Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Plus-Size Confession from an Israeli Fatty

I started to write a post on Facebook, but it just kept growing and growing and growing (much like my waistline and the opposite of Mr. T's, which keeps shrinking). So here we are. This is probably one of the most stupid, open posts I've written in a while, but it's where my head is.

I'm slowly finding myself really disgusted at all the body image crap going around in my Facebook groups. People talking about how it's either horrifying that we're poo-pooing plus size models (OMG they can't be healthy!) or celebrating them (OMG they're so proud and amazing), but it's all ... sigh. I don't know.

I'm plus size. Curvy. Or as they call women in Israel, a "fatty" (shamenit was actually what a woman in a plus-size store called it). The country doesn't know how to accept or deal with its plus-size population, unfortunately, which I find deeply upsetting and disappointing.

Please ignore the hair. Ugh. 
I weighed 180 pounds my senior year of high school.  I've been a size 14/16 or 18/20 most of my adult life, heading into even larger sizes during periods of depression, but I've never "looked it." I look at Tess Holliday and she's only a size up from me in many clothing lines, and I don't think I look that close in size to her. I feel that close in size, but I don't think I look it. Do I?

Am I happy with my body size? No. Of course not. I have back aches, I have knee problems, my foot would probably heal faster if I didn't have extra weight. I'm an emotional binge eater (Shabbat is the worst ... no husband to feel embarrassed in front of as I eat half a package of cheese). I eat primarily vegetarian and my fridge is full of spring greens, tomatoes, asparagus, portobello mushrooms -- but everything in moderation does not always compute for me. I have what is known as a difficulty in understanding and recognizing the sensation of being full. And sometimes, even when I am full, food is a comfort.

Funny thing about that. I realized this week, that the first thing we do when a child is fussing or upset is ask them if they're hungry. Give them a snack. Food heals all wounds, right? We start so young.

Do I love myself? In the right outfit, on the right day, I can and do love the way I look. I think my curves complement my attitude and disposition. I don't argue with certain endowments HaShem blessed me with, but on some days I wish there was quite a bit less junk in my trunk.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. I look at Tess Holliday and I think, yay! Maybe they'll stop putting all the plus-size clothes next to the maternity clothes in Target. Then again, I think, I rarely have to shop in the plus-size department because somehow I can still manage an XXL there. Then I think, maybe I won't have to sell a kidney to buy a nice outfit or skirt at Lane Bryant, but I think that's probably a pipe dream for plus-size girls everywhere. But then I look at Tess Holliday and think, would I, could I, ever have been in her position? Celebrated for my size and the way my body makes that size look? Probably not.

This is me in late February. The wig is a $16 piece from Amazon.
Do I look like a marshmallow?
I lost 25 pounds during and after my pregnancy with Ash. But I didn't look any different. My weight simply shifted (apparently into my thighs or something), keeping me at the same clothing size and same shape. It's weird. The body. Weight. Image.

And, of course, I'm writing this post after spending the whole of Shabbat inside (Ash had a mean cough), where all there was to do was roll around on the floor and eat. Cereal, cucumbers, cheese, rice cakes, lentils, yogurt-granola pops (homemade!), tomatoes, more cereal, lots of water ... by the looks of it, nothing seems bad. And yet, here I am, feeling overly full and angry at myself.

Sometimes I think that I'd have an easier time if my addiction was drugs or alcohol. Those are the kind of things you have to seek out if you don't have them in the house. Food is always there. No one has a completely empty cabinet or fridge. There's a market selling food on every corner (you'll only find a bar on every corner in Chicago).

Anyhow. That's where I am with Tess Holliday and plus-size models and body image. It's an internal dialogue that I can't shut off. Eight months now separated from my husband, me gaining the weight from stress, depression, anxiety, and him losing it with working again and walking everywhere. It's probably my greatest fear about his return: the way I look.

Funnily enough, the moment in my life when I was most happy and comfortable with my body was when I was pregnant. It was like I had an excuse to be the size I was, and I was okay with it.