It is easy to find information on how to do exercises or eat the right food. I’m an expert researcher so I find it easy to find valid information on weight loss and gain (side note: if I see one more person say weight “loose” I’m going to LOSE it).
I am a quasi-expert with how much I have thought about weight. I know how much I need of carbs, fat, and protein and the total caloric goal I should have daily based on my activity level. I am well aware of proper form in doing many exercises and I’ve found many I love (hiking, yoga, trail running, rock climbing, self-defense, and some weight lifting). I have been vegetarian/vegan for almost my entire adult life. I also know I have to watch my Vitamin B levels. I have a MyFitnessPal account and I am a huge fan of Fitbit (honestly, I have talked at least 8 people into buying one).
So how is it that someone that knows so much about this and at times has been pretty much obsessed with losing weight (not loosing) is not at her goal weight? I’m the last person anyone would call lazy and I have accomplished a lot with my body.
But I’m scared.
Being thin and chesty brings a lot of attention from the truly frightening to the frightening just because I don’t know how to deal with it emotionally. I am going to focus on the later.
I’m 100% sure women in general can relate and it isn’t just a chesty lady problem, but when a certain part of your anatomy is hyper-sexualized and fetishized to the point people commonly go under the knife to create what you naturally have it creates a lot of complicated feelings.
I don’t know how to be a thinner person again, because I don’t know how to handle the attention. It is overwhelming and every time I get close to my goals I end up sabotaging myself. I have struggled with emotional eating since I was in 5th grade when overnight I got a chest that many grown women would envy and I just wanted to hide from all the eyes that suddenly were square on my chest. Trust me that a girl that is just starting to have crushes and is generally introverted is not even remotely emotionally ready for the kind of attention that comes with a large chest.
Thankfully, I had a mom that always told me not to be ashamed of my body so I never have disliked having a full chest. What I have hated and feared is the attention that they bring.
From my experience I’ve found that being fat makes me invisible, being slightly overweight makes me average and with it I get an average amount of attention, but as the inches slip away and I feel healthy and strong my body and personality begin to attract more and more attention. Some is awesome and some is very awful, but all of it combined wears me down as an introvert. Don’t get me wrong. I love a nice compliment. Not all of it is nice though and it becomes very overwhelming and I get uncomfortable because I’m not entirely sure how to deal with all that being thin and chesty brings. I never developed that skill. Instead I developed disordered eating.
As I lose weight people that never looked at me twice develop crazy crushes on me (including that I end up feeling like I’m being watched with every social media post liked so much that I never post while I am still at a location — all posts are latergramz). More creeps catcall no matter what I wear or who I am with. More creeps try to follow me when I walk down the street. People stare. Men stare. More people talk to me and flirt with me and often times it is great, but then some get aggressive and that is never okay. People think it is socially acceptable to call my chest “tits” and people that are not close friends feel that it is okay for them to comment on my body and it makes me feel gross (not to be confused with shame, because it is not my fault).
If I am proud of how my hard work has paid off and I post a picture of myself it doesn’t take long for someone to say something that really is not acceptable given our relationship. No one has the right to shame me about my body and some people really need to learn how to give appropriate compliments or just not comment (old dudes, I’m looking at you. I don’t like hearing from some old man that they like my body…ever).
I love nice compliments, but apparently some people never learned how to compliment someone without being crass or pointing out the obvious. Yes, I know I have a huge chest. I’m good. You really don’t need to point it out to me. If you are a close friend we can joke about my boobs (moom to Heather). If not consider keeping it to yourself or learn how to say something that wouldn’t earn you a slap in the face if we were in person.
I know it will still happen that people will do things that make me uncomfortable or even feel unsafe, but I am working hard to have a body that I am happy with and that feels healthy. I love running and feeling light and strong. I am not doing this for anyone else. I deserve this. I deserve a body that looks like me in the mirror. I am not trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight to attract anyone or to get back at an ex or to get attention or to get love from anyone else. It is attention that got me here in the first place. I don’t need anyone else to validate me. I look fine now. This is for me to live the life I want and to look the way I want to look.
I need to not only be able to accept attention that is positive, but also be better about telling people that they are making me uncomfortable and I’ve made huge strides in this direction. I have long known how to tell off strangers that cross the line or that I’m just not into them so I am brave in that way. But I am still working on learning how to stand my ground when it comes to people that I know and slowly but surely I am getting better at being clear when someone has crossed a line with me.
I was talking to someone this fall about this and they asked me why I prioritize their comfort over my own. That hit me hard. Like most women I’ve been taught by society that being nice and considerate to others is so important that I often sacrifice my own comfort when it comes to comments on my body. I don’t want to make someone feel bad, but if they made me feel bad I need to stand up for myself and respect that is important. I can’t turn to food to hide anymore.
They also pointed out to me that this isn’t about anyone else. I don’t need to point out that they are not single and that their partner might not appreciate that comment or the fact that married people hitting on me not a desired outcome of my weight loss. A comment that makes me uncomfortable is just that. That is the beginning and the end of it. It doesn’t need qualifiers. I am allowed to feel the way that I do and I don’t need to justify it or to rationalize it. I don’t need to tell them how would they feel if it was their daughter or wife. If someone makes me uncomfortable by their actions or words I have every right to not accept it and tell them to stop even if they are a friend…especially if they are a friend.
In the past when I was looking to meet someone I always worried that I’d say something and scare off people that I’d like attention from, but that is unhealthy and wrong. You should never be afraid to be honest about comments that are making you feel uncomfortable. Besides, it never is the people that you like that say inappropriate things because those people know how to give a compliment.
Here is the deal. If you like someone give them an appropriate compliment. I don’t feel uncomfortable with compliments and most people are the same. I feel uncomfortable with unwanted advances, crass comments, and when people do not talk to me in a way that fits their relationship to me.
By virtue of having a large chest that does not mean I am okay with anyone saying rude things to me and it certainly doesn’t give anyone the right to touch me (no, it doesn’t matter if you are a gay man). But I know there will always be inappropriate people and so I need to be brave and stand up for myself. I cannot live a life in fear. Those people (well intentioned or not) are not worth my not living my life the way I want to live it. I want to be healthy and strong and beautiful inside and out. I can’t let others steal my goals for my life.
If you too are sick of reading how great it will be to lose weight and get all kinds of attention, I am right there with you. This is bravery. There are definite perks, but some of us gained weight because of too much attention and sometimes the wrong kind. I’m so deeply glad nothing worse has happened to me, but even still this has deeply affected me and how I have gone through life.
I’m gearing up for what feels the millionth time with trying to lose weight. This time though I know that the biggest challenge is not getting to the gym or trails or eating right. It is learning to love my body at all stages in this process and being kind enough to myself to demand respect. I need to tell people when they step out of line and to be able to shake off what I can’t control and not let it derail my progress. People will stare and say rude things. It is just the way it will be. I can’t give up my power again. This change isn’t overnight, but I feel ready to just lose the weight and the fears that have held me back.
I am ready to be brave.