Friday, October 25, 2019

The Weight on My Soul




My annual physical exam is coming up in a few weeks and sadly, the part I dread most about it is when the nurse weighs me. I know I won’t love the number that will show, but just so I can feel less shame— even if it’s just 3 ounces less—I would carefully plan for my outfit for that day so that I only wear clothing with the lightest materials while still looking decent and put together. At the same time, I plan on not taking my shoes off so as to give the nurse the impression that I just don’t care and that I’m not neurotic about my weight. See how neurotic this all is? 

Weighing scales terrify me. All they do is remind me of all the self-loathing and dissatisfaction I have with my body. I'm reminded of who I've never been and might never be and the whole futility of a dream. The numbers on it hardly change now, especially after turning 40, and stepping on it each time is like allowing myself to be mocked or shamed for what I'm doing or not doing enough of. It makes me want to smash it or throw it out the window but I know that every time I step on it, it's also a challenge to accept where I am, who I am and how I'm built. Its existence is a constant reminder of how far I still am from truly loving myself, JUST AS I AM. 

It's not a big secret that I've struggled with my weight and my body image for as long as I can remember. I've never had an eating disorder and have never really experienced severe weight cycling. I’m not one of those who grieve the loss of their skinnier young selves, because I’ve never even experienced being just average or of a normal weight. All my life, people have always categorized me as 'chubby', 'round', 'sturdy', ‘fat’, ‘big boned’ (my favorite!), or simply ‘overweight’. Whichever term it was, I was always made to feel bad about my size. 

From childhood to my 20s, I've always heard backhanded compliments such as "Oh, you have such a pretty face, if only you'd shed some weight." Or as a kid, I heard a lot of "Ah, this one was let loose in the kitchen" as other adults spoke to my parents about me. It hurt. I resented those adults. But the damage was done the moment I heard them and unfortunately, can't be undone just as easily. 

And so I grew up being unhappy with my body, dreaming of a magic number on the scale or some coveted clothing size tag that will finally make me feel great about myself and tell me that I do look great. 

But it never comes. I've never seen it. Once I see something less or smaller than the one I had before, it's still never really enough. Never small enough. Never light enough. I almost feel like I'm chasing the end of the rainbow, but in pursuit, I always just end up tired and hitting a pot of M&M’s or Cheetos instead. 

So you can understand my aggression towards the weighing scale. All I see when I look at it is judgment. All I experience from it is defeat, an unfathomable sense of lack. 

I want to be happy where I am now. I want to accept my body for what it is—plump but not in a curvy or sexy way; straight but always lumpy and way too rounded in the wrong places; breasts not totally flat but never bigger than my stomach; legs that still have some shape but will never fit in regular width tall boots either. It's where I have always been, where I am now, and maybe it'll never change. 

I just wish I were at peace with it and would never feel, or be made to feel that I need to do more, shed more, just to be 'better'. I wish I could reach that place where a better version of myself no longer includes how I look on the outside. It's a gift only I can give to myself but still don't know why I could never seem to afford it. I know there are real problems in the world, but this is a burden I carry, the weight on my soul I don't quite know how to shed.


*This post was originally published on CATHARSIS under the title My Real Weight (2015). It has been edited from the original.