In Which I’m Embarrassed About My Weight

The average American woman weighs about 162 pounds and wears a size 14. Average. According to that statistic, I am slightly below average (1-2 sizes to be exact). I am on the high side of normal BMI, but by no means am I significantly overweight.  Of course, I would love to be in better shape, to shed a few pounds. Most days, I feel about average.

But not that day.

Last week, I found myself in a situation where a sub-group of people in a room was singled out, and valued in a certain way for being skinny.  Now, to be sure, the women in this same sub-group are beautiful, talented, smart, and hard-working.  But that wasn’t what they were being lauded for (at least in the words of the speaker).  No, they were the skinny ones. And the rest were… well, that was not exactly discussed.

It was one of the handful of times in my entire life that I have been utterly embarrassed and shameful of my body. This body which has birthed three beautiful girls, which has carried me through 37 years of life. And happens to have about 25 extra pounds hanging on it.  Oh there have been unflattering photos that showed by booty a little too much, or caught me slouching with a little muffin top goin’ on. But in THAT awkward moment, I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. In that moment, I wanted to run away and not come back. And I sobbed on the way home that night.

I know what your first reaction may be.

“Who would do that?”

“Where?”

“I can’t believe ANYONE would say that.”

But that’s not what this post is about.  In defense of the speaker, I’m sure he/she had no idea how his/her words were coming out of his/her mouth, or how they were being received.  The fact is, it doesn’t matter. In this life we cannot control what another person does.  But we can control our reaction.

And that’s what I’m not sure of. How do I process these feelings of shame? Are they founded? Should I just suck it up and lose weight? Or does this go deeper? Is God allowing that place in my heart to be pricked so that he can work on it?

That first reaction I had — the one that made me want to disappear — that’s not the way to handle this, I know it. I’m too stubborn to give up on anything because of a few extra pounds.

But then… I feel myself going in the other direction…

(Begin dream sequence)

Me and my "thighs" circa 1990

Speaking to myself, I’d say, “Oh, yeah? Well, I can lose weight! Just watch me.”  And then I’d do it, and go too far. I’ve been there before.  My Middle/High School ballet teacher told me to watch my thighs and hips, they were getting bigger, you know.  She was just looking out for me. And at 115 pounds, I began to see myself as fat. And at 15 years old, I would starve myself to drop weight, until I couldn’t take it anymore and then I would break… and secretly eat. It never got bad enough to make me sick. However, the cycle began.

In college, when my boyfriend made an offhand remark about how my legs were getting flabby, and “did I want to work out more?” I took it a little further. I started to get disgusted with myself whenever I would eat. I couldn’t describe it, but the offending calories just had to come back out. And they did. Quite often, for about 6 months.  At that point, God sent a friend who had been through full-fledged bulimia to confront me. Thankfully, shortly after that incident I gave my life over to the Lord and he freed me from  the fulfillment of that particular dysfunction.

I was really proud of myself in 1999 when I got back down to 120. I didn’t realize that I had gone too far, and would have kept going, had I not gotten pregnant with my first child.  God saved me again!

So what do I do now? How do I finally get healthy without eventually becoming unhealthy? What do I do with these feelings of shame? I did the Mamavation 2-week challenge with the fabulous Leah Segedie, and started to feel great. But I always sabotage myself. I’m AFRAID. Ashamed to be heavy, but scared to do anything about it.

I’m praying that God will show me, and I know He will. In the meantime, I’m just hangin’ out, me and my thighs! (ha ha)

Tell me, can you relate?

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. Sarah, as one who has btdt (and I think we touched on this back at blogher10) I truly don’t think that we can EVER get past our worries and insecurities in this area. Once it starts and affects us, it’s truly always there. Nearly like an addiction, I suppose.

    The best we can do, the most we can do, is support each other and help each other to remember to look at the beauty. At the life that we have that is beautiful. And that we’re healthy. Completely healthy.

    People are mean. They don’t mean to be, but they say things like the speaker did and make the rest of us focus on our flaws. Sure. You have flaws, I have flaws. We have things we just don’t like about ourselves. But we have to remember that the whole self, it’s beautiful. And our health has to come first. So, we work on our health. And we focus on that.

    I don’t even know if my response is helping, because I am sure you know all this already. But, sometimes, it just helps to hear it from another.

    Go. Look in the mirror. Remind yourself that you’re beautiful, healthy and fine. Then, if you want to focus on getting “healthy” and trimming down a bit, find a friend who you can work with, bring your husband into the discussion. Share your concerns out loud. Having a friend by your side will make a huge difference. But you have to be willing to say it out loud. That you want to be more healthy in your weight. That you’re concerned about your health, but that you do or don’t trust yourself because of your past.

    And monitor it. Make small changes–not huge ones because that’s binge changing. But make these changes and with every change you make, come back to this post and remember yourself.

    Gosh. I feel like I’m lecturing. And I responded in a novel. I’m just concerned… because I know what a special friend you are to so many (not to mention mom and wife.) And because it sounds like you need a real, big friendly hug and a big, huge cup of coffee to discuss life over with a good friend.

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  2. As a former anorexic, I hate to see posts like this. You look beautiful in your picture. I spent a huge portion of my life hating the way I looked in the mirror, and I was thin! Be yourself, be healthy, revel in your family and friends. They all know you are perfect. Well, maybe a bit more blusher.. xo

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  3. Nikki
    Twitter: Nikki_S
    says:

    Sarah, I don’t know what I could say that would offer any help for you but having met you (and immediately girl crushed), so I guess I’ll just be all confessional like.

    I don’t see flabby or unhealthy when I look at you. And your thighs are just fine. I always thought I had cheer leader legs (ummm no. I don’t really, but in my head, I did and I’ve never been a cheer leader. I can’t even cartwheel.) because the cheer leaders all seemed to have some thighs… and nice calves (there’s no point here I just wanted you to know I have thighs too) but I love them. I still think my calves look awesome too btw.

    I was one of those girls who was told to “eat more” because I was always too thin by my mom’s standards. I ate “like a bird”. Now? I think the bird turned into a vulture or some kind of pre-historic man and small child eating bird… So my bird eating ways caught up with me.

    I hate to exercise so my sabatoge is simply not doing it. Oh I fell off the wagon because I didn’t exercise this week. Or last week. My reason for not joining the 2 week challenge was that I didn’t think I could stick to the diet, the last time? House full of sick kids and no time for me to exercise. I have a trillion excuses just lined up and waiting.

    *I* think you’re beautiful. You have the most amazing smile and you are so full of widsom and savvy that I could listen to you talk all day long. Did we hang out much at any of the conferences we attended last year? No. I’m probably just a blip on your screen in the circle of blogging friends but I think your intelligence, your smile, and how you present yourself far out weigh (no pun intended) any feelings of shame you have for your body. I think it’s one thing to be healthy and want to be healthy but it’s not right to do it or feel like it has to be done because of what some other person believes you should look like.

    Don’t take what was said to heart instead I’d take it as a teaching lesson that we still have a long way to go to educate others that you don’t need to be a skinny girl to be beautiful and love yourself. You just need to be you – and the you I see is simply lovely.

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  4. Weight is such a touchy subject isn’t? When I tell people that I weight 166 lbs and am a size 14 they can’t believe. That’s mainly because I’m 6 foot tall. A size 14 looks completely different depending on your height, but I used to put myself in the category of what the world thought as overweight and get in the dumps. I’ve had 3 kids and with each child it’s been more and more of a struggle to get the baby fat off. Not to mention I’m older too. Back in High School up until I had children, I was a bean pole. High metabolism, could eat anything and did and not gain a pound. Yeah, I was the person everybody hated. LOL! Fast forward to 3 kids later and 20 years older I still have in my mind that I should look like I did 20 years ago and it isn’t going to happen. I like to feel good and if I can feel good at this weight then I’m happy. I’m definitely not obsessed any more. My goal is to be able to do things with my children and eventually my grandchildren. I want to be physically capable of running around with them and playing outside etc.
    So here’s what I’m doing. I admit that I’ve never had an eating problem, I love food but I’m also stubborn so it ends up being a perfect combination when I set my mind to something. Last September I gave up all added sugar. This coming from someone who LOVES her chocolate and dessert. I really didn’t change anything else about my diet (we eat pretty healthy anyway) and in about 2 months, I lost 10lbs. with little effort. That paired with exercising 5 days a week and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in a long time. Physically I feel great and if I never lose another pound, I’d be happy with the way I am. But since I feel so good when I work out, I actually enjoy it. Some people don’t but I do. It’s working for me so why stop.
    Well I don’t know if this has helped you or not. LOL! Just know that God made you in His image and that we are told to take care of our bodies. It doesn’t say starve ourselves or workout til we drop but I know that you can find a healthy medium there and then stick with it. Just try taking out one thing from your diet and see what happens. It can be bread, pasta, sugar, etc. Start small.
    You can do it!!

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  5. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sarah…I know that this issue is an issue of the heart. My heart as well as yours. I’m not happy with my body either. But I’m convinced that eating right and exercising AREN’T the answer. Not to say that those things aren’t good, or won’t help…they will. But a problem that starts in the heart can’t be solved by the will. Not alone.

    My weight has been up and down, up and down, all my life too. I thought there was a time when I had conquered it, could say I had overcome. But then I had two boys 23 months apart, then my uncle died…and 10 months later my other uncle, then my grandfather, then my aunt, then a miscarriage…all within less than 5 years. And I ate for comfort in the midst of extreme pain. I turned to food more often than I turned to God, and it shows. THAT is the heart of my problem.

    I’m praying for you today sweet friend. Maybe we can encourage each other 🙂

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  6. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sarah…I know that this issue is an issue of the heart. My heart as well as yours. I’m not happy with my body either. But I’m convinced that eating right and exercising AREN’T the answer. Not to say that those things aren’t good, or won’t help…they will. But a problem that starts in the heart can’t be solved by the will. Not alone.

    My weight has been up and down, up and down, all my life too. I thought there was a time when I had conquered it, could say I had overcome. But then I had two boys 23 months apart, then my uncle died…and 10 months later my other uncle, then my grandfather, then my aunt, then a miscarriage…all within less than 5 years. And I ate for comfort in the midst of extreme pain. I turned to food more often than I turned to God, and it shows. THAT is the heart of my problem.

    I’m praying for you today sweet friend. Maybe we can encourage each other 🙂

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  7. From one shapely girl (who is barely squeezing into her average size 14) to another, THANKS FOR YOUR HONESTY!! Once again you’ve managed to say what we’ve all been thinking and feeling alone in our struggles. We, as women, have got to learn to focus on being healthy and forget about the scale. I know what incredible shape you’re in (and wish I could say that I was!) but there is something out there that makes us long to be skinny. That great thing is that God loves every inch and every pound of us and we have both been blessed with husbands that do as well. Maybe that’s the purpose- to prompt us, as average women, to speak up and make curvy the new skinny!

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  8. Beautiful Sarah! I agree with one of the other comments, when I look at you, I see a gorgeous, talented, loving woman of God. I don’t think about your weight or size when I look at you. I tend to think that when you look at someone and all you can focus on is their size or weight, then they are probably unhealthy in either direction. And you don’t want people to just think about your size when they look at you – you want your other qualities to shine – and who you are just shines. It’s sorta like when I tell Alli when she can’t wear a certain piece of clothing, and she will ask me why. I will tell her that you want people to look at your face when they see you not your body, and that piece of clothing means people will only look at your body. I also tend to think that whenever you look at someone, you only see their size or weight or constantly compare yourself, then it is an issue with your own psyche.

    But female psyches have a difficult battle in our culture. Look at the Renoir paintings of naked women! They were real women – and that time wasn’t long ago. Everyone knows about the struggles that the media and models cause for the female psyche in our culture, but when has there been such a proliferation of mirrors in a society – now or in times past.

    All that being said, I just recently started Weight Watchers Online. We moved into this apartment in PR with frickin mirrors on every wall, and I got tired of seeing my bulges at every angle all day long whenever I looked up. I did the whole boot camp thing last spring and lost weight and got in shape, but who am I kidding? I just can’t keep that kind of exercise up long term. I did WW before my three kids, and I liked it then because it helped me think differently about food and it helped me get my eating healthy – kinds of foods and portion sizes, but I could still have a piece of chocolate cake on occasion. So now three kids later and after being able to eat whatever I wanted when nursing, I’m trying to get my eating healthy again and shed a few bulges in the process. I know people don’t look at me and think overweight, but I still struggle with my own psyche too. I doubt there are very few women who don’t struggle at some level in our society with this whole weight, size, image battle.

    I once heard someone say that she ranges from a size 6 to a size 14. When she is a size 14, she is unhealthy and letting herself go. To be a size 6 though is also an unhealthy obsession. So size 10 is her healthy size. I’ve just been trying to focus on being my healthy size. There are days when I dream of my 18 year old body, but then I would have to neglect everything else in my life to get that. But then there are times, like recently, where I know I am unhealthy in my eating habits, so I just try to focus on being healthy again while I dream about the days when Renoir women will be the vision in everyone’s psyche. It’s a struggle to stay mentally, physically, and spiritually balanced on this issue, but isn’t that the struggle in life – to stay balanced.

    Keep charging on, beautiful Sarah – get back up on that balance beam. You were knocked off by insensitive comments by someone who probably isn’t on the balance beam herself. And here’s a pic for EVERY woman out there. http://www.allpaintings.org/d/124867-2/Pierre-Auguste+Renoir+-+Woman+in+an+Interior+.jpg I’m sure she would have a muffin top if she actually found a pair of jeans that fit her thighs.

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  9. You know, Sarah, in spite of all the talk about how the average American woman is too fat, our life expectancies are higher than ever. The correlation between overweight and poor health has more to do with age than it does with weight. Someday the “health” nazis are going to figure that out. It’s not really health they aim for with skinny, fit-looking bodies. It’s youthfulness, whether they know it or not. You’re beautiful, and you’re in great shape, and those pounds on your thighs and hips are there for a good reason: to keep you alive a few more years. As we age, our bodies hold onto fat unless we torture them because fat and estrogen have a very healthy friendship. I’d rather go through menopause with plenty of fat on me, personally. And I’d rather go through extended illness with some stores of energy in those cells, too! There’s a danger to real obesity, but I’d say what we think of as “healthy” is actually pretty dangerous as we age, too.

    Still, I wish I were thinner…

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  10. Weight really is such a personal issue, isn’t it? thanks for writing this raw and honest post. I am at the heaviest I have ever been and incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin right now. Yet because I feel like I have passed the point of no return, I am having a really hard time staying motivated to do something about it.

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  11. Thank you for this. I think by the way it shows in the comments, many of us struggle with food issues. All of them may be different – but yet they all come from the same place. Even after getting to a healthy place in my life (with my weight among other things) I have allowed the voices in my head to take over and convince me that I am not worthy to have a body like that. I am not worthy to be “average”. So rather than staying at the healthy weight, I abused myself and have gained quite a bit back. Which has led only to more self-abuse and a myriad of other things.

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  12. When I saw this title from you in the twitter stream this morning, I thought you had a guest poster.
    You, you feel this way … ack … you are beautiful both inside and out.
    Love ‘you’ for all that you are!
    As women we put so much pressure on ourselves, the other night I was looking at dresses and two older ladies stopped by to say what a beautiful color the dress was. I said , hmm, not sure I can carry it off … and they said, with YOUR shape you can wear anything. ME, the one that eats too much, never works out and is on the high high scale of where I want to be … and their reaction – so different. Why do we wear blinkers when we look at ourselves … when we really should look at how God made us to be and then just work on healthy and happy xxx love and hugs to you sweet one!

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  13. Leah Segedie
    Twitter: bookieboo
    says:

    Being a little chunky used to mean you were well fed and rich. It USED to signify a positive social status. Basically what has happened is that has turned around. It’s now a negative social status….it’s completely saturated the media and that is what we are told everyday with images in magazines, TV and movies. If you let that get to you, THEN YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Which is why I’m sure every person that reads this is going to empathize with you in some way. They understand because they have felt similar.

    “Being skinny” is also completely subjective. To me skinny is something smaller than what you were. So it could be a size 4 to some OR a size 14 to others. And the term “skinny” is completely subjective to us all. To bigger girls, you are a skinny girl…to others you are not. BUT the important part is NOT who’s skinny and who isn’t…it’s about health and how you feel about your own body. To some people 5 lbs. feels like 20 lbs, etc. I don’t think it’s right to belittle how a person feels about their body. That is their body. They have a right to feel however they want. And everyone has feelings that are valid.

    Here’s my take. No matter where we go, we are going to be faced with this feeling. We can’t stop people from ALSO being affected by the same media images that make us feel so uncomfortable with our own bodies. Perfection is not attainable. We know that in our heads…we also know that everyone is airbrushed, etc. But our eyes like to play tricks on us in our heads. I also feel the same way all the time. Especially being pregnant and gaining weight, I feel like I’m too big myself.

    I think wisdom comes when you step back and tell yourself. “I can’t do this to myself in front of my kids…I need to display more confidence in things that are long lasting like character, determination, love, strength, caring, respect for my body as my temple, etc.” So for you because you are a Christian, care for your body and love what you have because it’s what God gave you and God doesn’t give junk to people. So that means, don’t try to get “skinny”…try to take care of the gift God gave you. Because it is a gift. And I know you already know that. Sometimes I literally have to say to myself, “Leah…this is sickness and I need to remember that God gives us all beautiful things and to take care of what he’s given me.”

    I love you dear! Just know I struggle too. XXOO

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  14. Rebecca Knight says:

    Hi Sarah! You have been blessed with the best enthusiastic smile I’ve ever seen. Keep on shining. I want to share a verse I read this past week. It has helped me with my self-esteem. Isaiah 45:10 says, “How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, “Why was I born?” or if it said to its mother, “Why did you make me this way?” This is what the Lord says-the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?” We cannot look up at the Potter and make demands because he has a plan for our lives. Today marks the Roe vs Wade anniversary and so I am reminded today that LIFE is precious to God. Sarah, your life is precious and your name means princess, and you are truly the daughter of the Highest King! God Bless You!

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  15. Thank you for a beautiful post. I’ve been struggling with getting back to a healthy weight after my last child was born, six years ago. Somehow the more I have given of myself the more I had to feed myself food. I’m working on feeding myself other things, kindness, gentleness, love. You are beautiful. It is a shame that all our accomplishments can pale in comparison to what the scale says. I’m so glad I found you on Twitter, this was just what I needed to read today.

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  16. if you don’t like it change it, or learn to love it.
    Remember there’s always going to be someone fattier than you.

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  17. Health at Every Size has been a real breakthrough for me. I’ve stagnated at near the same weight for a year despite, in the last year, being off and on weight watchers almost constantly. I need to focus on health and on living NOW–not 20 pounds for now. Realizing that was like a light bulb going on for me. So I’m trying to remember, “Happiness is a feeling not a taste.” I’m trying to eat in a way that is loving for my body (and trying to remember that doesn’t always mean to reach for the chocolate). AND at the same time I’m trying to learn to enjoy my lunch. Food hasn’t been morally neutral for me for a long time, but it SHOULD be. Dieting and become gluttony for me. I swung from too sides of gluttony. The ‘screw it, I’m going to eat what I want,’ side that knew I’d buckle down eventually AND was rebelling against ‘diet think.’ AND the ‘obsess over every morsel that goes in my mouth and think constantly about the diet’ side. I’m so thankful to have found a middle ground.

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