About six months ago, I started to work with a new nutritionist. I’ve been dieting, weight cycling, and bingeing since I was about 10 or 12 years old, so I’m an old hand with nutritionists. I had a psychologist who specialized in eating issues, and she suddenly left private practice, and I had no one to talk to anymore, and I panicked. I told my regular psychologist about this and, a week later, she had a name.
With apprehension, I went to meet this new nutritionist. Every nutritionist is different but they always have charts and lists and forms and numbers. This one didn’t. She wanted to know about my dieting life, how I felt about myself–my body and my size and my weight and my eating. And she asked me what was wrong with me as I was.
Why was I at war with myself? Was I a lesser person because my body was bigger than almost everyone else’s? Did I somehow “deserve” to suffer shame, stigma, self-hatred?
I had no answer to those things. So I started to think. I thunk. It made no sense–if I was, as I clearly was, unhealthy as I was, then surely the right thing was to fight my body, hate my body, attempt to forcibly shrink my body. Surely I simply hadn’t yet–in 30 years of dieting–found the right path to force myself to finally give up eating? That’s how I thought about it–give up eating.
She pushed. She got me reading–Intuitive Eating first, then, when she felt I was ready, Body Positive Power. She got me talking to others who had similarly disordered eating. She more-or-less forced me to go on Instagram and look at some of the amazing people who share of themselves in that forum.
It worked, all of a sudden, like an earthquake. One morning I woke up and I was there. I spent an entire day and night looking at fat women and plus size clothing options on the internet. With my husband, who was not unappreciative of the new visuals.
Of course, I’m still fighting. Forty years of mental habits don’t vanish overnight. There are many bad hours and bad days. But the future is now and I am in it. My nutritionist has told me again and again that I need to tell my story.
Very few of the fat-positive, body-liberation folks on Insta are nearly as old as I am. Aging sucks sometimes, and pairing it with being an “infinifat” (a new term I learned today and find charming) is fraught with peril. I brushed her off, because, frankly, I have a life. I have an excellent job in a conservative industry. I have a wonderful marriage. I have hobbies and a social life. I don’t need, or have time for, a blogging habit. It could even hurt my career.
So why am I here? I’m here because every single goddamned time I tell a woman friend about my new perspective, they are blown away and desperate for help, advice, sympathy, you name it. Today a friend I hadn’t seen in a while started weeping when I spoke to her about body positivity and self acceptance. Last week an acquaintance with whom I went for drinks for the first time spent an hour interrogating me about the changes in me and who/what/when/where/how.
Maybe no one will ever read this story, and that’s fine. It’s helpful for me to put things down while they are fresh even if I am the only audience. But if even one person gets something from hearing about my journey, it will have been worth it. So here we go.