Yesterday while in the unflattering light of a fitting room I came to a realization. I’m not a size. Neither are you. Weight is personal and scary to talk about, but here goes.
I was a big baby. I was shall we say a little pudgy through childhood. I remember over-hearing my grandparents’ friends say how I’d have to “really watch it” as I got older. In fifth grade one of the popular girls stood behind me in line and told her friends “a lot of guys like her, she’d be popular if she just lost a few pounds.” Both whispers were probably true, but they stung just the same.
There was a period of time in high school and early college where I felt pretty good about myself. But living on the cheapest food money could buy in the later years of college did me no favors. Let’s call it the junior thirty. After college there was the stress of a new job, building a house, and getting married.
It wasn’t until I’d settled into my career, home, and life that I was ready to make my health a priority. When a close friend and co-worker asked if I wanted to join Weight Watchers with her the timing was right. Thank goodness she asked when she did, for I was at my highest weight.
What I learned in the program guided me to lose forty pounds. I had never felt better. For me, it was about wanting to be healthy rather than skinny and that was a powerful mental shift that made it a lifestyle choice rather than a diet.
Over the fifteen or so years since I’ve gained nearly half of those pounds back. So this time I reached out to that same friend to see if she would want to join WW again. I needed a refresher and some accountability. I wanted to go back down a size in jeans.
It is work and it is working. My family is eating healthier than we ever have and for that I’m thankful. The numbers on the scale are going down. So yesterday I had some time and thought I’d try on a smaller pair of my favorite jeans. Favorite, because they are a stretchy soft denim: half well-structured jean + half yoga pant= perfection.
I grabbed two different colors in a size smaller than I’ve been wearing and headed into the fitting room. One pair looked considerably smaller than the other, but the hangers showed the same size. I tried on the larger looking pair first. They were comfortable and I was pleased with the reality of wearing this smaller size. Then I tried on the second smaller looking pair that I assumed was a different cut or style. I got them zipped and buttoned, but they weren’t comfortable. I had a ways to go before that pair would work and I was okay with that.
It wasn’t until I was putting the jeans back on the hanger that I noticed the tag on the second pair. That pair was not one size smaller, it was three sizes smaller. I nearly laughed out loud. In a million years I wouldn’t have attempted to try on jeans that small. And had they not been stretchy I wouldn’t have fit into them, but that’s not the point.
The point is I’m not a size and neither are you. Whether the tag says 2 or 22 that doesn’t define who you are. It may indicate some of the choices you’ve made, but it does not dictate your value. It is easy to place too much importance on the numbers. The number on the scale, the number on the tag, the number on the paycheck, the number of Likes. No number can determine your worth. My husband has loved me the same through all of the sizes in my closet. He loves me for the size of my heart, not the size of my jeans. I hope you have someone who loves you like that. Do your best to love yourself with that kind of resolve. You are worth it.
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