La version française de la chronique d’Elise => ICI
Our new contributor Elise will write regularly on this blog about different issues, among which self confidence, weight, body acceptance, etc… Here is her first post !
Before I started exploring the Internet regarding body issues, beauty and self acceptance, I was a shameful fat girl. I’m still this girl sometimes, but less and less often. The awkwardness, the shame, the guilt. These are the feelings which prevail in the main part of my life as a fat girl. I don’t know if it was the same for you. But I personally spent a lot of time apologizing for being here.
In a lot of aspects of my daily life, I’ve felt and I still feel guilt sometimes. When I see that my neighbour on the tube is a bit crushed on the seat next to mine. When I feel like people on the bus rather pick other seats than the one next to mine, knowing that they’ll have more room. When the fold-up seat next to me doesn’t fold up and stays down because of my right butt cheek. When I have to ask someone to move his or her chair to let me through in a restaurant. When we are three people sitting on the back seat of a small car, and we are all squeezed up because of me.
As a teenager, I was already fat, less so than today, but enough to have a perfectly clear self-perception of my body as a body different from the others. Once, I was with friends, and we climbed up the fence of a public park to get in. I was totally freaked out. It was not a high fence, maybe one meter and a half. I was so scared of not being able to make it, of staying stuck, of making a fool of myself in front of my friends. But at the same time, I didn’t want to stay behind alone because of my weight. So I went last. I struggled, but I made it. A friend kindly stayed behind to wait for me. I couldn’t stop apologizing for making her wait for me, but also, even I didn’t dare say so, for having made her a witness of this pathetic moment.
But the feeling of guilt and shame doesn’t stop there. For a long time, I couldn’t accept any compliments. I waved them and mistook them as pity. I wanted to apologize for not being one of the « pretty girls » at parties. I hid myself when I was faced with a socially difficult situation, for example dancing in public. I told made-up love stories so people wouldn’t be embarrassed when confronted with the sentimental void that was my life.
The worst part was of course food. In public, I always felt compelled to give a reason for my eating a cookie or some French fries. I didn’t have lunch today. I’m starving, I went for a run this morning. I played quite a lot of sports for a while, but when I stopped playing handball, I still used sports as an excuse for my appetite and my love of food. I often said things like Starting now, I’ll watch myself. Right now, it’s true, I’m eating without reason, but I’ve decided to make great efforts. As if the « I » in the present wasn’t really me, but more a rough sketch of the thin person I would become. As if I was in transit, merely progressing towards a state of grace and normality. As if being overweight was necessarily a temporary situation that needed to be fixed.
It’s exhausting to apologize all the time. It’s exhausting to justify oneself, to make sure you don’t embarrass people, to make oneself invisible and to be mad at oneself for everything and for nothing. Not living at peace with oneself is a vicious circle that makes you unhappy. And I was unhappy because of the shame I felt towards my body.
Sometimes, I still feel it punctually, like whiffs. The familiar sense of embarrassment makes me totter a little, and I feel guilt re-emerging inside. But globally, as of today, I know how to keep guilt at bay. Because, thanks to healthy readings, personal thinking and people I met, I know there’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with my body. Others should not have a problem with my body. It’s none of their business. My body is healthy, functional. It does me lots of favours and brings me all kinds of pleasures. It can be beautiful, I know it. Sometimes, like everybody else, I think I’m ugly, but often I find myself pretty, when I’m wearing a nice dress, when I’ve put some make up on, when I’ve succeeded in something that was important to me. I smile at my reflection in the mirror and I see everything I don’t like in my body. But I mainly see the person I am and of which I’m so proud. And I think I’m pretty.
I stopped apologizing for nothing. If the gentleman behind me needs to move his chair so I can go through, maybe he was not seated as he should have in the first place. If we are squeezed in the back seat, it’s because the car is too small, and also I can’t help it. If my neighbour on the tube has less room on his seat, it’s because the seats are narrow, it’s not my fault, he’ll get over it. If today I had to go over that fence again, I would tackle it without hesitating, laughing in the face of my possible difficulties. Nobody around me would feel embarrassed, even if I failed, because I wouldn’t be either. And I will not apologize anymore.