My Plus Size Life

Have You ever felt like this?

Since i was a young Lad, i have always been “big boned”, wait, there is no such thing as “big boned”, look i was a little chubby. What normal little kid wasn’t? I loved the attention from family members and especially my grandmother. She would pinch my cheeks and call me her “chocolate baby”. Those memories were the happiest of my childhood, until it wasn’t. My first realization that i weighed a little too much is when i was seven years old. My aunt and i was playing around and she decided to try and pick me up, oh boy why did she do that? not only did we both fall, but all the weight of my body landed on her big toe and that poor toe hasn’t been right ever since, travesty right? My mom wanted to set an example for leading a “healthy lifestyle” so she started to work out in the mornings, and drink slim fast like it was water. She had her insecurities as well and she wanted to become her small size that she was before she had me. After eating my oatmeal each morning my mom would turn on her exercise video, i would get on the floor with her and mimic every movement. I always wondered “why is she doing all these silly movements with her body? she sure has energy, and how can she drink those yucky chocolate drinks? iv’e tried them and they aren’t that great”. The workouts and slim fast payed off and she dropped the weight, but it seemed her habits and routines rubbed off on me. She would try to encourage me, but she stopped, i guess she figured since i was a little kid i would run around and all the baby fat would go away.

 

In elementary i was the “fat girl”. Kids made fun of me, not only was i chubby, but i had a very dark complexion. The names they would call me would sting in the beginning, but after awhile i just became immune. That is when my personalty flourished. I might have been fat, but i bet i was going to make good grades, run for student body president, and be the funniest kid in school. Some days the teasing was overwhelming. I would go home and tell my mom, she would tell me to not listen to those children and if i wanted it to stop then maybe i should loose weight. That is when it began, the low self esteem and humiliation for looking the way i looked. When i look back at it now, my mom wasn’t trying to intentionally hurt me, but she wanted me to be healthy. When i went to routine checkups at the doctors they would always classify me as being overweight for my age, and with that came resources and many brochures. I know my mom was concerned and it became a wake up call because she had gotten it confirmed from an experienced physician. From that point on my mother changed the way we ate, fried foods would be limited to once a week, vegetables were introduced, and kool aide was no longer the drink of choice. I hated it! I wanted that nice cold cup of sugary red kool-aide, I wanted those chocolate chip cookies in the pantry shelf. Coming from a low income neighborhood meant that we had little no any resources on healthy eating and portion control. The pamphlets from the doctor  were the only thing we had to go off of, and some of the “healthy foods” were hard to purchase because of the price, most people in my neighborhood were receiving food stamps, including me. My mom was doing the best she could to make sure my sister and i always had a full fridge, we never went Hungry.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night, sneaking cookies, and eating cake frosting. Some nights i got away with the crime, other nights the food police(my mom) caught me in action. Even though my mom tried to cook healthy meals, she would not have the energy for it at times because of work so we would stop by McDonald’s or grab a pizza. I didn’t overly eat, but i loved food.

As i was going into junior high school i started to become more insecure about the way i looked. I was at a stage where puberty started to set. I hadn’t come into my girlish looks yet. Being fat gave me a identity, i also identified as a Tomboy.

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Me at that awkward phase (middle school) sporting a Tommy Hilfiger Fit.

I would wear the most baggiest clothes. I thought they would make me look cool, and i would be able to hide my body. I hated dresses and wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt or tight shirt. This was also a time in my life where i started to like the opposite sex. I had a major crush on this boy Ariel, he was the hottest thing since sliced bread, and he had the eyes that were just as blue as the ocean. I lurked in the background while all the cute light skinned skinny girls would flirt and giggle with Ariel. I noticed that he never talked to the girls who had darker skin. But All i could do is admire him from afar, he would never take a second look at a girl like me. I would go home, look in the mirror and wished the my skin was lighter and my body was thinner. My mother always told me how beautiful i was, and how i should be proud of my complexion, and that she only wanted me to be healthy when the subject of weight came up, but at that age i didn’t want to receive it, i didn’t believe anything because my looks didn’t catch the attention of my peers and Ariel. I wished that i could be as thin and pretty as the late singer Aaliyah and a frame like the singer Mya. There was no Lizzo or Joanne Borgella, Ashley Graham, Tess holiday, or Dainielle Brooks. In the 90’s there were no child/teen that was my complexion and that looked like me on television . Traditional media considered “being heavy” not acceptable, there was and still is a stigma about being overweight. No one considered that maybe it was a genetic factor, something medical going on like a thyroid condition. People in our society assume that heavier people just sit around and stuff their faces like you see on “My 600lb Life”, in some ways, with some people,  that would be accurate, but not everyone falls into that box.

During the summer of 2000 My aunt Stacey had loss a tremendous amount of weight. My mom and i both noticed how great she looked.  My mom asked my aunt what she did to loose so much weight, my aunt mentioned that she was doing the Atkins diet. Now, back then Atkins consisted of only eating lean meat, vegetables, cheese, and sugar free desserts(basically no carbohydrates). My mom mentioned that we should both try the diet together, and we would be able to motivate one another. I was apprehensive about it, it was a change and a habit i didn’t want to break, but i knew we both needed the body reset. My mom and i both loved food! but we knew what we were consuming weren’t good for our bodies. My mom and i decided that the next day we would start our “diet”, if the “diet” had failed then we agreed to try something else.  Boy was it a challenge! seeing my peers eat junk at lunch time while i ate a salad really made me feel excluded. The few friends i had would ask me why my eating habits changed, they expressed that they saw nothing wrong with me, but i wanted to show my mom and myself that i could stick to the food plan.

As i became closer to graduating from the 8th grade i started seeing and feeling the weight loss. My confidence had soared, i started to dress more “girly”, I started to get my eyebrows arched, and my peers started to notice. I had the great personality all along, but now, i had the body to match or so i thought. Ariel had moved away suddenly so i never got the chance to even shoot my shot.

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7th Grade

I saved myself the embarrassment of approaching and being rejected. At least I knew i had done good when my mom and i went inside of target one day and i was able to fit clothes in the juniors department, i no longer needed to shop in the adult woman section. My mom was proud and that made me proud, this weight loss had made her happy. I finally was able to stick to something and achieve my goal. Even at a routine doctors visit, my doctor had asked what things had changed since the last visit. I told her that i was becoming more active and cutting out carbohydrates and desserts. The scale confirmed that i had lost 30 lbs. Even though i had looked great physically i wasn’t able to really enjoy what i saw when i looked in the mirror, i felt like the weight that i worked so hard to lose wasn’t enough to get attention from “the boys” i started to think were cute, i wasn’t skinny, but in my mind i knew “thick” wasn’t going to get it either. It was all in my head. Towards the end of the 8th grade year i started to build friendships with my peers, the weight loss even got me noticed with the “popular kids”. I met dope people in my choir and Drama class. I had come out of my turtle shell, talking, and frequently socializing. Surprisingly i even received compliments from boys, they would tell me that i was much nicer than the other girls and i carried myself in a way that made me more approachable, those things were all nice things to hear, but i didn’t believe it, my self esteem was so shattered that i questioned if i were attractive. A few of the guys in my Drama class would ask me out and try to pursue me but, i was shy, i thought i had wanted the attention but when i received it i would clam up, i was not ready for that type energy yet.

Going into high school i still had the mindset that because i was still plus size i wouldn’t be able to attract the high school guys. I also noticed that the girls with a lighter skin complexion received more attention from the boys. I didn’t understand why this was. I figured a girl is a girl, we all have the same thing at the end of the day. but that’s just how it was, and continue to be. High school for me was the big time! sink or swim, high school was a whole different ball game. I knew that i was a “attractive dark skinned” girl, i knew that i had a great personality but i was too shy to be myself, and too quiet to get noticed. I felt like there was always competition between the girls at my high school.

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High school freshman Year

Who had the best hair style, who wore the latest Jordan’s, who lost their virginity first, it was a freaking mad house. One thing that i can say that i did, i was always myself around my friends. Even though i had gained some confidence with the weight loss, i still thought that i wasn’t good enough, i always felt like maybe if i were skinnier i would have more opportunities, to get noticed, to be popular, to be visible. As high school went on i started to come into self love by encouragement from friends. They let me know that i was cool and that i was beautiful the way i was, that i would be beautiful at any size. My girls Jamie and Tamica would always tell me “If they cant take you for who you are, fuck em”!

My self perception of myself started to change, once i had saw that i wasn’t the only plus size girl at my school, i was relieved. One girl that taught me to embrace myself was Tajma. She was a grade up. We had choir together in junior high and that girl could blow a roof off an house. She had a lighter skin complexion, just gorgeous, and plus size. She would dress to the T’s and her make-up game was unmatched. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, but she was just as beautiful on the inside. I thought to myself “now that is a dope ass girl”. Her walk, the way she made her presence known gave me confidence. She inspired me to showcase my talent, to reveal my full self. I started to dibble and dabble into makeup. I picked colors that would accent my chocolate skin. I stared to wear clothes that didn’t take away from my shapely figure, but enhanced it. The tomboy that i once knew was slowly disappearing. I became a fluttering butterfly, i started to enjoy and love who i was, a cute, chocolate plus size dope ass girl from Richmond.

The older i became, the more comfortable i became within myself. Of course i wasn’t small or petite, but i remained healthy and active. I accepted my wide hips, and thick thighs (i get it from my mamma). My mother would always compliment me, she was noe my personal hype man. I eventually learned to accept my dark skin, i learned the many stories of what dark skin represented, my ancestors, my bloodline, my African roots. I became proud of my skin complexion.

It also helped that i always had friends and people around who didn’t care what i looked like, they pumped me up, they would point out features of mine they wish they had. My personality would, at most times  make up for what i thought was flawed. I came to the realization that i had to learn to love me, i had to look in the mirror and find parts of my body that i liked, parts of my body that made me unique. Looking back on old high school photos i wish that i would have enjoyed my shapely figure. I wish that i hadn’t been so self conscious. I learned that i had to love myself fully, in order to be loved by another. It might sound cliche, but it applies. Now, i love every fold, flap, garage door, and muffin top. I no longer seek validation from the opposite sex or anyone. I give myself the validation that i need.

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After high school i would loose weight, then gain it, then loose some and gain again, i was a never ending light up YO-YO. I have tried all diets, weight loss programs, fasting, not eating at all. But no matter what i try my structure has never been, or will ever be thin. I noticed that whenever i had weight loss my frame stayed the same, my body just became leaner. I would still have the full hips, large thighs, voluptuous breasts. There was no escaping my genetic make-up. Aside from debilitating migraines, i am relatively healthy, that matters.

I always thought that i wouldn’t be able to attract the opposite sex because of my size and skin complexion . As a teen I was always the “fat dark one” of the group, so i would go unnoticed, that made me feel unwanted and totally invisible. Some men can be just as shallow as women. I don’t have the body like like many female celebrities. Compare me to Sara Bartman, my sista who was naturally bred. My skin is not light, and Hey that’s Okay!. It doesn’t take away from who i am as a person, It doesn’t take away from my education, knowledge, skills, or independence,If anything My dark assists me makes me stand out. I’m damn proud of that.

Are men really intimidated by a woman’s size? or is it their own insecurity? Does he think he could handle her? Does it matter that her body is naturally curvy? Does it matter that she has a muffin top and some love handles? Do men think that all women should be built from the ground up like female Hollywood celebs?  or any other woman who has been surgically enhanced? nah, and a disclaimer, i’m not in anyway am i against surgery, or getting enhancements, but personally it’s not right for me. I refuse to fit in, to indulge in surgical fads because celebrities engage in it.  I figure, if i don’t fit into society’s  “box” then i can bedazzle one for myself. Men who cannot accept a big, sexy, curvaceous, confident , smart, and witty woman, Well! They don’t deserve to reap the benefits that us “big women” can provide. Not just the physical part of us, but the mental.

We will not settle!

Don’t Settle!

As you get older things start to sag to the ground, your metabolism slows down, you put on a little more extra pounds due to having children or leading a hectic life. Sometimes life is moving so fast that you don’t have time to go to the gym, cook a nutritious healthy meal or plan. You pick up that doughnut because you’re on the go, or you stop by your favorite fast food place for dinner because it was along day and your not in the mood to cook for yourself or the family. And let’s face it, at times it’s just pure laziness. It is possible to be plus size while you practice healthy eating habits and participate in daily physical activities (Yoga, Walk, Gym). A woman who is plus size can be completely healthy.

For any woman who has experienced society’s idea of what “beauty” is i say to you, Queen you are the epitome of femininity, power, and grace. You are desirable, and wanted, YOU ARE WORTHWHILE!!! When society states you are are not desirable, i am here to tell you, THAT’S A LIE! Society is what we make it. Embrace your body, treat it with care, be kind to it. YOU.ARE.BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!

Self love and self-care, is how i continue, and will continue to get through my plus size life.theofficialblackgirldiaries_20200530_202824_0

Like This post? Can you relate in any way? Have you had Challenges with self-esteem or body image?

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“You can’t hate yourself happy. You can’t criticize yourself thin. You can’t shame yourself worthy. Real change begins with self-love and self-care.” — Jessica Ortner

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Photo: https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/challenge-conventional-beauty-standards

 

Aye Yo!!! Play that “Masterpiece” by Jazmine Sullivan!

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The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

After Christine contacted me over the phone about the weekend retreat i was apprehensive. I had never gone far away from home other than my first trip to New York city. I was going to a place that i never been. Spending a weekend with other individuals i didn’t know frightened me, Not only that, But the retreat was based on the catholic religion, i grew up in a christian household. I knew of some differences between both religions, but i also knew that God and the son was apart of both. I asked myself, is this okay? can i intertwine Christianity and Catholicism? Does this make me both catholic and christian? Is that even possible? I prayed and, god let me know that it didn’t matter, as long as i came to him, served him, i would receive my healing either way, as long as i put him first.

Rachel’s Vineyard was a  three-day retreat program, open to mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings of aborted children as well as those who have worked in the abortion industry. That weekend helped retreatants begin healing from their loss through group sharing, a memorial service and Mass.

I feared that the people who were there to help me heal would try to convert me to Catholicism (my anxiety). I thought that these two religions couldn’t mingle.  Feeling afraid and not knowing  what to expect i asked My new love interest to join me. I expected a  “no” but it was the total opposite. He supported and wanted to join me with no questions asked. Weeks before the retreat Christine and i would email back and fourth whenever i needed support and i would call her when i had a bad day thinking about my abortion. She was so kind, understanding, and she never judged. she always reminded me that god loves me so much. It was a breath of fresh air. Days before the retreat i was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or what horror stories that i would hear, i didn’t know if i would break down in tears while i shared my story. Was this retreat really going to help me heal from my abortion? was this some type of cult? was i going to a safe place? Was it wrong from me to seek healing from the catholic religion and not my own?  My thoughts were racing and my anxiety started to get the best of me. He stayed in my corner reassuring me that everything would be fine because he would be there. We drove an hour and a half to our destination and may i just say my anxiety was getting the better of me, then again my wonderful love interest  offered  words of encouragement and brought me back down from my nervousness. When we arrived, we pulled up to what seemed to be a church.

I wanted to jump back in the car and turn around to head home, but there was no turning back, i knew i needed to do it. I thought to myself “were going to sleep here”? i was expecting a spa, nature type of environment, i began to tense up, at least him and i would be able to share a room right?  Christine met us outside and gave us details on what the weekend would be like. Her presence gave me a sense of calm, her tone of voice made me feel safe. There were two other couples there along with a few single women. Christine gave us a tour and showed us where we would be staying.  When i walked into my room there was a beautiful scarf that had been handmade just for me,

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My note from my Rachel Vineyard Staff

a letter on top of it with a beautiful flower. There was also a pen and pad to write down thoughts or any inspirational thoughts that might have come to mind.  Justin and i also learned that we had to sleep in separate rooms, we should have saw that coming, but we made it work.  An half hour later we were called into a small room. We wasted no time going into introductions and explaining why we were there. There was also living scriptures. We all sat around in a circle with Christine and 3 other staff  who helped her to coordinate the retreat. Christine then asked each one of us to share why we were there and what we hope we will get out of the weekend. The stories i heard made me tear up. Many abortions and miscarriages, so much loss. When it was my turn i looked at him, he gave me a look,  a look letting me know “i’m here”. I started to tell my story and couldn’t get it out before i burst into tears, thoughts of the clinic, the operating room, The pain all came back. He held me and whispered to me “i’m here baby i’m not going anywhere let it out”. At this point everyone who had shared their experience cried with me. I will never forget that feeling.  Christine thanked Justin for supporting me through everything. I was thankful that god had brought me a man that i could be vulnerable with, a man that could see all my scars and love me for them. We all stood after stories were shared, Christine and the father of the church led us in prayer. I had the biggest headache from crying and snot continually dripped from my face into my soggy napkin.  After the session was over we had dinner in the dining room. He and i talked to young married couple about their experience. Tom and Chen (not their real names) had suffered from miscarriages after Chen had  an abortion.  They told us that they were planning on getting pregnant soon but wanted to come the retreat to heal the loss of their other pregnancies. They were a really nice couple and we all had many things in common. After dinner we all headed to our separate rooms. I hugged him and thanked him again for coming with me, even though he had nothing to do with my abortion experience.

 

I had a hard time sleeping that first night. I was in a new place and even though it was a holy place, it was also terrifying. I didn’t know what to expect, were they a cult? were they planning something sinister? My anxiety was at an all time high and i stayed at alert just in case there were plans of any ill will(pure paranoia) The Next morning came and i had slept horribly. Breakfast was served in the small dining hall on the first floor. He and had communicated the previous night about how they would wake everyone up for morning breakfast and activities, also thanked him again for coming on this journey with me. My new love and i sat at a table with Tom and Chen.  They smiled as we walked towards them to sit and talked about what we thought the day was going to be like.  I finally felt like i wasn’t alone, i finally felt like god set this up for a reason.

The day was filled with testimonies and prayer groups. They split us up into small groups and we would meet in different parts of the church. One of the exercises that broke me down was The Role Play. One of the councilors would pretend that they were one of the people who might have contributed to our experiences, they were also there to just let us vent. As everyone participated in the exercise i stared to sink into my chair. There were no limits, there were no guidelines, we were freely able to express any and every emotion that we felt or were feeling in that moment. I saw anger, pain, hopelessness, all the things that i had experienced. I saw tears, i heard cries, i heard yells, and no matter what the counselor she still managed to conduct this exercise in a respectful and supportive way. Once the last person finished, i started to feel hot all over, my heart was beating at an alarming rate and i felt my palms starting to sweat, my palms never sweat, but instill i knew this is what i came here for, this was apart of the healing. She called me and asked me to sit in the chair facing her. “Who am i today”? “Express how you feel, don’t hold back, i will be playing a role”. I looked down nervously and started to rub my hands together, “You are my ex” i replied quietly, “Okay”, “what did he call you”? she asked “he called me C.C”. “Okay, What do you want me to know”? “I want you to know that these last few months have been hell for me, i’m angry with you because you were supposed to take care of me, you were supposed to take responsibility, you lied, you broke my spirit, we were supposed to do this together.” “What did you want me to do”? She replied “I wanted you to protect me, i wanted you to honor your word, i wanted you there with me at the clinic, i wanted you there for the recovery process, i wanted you there”! I started to feel a burst of anger, i started to feel my knees shake, then there it went, the tears started to draw up. “Well” she replied, “What do you want me to do about it now cc”. I stared at her for a moment, and in that quick moment, she sounded just like him, that was something that he would say. My face was wet, and my heartbeat slowed down, “i want you to say your sorry, that’s all i want to hear”. She stared at me and she leaned over and said “i’m sorry, i’m sorry you went through that, and i’m sorry for letting you do it alone, i’m sorry”. I broke down, she held my hand and she rubbed my back, it was a comforting feeling, i cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life, it felt like a the dark heavy weight that i had been carrying had suddenly been lifted. The anger, the resentment, that hate, it all dissipated. On that day i believe the lord had laid his hands on me, his spirit moved through me, i felt at peace, but i found myself drained by the end of the exercise. Towards the end of the day the whole group met back up in one room and discussed what they learned about themselves. Everyone went around and shared their experience, even Justin. Even though he didn’t experience loss at that magnitude, he talked about different kind of loses he had experienced within his family and friends. I knew on that day, at that moment, that he would be my biggest supporter.

 

   Conclusion in Pt. 6

Pic Credit: https://mfsdiocese.ca/ministry/healing-reconciliation/rachels-vineyard/