Taking The Lumps

“You should probably wear a girdle with that,” my mother said, poking at my lumpy bits. 

I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I had no idea what a girdle was. 

She explained.

When I had put the dress on, a hand me down from some unknown person, I had felt beautiful. Now? Not so much. I hid in my room and took it off, never to wear it again.

My mother did not mean to be mean, I suspect. She had her own her serious body image issues, but it still stung something fierce and those words stuck with me for many, many years. 

Food in my house was torture. My father was obsessed with feeding us as cheaply as possible. For breakfast we ate slimy gruel every morning that he would concoct and which made me gag. My siblings and I would choke down bites, watching with extreme envy as my mother chowed down on a bowl of Cheerios.  To this day even oatmeal is hard for me to eat. He would bring home cans of salmon and forbade my mother to take the spine bones out. A salmon patty, which might have otherwise been tasty, was punctuated by chalky bits of vertebrae. I could go on, but I won’t. It was driven by a certain degree of poverty at one point but even as that improved, the food torture did not.

When I could get good food, edible food, I over ate. 

After my mother’s comment, I stopped eating much of anything, skipping meals whenever I could get away with it, even the things I liked to eat. As I saw it, I did not deserve to eat tasty things if I could not control my weight.

Thus began my issues with food and weight.

I have been blessed to have love in my life that does not see me for my weight, whatever it happens to be at the time, but that does not stop me from being hard on myself. For decades I have struggled with the fact that I have a curvy butt and fuller thighs. I still struggle but it is a losing battle. My body shape is in my genes. I cannot change that without plastic surgery. Even when I lose weight, even when I exercise like crazy, my butt and thighs are always “disproportionately” larger than the rest of me.

Who determines correct proportions?

You know what has helped the most? Finding jeans and pants that fit ME right. It seems so silly. It would appear obvious that women are not made the same. It was not until these past several years, though, that the clothing industry really began to embrace this fact. Thank God, because I feel less shame when my pants fit right. 

Go figure. 

Now, I am starting to like me better. I don’t feel like I have to punish myself by withholding food or exercising. I don’t have to squeeze myself into clothes that don’t fit. Exercising is fun. So is food. And the weight is fixing itself.

Is this going to be the end of my issues? 

Maybe not. 

But it is a very good start.

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126 thoughts on “Taking The Lumps

  1. Absolutely! I had a related epiphany several years ago that I shared on another blog. Let me see if I can find it ….

    Oh there it is! It’s on https://thebeautifulkingdomwarriors.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/musings-on-my-muffin-top/

    “If I may add some encouragement – I gained 40 pounds when I got married. No, I wasn’t pregnant. I just felt SAFE for the first time in years and every fiber of my being r e l a x e d. I got literally fat and happy.

    And then I was unhappy because it had been a large part of my identity to be thin, fit, and cute. That stuck for a long time. Then I had an epiphany while watching Mo’nique on The Parkers … here is a big woman – way bigger than me! – who is GORGEOUS. What is different about her than me? Well, she puts on makeup and accessorizes (who am I kidding? I’m too lazy for that), and she dresses her body as if she thinks it’s beautiful. And because she signals, “I think I’m beautiful,” not in an obnoxious way but in a confident way, I perceive her as beautiful.

    So I gave my wardrobe a once-over and went shopping with a tax refund. I also discovered that there’s a lot to work around with women’s clothing:

    1) Low-rise jeans are problematic even if you only have 2 – 3 extra pounds (no I didn’t forget any zero’s). Just the way they sit they are EXTREMELY unforgiving.

    2) If you’re broad-shouldered and big-chested like me, boatnecks, crewnecks, and cap sleeves can make you look like a linebacker.

    My favorite things to wear as a larger person are:

    1) Dark, stretchy, mid-rise jeans. Thankfully these are much more available now then back in my day (insert curmdgeonly glasses re-adjustment here).

    2) Boots with a low heel. Always ALWAYS have sneakers as well, but have boots available for when you feel fancy.

    3) Fun, bright, comfortable tops with either a V-neck or a sweetheart neckline that either: a) fit around the chest and are looser around the stomack, or b) cinch at the waist. Wrap tops are great for this.

    And that’s the story of how a big, black woman inspired a white, small-town girl to feel beautiful at any size. :)”

    Liked by 11 people

  2. I am so glad you are getting comfortable in your own skin!

    I’m a bit curvy too, genes for sure. I actually grew up in a family full of eating disorders and I never even realized it. My mother was actually hospitalized a few times when she fell below 90 pounds,but it was always explained away as anemia, as some other issue. I grew up assuming I was overweight, defective, ate too much, because everyone around me was malnourished and anorexic. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized I was actually pretty healthy,that it really my family that was all disordered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely relate – heavier in the caboose and thighs, could never get jeans to fit, EVER, until plus sizing became more common. Frugal food upbringing, but the worst: mom not only suggested I wear a girdle, she MADE me wear one. I was a scrawny ten-year old, for pity sake!

    To this day: it’s a battle between me, the sugar, and the bathroom scales.

    You go, Victo. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately my mother did not force me to wear the girdle even though she bought me one. The people in our lives that we are closest to… their opinions matter so much more than everyone else’s. I am certain I am going to say something to my daughter that will give her a complex.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It makes all the difference! I was once tiny, and fit easily into standard sizes. No more. And the clothing industry seems to think that waiste circumference = leg length. Ummmmm, no. Petite means short limbs. Ahhhhh…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember as an early teen asking my mother if I was pretty. Her reply, “you’re average.” And that label ahs never left me. It hangs around my neck like an anchor. I have learned how to take it off, some days. But…there are those days that I find it there to spite my best efforts. I am sure she didn’t mean it the way it came across…and I am terrified of those things I may say in passing to my daughter that will become her burdens. I guess we all have them, and we all give them, and the best we can do is try our best.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post but I wish I didn’t so completely relate! My Mom had me on every diet that existed because I had to lose those extra pounds… To this day I’m mentally at war with food. It’s feast or famine. Just like my mother 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have always, well at least as an adult once passing say 30 or so, told myself that if I could transfer the unwanted extra baggage from the middle of my body on around to my butt, which is as flat as a pancake, then I would never complain about all the other odd things that age is doing to me. I also know the issues of finding jeans that fit, but in the reverse. I’m really rather tired of having the constant 4-5 month pregnancy tummy (sans pregnancy) with the sagging pants butt that looks like a toddler who has filled their diaper one too many times 😉
    Seriously though Victo, what our society has done to both women and men when it comes to body image is crap. Thank you for speaking out about your own struggles.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It is wonderful to see more and more of the real human heart of you behind the white coat. ❤ Until now I did not have a body image problem. And I have never had a food issue. I have exercised moderately for years. But…slowly as I aged, though I ate the same amount of food, I gained weight because of being less active in my daily life. My added pounds began to settle all in one place – my stomach. I did Jenny Craig twenty years ago before my second wedding and got back to a good weight. Then I realized to stay that way I would have to diet forever. I wasn't willing to. For a while I found wonderful jackets and tops. And by that time elastic-waist pants were available. I looked pretty good until the last four years and four pounds changed everything. Now nothing can camouflage my belly. I am aiming for self acceptance.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Some mothers can be unintentionally and at time intentionally cruel. My struggle with weight was the opposite because I was too thin to the point where my family thought I had anorexia. Then when menopause hit bam!! I’m constantly hungry and it’s a struggle to maintain a healthy weight. 🤥 The point you make about wearing well-fitting clothes is critical no matter what size we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have always watched my weight and have gone up and down like a yo-yo. My mother mentioned I wear a girdle around 13. I did for a while and then decided against it–too hot in the summer. I thought she’d have a stroke. Didn’t change my mind to this day. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I had the exact same experience with my mother, also after trying on a hand-me-down dress. Weren’t those girdles awful? Thank heavens no one wears them any more. But my mother at least made up for it by acknowledging that she and I had the same pear-shaped build based on our genetic heritage. I even remember her at one point commenting that we should have lived during the 1800s when women wore those dresses with the small waist lines (which we both had) but billowing skirts that hid those oversized butts. My mother especially liked the idea of bustles – what better way to compensate for that ass?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey Victo,

    Hoping all is well amidst life’s hustle and bustle and your weekend flourishing nicely in fitting denim finery 🙂

    May I ask a question? Is it more important to be comfortable, confident and secure within the skin we are in or to fashion a fashion to fool the image in the mirror? I am generally apathetic, nay dismissive of my tall slender frame and skinny build but do nothing to compensate for any perceived deficiency by wearing larger clothes or styles to flatter. Perhaps it is because I am generally nonplussed by fashion or correctly fitting clothes that I have no interest in them: clothes serve a functional purpose rather than holding any innate value or being a suggested measure of me. In observing others for whom clothes are either an enjoyment in life (by way of self-flattery or promotion of the body in some other form), or worn as a shield against the outside world, I often wonder as to their motivation and to what ends their choices are wantonly intended. Occasionally one might observe an individual who regardless of what they wear always exudes style, confidence, and self-assurance in the person they are…when one shines brightly from within it does not matter what is on the outside. We are always and in all ways far more than the clothes we choose to wear regardless of the emphasis society seems to place on superficiality and aesthetics.

    Regards the splendid photo, I’m not entirely sure what it is (fat cells maybe?), but in some curious way I like the otherworldly, almost alien nature to its curvaceous topography. Something very sci-fi about it, don’t you think? 🙂

    Have a great weekend Victo. Take care of one and all 🙂

    Namaste

    DN – 18/02/2017

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t have to be on the cutting edge of fashion but do have to appear professional due to the job. Confidence looks great on people, to be sure. But how do you *get* confidence? That is the question I have wrestled with…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Victo,

        As a consummate professional and a highly educated, erudite and learned woman (and a busy loving mother!) you are also a very well respected pillar at the centre of your patient community where your worth, your importance and your value extends far beyond the physical, and one wonders quite where that question came from Victo? Does holding such an ‘elevated’ station in life not breed confidence into all other areas of your life as well? (‘elevated’ in the sense that you are blessed with serving a higher purpose, to save lives, to change lives, to repair damage where it occurs, and therefore carry tremendous responsibility and trust.) Surely one must be confident within themselves to be able to extend oneself so readily in being of service to others?

        “I have been blessed to have love in my life that does not see me for my weight,” Hmmm, so you are loved for the wonderful person you are in your personal life, respected by your community for your professionalism and practice, supported unreservedly by your work colleagues and piers, and admired for all you report and share here with ‘friends’ and fellow-bloggers alike! What else is there in life that you could ever really need to give you confidence?

        Namaste

        DN – 18/02/2017

        P.S: Even if I were female, I would never have the confidence to even consider wearing a Princess Leia costume. But hey, you did, twice! And yes, that still makes me smile in a nice way 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Stitch Fix has been great for me. After some trial and error they finally know what fits me and send me a box of clothes every 3-4 months. Now I don’t have to go to the store or try anything on in dressing rooms. I actually enjoyed clothes shopping the last time I did it in a store because it was such a rarity it was almost like a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I could have written this post … right down to the horrible salmon from a can with all the bones. I get an automatic gag reaction just at the thought.

    In another time and place, my Rubenesque body would have been the height of fashion. Instead, I’ve been fighting it every day of my life – regardless of how active I am.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yay to the good start! Praying it can continue!
    As the Mom of a child who was anorexic I understand the struggle that weight can be with so many. Though weight really wasn’t the issue with my child. Usually when someone is anorexic its not because they feel fat as much as it is about a deeper problem.A problem that they can’t control and controlling what they eat is something they can control. Well until it gets way out of hand and takes over and is controlling you!
    Anyway I am cheering you on. You can do it! From what I can tell by reading your blog, you are a beautiful person, no matter what the scales says!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I really really relate to this. I feel so uncomfortable in underwear all the time. But once in the shops I decided to buy underwear a size bigger (oh, horror), and when I wore it I felt so GOOD. Like it fit perfectly, seamlessly, and nothing spilled over the top even though I have pudgy bits. I was too ashamed to admit I was THAT size, but goddamn THAT size made me look better than squeezing like a cinched in whale into smaller sizes. I really loved this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. To loving yourself and dressing your body in clothes that fit and feel good! The weight struggle is real, but ironically at 37 years of age and the fattest I’ve ever been, I actually love the way I look. I look just like my mother, which means there’s no way I can be ugly, and who I greet in the mirror every morning is an old (if complicated) friend. It may take some people a longer or shorter time to discover this truth of self, but I wish it for them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I caught a brief moment on tv once – an interviewer asked of Bo Derek (rather daftly) how it was she was still so beautiful. Bo looked at her with some mild annoyance at the question and said ‘well it’s genetics. Two hundred years ago I would have been a scullery maid’ referring , of course – to the fact that two hundred years ago, rubenesque women were considered very attractive – skinny women – not so much. I thought it an awesome response 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  19. This issue of body image and food and bad parenting appears to be a North American phenomena. In country like China where famine was common until 1998 when food security was achieve being fat was something to envy. Sad that your father mistreated his children, wonder what the reason behind that could be. In other cultures being curvy is desirable, in Africa, middle-east and in 17 century Europe. Consumer society gives us all the wrong ideas of what life is about.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It seems like such a cultural thing. From what I’ve read, earlier cultures preferred more ample figures.Some still do, today. Here’s to good health, mental and otherwise! And congratulations on your progress!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. At some point during my teens I was so pleased with myself. The number on the scale was getting smaller, and my pants were more comfortable. Then … I walked through a door in front of my father. With a big smile, and a congratulatory tone of voice, he said, “Wow! You’ve lost weight! You used to have a backside like a side of beef, but it’s starting to look almost normal!”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. My parents didn’t have weird obsessions over what/how to feed us but they had another issue – they liked to compare us with our cousins. And most of my female cousins were/are tall, willowy types while I’m naturally curvy. I was secretly on diet pills while in my early-mid teens and was on a crazy workout regime in my late teens to early twenties because of this. Even now at 33, 1.5 years after I gave birth to my firstborn, my mother still makes comments that make me feel ugly and ashamed of the way I look. I’m a UK size 10.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Woah that food torture sounds grim. We seem to have this idea that there’s only one body shape to have and that everything else is wrong. Delighted that the clothing manufacturers are beginning to get the idea that we are different shapes and sizes even if the media aren’t.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Gosh, so much of this resonates with me. My mum put me on a diet when I was 12 and for dinner each evening I had toast and a boiled egg. Poverty also figured into the equation. I, too, had a girdle and to this day will not wear Spanx. I have photos around age 16 where I look skeletal. I bet your husband loves your curves.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This struck a chord. My mother harped on me about my weight my whole life, and as a result I have a love-hate relationship with food and dieting. I am trying not to say anything to my daughter (she was always slender until just lately, and I am biting my tongue – she knows she needs to lose a few pounds and my reminding her is hurtful). God bless for sharing. I feel better!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I am tremendously grateful to have grown up without body image or food issues. My mother was a godsend in that department and I hope I am too. It wasn’t until I was in college, how I began to see how tormented so many women had been — by parental comments, by numbers, by diets, by trying to live up to impossible standards.

    Both body and food are meant to be used and enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. There are “overweight” women that nevertheless always look great…I think it’s attitude too. I’m not obese by any means, but there are definitely rolls of fat, and I always feel I look bad. Who knows where it comes from? Kudos to you for finding a more positive attitude! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Some think of the body as a temple, some as a mannequin. Like many of my friends, I believe the one and am tricked by the other. A remedy might be to consider trees, those silent companions throughout life. Except when they get sick or broken, never have I seen an unbeautiful tree, though they all take different forms and sport quite individual trunks. Even their bark is mysteriously appealing. (Don’t believe a word of it. I’m just gassing here. Would you believe that men have similar body issues? What is it all about? Sexuality? Conformity?Plain old pride? Whatever, it seems to be unavoidable)

    Liked by 1 person

  29. As a kid I was the thin one. My father was constantly telling my mother she needed to lose weight. She didn’t need too he’s a narcissist. He picked on my sister about her weight. That stuck with me and I’m constantly as I’ve gotten older and ill worried about mine, not to mention all the worries I have from the things my father picked on me for..Gah! Parents really do have a huge impact on their kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Squeezing into clothes… I hear ya. How about I trade you some boobs for some butt? I have too much of one and none of the other. Body image…..is it generational? I have a horrible body image and yet the girl, is happy with her body. How the heck did I manage that?

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Go figure how it goes with your figure?
    😉
    The food stories of your childhood are pretty gruesome…
    I figure it leaves scars. But you figured out a way to talk about it.
    And I also figure you will NOT repeat the same with your children. 🙂
    They will have to figure it out themselves.
    Enough figures of speech, Victoire. I am sure you look great.
    (But then I’ve never met a woman satisfied with her figure…)
    All the above is figuratively speaking, of course…
    Be good. And enjoy your jeans!

    Liked by 1 person

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