LISTEN UP: Your weight does not define you

July 4, 2013
Body and Soul, Cara Rage, Feminism, I love Links, Life, My Advice, Pissed Off, Rants

weight

Yesterday I read this article which made me cry. Why? Because I could have so easily written it myself. I have spent much of my life worrying about my weight and I know this began early on by my mum who has a terrible perception of her own body image which she unintentionally projected onto me. Growing up mum was quite overweight and it was a major struggle for her to overcome the emotional issues that made her that way and then eventually lose weight. She lost over 40kg through Weight Watchers and was a lecturer for them for a number of years. Then some bad stuff happened, like my parents splitting up and her having a near-fatal accident while we were holidaying in Paris, that made things hard (and almost impossible for her to exercise) so she eventually put the weight back on. So now she’s back to being overweight and is desperately unhappy about it, and it breaks my heart.

family

My family and I in about 2001, my mum was at the peak of her weight loss here

She would always look at thin women and say “I’d kill to have a figure like that” which I also do myself now. She also used to comment on my figure when I gained weight after going through puberty, say that I had such a pretty face before reminding me that I needed to lose a few kilos, or encourage me to go on diets with her or comment that I shouldn’t wear certain clothes as they weren’t flattering. I remember my family went on a trip to Cairns when I was in my late teens and I spent so many nights crying by myself because everyone would comment on how gorgeous my younger sister was who has always been slim, while effectively ignoring me or worrying about my weight even though I wasn’t anywhere close to being overweight.

 mecat

During the trip to Cairns where I was  made to feel fat and daggy for not being as slim or fashionable as my younger sister

I tended to go through phases where I was comfortable with myself as I was to being horrified at how fat I’d let myself become. I’d go on diets or just live life without a care in the world. I got pretty chubby while I was living in England and I really didn’t care that much at all, making the occasional token effort to eat better but generally not giving a damn. I can’t explain why I was so OK with myself as I was, perhaps it was because I was surrounded by awesome people who didn’t go on about their figures constantly or bring others down by making nasty comments, or perhaps it was because I had absolutely no trouble picking up guys. Whatever it was, I was happy, confident and didn’t feel pressured to be a skinny minnie.

But then I came back to Australia and everything changed. I met a guy who told me constantly for the next six years that I was fat, that I’d be “so hot” or “unstoppable” if I was skinny, that he was ashamed to be seen with me because of my weight, accused me of lying about going to the gym/eating healthy because it didn’t show and so on. I endured that for six years until I had no self esteem left. I only had a smidge of confidence that I had a pretty face because that’s aabout the only compliment I ever got and even then I rarely heard that because of all of the hurtful and destructive criticism he would yell at me. Imagine being told that your boyfriend didn’t want to have sex with you because you’d put on a few kilograms? That he’d start showing you off in public if only you’d lose more weight. Getting told to stop getting tattoos because they didn’t suit a girl my size. Yep, pretty nasty stuff.

I had lost about 8kg here and was told by my ex that I was finally hot enough for him to be proud to be my boyfriend. I gained the weight back as soon as I stopped the diet I was on, as I was pretty much starving myself

While it was clear my ex was an abusive jerk who didn’t deserve a second of my time (let alone six years), his words had a huge impact on me and it’s been a long, hard road to try and get over them. I have a new, wonderful and loving partner who showers me with compliments constantly, who thinks I have the body of a bombshell goddess and even if I did gain a bunch of weight, would still love me until the end of time. And yet I worry almost everyday about my weight, especially since I’ve gained a bit since I hurt my back last year and had to stop exercising for a few months. It stresses me out all the time, and even though I know I’m being silly, I can’t help it! I’m pretty healthy in my eating habits and exercise regularly, and yet I feel like a bit fat blob who everyone whispers about behind my back.

I also get really sad when I see friends get obsessed with dieting, exercising and losing weight. Now days it’s not on to say you want to lose weight, but are trying to be “healthy” when they really just mean they want to lose weight and be skinny. Why can’t we be happy with how we are and maintain a healthy lifestyle without blasting it all over social media like we’re fucking heroes for going to the gym and eating a salad? Why can’t I look at an instagram post of someone eating junk food and not immediately feel compelled to judge them?The mentality of what is healthy is is so messed up. It’s assumed that being slim = healthy and being fat = unhealthy. Meanwhile I work with a bunch of women, half of whom are super slim and yet eat anything they like, never exercise, drink and smoke constantly and yet at face-value they’d appear healthier than me with my chubby little belly, thighs and big bum. The other half just obsess about what they eat and are constantly taking weight loss pills or trying new diets.

I came to the decision a while ago that I was going to change the way I express myself about my body image issue, because I refuse to let me children grow up thinking they’re fat or ugly because of the things they heard me say about myself or others. And not just for my future children, but for other women around me. Some of the things my friends and work colleagues say about themselves to one another (as I was writing this one workmate called herself a “fat fuck” because she’s been craving/eating scones lately). I’m going to try and stop spreading negativity by bitching about how fat I am, because I’m not. And even if I was, who cares? It’s unhealthy and BORING to talk about weight all day and I’m sick of this toxic culture of bringing ourselves down when we’re perfectly wonderful the way we are.

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  • Oh, sweetheart. *This* post made me cry. You are absolutely GORGEOUS, and clearly always have been, and I can’t believe that anyone would subject somebody to such hideous, unnecessary cruelty, let alone someone that they love (or someone as beautiful as you).

    You are obviously a gorgeous person, both inside and out, and I thank you for writing such an amazing post. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Haha and now your comment made me cry, again! Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. I’ve grown a lot as a person as a result of and after I endured that horrendous relationship, and while I wish it never happened, it has made me appreciate my relationship now so much more than I might have under different circumstances.

  • Knowing you for so long (sooo long!) I’ve seen your struggles. And while, sometimes I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you whilst saying “OMG Cara, you are one smoking hot lady, with a gorgeous body” I do understand that it’s mainly the way YOU view yourself. To me, you’ve never been fat, in fact, when I see you I think “I’d kill to have a figure like that”, because to me, you do have the perfect figure.
    Loving yourself isn’t always easy, and I feel thankful that i’ve managed to keep a level head. I’ve been teased badly all throughout school because of my weight, I ballooned up quite suddenly due to steroids, and its in the genes really, the Mulford side is all quite stocky. But i’ve somehow managed to adapt an attitude where I’m not obsessed about losing weight. I don’t know how, otherwise I’d tell you my secrets.
    Thats not to say I don’t want to lose weight. My goal has always been to sit around 100kg. At my heaviest I was 122, I’m currently around 106 & that’s mainly due to my health, not because of society. I exercise, in fact I had to laugh on holidays cause my sister said to me “You’re pretty flexible for a fat chick”. Thank you pilaties & yoga!
    Just don’t be too hard on yourself. The main thing is to make yourself happy, and if you want to lose weight, then go for it, but do it for YOU & no one else. I’m so happy that your new man is treating you right (seriously, if cloning becomes available, I’d be first in line! :p ) and I hope that he helps you see what other people see in you, which is a beautiful lady, both inside and out.

  • Adele Banks

    It’s lame, but true – it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The older I
    get the more I realise how much I love people who are good,
    compassionate and care about personality and deeds rather than looks.
    It feels good to slowly stop worrying about silly things like the way my
    hair looks on a given day, or being a bit bloated. Far more important
    things to focus on!