I have gone back and forth all morning as to whether or not I even wanted to write this post. But then I realized, like I said in the Unicorn Frapp blog, I tend to post this stuff just for me — whether it’s current me, past me, or future me — and I know that past me would have really appreciated it if she’d stumbled upon a blog/story/something like this and maybe didn’t feel so alone with these concerns (and current and future me will probably benefit from it too).
This is a story I’ve touched on lightly on my Facebook Page before, but not in the way I’m going to talk about it right now.
Here’s what happened this morning: I got up, did my workout, and decided to a live video on my page about How and Why I Drink Shakeology (and of course, 12 minutes later, I realized I left out SO MUCH that I’m going to need to go back and cover later, but anyway…). And then, once the replay posted, I watched it again and my mind started reeling:
- Oh my God, that shirt is too tight.
- Shit, it looks like I have “pregnancy belly.” I look more pregnant than people I know who are actually pregnant, and I’m NOT PREGNANT.
- Can non-moms have a “X months post-partum” picture? Because that’s what I look like right now.
- I need to delete this.
- Shit, if I delete this, I need to delete the other posts I made that said I was GOING live so that no one knows to go look for the videos later.
- My stomach looks huge right there. Oh, yep, there too. Damn it, why didn’t I wear a different shirt to work out in?
- Okay. Just leave it up. If it’s still bothering you after your shower, you can delete everything. Just walk away for now.
Spoiler alert: It’s still bothering me. But I’m not going to delete it. I’m writing this blog instead.
As a woman who carries most of her weight in her stomach area, I’ve been subjected to a lifetime of questions and judgments as to whether or not that pouch contains a little kangaroo (or, you know, human…whatever). It never has. It likely never will. But the assumptions and queries come nonetheless.
It bothers me. I try not to let it, but it does. It clearly bothers me so much that it creeps its way into my own internal monologue when I’m watching videos of myself or looking at photos. If I have the ability to crop a picture, I almost always cut it off right below my boobs for this very reason.
But as much as I hate it — as much as I hate all the implications of it, as much as I hate the stress if causes, as much as I hate how it drags me down — I also, in a way, appreciate it. Because it was when a well-meaning, lovely group of people made the assumption and started asking questions that I finally felt myself hitting rock bottom. Finally getting to a point where I was so devastated by how I felt in my own skin every day that I was going to be willing to put in the work to do something about it. (Still took me, like, another six+ months to actually do it, but I was in a dark place you guys…).
And that moment was when I was on a livestream at work.
Now, I used to LOVE livestreaming. For a while, it was one of my favorite parts of my job. And, even if I was in denial about my health and weight, I was happy being on camera. I was especially happy because one of our streaming studios had a high enough desk that I was normally “cut off” where I’d crop photos anyway. See:
It was great. But one day, we had to stream in a different studio. Now, these studios just had two chairs pushed together in front of the PC. And the chairs felt…awkward. And they made sure my very, very rounded – still not pregnant – belly was on camera the entire time.
This is one of the only pictures I have from inside that studio:
Note the cropping? Yeah, there’s a reason for that.
Now, here’s the thing — the Internet can be an absolutely abysmal place, especially for women, and especially for women who are overweight. But it wasn’t the trolls who got me this time; it was people who I liked, who I had met, who I was friendly with.
One day, in the middle of the livestream, I looked over at the chat window and saw a good deal of familiar “faces” (screen names) chatting away. I was happy to see them and wanted to know what they’d thought of what we were showing off that day. And then I started to see comments like this:
Did anyone know she was having a baby?
When is she due?
Is she going to be out on maternity leave for long?
And my heart sank. And I wanted to cry. I wanted to get up, walk off camera, and never do another livestream ever again.
And I never mentioned it to anyone. I’m sure our moderators saw it. I’m sure some of my coworkers saw it. I was humiliated, devastated, and seriously contemplated whether or not I should quit my job over it.
And again — these weren’t random Internet trolls. These were people I knew and liked. They were asking because they were genuinely curious; it was coming from a place of interest and love, not of malice. But it still destroyed me.
Like I said, it still took months for me to finally start being active and working on improving my health, and I’m still working on it. I’ll be working on it for the rest of my life, if I’m honest – the mental part AND the physical part.
Here’s one thing I’ve come to learn about my personal body type: first and foremost, it’s that both women and men in my family carry excess weight in their stomach area. So, I’m fighting a battle with genetics here.
Next, when I lose weight, I lose it in “zones” on my body. I lose in my face first, my legs/hips/butt second, my chest/boobs third, my arms fourth, and my stomach fifth. What this ends up meaning is I go through stages of balance and imbalance. When I get to a point where I’ve lost some weight in all five zones, I look well-proportioned and am generally happy with how I appear, even if I’m at a higher weight than I want to/should be for my health. But as soon as I start loosing more in each of the “zones,” I start to look off. And the leftover zones become a LOT more pronounced. And since my stomach is the last area I tend to lose weight in, I end up with a lot of points in my journey where everything else is smaller, and my belly is still there – round, protruding, waiting to go next.
So that brings me back to this morning, and the posts I almost but didn’t delete. Because here’s the thing: those emotional scars are there. They’re something I have to deal with ALL. THE. TIME.
Do you want to know how long I spent trying to adjust my body position in this photo so my stomach didn’t look “too big”?
Answer: way longer than I should have.
But the thing that is going to stop those emotional scars from becoming big, gaping, unhealable wounds? Not deleting my posts. And talking about it.
Yep. My tummy is round.
Yep. It’s hard for me to lose weight there.
Nope. I am not pregnant.
Nope. I have not just had a baby.
Yep. This is taking a long time.
Yep. I still have a lot of work to do.
Nope. I am not deleting those posts.
Nope. I am not giving up.