Themed months have begun on Babe Roar! I'm really excited, and the first theme is THE BODY MONTH. I've been thinking about my body almost all the time recently, and I want to talk with you about it for a minute.
My body has always been bigger than most of my peers' bodies. Since I was a baby, I've had rolls in all the places - not just the right or wrong places (because those places don't exist, silly! Every body is great!), just ALL the places.
See exhibit A.
For my entire life, there has always been a significant cloud of shame around the bigness of my body. And look, I want to tell you everything. But the truth is, it's all really jumbled up inside of me like a knotted up pair of earbuds. Only patience can unwind the knotty mess in my gut, but here's what I've been able to unravel so far:
As a child, I thought that by the age of 30, I would resemble Dorothy Gale: small waisted, a little hippy, long flowing brown wavy hair, with a touch of red lipstick, giving me the ideal feminine allure. I did grow up to have the same Midwestern milk-maid charm of Dorothy with none of the small-waisted-ness. I know that baby Christine (I call her Baby Steen for short) would be disappointed with her future self. Because of this, I decided to start changing the way that my body looks... because... and this came as a surprise to me, I CAN.
Like I said, and proved to you with exhibit A, I've always been a chubby human being. In middle school and high school, I was physically bigger than all of my peers. Unlike my brother, I didn't play high impact sports, so I never naturally shed my baby fat. When I got to college, the lifestyle got to me, and I gained about 30 pounds. I was at an all time high weight, and was incredibly uncomfortable in my body. Shortly after my father was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I went on a doctor-prescribed crash diet of canned chicken (blech), crackers, vegetables, and fruit. I was truly miserable... and hungry, I was very hungry. However, I suffered through the diet and lost 30 pounds in a few months.
Until the end of college, I basically maintained that weight, and enjoyed every minute of looking at the scale and seeing a three digit number that began with a one. After graduation, I entered into a two year-long devastatingly unhealthy relationship. As it turns out, when you are too busy feeling someone else's feelings for them, you only have time to eat your own. So that's what I did, and I gained 70 pounds.
When I got out of the relationship, I was estranged from my body. I felt that my soul was living in a foreign place where it didn't speak the language. It was traumatic; a lot like what Dorothy must have felt like when she awoke in Oz. I had questions. Where am I? What am I doing here? How did this happen?
Over time, I grew more comfortable in my new body. I found new, creative ways to tie my shoes when bending over like normal was no longer an option. I bought new clothes and embraced body positivity, which had luckily just emerged around this time. I replanted my confidence and nurtured it daily, allowing it to get the minimum amount of self-care necessary to sprout. I learned to love myself again, but was never quite able to feel connected to my new body. I marked my skin up with tattoos to reclaim it, which didn't work. I embraced the word "fat" as a neutral descriptor, which also did not work. I sought and attained validation through outside sources like partners and those who like my selfies on Instagram... but alas, none of these things helped to acclimate me to my own, personal Oz. I was becoming desperate, and I had to find my way back to Kansas.
I'm determined to reclaim the body that was once mine. The colonization of its oppressors simply cannot stand; I have staged a revolution. I've begun working out five times a week and eating at a caloric deficit. I've lost about 15 pounds, and I'm doing so sustainably. I refuse to participate in any diet plan that I can't see myself reasonably sticking to for the rest of my life.
Bubble by bubble, I am slowly popping the protective packing underneath my skin which shielded my fragile heart from harm during the hardest years of my life. It's going to take me about two years to finish unpacking all this baggage, but patience and putting in the work will get me to that goal. In the mean time, I am showing gratitude toward my body, as this shield of fat that once kept me safe will soon be gone. Letting go is hard, but saying goodbye slowly makes it feel less painful.
I am not one with this body, but we have seen some shit together. It deserves love and compassion in the same way that I do. This body is not a part of me, although it is my friend. We're walking arm-in-arm down the yellow brick road. When we get to Oz, we'll part ways. As I watch my former self fly off in a proverbial hot air balloon, I am simultaneously filled with grief and relief.
"I'll miss you. See you never."