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my body by the numbers

Before I start, I have to admit something. Through most of my 20’s and early 30’s I couldn’t understand how women could just get big. It wasn’t that I was judgemental about it. I spent most of my younger life somewhere around a size 2 and 4. I was so happy when I was pregnant with my babies because that was the first time that I was solidly over 120 pounds. It was foreign to me how someone could be twice my size. But, secretly, I wanted to be bigger. When I got depressed or was overworked, I got smaller. At one point, at the height of breakup-depression, I was a size 0. I was so upset. 0 is not even a number, it is the absence of a number. I felt like I was completely void of any womanliness. If it wasn’t for my boobs, I would totally have been mistaken for a 13 year old. I filled up on protein shakes and peanut butter smoothies trying to put on a few pounds.

A friend of mine, in California (which is important because of all the social stigmas around bodies there), had recently gained what we considered to be “a lot” of weight at that time. She was a size 8 *insert dramatic gasp*! During a visit, she told me about her journey with her weight, but that she liked having more weight on her body. It made her feel significant and powerful. Yeah, I agreed. That was what had been behind my quest to bulk up a bit. I felt like being bigger would give me more power in a space. It would make me feel more present in a room. It was a weird place to be because I was also close to a friend who was vocal about her desire to be my size. I understood her emotional conflict, but I would have swapped bodies with her in a second. It’s funny how that works. I just released the thought as what society does to women, keeping us in a constant state of comparison and the feeling that we don’t measure up. I rationalized that this kind of thinking makes women believe that beautiful is whatever they are not. So, we all are psychologically trained to lust after the unattainable in hopes of the ever elusive self-esteem.

Here is where the numbers come into play. I hit 40 (whoo that was hard to type). I also got married. I’m not sure if the two are connected, but that’s how they happened. I’m sure many factors worked together to produce the outcome, but I can’t isolate any one in particular. I had an event to go to, I threw my tried and true dress in the car to change into later. When it was time to get dressed, I stepped into the dress but the dress did not agree. It stopped at my thighs. It didn’t budge. I stood there, confused, in the staff bathroom, with my dress at my thighs in complete horror. What do I do? How did this happen? When did this happen? I couldn’t have gained weight, I don’t feel any bigger. How could I know for sure? I don’t even own a scale. I have never been one of those people who cared about the number on the scale. As I put my jeans back on, I determined that I needed answers. But, you know, life happens and it was more important to get to a store to buy another dress than it was to find a scale. I got to one of those mass produced fashion stores and piled dresses on my arm and went into the dressing room. Nothing fit. Everything was too small. I rationalized that it was the sizes in those stores. They are meant for white women. I got the next size up. I went back and got the next size up. This is not about being stuck on the size, this is about finding a dress that fits. I bought an 8 and went to the event. Eventually, I had to buy everything in an 8. I accepted that my “Woman Weight” had finally caught up to me. I’m finally an 8. That’s pretty cool. Around the same time, I moved from a 34 C to a 34 DD. I’m not really sure how this works either. It must be the store, I rationalized again. You can’t gain weight in your boobs, can you? Then, I realized that I was much more comfortable in a 36 DD. No biggie, right? That’s a substantial size. It warrants respect and admiration. I was cool with that too.

Earlier this summer, I made the same mistake. I brought one of my size 8’s to change into later, only to find myself teetering on the verge of obscene. I would never wear anything this tight in public. I made it through the event and changed immediately. What the fuck yo!?! I do not know what to do with the information that I’m a 10. What does that mean? Am I a plus sized woman now? It’s marriage. It has to be, marriage is plumping me up. But, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see plump. I just look… regular. Sure, I’ve always had a bit of a mommy belly, and I do have a few new fleshy folds on my back, but… what does a size 10 mean? Find a scale. Wait, how did I pass 150 and 160 but nobody said “Hey now, you’re getting out of control here.” Isn’t that what people say? Am I out of control? Is this what people mean when they say you let yourself go? Am I “let go”? I do find way more 38 DD’s than I did 34 DD’s. That an up side, right? I checked with my best friend who assured me that I was fine. That after 40, your metabolism does…whatever she said and you start to store weight differently and a lot of other emotionally uplifting stuff. Okay, I could deal with that… I thought. I’m cool with it, bae likes it, so it’s okay.

Then, I went home for my sister’s wedding. Nothing like going home to put things in perspective. Everyone said the same thing “You’ve filled out, you’ve put on that happy weight” and stuff like that. I saw the pictures from the wedding and it confirmed what I had heard. It was true. I was a big girl! I can’t be mad about it when this is what I wanted for so long, could I? Isn’t it wrong not to appreciate what you asked for? But, now, I’m at that place where this could go one of two ways. I could start using that membership to the gym across the street that takes money out of my account every month for me to look at it from my couch. Or… I could see how this “Big Mama” thing works. (sigh) Decisions, decisions.

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