A Penchant for Plus: Sizing up Acceptance

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By: Jana Greene

Can we just be real here for a minute? I need to tell somebody this secret I’ve been keeping, and I thought 1,800 of my closest friends would enable a soft place to fall.

It’s official. I’m plus sized now.

Whoop-de-doo, you might be saying. So is half the adult population in America! Although that is true, and I have friends of all shapes and sizes and find them all BEAUTIFUL and stunning creatures regardless of what a little tag inside their blue jeans says, I cannot seem for the life of me to afford myself the same kindness.

That little tag meant nothing to me when I was a kid.

I remember being so thin that my step-father would make fun at me at the dinner table by taking two toothpicks and making them ‘walk’ around the table. “Look! These are Jana’s legs!” He’d laugh.

So hilarious.

Even my beloved grandmother – who was a big lady – fed me lines about weight as far back as I can remember. “Don’t get fat,” she’d say, point blank. “Most men don’t like fat women.”

Here’s what I wanted to say: “Well, that’s okay since I’m SIX YEARS OLD right now.”

Here’s what I said, “I’m sorry.”

Because I am always, eternally SORRY for every and anything, including the food I ingest. I’m starting to think the guilt thing is far more pertinent to my weight issues than I’d previously thought.

I wanted to ask her why there was a clause for boys. One of them rode my bus in middle school. He often wore a T-shirt that said “NO FAT CHICKS” (hey, it was the early 80’s – that kind of crap was allowed.) I’m not sure if this kid ever got the memo that he HIMSELF was a VERY fat guy.  He was known for being a fat guy. And for wearing a shirt that looked like this:

fat

Well, alrighty then.

My mother was always thin. And always drop-dead gorgeous. She didn’t seem to struggle with weight at all.

As a teen, I grew gigantic boobs practically overnight. This blog may seem an inappropriate forum to share that, but stay with me here. They were not SEXY big, they were FREAKISHLY big. Everyone – even my family – made a huge deal over them, so I started to think maybe fat was OK, IF it was in the right place. It seemed like a cruel twist of fate, since I had zero input in deciding where my fat went.

Let me make sure I’ve got this straight -Toothpick legs are bad (or are they good?)

Boys won’t like me if I’m fat.

Unless it’s boob fat.

Got it.

I grew up with an abysmal self-image, and became a lady whose weight see-sawed like crazy.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I was plump, but paid it no mind since I was busy doing things like growing new human beings in my body and nourishing them with milk, compliments of those enormous boobs. I wore mom jeans and baggy shirts, and stayed busy.

And then came the divorce. It was a horrible divorce. I had no interest in food whatsoever and took twisted glee in watching myself whittle down to nothing. I smoked 2 packs of ciggs per day and got my nutrients from Diet Coke.

I would play mind-effery games with myself, like ‘how little food can I get away with eating and still be alive?’ I lost 80 pounds total, and people told me I was too skinny or asked if I was sick. In some way, it validated me. They think I’m sick? I must be SUPER skinny. GO ME!

When I met and married my second (and permanent) husband, I was JUST RIGHT. I’d quit smoking and started eating normally again. He caught me right at a 10-minute window where I was my personal best. Ok, I’m exaggerating. It may have been a 15-minute window.

I took a solemn vow to never, ever, ever get fat again. Not to my husband, who has this quirk of finding me attractive no MATTER what age / weight I am at any given moment. I took the vow to myself never to get fat again.

Except that I did.

I started gaining when I quit smoking cold turkey in 2006 to impress my boyfriend (now husband.) That’s where the first 10 extra pounds piled on. I substituted Virginia Slims for Jolly Ranchers – preferably the sour variety. I constantly had a Jolly Rancher in my mouth, but rationalized that “at least I’m not smoking cigarettes.”

Maybe the catalyst was the hysterectomy I had in 2008 – I sure as sh*t haven’t gotten smaller since then.

Or the lack of exercise that followed major surgery to rebuild a broken ankle in 2012.

Or the way I use food to numb / enhance / punish / reward myself. (But that’s a blog post for another day.)

Perhaps I just freaking love to eat food.

I do, you know.

You would think seeing myself naked getting out of the shower would have tipped me off. It SHOULD have tipped me off.

You might think squeezing my muffin top into and under a pair of elastic-waisted pants  or squashing into shirts may have given me pause.

As long as it was size 14 or smaller, I could handle it.

I have a sick fixation with 14. It is the last stop in the ladies department

“Please squeeze into the 14. Please squeeze into the 14. Please squeeze into the 14,” I would plead with my fat.

To which it would reply: “Hey, look what I CAN DO!” before spilling copiously over the top of the waistband.

I am not in great health. Several of my medications carry the cruel side effect of weight gain. Migraines make it difficult to commit to a work out routine. Excuses? Probably. But also damn good reasons why I’m not the hottie my husband thought he’d married.

I’m not proud at all to share what I’m about to share, but in keeping it 100, I feel I must. There have been times in my 40’s that I have stooped to the “binge and purge” low. It’s gross, I know. It’s also more of a control thing than a food thing. It’s the ugly secret of having your cake and eating it too – just not keeping it down for very long. I haven’t purged in a long time – bingeing? Well, several weeks ago, there was that sale on Haagen Dazs and I needed to self-soothe an anxiety that I don’t even remember any more.

I have to employ the same 12-Step strategy that keeps me sober to help me deal  with my food issues. I’m so tired of food issues.

I’m tired of pleading with fat.

I’m tired of feeling guilty for every morsel I eat.

I’m tired of giving a little tag so much power.

I’m tired of assuring my own beautiful, smart, hilarious, strong daughters that they are PERFECT in the bodies they are in (because it’s TRUE!), all the while hating my very own body.

I will probably never have toothpick legs again.

I care less and less about whether or not ‘boys’ like me – I lassoed the only one I care about and he doesn’t seem to mind my extra fluff.

I will try to eat healthier, but put away the cat ‘o nine tails when I don’t.

So, hello, plus sizes.

I have one more regret. I’m sorry I villainized  you.

I think you’re the WWJD of clothing – soft and forgiving. I especially dig how forgiving you are. I figured since you’re probably going to stick around a while, we should make peace.

And suck it, little white tags. You’re not the boss of me.

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2 thoughts on “A Penchant for Plus: Sizing up Acceptance

  1. Oh, girl. YES. Steroids are a double-edged sword, are they not? Every time I have to be on them, I bloat up like a pufferfish. And the med situation just adds insult to injury. Never you mind, friend. You are beautiful! Hugs from across the miles ❤

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