Today is the 4th of July. I’m grateful for the Land that I Love, Home of the Free because of the Brave and My Country Tis of Thee, but today I am considering a different kind of Freedom.
To My Friend I Haven’t Seen In A Long Time Who Gained Some Weight,
It was a delight to bump into you yesterday at the mall. I am excited for you to come back to the place where I usually see you every day. I know you are ready, but when you said, “I don’t want people to see me like this,” it made you tear up a little. My heart broke with yours hearing you bravely share those thoughts but I also have insight on the matter, seeing that I am 20+ years your senior—and I have too much to say for a text.
- It doesn’t even matter that it was from the medicine. I know you may prefer to wear a nametag or a T-shirt or perhaps a large sandwich board that advertises “I HAVEN’T BEEN EATING THAT MUCH—IT’S FROM THE MEDICINE.” That might make you feel less self-conscious, but why? Why does it matter HOW people get bigger? That is a conversation to have within your own mind and you’ll know when you get to the end because the finish line sounds like this: People of all sizes are important and brilliant and special and loveable and attractive. By the same token, some jerks and jack-wagons are skinny so….there’s that. You are still super cute and adorable and loveable and fancy and a goddess. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
- Retail lies. That includes the store where you saw me, stores where you can get a scarf and a 6 pack, ESPECIALLY Stores with a Secret, and the store you used to manage. Combat lies with the truth. ESPECIALLY when shopping for bras & undies & bathing suits and Spanx. If it doesn’t fit, go up a size. Do like Jerry Seinfeld did and use a sharpie to change the number/letter when you get home if you have to. Clothes are not the measurement of Your Awesome Self. You are worthy of nice things that look good and FIT WELL– even if you have to choose a different section of the rack. Or a whole different store.
- People really really like the You that snorts when you laugh, gets irritated at the small things, shows vulnerability and capability and grace and charm and style. People will really really continue to like the You behind those beautiful watercolor eyes, no matter what you’re wearing and whatever dumb and possibly temporary numbers are associated with the skin-covered residence of your soul.
- Repeat after me: “I’m not that big of a deal.” Listen, the world didn’t rotate around it’s axis and the sun because you were a svelte & leggy size 6 (or 4) ((or whatever size you were at age 22)) and it is not going to come to a screeching halt with people grabbing their hats and clutching their pearls with a loud gasp and a vinyl record scratch just because you walk in the room taking up 3 or 6 or 11 more inches than you used to. You are still you. You are still fabulous. You kind of ARE a big deal, just in a good way. And so is everyone else, no matter what size they are.
And here are a few wise words from my writing hero that shaped and cemented my perspective a while ago. You do not yet have the benefit of membership in the “F-you 40s” club but until you get in, try these thoughts on for size (haha! Size!! See what I did there?):
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”
“I was not wearing a cover-up, not even a T-shirt. I had decided I was going to take my thighs and butt with me proudly wherever I went. I decided to treat them as if they were beloved elderly aunties, who did embarrassing things like roll their stockings into tubes around their ankles at the beach, but who I was proud of because they were so great in every important way. We walked along, the aunties and me, to meet Sam and our friends on the beach. I could feel the aunties beaming. They had been in the dark too long. It did not trouble me that parts of my body – the auntie parts—kept moving even after I had come to a full halt. Who cares? People just need to be soft and clean.” Anne Lamott
I hope that this helps, Sweetie. I’m sorry you are troubled. I understand because I’ve been there and I am there. Please don’t keep your wonderful self from us any longer than necessary. Life needs you and your people love you, support you, respect you and cherish you right now today. If you need time and space, by all means, take it. Please, though, do not rob joy from yourself because you aren’t who you were. YOU ARE NOT WHO YOU WERE! CONGRATULATIONS!! None of us are! Don’t you dare punish yourself for adapting to the harsh realities of this stressful, chaotic, demanding unrelenting world. You have added experience and trials and victory to the self that you were. You are changed, that’s true. GOOD. FOR. YOU! Now on this Independence Day, let’s declare ourselves separate and complete from the lies that we hear about ourselves not being “enough” or being “too much” or “not there yet.” Commence your freedom celebration. The world needs your sparkle!