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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breaking the habit

I'm ashamed to admit this to, in effect, the entire world, but I promised myself I would be authentic so here goes.

Sometimes when I spy a very obese woman on a social outing with my boyfriend, I quietly point her out and ask him if he'd still be with me if I looked like her.

It's not the first time I've done this, either. Every man I've dated seriously has endured this question multiple times from my very obviously insecure self.

Tonight it's just dawning on me how completed effed up it is on so many levels.

The first is the fact that I am objectifying the very personal struggle of a fellow woman, judging her completely on the basis of her looks and not, to quote MLK Jr, the content of her character. If I put myself in her shoes, I'd be crushed to overhear someone speaking of me like that. It's just downright mean and spiteful and I promise I'll never do it again.


Secondly, this little game shows just how much I believe deep in my soul that I am only lovable or valuable when I fit a societal standard of beauty. In my 26 years, I've seen the scale peak at 197 and dip below 120. Crazy thing is, I've always felt like the same old me inside no matter my weight. Sure, I felt uncomfortable at my heaviest and received the most compliments in my 120s. But, internally? Completely the same.

I thought the same, laughed the same, cried the same, worried the same no matter how I looked.

I was just Michelle.

Emotional, angsty, encouraging, giving, type-A Michelle. But somehow, the smaller me was more popular, more accepted, more loved. The smaller me could breathe a little easier because, on some level, I believed that people would continue to love me because I was smaller.

Since yesterday, I've been struggling with a lot of body issues. For the past couple of months I've been hitting the gym pretty hard, avoiding sugar, eating better. I've lost some weight, but it's not enough. I see pictures of myself and feel pissed that I let that scale climb back up despite my promises that I wouldn't.

I'm basing my self-worth on the way I look and it's exhausting. Truly exhausting.

It creates this disturbing cycle of unhappiness and I'd like nothing more to break it but I wonder if it's even possible. Is it possible to reject the standard of beauty I've been fed childhood? Can I ever get to the point where I base my self-worth on the way I treat others, how hard I work, living a life of passion?

Of course, I want to say I can, but I honestly have no idea where to start. How does one go about unlearning a lifetime of thoughts and habits?

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