Unfortunately, there's immense cultural pressure that equates being beautiful with being slim. And with the confluence of the WIC, New Years resolutions, engagement photos, and the d*mn expectation that all brides are out to lose ten pounds, it's really easy to hate January and hate myself for being "fat" and to jump into must-lose-weight overdrive.
F*ck that noise.
I refuse to feel guilty about all the incredible deliciousness I ate in December. I could spent three blog posts detailing all of the incredible family meals, the melt-in-your-mouth richness of our office holiday party food, and the explosion of complex flavors at Dosa in San Francisco (which may be my new favorite restaurant ever... or at least this week.) And yet, I was feeling pretty alone in feeling grateful for experiencing all this amazing food as I started seeing weight loss ads all over Facebook and as women in my office began with the inevitable I-feel-so-gross "bonding" conversations in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to participate in overindulgence all year long, but I don't think there's anything wrong with taking a season (or weekend, or evening) to really appreciate our food, given that we strive for an overall sense of balance and health. I got back to counting my weight watchers points yesterday, fully aware that I'm a few more points away from my weight/health goal, and not too bothered.
And so, I really appreciated catching up on my reading and finding two incredible weight-related posts from some of my favorite thoughtful blogging ladies. A over at Accordions and Lace described some of my frustration with New Years weight loss overload so well (emphasis mine):
...This has been particularly on our minds lately not only because we spent our time off having so much fun with food and reading such interesting stuff, but also because of the usual dysfunctional chatter that punctuates holiday celebrations: newspaper articles about how not to “overindulge” at Christmas dinner (you eat it once a year! Dear lord, are we not allowed to just let loose and enjoy our food even once a year?), and the inevitable new year’s talk of resolutions, with the gym memberships, diet plans, and weight loss goals that they always seem to involve. None of those ideas are inherently problematic in and of themselves... but what gets to me is, again, the pathological attitudes: going to the gym because we’re fat and unhappy, and not because we want to live a balanced lifestyle and physical fitness is a huge part of that... Is it possible for us to live well-rounded lifestyles without the guilt? Perhaps even with a little bit of joy? I hope so. I want to believe I can care about my health and my body without having to hate both food and myself.I love my food. I love feeling healthy. And I'm learning to love my body, and fiercely want to know, to really and truly understand, what is is that Jason finds so definitely attractive about me, ten extra pounds and all. Because we're pathologizing food-related pleasure because we're unsatisfied with how we look. And we're unhappy with how we look because we have less cultural currency as women if we're not slim-attractive. And we're not "real" brides unless we achieve a blog-worthy size four (or preferably size 2) picture-perfect body.
Here's my New Years promise to you: this blog will not provide diet tips or celebrate only one type of bride or beauty. Instead, as I focus on creating an authentic wedding I want to celebrate my authentic beauty, backfat and all. I wanted to email all my girlfriends when I read A's musings about weight and food and I wanted to stand up and cheer when I read Cupcake Wedding's celebration of her authentic beauty:
But, as you start your wedding diet or stress over which industrial strength corset will best suck in your back fat, please remember: You shouldn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on makeup, diet pills, gym memberships, hair extensions or teeth whitening to feel like a beautiful queen on your wedding day.
If the look of wanton happiness radiating off your face isn’t enough to cinch your title as Most Beautiful Woman in the Room, consider this: Another person is willingly standing next to you agreeing to sex you, and only you, up for their rest of their lives. They are committing to your soft stomach and double chin and hairy feet because they think you are wonderfully imperfect.
Doesn’t that make you feel sexier already?
So perhaps like me, you're cheering and nodding along. And perhaps like me, you're still gearing up for some health-related weight loss efforts and balance. And perhaps, also like me, you want to believe this and embrace the
weight loss healthy living zen, but sometimes it's too d*mn hard and the cultural and wedding pressure is too d*mn much, particularly when we don't have reference points for seeing larger women as beautiful. Well, if you're anything like me, then these pictures from V Magazine's plus-size spring issue will make you dance a little jig of fist-pumping joy. And if your partner is anything like Jason, the photos will catch his attention from the corner of his eye, and he will literally stop what he's doing on his computer to stare and appreciate this incredible beauty.
Images of women and beauty who look like us tend to be alien in our popular culture landscape, unless we're directing scorn at celebrity weight gain. But these photos show us that "plus-size beauty" shouldn't be relegated to Lane Bryant catalogs or out-of-the-norm concepts. These women are me, or your girlfriend, or your mother, and they are stunning in their own right, without any "plus-size" descriptor.
Own your beauty. Own your body. Own your food-related pleasure. And this year, let's all try to focus on the process of health and not on the product of some prescribed notion of bridal beauty as we approach our wedding preparation efforts. Because these women look stunningly sexy and beautiful, fat be d*mned, and we will too, on our wedding days and every day thereafter.