I’m a mom now and suddenly, three little beings are constantly watching me for cues on how to be decent people. That’s a heavy load. I’m not allowed to say things like “ass-wipe” anymore and I have to hide in the bathroom to eat candy before dinner. Before having children, my partner and I decided we didn’t want our daughter(s) to learn to hate their bodies. We also decided we didn’t want our son(s) thinking it is normal or acceptable for women to hate their bodies. I decided I would make a conscious effort not to talk about weight loss or to put myself down for being too big… IN FRONT of the kids. But actions speak louder than words, right?
I also started working out more and forcing myself to wear cute clothes, even though most of the time, I still felt like Jabba The Hutt. A funny thing happened, I started feeling better and then it took less effort to not talk about weight loss and not put myself down. Did I initially start working out to lose weight? In the end, the result was that working out made me not care about how big I was or how much I weighed. Huh. Well, I was hooked. Keep in mind, that through all of this, I remained overweight – just less overweight and more in shape than when I started. 112 pounds (aka my lowest adult weight ever) never felt as good as that.
It’s a few years later and I’ve survived three rounds of childbirth. I’m 41, I’m short, I wear glasses, I’m tired all the time, and I am fat. None of these things are insults. They are just facts about me. I find it funny how when you say things like, “I can’t sit in that chair because I’m too fat,” People gasp, clasp their hands over their hearts, and respond with things like, “No!!!!!! First of all, you are NOT fat!” I’m 5-foot-3 and 200 pounds. I’m fat. It’s okay. I’m also really smart, a snappy dresser, a classically-trained singer, an expert at Smart TVs, and a former restaurant worker. I’m lots of things and fat is just one of them. I’m not ashamed of it and I don’t have to use some euphemism for it or pretend the elephant isn’t in the room. (Here’s a dancing elephant coloring page, just because!)
If I say, “I can’t see that because I wear glasses,” Nobody freaks out and says, “First of all – OF COURSE you can SEE.” We are giving not-so-subtle cues that being fat is a BAD thing. I’m lucky because I don’t care, but what about the young people who overhear this and understand immediately that if someone is fat, it’s not good? We console them about it and assure them they aren’t… even if they OBVIOUSLY are (aka we lie about it!). It’s almost like the only thing worse than being fat is admitting that you’re fat. On the other hand, I realize that you can’t respond with, “Why, yes. Yes, you are. You are very fat indeed,” Because that would be rude. We’re all of us caught between a rock and the fat lady.
And a fat lady.
So, I’ve discovered that working out makes me happy and unfortunately, right now, I’m too tired (and too busy keeping three small children alive and trying to have a career and learning the violin) to get up any earlier than I already do to add exercise to my schedule. I’m also having a hard time tying my shoes because I’ve grown this belly roll that I never had before. It occurred to me that pushing and pulling 200 pounds around all day versus pushing and pulling 150 pounds around all day equals more fatigue. This realization is creating real a moral dilemma.
I’m nothing if not honest and I have to admit that I’ve decided to go on a diet. That’s right, I am on a diet. A real diet where you count calories and can’t go over some allotted amount that is set for you by someone who obviously never gets hungry and who does things like forgets to eat lunch. I feel like everyone sensible is going to be angry and call me a betrayer of all things feminist. Never mind that feminism is supposed to be about choices and agency over your own body. It’s all very confusing, isn’t it?
Am I secretly super-vain? Does that even matter? I don’t know. I truly don’t. The men I’ve spoken to about this have ZERO issue with vanity. “Yeah,” They say, “What’s wrong with vanity?” As a female-identifying person, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to not care about my appearance, or to care about my appearance but not care what other people think of my appearance, or look good without (admitting to) putting any effort into it, or is it that I’m supposed to stop shaving my armpits because the patriarchy, or keep shaving my armpits because freewill (and the patriarchy)? It’s all very confusing. I can say for sure, that I want to get back to kickboxing. The problem I’m facing now is not at all about feeling ugly. (Eureka!) Big no longer equals ugly. The problem is, I can’t do the things that bring me joy. (Boo!) And while I like the way I look, I know that if I don’t do something about my size and condition, I won’t be able to keep up with my family or pursue my interests.
What’s a fat-and-mostly-happy girl to do? When I was skinny, I was miserable. I thought I was gross and regretted every cookie I ate. For the first time in my life, I’m not worried about what size my jeans are. When my kids ask me, “Mama, are you fat?” I simply say, “Yes, I suppose I am.” I don’t feel hurt or sad or anything at all. It feels just like when they say, “Mama, you have brown eyes.” I tell them they shouldn’t say stuff like that to other people because we shouldn’t talk about other people’s bodies. I try not to make it about being fat. I try to make it about general respect for people’s privacy. I’m scared that I’m setting a bad example. Isn’t that the plight of all conscientious parents? I want to be a good role-model by being a bad-ass, plus-size mom, but also by enjoying physical fitness, and by doing whatever the eff I want, and also by teaching my kids to respect others. Again, very confusing.
So, if what I want is to lose enough weight to kickbox again, why do I feel so torn up about it? If I were a man, I bet I wouldn’t. I’d just decide. The bottom line is this: I will NOT obsess about my weight like I did in my twenties. I have come WAY too far for that nonsense. I plan to bring everything I’ve learned from my 18 months as a fat-and-mostly-happy, tattooed, bad-ass mom of three into my future. I just want to be able to ride my bike while I do it.
 Obviously, vice versa and all that too and gender neutral but let’s face it, Marie Osmond and Oprah aren’t exactly pushing their campaigns to the boys at the Legion.
 I sort of secretly admire Jabba the Hutt and want to dress up as him for Hallowe’en every year. He’s a boss. He’s big and fat and naked and doesn’t care. But…he’s pretty ugly and I just wasn’t always so great with feeling ugly. I also get that the Carrie Fisher/gold bikini business is unsavory but it’s also kind of hot. Confusing, right?
 I have an Instagram following of Egyptian men who like “fat-bottomed women” to reinforce it – but that’s a story for another day.