Fat Shame on Me: When Your Biggest Critic Is YOU

Last night, I did something I haven't done in a long time.

I stepped on the scale. It had been shoved under the vanity at some point last year, when I declared to be "done with numbers"! It was dusty, but those numbers I've been avoiding were easy to read.

If you've read more than a handful of blog posts here, you know that weight is one of the subjects I touch upon now and then. I could post links to at least a dozen emotionally-charged missives about how I loathe myself, about how hard it is to lose weight, about the myriad of excuses I'm able to come up with as to both WHY I'm fat and WHY I can't seem to lose that fat. But I'm not going to do that. If you're really curious and have some time to kill, enter the words "fat" or "weight" or "Hagrid" into the little search box up there on the left.

Nope. This entry into my online journal isn't going to be another one of those. Nor is it going to be a solemn, empowering declaration of CHANGE and me stating that this will be the last spring/summer/fall/winter I spend hiding under layers of black and gray clothing. Been there, done that...got the piles of big girl yoga pants to prove it. Talk is cheap, writing online even cheaper still.

I'm doing this because of things I've read over the past several months. All of the articles encouraging women to love their bodies no matter the shape or size, all of the open letters to fat shamers, skinny shamers, shamer shamertons everywhere who cast hairy eyeballs upon any fat person who dares to go out in public. The online discussions that happened after my pretend boyfriend Louis CK "bravely" aired an episode that dared to explore what goes on in the mind of a *gasp* fat woman. And just a few days ago, I read something by a writer guy who calls himself the "Anti-Jared", about how, if someone doesn't love you when you're fat, their love is not wanted.

You know what I said to myself after reading that last one? I said, out loud, "I don't even love myself at this weight. Why would I expect someone else to do it?".

I joke about being fat. Self-deprecation is my middle name and if there's going to be any allusion to my girth, dammit, I'm going to be the one alluding. I spent five days in December doing nothing but laying on a couch like goddam Jabba the Hut. I could actually feel the fat growing on me. And yet, I did nothing about it. Nothing but complain loudly, to anyone within earshot (my kids and my poor, long suffering friends) about how fat I was getting and OMG the chins and hey do these look like bedsores to you?

I joke about it because I don't want to acknowledge the harsh reality of it. Because I'm in denial. I find it easier to poke fun at the fat bear rather than look at that poor cowering creature and try to figure out why. Everybody loves the funny fat girl, right? She's just so mother effing jovial.

But get this: these are the tears of a fat clown. After I saw the numbers on the scale last night I immediately began the ritual: damning myself for letting it get so out of hand. Blaming myself for being so self-indulgent and slovenly and stupid. I thought about Weight Watchers and cutting out carbs and kicking my beloved martinis to the curb. I began mentally writing the blog post where I shared with the world my weight and my woe and yet another "hear me roar" announcement that THIS IS IT! I'm done being fat!

And then I told myself to shut the fuck up. Shut up with the hatred, and shut up with the idea of throwing money I don't have into the well of Weight Watchers or NutriSystem and please, for the love of all things holy, shut up with the pronouncements already. I took a deep breath, and for the first time in ages, looked at myself in the mirror (while wearing my pajamas, not nude. Because I may be strong but Christ on a pony I'm not that strong). Only this time I didn't focus on everything that's wrong (and trust me, there is so much wrong staring back at me). I didn't put on my rosy acceptance glasses, either, the ones you wear when you want to avoid reality and go all kinds of Stuart Smalley on yourself.

I looked at myself honestly. I don't like what I saw looking back at me.

And that's okay. It's okay to not accept what you see in the mirror. It's okay to not want to embrace your curves. It's okay to give yourself some shit for letting things get out of hand.

The only thing that isn't okay about it? Is if you settle into a rut of self-shaming, and not doing anything about it. People can crow from the tops of the tallest tress about loving the skin you're in, about self-love and acceptance and how fat doesn't equal unhealthy or unlovable. If you're considerably overweight and you're okay with that? More power to you, sister or mister. I'll have what you're having, seriously. I envy those of you who are able to look past the layers and give yourself a break, give yourself the love you so richly deserve.

But I'm not able to do that. Yes, I can see that I'm not hideous, I can see the positives, I can see the beauty that others claim to see. It's there. Only it's buried under way too much ME. It's hard to see through the rolls and the bumps, the slopes and the flab.

I love the skin I'm in, I really do.

I'm just not comfortable in it. I'm tired of struggling to get a bra hooked, of pulling muscles in my stomach while I strain to pull my boots on, of feeling short of breath after walking up the stairs. I'm tired of feeling parts of me jiggle as I walk down the halls of my school...and not the parts that you expect to jiggle (have you ever felt the backs of your arms wobble to and fro? It's not awesome.). I'm tired of ducking when someone says "Let's get a picture!" and of knocking crap off tables and counters when I turn around. I'm tired of feeling my underwear roll down my hips and knowing it's not because they're too big, but rather they've just given up.

I'm tired of it, but I've been here before. Exactly here, in this same spot, lamenting the same thing. Time for a change? Hell yes. Will there be a change?

I don't know. It sure would be nice, but my history tells a tale of strong beginnings and weak endings that are smeared with artichoke dip and late night Taco Bell feasts. I'm good at planning but pretty bad at follow-through. My closets and drawers read like some insane archaeological dig, filled with bras that range from 34B to 40DD, size 6 jeans and size 20 pants. Underwear that is undeniably sexy and some that could double as sails on a schooner.

The reality is, I like myself better when I'm smaller. That's it. I'm shaming myself for the fat because it really, truly is a shame.

Shame on me.


  1. Hi Jenny,

    No matter what the current state of your body is big or small it can always change. People love you for who you are, not your dress size. Please be kind to yourself as you would others. Thanks for sharing and remember what we tell the kids..."it gets better".
    The Colonel

    1. Aww snap, Colonel! You made me cry ♥

      Thank you. And you're right, it does get better.

  2. Excellent writing -- very real and honest. It's a tricky subject -- even tricky to comment on, actually. Wishing you more satisfaction with your body, however that may transpire.

    1. Oh, thank you, so much. I felt like I needed to get this out of my system. My poor BFF had to endure the text storm last night, ha!

      I will be satisfied with it, I know it. In a way, I am. Just not completely satisfied. Thank you so much for reading.

  3. Hello friend. I'm writing as a fellow fatty and someone who always struggles with weight as well. The one trick that has worked for me in the past (turns out it stop working when you stop focusing on it!) was to focus on something different: feeling strong. I realized awhile ago that I actually feel sexy when I feel strong. As in, I can run 10 min (or less) miles, I can climb multiple flights of steps without panting like crazy, I can lift what needs to be lifted and I feel like I have energy. Screw being thin. I have accepted I will never be skinny, the closest I will be is "average BMI". But I really didn't care about skinny when I felt great about how my body moved, how my clothes fit, and the fact that a boxing class that had kicked my ass was manageable and even enjoyable. So think about what makes you feel sexy. (Besides 10 margaritas.) You might be tempted to say "when I feel thin." But if you are exhausted and hungry from starving yourself that thin, I don't think you will feel sexy. Do you feel sexy when you feel your clothes fit you well? When you know you have...um...stamina? When you are as amazed as any man at all the things your body can do? Etc etc. I guess what I suggesting is focus on something you know makes you feel good IN YOUR BODY whether that be going for a walk, doing yoga, or dancing like an idiot in the privacy of your room. Then do that. If weight loss comes, great. If not, you will be getting joy from and appreciation for your body as you go. That sounds like a win win to me!
    *I realized as I was writing this, I was writing it to you and me. I really have missed focusing some time on myself and my health. Thank you for inspiring me and reminding me I can get back to a good place.

    1. Lucky, thank you so much for this pep talk :) And you are 100% right. I'm not the type who is able to get stick thin...after my divorce I lost a ton of weight and never dipped below 140.

      Like you, I feel good when I feel strong. I think that's what is bugging me the most about my current state: I feel like shit. I took your advice and closed my eyes and thought about what makes me feel sexy. And you know what? I feel sexy and confident when I'm able to get through a Body Pump class with extra weights, when I'm able to move and not feel clunky. I feel good when my arms fall flat against my sides and not awkwardly plopped over a too-big waistline. It feels good to slip into clothes and not have to pull and tug and cover things up.

      I miss wearing bathing suits.

      And on that note, I'm bundling up right now and taking my poor dog (who is also fat right now) out for a walk. Going to crank some sweet tunes and walk for a long time, because that makes me feel good in my body ♥

      Thank you, so much, for taking the time to write. You opened my self-pitying eyes.

  4. I just read this article in Huffington Post and then read your post directly after:


    I completely agree that I have nothing but respect and admiration for any BODY that loves their body in it's current state. The amount of pride and peace that comes with that I can only marvel at. Myself? I don't own a scale. I couldn't handle it. Having my favorite slinky dress tell me the truth is quite enough. xoxoxoxo

    1. I read that article too :)

      We didn't have a scale for YEARS. I finally broke down and bought one a couple of years ago. The thing is, the numbers game is kind of bullshit. I always roll my eyes a little when people say they've lost "2 1/2" pounds...you could take a massive tinkle and lose a half pound. Like you, I prefer to go by how the clothes are fitting. Sadly I haven't worn anything with a zipper or a waistline in so long I have no idea if anything is tight or not, HA!

      Thanks for reading :)

  5. Oh, if I could I would give you a big hug right now. I think I have spent most of my life struggling with scale. I agree with "being strong" and how you feel.

    1. Oh simple_chic...I'd take that hug. And yes, I love love LOVE the being strong. I've been keeping that in the front of my head these past few days, and relishing the times I've felt good. There are more of them than I would have ever guessed!

      Thank you so much for the love.

  6. Hi Jenny, I can so relate to your post. I have gained at least 75 pounds in the last few years from a combination of health problems, a doctor who did not catch the low thyroid in time, family tragedies and LIFE in general. I know you are not nearly at this size, but I understand the physical discomfort, the embarrassment and the frustration you are going through. Hey, I have people I haven't seen in a few years that come up to me, look closely and say, "Are you all right, Jane?" I feel like they're thinking, "are you in there, Jane?". Needless to say, it's very depressing.

    You are a very attractive woman, and I envy your smaller size (and slender, shapely calves, lol). I hope you can truly love yourself. I am going to work on that, too. After all, what has hating my body ever done but result in more weight gain? Hugs to you

    1. Hey Anon! Girl, I don't know if we know each other in real life, but I could lose 75 pounds and look just fine. And, oh my GOD I know exactly what you mean when you describe what people think when they see you. I'll never, ever forget the time I ran into a former student, I hadn't seen her in about a year and a half. I'd gained a shit-ton of weight. She was looking at me real funny. Like, she knew the voice, kinda knew the face...but was freaked out. I said to her, "Naomi...I'm a lot bigger, aren't I?" and she nodded. Times like these? I think most normal people would crap their pants and begin a massive diet effort immediately. Me? I probably went home and ate 2 baked potatoes.

      I thank you, profusely, for your kind words. And if we know each other in the real world, I hope we can get together for a salad and a hug.

  7. I hear you. I nearly said those same things to myself this morning. It was the extensively huge chins that looked back at me in the mirror when I was getting ready for work. (Might be the reason I only look in a mirror twice a day, when I am brushing my teeth -- and then I'm focused on those gums.)
    I *know* what I need to do. I know *how* to do hard things. I just... love to eat certain things. And I HATE HATE HATE being told what I can/should eat or not eat. I also hate that alcohol has calories, because I'd be happier if I could have a more drinks and fewer eats. Or maybe happy is not what I'd be. I really don't know at 11pm. But I do know this: you struck the right voice and tone with this post,and you're not in this boat alone.

  8. Thanks for the honesty. It is refreshing and reflective of how I have so often felt. That is all I have, no advice answers, or admonishment. Just, "I hear you. I have felt that, sister. Thank you so much for sharing so that I see that despite how I feel, I am not alone. That is a gift. It really is."

  9. I agree with the commenter up there: focus on feeling fit/strong first. It's easier to see improvement in that area (especially if you are really out of shape) and that makes you feel good about yourself. I know that, in my case, the better I feel about myself, the healthier I eat.

    Also, menopause helps. I do still do some mindless eating now and then, but the emotional eating thing? Completely gone. Just like that. Thank goodness!

  10. Oh just rebrand it. I call it "squidginess." I'm all for health and working out and kale for breakfast, but fact is, no one is bouncing quarters off my abdomen either and I LOVE carbs. Life is not worth living without carbs, I'm sorry. Something happens in your 40s and metabolisms grind to a halt and shit it's hard to lose weight. Fight the good fight, but keep loving yourself. And failing that, those dramatic weight loss slide shows at HuffPo keep me motivated… to eat more kale and do the damn elliptical.

  11. This post put into words what I have felt for my entire life. Thank you. I'm sure you have heard of her, but I strongly recommend you listen to BrenĂ© Brown's TED talks and read her book, Daring Greatly. This is a quote from her book - “The people who love me, the people I really depend on, were never the critics who were pointing at me while I stumbled. They weren’t in the bleachers at all. They were with me in the arena. Fighting for me and with me. Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands. The people who love me and will be there regardless of the outcome are within arm’s reach.”
    and this one is just as great:
    "Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, 'no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.' It's going to bed at night thinking, 'yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.'"
    Thank you for your words and inspiration - know that you are not alone in this struggle, and I am cheering you on, in whatever form that may take!

  12. I love food, so dieting to me was like trying to nail jelly to a tree. I decided to try just giving up sugar and test the waters......Hells,bells, ringy ding ding,,,,it worked. Ate all the foods I love and ate no sugar deserts. Really did the job. Give it a try Jenny. If it doesn't work for you, just put pictures of your ex and your replacement on the fridge door, that's bound to destroy your appetite.

  13. I hear you, I'm so with you on this topic. I love this post. For me, I will never own a scale again. Those things are evil. It's so effing hard to do mindful eating only.


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