I am the type of person who has always been supportive of other women. We are stronger together than apart. The push during the past few years of applauding and inclusion of plus-size women in fashion mags has had, and will always have, my strong and very vocal support. Pictures of women in bikinis who, for far too long, were told by society that only the ‘slim women’ can wear this type of swimsuit, made me happy for them. It also made me wear one myself, bulges and all, no problem. No one has the right to tell someone else what they can and can’t wear according to some ridiculous, antiquated ‘fashion norm’. I totally support women of every body type and shape.
Seeing women of all sizes on online sites such as Nordstrom, Dillards, Bloomingdales, even Barney’s, etc., was at first surprising and then refreshing. Yes! Attractive, designer clothes for everyone in every size. It was wonderful seeing runway models of varying sizes during Fashion Week here and abroad, wearing beautiful outfits, a long-awaited wish that, for many, came true. Fashion equality at last!
I support this new attitude. I support new medical research that states a person’s weight may have nothing to do with their all-around health. Natural diversity in body shape and size, self-acceptance—in other words, affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth, regardless of differences in weight, physical size, and shape. Oh, yes, I do support it all and happily so.
So—if I’m supportive of all this, why am I being criticized for following a healthy eating plan to lose 30 pounds? It’s personal and, for me, the right thing to do. But, I’m finding that the fact that I want to diet is causing me some unwanted negative feedback from female friends. I feel as if dieting is a dirty little secret that I have to keep hidden from other women.
“I feel that if you go on a diet and I don’t, it’s almost as if I’m being fat-shamed,” said one friend after finding out that I wanted to lose weight.
“You, who encourage other women to accept their bodies, you want to diet? Why can’t you accept your body at the weight it is?” said another friend and colleague. “Honestly, aren’t you being a tad bit hypocritical by going on a diet?”
Well, no, not at all.
I’m 5’4” and technically, according to me, I weighed 30 pounds over what I, (not a doctor’s or weight loss organization’s goal—simply me, myself, and I), felt was my healthy weight. I no longer want to be a ‘big woman’ on a small frame. It was what I decided, not what anyone else decided for me. I want to lose 30 pounds.
There are several reasons for my decision. One, I do not feel ‘good’ with 30 extra pounds on my small frame. I have a beautiful friend whose extra poundage, (her words not mine), never affects her at all. She feels healthy and her body feels good, but I don’t feel that way at all. I feel sluggish and uncomfortable especially while exercising. Then too, I don’t like the way I look. This ‘big woman’ I see in the mirror is not me.
And then there are the size 10s and size 12s designer clothes I have hanging in my closet. I can’t wear them unless half-zipped zippers are hidden by baggy tops. I went to a friend’s party wearing a beautiful navy blue dress whose mostly un-zippered back remained hidden under a sweater. Yes, I could buy the larger sizes, but I don’t want to do that. Yes, I did wear that bikini, but it was a little too snug of a fit. It has nothing to do with the opinion of others, I simply want to feel good and comfortable in that bikini.
Let me say that I have no intention whatsoever of getting down to a size 0 or attempting to reach the goal of 118 pounds a magazine article said that a woman my size should weigh. What?! Even in my competitive tennis-playing college days, I was never a 118. I would’ve passed out on the court if I was.
No, my goal is to get to somewhere in the low 150s or high 140s where I’ve always felt comfortable, good, and fine with how my body looks. Not to mention being able to fit into my clothes. It’s not vanity, it’s a practical decision.
Diets don’t work, say the experts, and they are more than correct, but, just as no one exercise or sport is good for all, no one diet is either. If you hate doing it whether it’s exercise, sport, or diet, you won’t succeed at it. You’ll give up and that’s self-defeating. I want to succeed and I want to do it on my own.
I know that some will say that my support of all women and all sizes is false but, I can assure you, as I assured my friend, that my support is honest and unwavering. I know there are those who will say that I’m giving in to the ridiculous demand of society’s definition of how a woman should look but I know I don’t want to fit society’s idea of what a woman my height and build should weigh. I do not want to fit into anyone’s idea of what’s right for me. I am thinking only of how I want to feel and look and that’s it.
So I’m asking for all women of every size to support me as I have wholeheartedly supported them. I am not letting you down, I am not fat-shaming anyone or saying what I am doing is right for you as well. It’s right for me and that’s important.
I’m doing exactly what I have always told others—you have the right to make decisions for how you live and how you want to see yourself. I have that same right. Let’s support each other.