Picture this…

What if you just pretended you were beautiful.  Even if you didn’t believe it.  Just acted on the assumption that your body and face were beautiful to look at and everyone loved it. How free would life feel?

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My attempt at beach pin-up. Feels pretty freeing to pretend I am beautiful.

 

I tried that. Not intentionally really…I just kind of gave up worrying because I’m old. I’m sick with fibro and I am tired. I’m tired of pulling at my clothes and swimsuits to cover my fat etc. I’m tired of being hot when I go out in the sun because I’ve covered my fat so much. I’m exhausted at a beauty regimen that is sort of simple compared to most of my friends. I am pretty much exhausted at life most of the time. So, I just gave up over vacation.  I took a vacation from caring about fat or my double chin or my red face or any other perceived faults.

I think I was encouraged by my sister a bit. She oozes beauty out of her pores. She is young, blond, vibrant with dazzling blue eyes that are unusually shaped. It gives her an allure I can’t describe.  She is so unbelievably beautiful and I’m all the time being told she looks like me. That reflection, seeing her sometimes when I make a certain face in the mirror, has made me feel beautiful and young. Having her close really makes that connection hum for me.

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Isn’t she the stuff of magic?

I’ve always thought highly of myself, a relatively good self-esteem, but I’ve always been a really good fat person too. I covered myself so not to offend someone, from even before I was truly fat. I made sure my “faults” were covered. I never wore stripes. I covered my legs for the most part. My belly hasn’t seen the light of day since I was fourteen. I wear a skirt with my one-piece swim suit, and usually wear a cover up until I can slink into a pool unnoticed. When I read about the body positive movement I was behind it all! I was like “You go girl! Wear that bikini!!! That woman is a badass, but I could never do it.” I would look down at my fat belly and think “No, not my belly, my belly is not for public consumption.” I believe that I should be free to wear what I like. I believe anyone should be free to wear what makes them feel good. I just didn’t think I was at the place where I could put that belief into practice.

 

The body positivity movement is inspiring, but also defending it can be exhausting. There are people who just don’t understand how horrible it is to hate yourself, or maybe they do? I like to think that they truly believe they are trying to help, even if what they do can harm the fat people in their lives. I like to think the best of people. In my own life, I try to not discuss weight with my loved ones. I get so angry and upset. I am tired of explaining that I have to be in control of my body. I have to feel good about my body in order to provide self-care. Why would I care for myself if I felt my body was not worth the time? We want women to care for themselves, don’t we? I want the women in my life to care for themselves, especially my sister. She is so young and energetic. I want her to think of her body as the beautiful miracle it is. To do that, I want her to see me loving and caring for my body. It may not affect her self-esteem seeing me love myself, but I can always hope. As an older, plus size woman I have learned to actively love myself. I take time to maintain my body and I am learning to cast off all those social conventions that have made me feel uncomfortable with certain pants, stripes or swim suits.

This week between learning about the body positive movement, my sisters influence, and the fact that my fibromyalgia flared I decided to love myself. I decided to cast away all self-doubt and just swim, walk, and laugh with abandon. My sister helped me pick out shorts. I wore shorts in public for the first time in years. My mayonnaise legs basked in the sunlight while looking for whales in the Atlantic Ocean. I ran in with my fat arms waving in the breeze and didn’t care. I was too tired with my body aches to pull down my swimsuit over my thick thighs. Did we get shunned? Made fun off? No. Actually, a woman came over and offered to take pictures of us. She said she was enjoying watching us laugh and looking like we were having so much fun. She wanted to help us commemorate these moments. It was a pretty amazing day at the beach.

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Don’t we look beautiful happy?

The last day we were there my sister was kind of bummed we didn’t get to swim in the ocean again and we usually try to do something a little crazy and life affirming when we get together, so I suggested we get into the ocean with our full clothes on. I was wearing leggings, an exercise bra and kind of a fancy shirt. Right up until we got to the water, I was going to wear my shirt because I had always said, “Never my belly.” At the last minute after placing my purse on a rock, and giving my husband my phone to take pictures, I triumphantly whipped off my shirt and bared my belly in my exercise bra. I just dove in and laughed at the wildness of running into the ocean almost fully clothed. I was having too much fun splashing and laughing with my husband and sister to care about how my white fat belly looked in the sun. Again was I laughed at? Pointed at? I don’t think so. I wasn’t paying attention. Frankly, I didn’t care one last bit.

I felt triumphant. I was bonding with my family and I was not ashamed. It has made me want to take care of my body even more. I was exhausted and sore after. I don’t want to be exhausted and sore while on vacation anymore so I am working even harder. It isn’t shame that works, it is capability that inspires me. Please listen, if you feel like only shame works. It doesn’t. Living is a pretty magnificent carrot. It’s hard living when you’re shrouded in shame.

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That’s right! That’s my beautiful belly.

The Monster In My Pants

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After the tears I just had to get out of the house.

I’ve been thinking about freedom recently because of the new president, this town which is the birthplace of freedom, and my continual grasp for freedom. I don’t mean the rights that are in danger right now in this country: like free press, freedom of religion or gay marriage. I mean the freedom of movement. I am desperately clinging to my freedom to leave the house when I want.

I feel like I should explain what’s going on with me because I am not exactly clear on what’s wrong so I have refrained from writing too many specifics. Something is wrong in my crotch. They don’t know what it is. My gynecologist has said it isn’t a feminine problem, but the other two doctors I see aren’t so sure. Second and third opinions are forthcoming. What we know for sure is the fibroids aren’t causing this pain, and it’s not endometriosis. So we are clueless as to what is causing my pain. I have had relief but only when I am not premenstrual or menstrual or for two days after. This relief between my cycles comes from the physical therapy and yoga I am doing. Around my period though it is as if someone is stabbing me right above my hip. Add this to my hormone fluctuations and my fibromyalgia and life is really shit when Aunt Irma visits. I have been entertaining this pain for about five days so I hadn’t left my house until yesterday to physical therapy, and I didn’t want to go to that either because of the pain.

My lovely therapist tried to massage and move the pain away to no avail. The examination turned into a consultation with another therapist to sadly no answers. There was just too much poking. It really is too much. I am sore today from the movement and the examination. My physical therapist is amazing because she has brought so much relief. I believe she will find an answer for me, because she is that good. However, these exams are really embarrassing and tiring. It is almost like getting a pap smear once a week. I am emotionally exhausted too. I am tired of hoping that there will be an end to this pain, when none is coming.

After my exam I was so depressed that there still wasn’t an answer for the swelling and the pain. I sat on the metal chairs outside this building full of doctor’s offices watching people with wheel chairs get dropped off and picked up feeling sorry for myself. I was full-on sobbing and vaping. Like…seriously… I stopped when a particularly sad looking fellow limped by with a foot cast on and he was wearing a robe. His face was a stone. The look of despair in his eyes was shocking. When I saw that my messed up brain said Poor guy, I should tell him it will get better.

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Beauty sometimes makes it better

Yeah, you see the irony. I mean what would this man have said if I had told him it will get better while crying. I wiped my eyes and started to leave and then it was like an alarm went off in my head that said, “Don’t go home.” So I took off walking. I walked over to Penn campus to check out all the beautiful brick buildings. I sat in front of the Starbucks watching people until I started to realize that all these kids had potential. When that made me feel pity for myself, I got up and kept walking. I walked to the river and stood there for a while looking at the train station and the river feeling lucky for the first time that day. I took a picture to show my family. We play “Where is Aunt Danielle Today?!” They are in Enid, Oklahoma and I like to show them all the landmarks of Philadelphia. In turn, I get pics of my smiling nephew. I get the better end of the stick for sure.

I finally decided to go home then. I guess I just didn’t want to go home and cry. I was tired of being home. I waited at a mall food court until my husband got off work.

I think my new tactic is to stay out of my house as much as possible. I am a vibrant person. I need human interaction. When my first instinct is to be easy on my body, I need to rebel against that because my body and my mind needs movement and excitement.

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Can I make this my new desk?

I am at a coffee shop today. I am looking out the window in Old city watching people walk by. I figured if it worked yesterday maybe it would work today. I will just stay out of the house as much as possible. I want to build memories of this city. I want to declare and take advantage of my freedom even if it hurts. I am leaving the house even when I am in pain. I am done hiding my pain in the dark. If I have to sit for a while or wince openly then I guess people will just have to deal.

I will just stay out until I create a memory. Tonight I am meeting a friend for dinner. Let’s see how that goes.