Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beautiful


I spent a large part of my life somewhat to very overweight.  Now I weigh a hundred pounds less than I did in high school and I’m baking cookies and cupcakes like flour is being discontinued.  Sometimes I pass windows and mirrors and have to double take because I rarely recognize the blonde I see reflected wearing the same dress I am.  Every once in a while when I’m brushing my teeth or checking the hem of my skirt, I catch my own glance in the mirror and have to stop and take myself in.  It’s not a vanity thing, I don’t think, but more of an information-gathering exercise. “Oh, so my nose does that now…  My eyes look different this way.  My arm looks like that…  Oh, so my legs look like this when I do that...”

I don’t feel like the chubby girl I was in high school any more—I didn’t even feel that size when I was that size—I feel like the very curvy, well-padded girl I was at the halfway point:  fifty pounds less than when I walked across the stage to get my diploma, but still big enough to be “plus-sized” for several years.  I feel like that girl every time I leave the house, every time I go to a restaurant, every time I enter a crowded room.  Pretty but slightly ashamed. 

But I think I’m coming to terms with it, I think slowly and ever-increasingly I’m coming to understand who I am and what I look like in this new body.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that I would EVER be the size I am right now.  I dreamed and longed to be this exact size, but only ever in the deepest, most secret recesses of my heart and imagination because I thought there was no way it could happen.  I honestly didn’t think it was possible unless I went on Survivor or something…

But now here I am, and things are not as I always imagined they’d be here in this daintier, bonier land.  Men don’t approach me as much as I thought they would.  In fact, I think I get less attention now than I did forty pounds ago.  I still can’t wear a bikini.  That sucks.  It’s a little more uncomfortable laying in bed with my laptop now that my hipbones are more prominent, and unpadded chairs can only be occupied for a few minutes at a time. I get cold easier.

I don’t really feel like I’ve won.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many advantages to being a woman on the cusp of being underweight in our society…  Right now I’m sitting in a painfully trendy café, and I know I fit in.  My hair is curled, and my emerald sundress is pulled down off of my tanned, lean shoulders.  I never have to think if I’m the biggest girl in the room any more, or wonder if a store’s largest size will fit me.  Dainty little flip flops with wispy straps always felt ridiculous on my pillowy feet, and now a delicate gold sandal hangs from my pedicured foot…  I can wear “skinny girl sandals”.

But sometimes I wonder what it all means.  I think of all the people who slave away at the gym and read about celebrity diets and are practically killing themselves to be thin, to be beautiful, to feel what I feel…  And it doesn’t seem worth it.  This?  This is what I agonized over for so many years?  This is why I cried myself to sleep so many nights?  This was the holy grail, and now I’ve got it and all I am is confused.

Nobody ever tells you this in Weight Watchers.

The victory that I’ve found, however, just comes back to all the truths I knew when I was bigger, but never allowed to sink in: that regardless my size, no matter what I look like in that dress or those jeans, I am beautiful because I am a daughter of the King.  And better than I look in the perfect outfit, I am more stunning, more outrageously beautiful holding a baby I love, or talking with the old lady at the supermarket who likes my sweater, or sitting on the cold bathroom floor with my sick friend in the middle of the night.  My heart makes me beautiful.  My smile can set the world on fire.  Not because of who I try to be, but because of who He is making me to be.  And that is worth finding.  That is worth seeking with all my heart.


I just wanted to be beautiful.  And I think I’m getting there.

20 comments:

Alison said...

Dang it. You made me cry. I love and admire your sheer transperancy. You're nothing short of inspirational, my friend.

Hilary Lee said...

i love you - this was an amazing read.

Suz Broughton said...

Beautiful to read. I haven't ever read anything like it before. You are truly lovely, inside and out.

Suz Broughton said...

Beautiful to read. I haven't ever read anything like it before. You are truly lovely, inside and out.

Anton said...

Well, I'm certainly glad you still bake cupcakes. I plan to take full advantage of that soon :)

So how did you do it, what's your secret?

I'm kind of fascinated by people who's bodies change rather drastically at some point in their life. How, one day, do you just decide to go to work reshaping yourself? I for one, have been lifting weights since I was 14 and I'm almost the same weight now that I was then.

Very good read indeed.

dawn said...

I agree with the others -- a beautiful read and you are truly gifted... I love to stop by here and see what you've written -- now, I'm never going away!

Good for you -- from another girl that thought things would be different if I LOOKED different...

Lindsay Osborn Seery said...

You look absolutely amazing! Congratulations on all of your accomplishments!

Ashlyn said...

Thank you so much for writing this! Truly touching! Even though I've known you for less than a year, your inner and outer beauty immediately shined to me like the stars in the sky!

Charlotte said...

I love that your heart is so authentic that you can share the deep secrets with out seeming pretentious at all. Thank you for sharing this wonderful gift with us. You are such a beautiful person and I am thankful to know you even a tiny bit!

Girl Friday said...

Beautiful. Open. Wickedly Funny. Lightening Fast Wit. Big, Big Brain. You have been this from Day One. It's so very wonderful to constantly be reminded of what a truly unique light you are. I adore you.

Dre said...

Well since everyone above has covered all there is to say about how truly magnificent you are, inside and out AND in the eyes of our beautiful creator, the only thing I can think to say is...

I concur.

Miss you lady...

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent read. You are a very talented and creative writer. I am definitely hooked... :)

Iron Chef Shellie said...

What an inspirational story. Thank you!
I have been struggling with weight my whole life. I can't believe how different you look!

I'm subscribing!!
=]
x

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a lovely story and perspective Jessica. I, too, went through a similar experience. I lost about 70 lbs during my junior year at UCLA. I love food and cook more now than I ever did in college ... it's funny how our weight came seem like our identity but once we undergo such a dramatic change we realize how silly it all is in the end... as you said, it's all about your heart... can't wait to read more. > Ashley Sawyer, UCLA (I think we're facebook friends... if not, I see you on there all the time. )

Anonymous said...

You do have a beautiful heart. It will never matter what you look like on the outside. Life is too short to talk about weight, size, diets, calories, looks etc... If you are happy and your weight is healthy, then live the life God has planned for you since the day you were born. Proud of you!

Rindy R said...

Wow - it was like I was reading MY story. Tall, heaviest girl in high school - slims down in her 20's to have the perfect life and reach the holy grail! I reached the grail - but it wasn't what I thought it was going to be (all those same insecurities came with me - darn it)(They were supposed to get lost on the journey somewhere!)
Got cancer last year - all the hair came out, 25 pounds came back on, but when my daughters looked a me and said - wow mommy - your still the prettiest mommy to us - I have never felt more pretty in all my life.
Good for you! I can tell your as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside!

geminigirl64 said...

First time reader of your blog... and I loved this post.

I had been overweight all my life, you know- always had 50 extra pounds. I did jion WW and lost those 50 pounds. Of course, I couldnt wear a bikini, but it was strange to finally feel as though I was part of that club... the beautiful pple's club. Pple do look at you differently.

I managed to keep the pounds off until I became pg with my twins last yr (after ivf).. it balooned me back up, but it was worth it. My girls are now 10 months old, and I am 22 pounds away from what I was prior to the pregnancy. I still feel like I dont fit in, that this body I reside in now isnt who I really am.

But I think your words are beyond beautiful. We really do need to treasure ourselves for other reasons... besides our appearance.
You are beautiful.

thx!

Ali said...

Oh wow...almost made me cry there. :)

You rock girl, you seem to have such a beautiful heart. That is what matters the most -- and I'm glad you realize that too. :)

OrangeMoJoJo said...

What a fantastic post. But you didn't mention - how did you do it?? (o;< Just kidding! I stopped by for your awesome-looking blondies recipe, and couldn't stop reading! (o:

jo

krwebb said...

I loved this post.

I came to your blog via TasteSpotting's link for your gorilla bread and quickly became entranced by you and your writing.

This post in particular resonated with me. I am on the other end -- having gained those 100 pounds. I look back upon photos of me when I was thinner and remember how unhappy I was with myself -- I always felt I was fat and unattractive. While I don't LIKE being heavier, I think I like being ME more and have a better perspective on life. Thank you for sharing. I am now off to start reading your blog from the beginning :)

Karla