This past weekend I had the awesome pleasure of getting to see my Nonna. Nonna tells it like it is, and she doesn’t take shit. We were sitting on the porch, relaxing, and suddenly she turned to me and said, “You know, Lysa, you look beautiful. A few years ago, you look horrible.”
She was referring to when she saw me in San Antonio in 2010, when I was at my lowest weight and feeling absolutely miserable.
Since my Very Low Weight That Will Not Be Mentioned, I have gained about 17 pounds. I weigh about five or six pounds less than I did in college, but I look completely different. More than half of that is muscle. The other couple of pounds are because cake and alcohol are delicious. I just honestly love food. I’m Italian. If you cut me in half right now, half of me would be bread. Gluten free bread, but still bread.
I think a lot of people don’t understand that I didn’t get fat by some sort of traumatic event. I wasn’t attacked, nobody left my family, and I certainly wasn’t sexually abused. I got fat because I just ate a lot and didn’t move. I just loved food. A lot. I went to church more often than not because there were doughnuts on the first Sunday of every month. I know for a fact that there are 22 Ben and Jerry’s flavors I have killed an entire pint of, and it was all based in “THIS IS DELICIOUS”, not “I’M SAD.” My cholesterol was fine. My blood pressure was stellar. I had lots of energy. I was just eating tons of Mint Milanos and staying up until 5:30 in the morning doing roleplay on my Livejournal. (You think I’m joking?)
And then suddenly it became The Only Issue. It was all I thought about from the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed, either elated I had a “good” day or furious that I cheated with an extra order of cookies at our country club pool’s snack bar. My journals from ages 16-19 are filled with food logs, sadness about my body, and telling myself I need to restrict. But then, nestled in between the body hate, are lines like “Why can’t someone like me for exactly who I am, right now?!”
Why shouldn’t they, indeed.
At a party a few weeks ago, I was discussing with a friend the joys of a specific pair of wide-leg palazzo pants that I’m completely obsessed with. My friend said “I would love to wear a pair of pants like that with a bikini top and a cardigan.” I immediately said, “I’ve always wanted to wear something like that, but I could never do it.” Meaning – I’m too big for that. My friend immediately jumped on my subtext and said, “You can wear anything you want, girl.”
I always used to say to people “You want a bikini body, put your body in a bikini,” but that’s so easy to say when your own body fits a heteronormative ideal. I have to put my money where my mouth is, now that my body is healthier but bigger than my ‘perfect ideal’, which came from running a bajillion miles all the time and eating egg whites for meals.
So here’s my little soapbox statement about bodies and fitness and how people look.
If your body is healthy, and you aren’t feeding it garbage, and you are taking care of it because it’s the only one you get…and you still aren’t a size 2? I don’t care.
No. Really. I couldn’t give less of a shit if I tried. I don’t care if you have a sixpack. I mean, sure it’s impressive, but I don’t look at it and feel a pang of guilt that I don’t possess a sixpack as well. Because I’ve evolved into realizing a sixpack does not necessarily equate health.
All of our bodies are so vastly different, with so many forms of biochemistry and DNA helices coming into play; who the hell am I to judge anyone on how they look? If that look is a manifestation of treating your body right, then who cares about the size on your pants?
Also, for the love of god don’t talk about other people and their bodies like they’re committing a crime with their extra pounds of flesh. Any time someone I know starts off a conversation about someone else by saying they’re fat, I change the subject. That kind of talk is poisonous. If you feed into the poison, it will eat you alive. Do you know how much energy it takes to view a person skin-first, rather than heart-first? It’s completely exhausting. We’ve all got our own shit to deal with and sometimes that shit gets into our bones.
It’s also easy to say these things when you’re truly and deeply loved by people who don’t care what you look like. So maybe I’m just extremely lucky. But I really only judge people nowadays on a short list of criteria:
Are you a good person?
Are you taking care of yourself? (meaning – do you move a little every day? Are you eating things that aren’t stuffed with crap? Or if you do, is that a minority in your diet?)
Are you fun/curious/intelligent/energetic/kind/nice/not an ass?
Then there is nothing wrong with you.
And I’ll let you in on a secret. Not only do I not care what you look like, I don’t care what you think about what I look like.
I know this body. I know its limitations. I know what it can do. And in the words of the divine miss Amy Poehler, “I don’t f*cking care if you like it.”