Last summer I was 20 pounds lighter. I think, I don’t weigh myself, my pants told me so, maybe 30. Yikes. I had gone through both a romantic and a professional breakup and while I was more miserable than I ever remember being, the former anorexic in me always welcomes these bouts. Take up less space! God forbid people see you through your failed attempt at love! And, well, thinner is the winner! So fuck that guy! It’s the revenge body situation, the I’m thin and so the narrative here is that I have my life together. Unless I’m Ashley Graham. She’s the only big thighed woman with her life together. Right?
I thought it would be different in my twenties. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. At least late twenties. I thought I would arrive at a place where my big azz thighs would genuinely make me proud and any fluctuation would be welcomed. Or that I would stop fluctuating all together. I do so much un-learning, after all. My shelves are filled with Deepak, and Marianne, and Gabby, and Thich, and Jesus himself. I dig and I make lists, and I text, and share, and call, and pray, and meditate, and record and affirm. But when I tell you that my world falls apart when I look at a picture of me as I am today? I’m paralyzed. I’m supposed to have all the tools. I have all the tools. I know what to do. What’s that mantra again? I just. I must not be getting it.
I stand for ownership and empowerment. My life’s purpose is to create space, again and again, so that people can step into their fullest selves. I challenge myself daily to step into it— how much I weigh shouldn’t keep me from that. But it’s debilitating. These extra pounds and how far I haven’t gone with them. My life’s cycle has been to gain and lose them and while I credit my body as my biggest spiritual teacher— and trust me— it has been my one and truest spiritual teacher. Wanna talk detachment? Talk to an anorexic body. Wanna talk mindfulness? Talk to a recovering anorexic. Wanna talk living in the now? Talk to a body putting on weight after starvation. Wanna talk Ego vs Real Self? Talk to a bulimic teen. It has. It has presented me with my life’s awakening and for that I am eternally grateful. And yet.
I gain a few pounds every few years. I should be comfortable by now. I am a proud woman, after all. I lead with power and sensuality and what could encompass that more than my big ol’ Colombian booty? But I don’t show up. My weight starts to chip away at what’s most important to me and I start thinking— my boss must be so disappointed that I’m not as beautiful as I was then, or how could people even begin to take me seriously in a networking setting with all disss? My partner is delusional and has terrible taste. I can’t possibly take that meeting until these pounds are off! Don’t ask me about advice, I gained weight so I clearly know nothing about successful living. I can’t talk about empowerment, I literally have my shame hanging around my waist!!
That. That is what scares me and brings me to my keyboard. When I was twelve, it looked like I would reach my mother’s height. She stands at a gorgeous 6’2” (give and take) and while her Frenchness is the thing I envy today, growing up I was told that tall women were not the pretty ones. Not by Latino standards. Sometimes I blame my premature exposure to coffee for my height, but I mostly remember getting on my knees and praying the only Catholic psalm I knew, “Dios, please don’t let me grow anymore. 5’7” is just right for Ricky Martin.” I was twelve. Later came my first bagels, Publix brownies, and peanut butter and next thing I knew I was an American kid. With pounds around my waist. And I was taught that pounds around your waist was really shame, shame about your entire existence. How dare you come home a little overweight, don’t you know you have diplomats to meet? Which turned into, you can’t enjoy yourself, you’re fat. Which turned into, how dare you show up to a shoot a little overweight, don’t you know you’re supposed to be the Scar Jo lookalike? Which turns into, how dare you roll calls with extra weight on your bones. Which turns into, how dare you write, how dare you wear that dress, how DARE YOU GO OUTSIDE?
I know it’s extreme, but it’s how it feels. And it eats me alive. Not the thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts. But mostly that it goes against everything I stand for. My own self narrative goes against the very thing I’m trying to dispel. Granted, I don’t pose in my bathing suit to promote body positivity, but I do stand in rooms and demand to be respected, I do show up and become the best worker I can be, and I always do before asking. It’s my life’s work, to do. It tears me apart that a few extra pounds could ever make me feel like I can’t even do that. Show up, that is. I’m wise enough to know that that’s a twisted narrative. I should heal that. Expand that. I wish I could resume this one by saying, but after all, forget that, I show up in minidresses, short hair, a loud mouth, and get promoted anyway! I rock it all. And I love it. But I don’t. My wheels still spin about how to best disappear— in size— so I can be allowed to show up in my life. I still start planning for my next marathon and write affirmations to make the bum and gut go away again. And it’s exhausting. I know better than this.
I don’t have this one figured out yet. I also know this is related to resistance. So today. Today all I have is my biggest promise, to the deepest part of myself: I must show up. Always. No one, not even the shame around my waist, can take showing up away from me. Maybe that’s this body’s biggest lesson, after all.