So today is going to be a tough post and I encourage anyone who is triggered by eating disorder talk or body image talk to stop reading now. I won’t be offended, I’ve been there and I’m here for you if you would like to reach out.
I debated about making this post because I felt like a lot of people have talked on this and honestly, the personal struggle associated with this is hard. Also, I didn’t want Tanya Gold to get more traction. I don’t want to send more readers her way because I want to discourage that type of thinking. However, the way I see it, if we see injustice and don’t speak up we’re just as bad as the people who write this kind of toxic waste every day. So here’s my story. It’s a long one so buckle up.
Growing Up the Fat Dancer
The first time I remember having any opinion of my body I looked in a mirror in preschool. I couldn’t have been more than four years old and I remember clear as day thinking “Wow I’m so fat and ugly.” I was FOUR and I wasn’t fat or ugly. In fact, looking back on pictures of myself as a child I think I look adorable.
I’ve heard people throughout my life say that kids don’t have enough of an opinion to realize their bodies are different. They don’t have the self-awareness. This is flat out false. I spend a lot of time with kids and they tell me often that their tummies are squishy or they don’t like the color of their hair. I once had a small girl tell me she was not pretty enough to be a princess. Kids have more self-awareness then we think especially in the age of media and technology. They know when they can’t share clothes with a friend because they’re bigger– and they know that that’s not the ideal body type healthy or not.
The second time I remember feeling fat was in dance class at the age of seven. I was the biggest girl in my class even though I worked just as hard. And I wasn’t fat, in fact I was a very healthy weight especially for a girl who hit puberty so early. I only weighed 120lbs when I had my first period at age eleven which is pretty average. But I was an early bloomer so my chest was bigger than the other girls and my flat stomach wasn’t so flat to me.
Middle School and High School
Shortly after I hit full blown puberty I got diagnosed with depression. As others who have struggled with their mental health can probably attest weight fluctuation is common. I gain weight when depressed. It doesn’t help that I stopped dancing that same year. My self worth plummeted.
My freshman year of high school I got diagnosed with PCOS. I’ve talked about it before, but along with pain and reproductive issues, PCOS makes it an absolute bitch to lose weight. My depression got worse I still didn’t dance except in my room, I wore clothes that were way too big and stopped eating.
It was in high school I discovered I had no gag reflex the hard way. Throwing up was out so I stopped eating. I hid it for a good six months sometimes just eating small dinners to hide it from my family. No breakfast. No Lunch. I got very weak and gained 40 lbs. Yes, gained.
When my mom found out she took me to a nutritionist. There it was explained to me that when you stop eating your body goes into starvation mode. In very basic terms, this means everything you consume gets stored as fat because your body freaks out and doesn’t know when it will get food again. The real kicker? I still weighed too much for an official eating disorder diagnosis.
Journey to Health
High school and college were rough. I ate more but not really enough. Breakfast rarely happened and lunch was 50/50. I always ate dinner though, and I started dancing again which helped. I stopped focusing on what my body looked like in college because suddenly fixing what was inside was much more important. I had 3 cysts burst in 3 years on my ovary and it was a long painful journey to surgery a month after I obtained my bachelor’s degree.
Once I moved to Wisconsin in July 2018 I had a lot of complications from surgery. It was a fight to get me stable on all twelve of my medications and find me replacements for my medical team of seven doctors. Yay, chronic illness.
After I was stable Josie stepped in. She reminds me to take my meds, drink water, go to yoga, oh and to eat. I’m happy to say I’ve been eating at least three full meals a day for almost a year, and that’s huge! I got a FitBit and just seeing my tiny little step goals every day reminds me that my body is healthy and powerful. I shopped for a bathing suit this year… and didn’t cry!
Suck it Tanya Gold
Tanya Gold got her panties in a twist about a week ago because Nike decided to come out with a plus-sized mannequin. She had an article published in The Guardian about how disgusting it is. I will not be linking it because honestly, this article is destructive.
A few highlights though? She calls the mannequin “heaving with fat,” she says that a girl that size can’t run and is in fact on her way to a hip replacement, and she makes the standard claim that enemies of the body positive movement make when they say that it’s encouraging unhealthy habits to be inclusive.
First of all, my queen and body-positive role model, Loey Lane, said it best when she said, “It’s just plastic Tanya!” in her reaction video. Seriously, It takes a special kind of person to get upset about a hunk of plastic in some fabric.
Secondly, I weight 225 lbs. Yes, we’re breaking that taboo about not talking about our weight here. I weight 225 lbs and wear a size 18 US. I can do a split! I can pull my leg behind my head! I can do advanced ballet positions and moves and do a 5 min jazz dance (hello cardio!) Before my surgery I was dancing for 10 hours a week and doing yoga for 4. And I am slowly building back up to that schedule but damn does stomach surgery mess with your core muscles.
I have been quoted by my “skinny” friends who were blessed with fast metabolisms as one of the healthiest most active people they know. Weight doesn’t mean shit in terms of your health. It really doesn’t. So no, no running for me (boring workout in my opinion, sorry runners) but I’d love these leggings for yoga!
Also, how is this encouraging unhealthy habits? You want us to be skinny and workout Tanya? Well, we need clothes to do it in. I think this promotes healthy habits. I, for one, get more excited for my workouts when I have new cute clothes to show off in the gym!
I think my favorite part of the article is when she says being fat is just an addiction to sugar. Tanya, where did you get your medical degree? because you might want to get a refund if you think this is true. My biggest issue with this is how she calls herself “a recovering addict.” This diminishes actual addiction so much it would be laughable if it wasn’t absolutely insulting to actual addicts. From a personal standpoint, I’d rather have a salad than cake any day. In fact, I don’t even like chocolate cake. It makes me sick… because there’s too much sugar in it.
What I’d like people to take away from this is that if you are struggling with body image and reading garbage like Tanya Gold’s article just know that she hasn’t a clue the way the world works. She’s spouting things from a place of hate and it’s toxic for her and the people around her. She doesn’t know my story. She doesn’t know that there are 100 more health issues I’m dealing with than my weight at the moment.
I also want you to know that I’m a size 18 with huge thighs and stomach and flat butt and some days I hate my body. But more often than not nowadays I love myself because my body carries me through yoga workouts, dance class, and just all the dang walking I do in a day! My body lets me hug my girlfriend, and play with my cat, and work on this blog. My body is beautiful with its chub and its surgical scars, and stretch marks.
Hi, I’m Brigid, I’m plus sized, and I’m absolutely stunning!