Saturday, November 13, 2010

Owning The Fat

I'm fat.

Let's not beat around the bush here folks.  At my height of 5'4", I'm at least 25 kgs (55 lbs) overweight.  Obese, in fact, with a BMI of 34.3.

And yet I must have rocks in my head because I have been of the general opinion lately that if I ignore the fact that I'm fat, everything will be just fine.  Sure, I tell myself.  I'm plump and naked I look like a squidgey apple somebody left out in the sun too long, but I'm okay with this.  I can be the 'big girl'.  I can deal with the lack of family photographs (avoided because of my size), the inability to find clothes off the rack that flatter my frame and by golly, even the fact that 95% of my jeans wear out first in the inner thigh seam because of all the friction when I walk.


Several months ago it became apparent that I was not, in fact, happy with anything at all about my weight or general health.  I'd been fooling myself.  And how did I come to this epiphany after so long?

Well, the story begins with a dress.

I'm a jeans-and-tee kind of girl.  Always have been and I suspect always will be.  Wearing a dress is not a natural state of affairs for me.  And as I've grown larger over the years, shopping for a dress has become torturous.  But this time, it had to be done - I was going out with some of my girlfriends and had been beaten into dress-wearing submission on pain of death.

I took one of these friends dress shopping with me.  A much slimmer friend.  Who (of course) had already found her dress on deep discount and only had the fun stuff left to do, like shopping for shoes.  I went to every women's fashion store I could find.  Anything that looked good didn't fit.  Anything that fit, looked hideous.  Up until then, I'd been moseying on quite oblivious to this phenomenon, since it's still (relatively) easy to find a decent pair of jeans and a sassy top in my size (Australian size 16-18, or US 12-14).  I have a favourite jeans store.  Their denim fits wonderfully over my ever-expanding rear.  But buying 'going out' clothes in general? It was a massacre.

There I was, stuck under unflattering changeroom lighting (which only highlighted the t-shirt shaped expanse of bright white, non-tanned skin over my torso) and I could not find a single thing to wear that I could relax into.  I was not comfortable baring my arms in a sleeveless dress (a deathly fear of side boob is partly responsible) and I'd rather pull my eyelashes out one by one than wear a strapless dress (the strength of the strapless bra required to pull that one off is a job best left to NASA) but do you think I could find a sleeved dress that didn't drape like a muu-muu?

That would be a no.

It was a soul-crushing experience and one I hope I don't have to repeat for a long, long time. I did eventually find a little black dress (little? HA!) but in order to make it 'work', there was the 'you don't need that spleen anyway' corset-like shaping underslip thing, the camisole (to minimise the cavernous flash of cleavage the dress gave in its natural form (honestly dressmakers - pay attention.  Not everyone wants to put the goods on display!) and the jacket required to cover the bare arms.  I felt sucked and pinched and bunched up all night.

I don't always want it to be this way.  I remember when I was a wee slip of a thing and the number 10 was on every item of clothing I owned (US size 6).  I have a distinct memory of laying on my back and following the curve of my stomach with my hand - and it was concave!  Imagine!

I saw so many pretty styles on the racks but most were several sizes too small (in one national upmarket department store, I couldn't find anything above an AU size 12 and the majority were still 10s and 8s - when the average size of an Australian woman is now 14-16) Am I losing weight for the health benefits?  Oh, absolutely.  Both of my parents have had heart attacks, one fatal.  But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't partly vanity as well.  We all want to be able to walk into any random store and know that the fancy-pants outfit on the rack will fit.

I've thought about my goal weight this week too.  I used to have this arbitrary figure, 62 kg (137 lbs) stuck in my head.  The reason I'd originally chosen this number was because it would land me smack in the middle of my 'healthy' BMI range for my height.  Nothing too drastic.  Average.  But I've since changed my opinion on this.  My new goal weight is 65 kg (143 lbs), making my BMI toward the higher end of my 'healthy' range.  I had to step back from Unrealistic Land.  I remember 65 kg.  It feels healthy and strong.  And I'm so looking forward to that day.

In the meantime, there's always suck-in-yer-gut shapewear.  Sigh.

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