, bad skin, glasses, and crooked teeth–I leaned on my intelligence. If nothing else, I figured, I’d at least have study partners. And maybe one could look past my flaws and be my friend. And they were, except it wasn’t my brain that brought them to me. It was my personality, which, despite my low self-esteem, I had a bit of. Except I wasn’t ready to understand that just yet.

And I ain’t built like a supermodel

Even though I knew that I was a pretty smart child, I didn’t realize how much emphasis people put on looks. That is, I never noticed until my first stepfather. One year, for my birthday, I came home from school to a treadmill in the kitchen. “Now that I’ve bought this,” he intoned, “you’re gonna run on this thing for 30 minutes a day, every day. No exceptions. You’re fat, and we need to stop it now before it becomes an issue.”

I’d just turned seven.

Once my mother realized what my stepfather had been saying to me (and he’d been saying the same things to her, but for cripe’s sake! a child doesn’t deserve that!) she left him. As I’d never liked him (but I never said a word because I wanted her to be happy, which she was at the time) I was ecstatic. But his ugly words wormed their way into my psyche and laid eggs. Once the larvae of self-doubt were born, I had an infestation of horrid thoughts about myself like you wouldn’t believe. My mother noticed, and tried her best to show me that no matter what the size I was beautiful. On a weekly basis, she’d bring home clippings and articles about plus-sized models and let me know that I had the ability to grace a runway or a magazine cover, no matter WHAT anyone had to say about it.

And I wanted to believe her. But since the kids at school all said otherwise, well, my mother’s voice was lost amidst all the negativity. It was like trying to hear someone shouting across Grand Central Station during rush hour: impossible. But I hid behind my books: Alice Walker never made me cry because of my looks. But I tried to rebel: I dressed as fashionably as I could afford. This, naturally just make the teasing worse. Who the hell do I think I am? I don’t get to have style. I should simply wear whatever makes me fade into the background. I stuck with that mentality until my freshman year of high school, when I adopted the sweats and tees uniform. Now, I don’t knock ANYONE who lives in sweats and tees. In fact, I envy you, cause sweats and tees are mad comfy. But I’m sure most of y’all live in sweats and tees because you WANT to, and not because you wanted to become invisible, as I did. And for the most part, it worked. I was bothered only for folks who wanted me to do their homework or let them copy a test. And for the right price, I obliged.

Hey. I had to benefit from this some kind of way, you know?

But I learned to love myself unconditionally

The summer after I graduated high school, I hunkered down to do diet number 34872687586586. Now, by this time, I’d secured my arrogant personality, gotten into several colleges, earned several scholarships, lost my virginity, gotten braces and contacts, and gotten a new stepfather who loves me as his own daughter. But see, I was still lacking.

I was still fat.

So, hell bent on ridding myself of the final scourge that stood between me and perfection, I began working out daily, restricting my diet, and regarding all things fatty, sugary, and generally delicious as evil. And it “worked”. I lost 15 pounds before my freshman year of college. My family congratulated me, but warned me about the evil freshman 15.

They didn’t have to worry. By spring semester, I’d lost another 16 pounds. Only eating one plate of food for lunch and dinner, no breakfast, limited snacks, and deliberately walking massive hills in 90+ degree weather will do that to you. When I went home for winter break, my family was excited. “Girl, you keep this up, and you’ll get you a man in no time!” Heh. They still thought I was a virgin. I was single by choice, having adopted a “free love” lifestyle. Getting men was no problem. But I still had to lose weight, cause otherwise I wasn’t gonna be able to keep one.

It wasn’t true. Before I graduated college, I’d been engaged (we broke it off) and had numerous boyfriends. The relationships ended for various reasons, but my weight had nothing to do with it. Yet I still wasn’t ready to believe it. By the time I ended up back home with mom, I’d gained all the weight back. I still felt pretty, but clearly fat is unhealthy, so I had to do something about it. So, one day, I ended up on Elastic Waist looking for workout playlists so I could get on the evil elliptical machine, and I came across Kate Harding’s blog.

I read. And read. And read more. And the more I clicked through the Fatosphere I realized: these folks are talking about me. I am the way I am because it’s how I’m destined to be. Yes, I gained my weight back, but it isn’t a moral failure. I’m not some terrible, awful person.

And then, I was ready.

Because I am a queen.

It’s been a journey, y’all. Although it hasn’t been a year that I became enlightened, more and more each day I find different things to investigate and inform myself of. I’m learning how to listen to what my body wants to eat despite what my annoying diet-brain THINKS I should be eating. And to help solidify what I believe and practice, I started this blog. Sometimes the going gets tough. Sometimes I feel accused of things that I feel are untrue. But I push on. I continue to learn, and I hope to help teach others as well as being taught. I finally accept my crown that’s been carved for me since birth. Numerous times that crown has been offered, and I shoved it aside because I didn’t feel worthy. Now I do, and I wear it with pride. Each lesson I learn is a new jewel to place in the points. I know countless others have been shoving their crowns aside as well. I’m hoping that what I write here helps folks to place their crowns on their head and strut because they know they deserve it.

This is why I blog. This is why I’m here. And even when the going gets rough, I’m gonna stay here until I feel my purpose is served.

The lyrics in italics are from India.Arie’s song “Video”.

12 Responses to “My Raison D’Etre”

  1. April 30, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    This makes me so, so happy. All the best to you as you keep on treating yourself they way you deserve to be treated! 🙂

  2. April 30, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks, Julia! Right now, I’m enjoying a cupcake: it’s my 23rd birthday today! 😀

  3. April 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Happy cupcake! And good for you! I wish I’d had your self-possession and strength when I was 23 (not to mention I wish I’d had the Fatosphere!)

  4. 4 Becky
    April 30, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Great post! Happy birthday =)

  5. May 1, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Happy Birthday!
    I so identified with what you wrote (I wore sweatsuits all throughout my junior year).
    Your analogy about shouting over Grand Central Station during rush hour also really resonated. And I love that song by India.Arie, and was singing it to myself while reading, which was almost like having a soundtrack for the post. What talent, style, beauty and wisdom!

  6. 7 Arwen
    May 1, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Happy birthday and wicked awesome post.

  7. 8 Bri
    May 1, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Awesome post! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and your strength.

  8. May 1, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for the great post. Seeking perfection can be so destructive. It’s funny. They say that being able to see shades of gray and have a complex understanding of complex issues is a sign of maturity – and it is. We may learn to see other people and other people’s issues compassionately at an early age. But, it’s amazing how difficult it can be to do when it comes to ourselves and our issues.

  9. May 2, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes! I’m a little late to the party (I worked both jobs today), but I really do appreciate the kind words. I’d write more, but I’m still kinda pissed about a comment that got hung up in moderation. There won’t be a troll post about this one though…but stay tuned. It’s gonna be a good one!

  10. 11 Sharon
    May 3, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you for this post and Happy Birthday! I have just recently become fat (I was never thin). It is genetic – at a certain age the women in my family increase. I have been having a hard time accepting it, especially as I feel wonderful! Society has imposed a kind of guilt complex on me because I’m fat and loving it. I’m grateful for the support you offer. I love my ‘new’ fuller body and I’m glad others love theirs too.

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