Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Coming out

NO, not that sort of coming out! Keep reading!!

Just today I read a blog post, which linked to several others, which in turn linked to yet others, which made me do some Google searches...and I discovered there is a mini-trend of women bloggers "coming out as plus-sized". Most who have "come out" are then inundated with adoring comments from fans along the lines of "What courage!" and "Now I love you even more!" and "You are so beautiful inside and out!" and even "[expletive deleted] anyone who is smaller than a size 12!" There are plenty of "Real women have curves" type remarks and diatribes against any woman who "exercises too much", is "too skinny", dares suggest that obesity might be linked to health problems, or -- even worse -- has the audacity to suggest that lack of exercise and/or overeating might contribute to obesity in any way.

A plus-sized woman is applauded when she says, "I feel great about my size!" I remember the actress (but have blanked on her name) who exclaimed, "This is for all the fat girls!" when she accepted her Emmy award some years back. The crowd went wild! Everyone loved it! I think people would have been appalled, disgusted, and outraged if someone the size of Calista Flockhart would have enthused, "This is for all the skinny girls!" upon receiving an award. There would have been no end to denouncing such a woman as being unhealthy, both physically and mentally, and contributing to the eating disorders of impressionable young girls.

So I'm coming out. I am not plus-sized, but any stretch of the imagination. I am one of those women that "mommy bloggers" love to hate: right this moment, at the age of almost 52, I am wearing junior size 5 jeans. This is 12 years after giving birth to the last of my six children. I doubt that any of my three readers will gush, "Now I love you even more!" but I refuse to be ashamed of my size. Not any more.

I am a real woman. I think that carrying six children to term and breastfeeding them for over a year each -- and having them thrive on the milk my "inadequate" body produced -- more than qualifies me for real woman status, no matter what curves I may be lacking. I do not apologize for not being plus-sized, nor do I apologize for not even wanting to be plus-sized.

Sigh. I know. I'm supposed to be worried that my words might be construed as being "size-ist" and "intolerant", and completely lacking in "fat acceptance". I should instead be an "advocate for plus-sized women". I should drop my head in shame and apologize to people, "I can't help it that I'm thin. Really. I eat twice as much as you, but I can't gain weight no matter how hard I try." But, you know what? That is simply not true.

The truth is: I exercise. Not fanatically, not three hours each day, not even consistently as much as I should to maintain the best health (e.g., the recommended 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day plus strength training to maintain muscle mass and healthy bones at my age). Most days, I don't overindulge my appetite. I don't bake as a hobby and don't consume frequent desserts. The type of food I have grown to enjoy the most is relatively low fat and free of rich, creamy sauces.

Here is the most shocking admonition of all: I prefer being the size I am right now. I have weighed more in the past, but I feel better at this weight -- and I actually think that I look better. So does my husband. (I don't carry my fat well. I'm not one of those women who "gains all over" and looks voluptuous. The more weight I gain, the more disproportionately pear-shaped I become.)

So, yeah. I'm wearing skinny jeans. My size 6 pants are now too big for me. A lot of people think that is disgusting and would no doubt assume I have some sort of eating disorder or mental condition. I'm sure some moms would rather their daughters not read my blog -- and I may even lose some of those mothers as readers.

But...if it's a wonderful thing to come out as "fat" or "plus-sized", why not as slim? Instead of asking, "Can I please be fat?" I'm asking, "Can I please be thin?"

I'm certainly not expecting the sort of applause my plus-sized sister bloggers have received. All I'm asking for is a little "healthy weight for my frame acceptance" or even -- dare I say it? -- "thin acceptance".

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  1. Interesting post. I just spent the weekend with my boyfriend's family and was having some size issues myself. I am 5'8", muscular and carrying some extra squish and am 220lbs. I exercise regularly and eat well, enjoy excellent health and for the most part am fit. Sister #1 is 5'5" or so, very bird-like thin (unhealthfully so according to those in her family that love her due to some recent sickness and depression) and weighs in at a whopping 113.

    What is most amazing is that we both have equally negative self-images--she always wishing that she was curvier and me often wishing that somehow I was less.... massive.

    I think it is great that you are comfortable in your skin and I am working to enjoy how God made me. In the past the story of Jael in Judges provided a lot of encouragement to me. She had to be strong enough to drive tent peg through a man's head her whole life so that she could fulfill Deborah's prophecy. Strong women are valuable! Yippee!

    Good to see you writing. I always enjoy your posts.

  2. I'm not as comfortable in my own skin as I'd like to be -- in fact, I'm far from it. As I recently told someone, I doubt I will ever be one of those women who exudes confidence about her appearance, and I don't buy the idea that "Every woman is beautiful!" The mirrors in my house tell an entirely different story. But I see no reason to believe that "You are fearfully and wonderfully made" automatically precludes me because I am not plus-sized, and that "size acceptance" means insulting, mocking, and even cursing women whose size is deemed too small.

    That's a great Bible story! I admire strong women. And I take pleasure in surprising people who expect only weakness from a little old lady like me.

  3. Rebecca, I hope you take this in the accepting spirit for which it is intended, but...I never gave any thought to your size at all. Never entered my mind! I think your words are lovely and refreshing and thought provoking and that's what I come here to read.

  4. The funny thing about any issue is that both sides feel picked on.

    I posted "May I Please Be Fat," in which I didn't "come out" as plus-sized, just simply pudgier than is culturally acceptable. And I've decided to like myself that way.

    I do admit to pangs of jealousy at your size 5... but a point I wanted to make more of in my post, but didn't, is that my body type won't BE a size 5. Never ever. I think what annoys "fat girls" is that those with a certain body type (yours) can achieve the Ideal Weight much easier than others who do all the same things you do. Often, thin girls get lauded for what amounts to a good metabolism. (Not lumping you in with them, just a generalization.)

    I have no wish to [expletive] skinny girls, and I do applaud you for your courage in declaring that You Are Slim And You Like It That Way!

    -- SJ