So, I’ve lost 100lbs
I’ve thought about how to talk about my experience in a way that was balanced, fair, and full of nuance. I understand that we live in a world that largely favors all things thin and that what I say may be taken out of context. But respectfully, right now, f — k that.
Here’s my truth. The day I decided that I wanted to lose the 80lbs I’d gained over 4 years was a day like any other but I was fed up. I’d spent the majority of my adult life living in a body of a certain size and in a short amount of time, I became the biggest I ever was and I felt how the world I once knew dramatically changed. I didn’t like it. So I made the decision and did something about my weight. I didn’t feel my best and frankly, I wanted that old thing back: pretty privilege.
One Expert OhStephco made a video that quickly went viral titled “I don’t have pretty privilege and that sucks” . As I discussed it with friends and family who were baffled or insisted that her lived experience was more about her perception than reality, I found myself realizing just how differently the haves and have nots experience life. With newfound perspective, I knew what it was like to have something and then rather quickly and unceremoniously lose it.
I grew up in a neighborhood in New York City where my 5'5, hourglass curvy frame was considered the ideal body type. Blessed with straight teeth, clear skin, and a nice smile, I glided through a life where doors were held open, people smiled at me just because, and I was treated better simply because of my appearance. This carried on through undergrad and graduate school, countless requests for dates, favors being granted in work, and people willing to go the extra mile for me. I’m sure my personality also played a part in this experience but the Halo Effect was real and I was enjoying every bit of it.
But as the pounds crept up, the privilege started to dwindle. People were no longer rushing to hold open doors for me. I wasn’t greeted with genuine smiles by strangers en masse. My dating prospects changed as the men I liked were not liking me back and online dating started to include messages that focused on my body to compliment “hey sexy curves” or insult “you’re obese so you should take what you can get”. This whole time, my fashion sense, makeup application skills, and general beauty regimen were elevated. I was very well put together. I was still the smart, funny, empathetic, extremely feminine woman. I was just fat. And that changed everything.
I went through all the stages of grief. Denial. Anger. Depression. Bargaining. Acceptance. I grieved the loss of something I didn’t really know or accepted that I had. I grieved being regarded as an interesting human being rather than a flesh-material form standing in the way of someone more pretty to look at and talk to. So once I accepted that this was my life now, I accepted that I didn’t like it. I wanted to get back to the me I knew- in shape, high energy, pretty.
How’s life now?
Better. Shopping is fun, again (I’m a Strategic Image Consultant so fashion is everything to me). I can perch on impossibly small stools at chic bars. I know that if I’m out, there’s a strong chance a drink or two will be on the house or paid for by an interested suitor. I work in an industry that’s image-focused and my credibility isn’t questioned because I look the part. People smile at me, more. And then there’s the dating.
Where 2 years ago my dating prospects looked one way, I have a lot more options, now. And if I’m dating someone, I know I’m not settling in any way because he’s my choice and my type. But I also have to accept that he’d likely not have been interested 100lbs ago. I don’t begrudge them, either, because we all have our preferences. But it is sobering. It’s like living in a new reality while carrying the memories from your previous one. My mind plays catch-up on a regular basis.
I live in a world that’s a little more beautiful. A little nicer. A lot kinder. But it wasn’t that long ago that people weren’t that nice. Or kind. So what does this mean?
It means I take it one day at a time. I stay grounded as I honor the body I’m in now and the one that got me to this point. It means acknowledging that bigger women, while not inherently victims, certainly could use a little tenderness and affirmation. Maybe even a smile, some eye contact, and a door held open. Because they deserve to live in a beautiful world, too.