In November I was at my mother’s for Thanksgiving. Someone commented on my weight loss and I replied, “Thanks! I’m almost down the the size I was in high school.” I was so proud of myself.
Then my mother did a double take and said, “You didn’t seem that big in high school.”
Subtle words, but they packed a punch. See, I was this same size freshman year of high school. I was the same weight. I wore the same exact size jeans. I wore the same shirts. I was this exact size. My mother and other family members made comments about my weight back then. Not positive comments, like I’m getting these days. No, these were always about how I could stand to lose a few pounds, how I was going to eat them out of house and home, how I love food… so much teasing and bullying over my size.
I do love food. But I also love myself now, and back then I didn’t. Back then I hated that girl in the mirror. I hated her pudgy belly, her large thighs, her chubby cheeks. I hated the way she had to buy plus clothes, how she’d never be as small as her sister or mother. I thought I was much larger than I was. Much larger. I thought I was uglier. I thought that I needed fixed, as if I were somehow broken.
My mental state lead me to do myself harm as I started eating less and less food. And then all I heard was praise. I was beautiful. I was gorgeous. I was pretty. I was sexy. I looked awesome. I would look perfect if I lost 10 more pounds (well I guess it couldn’t all be praise, now could it?)
So, no, my mother doesn’t remember me being “this big” in high school. Probably because she chose to forget the first 3 years and focus solely on my last year- when I was mildly anorexic. The year when I was the thinnest.
This big. This big. I’ve lost 75lbs, but I’m still “this big” to her. Some things never change. It’s a good thing that my weight loss is for me and my health this time, that I’m in a good place, that I recognize her words for what they are: projections of her own body image issues onto me.
I only paused a moment before I repeated that I was this same size, and switched the conversation. They were such subtle words, but what a weight to them.