I’m at the point in my quarantine where I’m back to watching movies all day everyday. My list is pretty exhaustive, even if I’m rewatching some old favorites. One that I watched for the first time was “Dumplin”. Originally, I thought it was just about a chubby girl who wants to do pageants, but I was so wrong. It brought up a lot of trauma I didn’t know I had. Weirdly enough, it helped verbalize what I learned as a big girl.
It’s Not ALWAYS Like the Movies
Watching people scream “Fatass,” down the hall made my heart break for the girls in the movie, but it wasn’t something I could relate to. Sure, I had my fair share of venom spit at me, but I wasn’t innocent in the words I let fly. People said hateful things about my weight on anonymous forums like Ask.fm – a place that it was easy to be mean without owning up to your words. Every teen’s nightmare, if you ask me. Little did they know, though, the biggest bully about my weight was me.
I looked in the mirror and silently repeated worse things than anyone could ever say. The names that I called myself were never actually verbalized. No one took my lunch money because I had thunder thighs. Nah, it’s not like the movies in that way.
In the movies, it’s like the outward force is the only one that needs to be overcome. You have one Masquerade ball where the hot guy kisses the chubby girl and everyone suddenly thinks she’s also hot. What if that’s not everyone else you have to convince that you’re hot? What if it’s yourself?
The Scars Run Deep
As I literally sobbed at a Netflix movie, I realized that there was still a lot of damage from negative inner dialogue for so long. The scars that I gave myself trying to fit into an unrealistic mold ran much deeper than I thought. I’m heads and shoulders above where I was, but it takes a long time to unlearn that much hatred in your own skin, your muscles, and your being.
It’s something that I have to bring up in new relationships. My need for validation isn’t because of something my partner is or is not doing. It really boils down to my disbelief that I deserve affection, attention, and love in this form. Like Dumplin said to the cute boy at work, I spent so long thinking “boys like you don’t end up with girls like me,” that it’s hard to unlearn that.
Cute Boys Don’t Make You Feel Better
I used to think that if I could just get someone to dote over me, all body image issues would just melt away. I held onto a pretty toxic relationship for a long time because if you’re with someone you have to be kind of desirable, right? I’m aware of how humiliatingly desperate that sounds. When you’ve trained your brain that being wanted equates to being beautiful, you’ll take what you can get.
That also translates to the dating apps. As much as you want them too, having 45 conversations going on Hinge isn’t going to make you feel less self conscious. I’ve learned that no matter how many people you have telling you that they want you or how many comments you get on your photo. Life starts to change when it’s you that’s telling yourself those things.
It’s Not Forever
Like with everything in life, there are good days and bad days. There are days where you could not get me to wear anything besides a 3XL sweatshirt and leggings. Other days, I will wear a dress and put on lashes. You have to unlearn the habit of talking to yourself like you’re less than.
I had to learn how to make myself feel good first. There’s songs that make me absolutely feel like a million bucks. I’ve bought lipstick just to treat myself. When all else fails, I remember what I would say to someone I loved going through the same thing.
I would remind them that the number on the scale doesn’t dictate your worth in everyday life. The way that your arms look in a photo doesn’t mean that the love of your life will leave you. I would remind them (and me) that confidence in the face of vulnerability is the most beautiful thing in the world. We are beautiful today. We’d be beautiful 200 pounds heavier – even if it wasn’t very healthy. God damn it, we are worthy of loving our being – big girl, small girl, nonbinary pal, short guy, tall guy, or anyone in between.
What I REALLY Learned as a Big Girl
I’m pretty damn special because I’m me. It’s irrelevant to my weight or the way that my stomach looks in a swimsuit. I learned some things about body image the hard way, but my favorite thing I’ve learned is that being me is better than anything else I could be.