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April 18, 2016

I Gained 10 Pounds And Started To Hate Myself For It

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It’s been about ninth months since I posted this photo of me, on my birthday, in a bikini. I spoke of self acceptance and worthiness, despite my imperfect body. I was feeling so rich in love that day, surrounded by friends and family, it hardly mattered that I didn’t have a C-cup or a six pack. I was proud of being a whole, happy human being for possibly the first time in my life. A lot has happened since then: I fell deeply, madly in love (more on that soon, I promise), and terribly, sadly out of love with my body. That’s what I want to talk about today.

Until now, body image hasn’t been a topic on this blog because until now I haven’t really struggled with mine. From kindergarten on, I was always the taller, big-boned girl. Sometimes I yearned to be the cute, tiny blonde but not in exchange for my brains, sense of humor or killer backhand. In college I quickly put on the freshman 15 and just as easily took it off by working out. As an adult I’ve been diligent about diet and exercise but never a drill sergeant. I worship good food and french wine, and I would rather loll in bed with the NYTs on a Sunday morning than hit a spin class. But I managed to maintain a balanced routine and, as a result, my weight.

Until a few months ago, when it crept up on me. I first had a hunch when my normally baggie boyfriend jeans weren’t so baggie anymore. And my stomach didn’t shrink back after a day or two of good behavior. Then my annual physical proved I had put on 10 pounds. The number on the scale isn’t as important as the fact that it was the highest I had ever seen, and in a new bracket. Though alarmed, I didn’t take drastic action like I might have in the past. Instead, I sort of ignored the problem and thought it would go away. I had been off my routine for months, eating takeout and cooking elaborate dinners, staying out late and sleeping in instead of working out, traveling to places where pimiento cheese is a food group. I was doing exactly what I wanted and why shouldn’t I? Life was short and I was tired of not living it.

When my sense of entitlement ran out and the weight was still there, I did a funny thing. I started referring myself as ‘old’—something I swore I would never do—because age was a more acceptable placeholder for what I really felt: fat.

I’m not going to use this space to get into a debate about the definition of “fat” or “plus size” or the media’s role in shaping our body image (not when Amy Schumer did such a fine job). I’m only qualified to tell you that I now know what it means to feel sad and insecure about my body. It sucks. It makes getting dressed in the morning a chore whereas it used to be a favorite past-time. It makes me self-conscious when I dance and when I’m naked. It means I don’t want to take usies in Savannah because then all of his friends will think he has a fat girlfriend. It means I don’t feel like myself. 

I know how to lose the weight and I will . . . eventually. There’s no hardcore diet or bootcamp in my future because those aren’t sustainable. I prefer to get back to a healthy balance, to giving my body + spirit what it needs instead of filling a void. The purpose of this post is to empathize with anyone out there who has ever felt ashamed of her body. You could argue that a size 8 beauty blogger has no business talking about weight, but self-loathing comes in all shapes and sizes and it will eat you alive. I’m so sorry if you have ever struggled to look at your body in the mirror with love. I’m in awe if you have committed to doing something healthy about it. Because that was probably really, really hard. I’m sorry if I didn’t get it. I’m starting to.

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  • Elizabeth Dehn
    ABOUT ELIZABETH
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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