So Angry, I Cried Tears of Relief

by Jan on August 10, 2021

I looked in Victoria’s Secret window and started to cry. Images of large stunning women that in my day would have been judged unacceptable and fat. That word, ‘fat,’ was a dreaded word that influenced and pre-programmed many perceptions about myself.

I came from the world tainted by Twiggy, the 1960’s bone-thin fashion model who was smothered on the pages of Vogue, Seventeen, and many popular magazines. Her images dictated to many women of my generation that skinny equaled acceptance and acceptance equaled love. I pasted her pictures on my mirror to motivate myself to starve, but I just couldn’t get thin enough. My mother reinforced these messages by encouraging diets and lavishing love and attention when I had lost my baby fat. I went from chubby to svelt—overzealous compliments when I was thin and criticism when I was a mere five pounds over. Here, I hopped on the unending roller coaster into the diet netherworld.

For years I wished the rounded renaissance woman would be brought back in style, just to take the pressure off. The years I have wasted gaining and losing weight tore a hole in my soul. So ingrained in me is it’s a good day when my thighs are slim and behaving.

Sometimes I have difficulty falling asleep at night and recently started watching The Mary Tyler Moore show that aired in the 70s until I drift off. Here’s a question. Why was Rhoda always on a diet? Why did she refer to herself as fat as she stood next to bone-thin Mary? Don’t remember? Watch it. Those messages I ingested infected my neural pathways that won’t don’t seem to want to disinfect. I recently looked at some of my high school pictures and now see that what I thought was shamefully overweight is entirely normal in today’s climate. And now, I am making peace with it all.

Peace with no longer allowing the opinions of others to color my world and shape my perceptions.

Peace with trashing those worn-out messages that drive and distract me from self-acceptance.

I’m just so happy and relieved that women of this generation can shine in this world the brightest light of who they are. Whatever your size, shine on, ladies. Shine on.

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