The other day I realized that my driver’s license needed to be renewed and updated with my new address, so I spent some quality time at the DMV.
I don’t look at my driver’s license very often (obviously, since it had been expired for three weeks, and the address was two years old). I use my passport for most identification purposes, and my license stays in my purse.
Thing is, my address wasn’t the only thing that was out of date. My weight was listed at 180.
That is a laughable number in its inaccuracy. I haven’t weighed 180 since I was in high school.
I distinctly remember the last time I had to renew my license in 2012, being nervous about that part. When the question about my weight came up — Is your weight still correct? — I probably mumbled something like, “Uh, yeah, sure,” and left feeling relieved that I hadn’t been called out.
In hindsight, what self-respecting person was going to question me? It’s not like they put me on a scale, everyone carries weight differently, and (possibly most important) no one really cares because using weight for identification purposes is ridiculous.
The reason I remember that fleeting interaction is because of the immense shame attached to my then-weight (which, ironically, was a lot less than I weigh now). That shame controlled so many aspects of my life — how I ate, what I wore, how I exercised, my mood, how I interacted with people — that it put a stranglehold on my happiness.
Unsurprisingly, feeding that guilt did the opposite of what I wanted. I didn’t shrink — I grew. I didn’t feel happy when I lost weight — I felt sad. Food was both my best friend and my worst enemy, and it wasn’t until I started therapy and started untangling the roots of my unhappiness did I realize I’d sabotaged all my best efforts out of fear and shame.
The thing is, my real weight starts with a 3 these days. A three. It’s not an insignificant number.
So yesterday, when the dreaded question came up — Weight’s still 180, right? — I said, “No, actually, it’s 300.”
No shame. No more hiding in fear from a number. Owning it.
I’m not saying I’m healthy now — health is a relative concept, anyway, and one that we as a society too often confuse with worthiness. I’m not saying I’ll never diet again, or that I don’t doubt myself from time to time.
What I’m saying is: I have to love and respect who I am right now, in this moment, no matter what my body looks like, no matter what number shows on the scale. That is the only way forward.
I took this photo in October. I don’t know why I was moved to photograph myself in a bathing suit, of all things, at a time when I was traveling; swollen, bruised, fatigued. It is quite possibly the worst photo I’ve ever taken of myself, but it’s interesting that I still chose to take it, and keep it, and looking at it doesn’t fill me with disgust.
This is me at my heaviest, including pregnancies.
This is me, controlling my anxiety and depression with therapy and medication, rather than food.
This is me, unashamed of my body for the first time in my life, and feeling great about it.
And while self-love is a great accomplishment, it doesn’t fit in the three-digit space on my driver’s license, so I’m doing the next best thing: Owning my weight, whatever that may be.