I used to be fat. I don’t use “fat” pejoratively or as an exaggeration—I was obese. I’m not fat anymore and I don’t feel better. I thought that losing over 50 pounds would finally allow me to love—or at least tolerate—myself. It didn’t—it just gave me the opportunity to find new things to hate.
Since I was maybe seven-years-old, I have been acutely aware that I am not pretty. I don’t know if this is based in reality and it doesn’t really matter, but I have always known that I am funny and smart, but not the prettiest girl in the room. Intellectually, I know that this shouldn’t matter, and maybe the ugliest thing about me is not that I perceive myself as ugly. It’s that I care so much.
I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking that I’ll be happy when I’m pretty. So I research plastic surgery, obsess over people I’d like to look like, and weigh myself compulsively. I publicly pride myself on being logical and rational, and this is humiliating to admit; I say that I’d rather be smart than attractive, but in reality I’d rather be dumb and sexy.
Most of my conception of my own beauty is tied up in weight. Let me be clear—in other women, weight is not a factor in deciding if I find them to be attractive or not. I’m not bullshitting when I gush about plus-size models because I truly believe that women are beautiful at any size. It just doesn’t apply to me. I have been a lot of different weights in my life. In high school, I decided to only eat food that was green (cucumbers, apples, celery) and dropped 30 pounds in about two months. During my sophomore year of college, a combination of depression and medical issues caused me to put on about 60 pounds. So I’ve been really skinny and really big, both as a result of obviously disordered eating and emotional factors. Now, I am average, and I still feel disgusting.
As a result of the massive changes my body has undergone in the last eight years, I literally have no idea what I look like. When I look in the mirror I just see my body, the same as ever. It’s the same picture I had when I was stick-thin and the same picture of when I was obese. A monster at any size.
I have largely scrubbed any images of myself at my lowest and highest weights from the Internet at the risk that someone will find out that I used to be fat, or worse, that I used to be skinny. I occasionally tell people that I used to look a lot different because I fear that somehow they will find out on their own. I know that I am supposed to be humiliated by the fluctuations.
Now, I’m normal-looking. My weight is unremarkable. And look, this is scary and embarrassing to admit, but I cry almost every single morning before I have to leave the house. I don’t want to be looked at. I must be the ugliest person in the entire world. I lost a massive amount of weight and it didn’t do a single thing. I wasn’t ugly because I was fat. I am ugly because I hate myself.
Now I wonder, what the hell was the point of counting my calories and running? Does anybody actually like running? There were some unintended and very positive consequences of losing weight the “right way”—slow and steady. I eat more normally now, instead of starving myself or binging, as I have done in the past. Dieting in a healthy way did allow me to confront and conquer some of my deep-seated eating issues, and the fact that I have the ability to eat a sandwich without wanting to die is a vast improvement over most of my life. But if I look in the mirror, I still hate myself.
I was so sure that my self esteem was wrapped up in my weight, and then I lost it and nothing changed. I still obsess about my weight, but now there’s a whole ton of other things to be horrified by. My teeth are crooked, my mouth and ass are too big, and I am afraid that I don’t look feminine. Worse, now that I have less weight to obsess over, I’m left to confront actual self-loathing based on things besides my physical appearance. I am insecure that I’m not smart enough, funny enough, likable enough, or as fun as my ‘fun’ friends. My clothes aren’t cool and I’m not cool. Are my interests even interesting? Do people care what I have to say?
I write about being body positive almost weekly, and so desperately want to be a part of it. I see positive body image in other women, and I admire and covet it. I still think if I just lose 15 more pounds, I’ll finally be happy. But I know that’s not true and I’m tired of waiting. I’ll still hate my hair and my face and everything about myself. At some point, I have to come to grips with the fact that no matter how drastically I change my outward appearance, I’m going to have to get right with myself if I want to see any positive changes in my life and stop hating myself. My body has nothing to do with it.