“You’re too big for him.”
Growing up I never gave much thought to this idea. That I was “too big.” Sure, I had insecurities and struggled with self esteem. I wanted to look pretty, have nice clothes and wished that some things about my body had been different, but I never really considered myself “big.” Not until this moment.
My first serious college boyfriend, his friend and I were hanging out one evening having dinner, and my boyfriend’s friend was studying the two of us closely. “What?” I’d asked. “Why are you staring at me?”
“You’re too big for him,” he blurted out.
Honestly, it was the first time I’d really noticed. My boyfriend at the time was of average height and he was thin. Compared to him, I did look quite a bit bigger. But, I never considered it before. Now it was all I could think about.
In my shock and dismay my boyfriend rushed to my defense and we quickly wrapped up the evening. The car ride home was filled with apologies and “So you’re a little bigger, you’re not fat,” type of statements.
I never saw his friend again (not sad about it). And eventually, my boyfriend and I broke up. But that one statement stuck with me. “You’re too big for him.” You’re too big. And I started to believe it.
The next several years of my life were filled with chasing beauty standards that I would never achieve. I thought that in order to be desirable
that I needed to be smaller. I started using exercise as punishment. I started starving myself. If I had dessert with friends or a cupcake at a holiday party I went home and did an extra cardio session to work it off. The “fat burning zone” and the “calories burned” counter on the elliptical machine became my guide. When I started to see my spine with more clarity I thought that I was finally beginning to arrive.
Thankfully, I had people in my life who intervened and helped me get back on track with healthy eating and exercise habits (you can read more about that here). And while I never did go back to extreme dieting and 2.5 hour+ training sessions, I thought that all of the head games over my body image was behind me…..until I got pregnant with my first son.
The expectations for the expecting woman are intense. Everyone has an idea of how much weight you “should” be gaining per week and how quickly you should be able to “bounce back” after you give birth. And, I’ll be honest…..as a fitness professional, I fell into the trap of putting a lot of pressure on myself to look a certain way postpartum. At first, the weight fell off pretty quickly, but then there was a stall, and I started to worry. “You’re too big.”
But, wait a second…..says who?! The more I thought about it the more I wondered that. Who says that I need to look a certain way? Who says that the postpartum body needs to be erased as if the pregnancy never happened? Who says that I need to weigh a certain amount?
We get to make a choice here. We can either buy what society, media and other people are selling or we get to decide for ourselves what beauty and strength is. Who gets to decide these things for me?
I DO. I get to decide. I get to define my self worth. Not other people. Not the media. Not #fitspiration celebrities. I do.
I’m not “too big.” I’m BIG. I’m powerful. I’m strong. And I have decided to take back what’s always been mine: my esteem, my confidence, my self love and my body.