As a teenager I was one head taller then any of my friends and although I ate the same foods, I weighed more. Growing up in South America where a woman’s obsession about her body is to be 4 feet, 11 inches tall and 85 pounds was not easy, and indeed demanding. Moving to the United States at age seventeen was an eye opener that taught me beauty can come in all sizes. Being 5 feet 7 inches and weighting 133 pounds, is accepted here.
Being middle sized always made me want more. Average is not something most of us enjoy being called. In my family obsessing about the way we look and how we think others perceive us is normal, especially among us women. Most of the ladies in the blood line are less than 5 feet tall and weight under 100 pounds. Needless to say, “this makes me the big gal in the family”.
Until my late twenties I simply did not eat and starved myself to accommodate to society’s statement that “you can’t ever be too rich or too thin!” While I was thin and beautiful the world responded to me positively and gravitated towards me. My thoughts were; “today I am thin, tomorrow I am rich, because all great things happen to thin people!” These absurd thoughts were my reality for many years.
We live in a world addicted to being thin! We see it on television every single day; “Nichole Richie, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, all under 90 pounds!” These are the bodies our daughters see as role models. How can a body that looks emaciated be beautiful or healthy? How can we accept society to want our children to starve themselves in order to fit a mold, which is only attainable by so few?
Two years ago, I had an accident that changed my life completely! I had a terrible fall from a flight of stairs and herniated 2 discs, broke my coccyx, hurt my knees, shoulders, and hips. After being in bed for over eight months with little or no activity and still not fully recovered, I got depressed. I was prescribed antidepressant pills and struggled with the decision, but accepted my fate and took the medication. I was just numbing something that was building inside of me, deeper than the skin. Slowly, weight started to pile on me and ended 5 dress sizes larger in 8 months! That’s twice the weight I gained when I had my daughter! I had become what I feared the most! I was now what scientist call morbidly obese.
Getting back into society became a whole new challenge. Not only having to deal with the daily struggles of my back pain, but the need to lose almost 80 pounds had become a fixation. People judge the obese as lazy, unhealthy, unattractive and undisciplined before they even have a chance to speak. Inside, still I felt like myself; artistic, intelligent, stylish and extremely loving. However, the shell which hosts my soul had changed and I now belong to a group of people which I always dreaded and feared to belong to. The group of people the world refers to as fat in a negative connotation. These are the people that are mocked as children and stared at as adults when enjoying a meal, while others think “should you be eating that?” Most of all, I am now in a shell of a person who I did not know. I would look in the mirror and did not recognize that lady staring back at me! Who was she?
Lazy, I am absolutely not! Unhealthy, maybe due to my accident! Surely not undisciplined! I was raised in a military household. I am a single mother with a successful career. I went to night school after 12 hours of work to finish my master’s degree. I am raising my daughter comfortably and living in one of the best areas in town, all on my own. I surely will not accept to be called lazy! One does not survive daily bed checks, weekly closet inspections, shoe shinning, miles of running and daily hours of homework without good discipline. I know I am not a lazy or undisciplined.
I have come to realize that true beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My story is true and like me “through thick and thin”! I am sure there are many women out there struggling with their weight. Yes, I am a full size figured woman now. I have to shop at specialty stores for clothes. Not everyone would think of me as an attractive woman, this is also true. However, I am still me; a beautiful woman inside and out! I am a disciplined business owner, freelance writer; volunteer for the disabled, and less fortunate. I am in style, in control, a healthy loving mother, but never lazy or undisciplined. And yes, being P H A T has finally taught me to love myself! This accident changed my life and taught me to love who I am.