I just cannot believe my eyes. My old school friend is sitting cross-legged on a stool in front of me sipping a skinny latte, whilst we chat about old times. Her biscuit remains untouched. What’s so remarkable about this, is that the last time I saw her she weighed nineteen stone.
“When I look back over photographs of myself at my largest time of life at a dress size 22, I feel so many emotions hit me at once. Firstly, I feel shocked that someone could have got that big. The shock mostly comes when I realise that someone was in fact me. Then I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and delight within myself. Then the sadness kicks in, but I am still not quite sure why.
When I’m not looking at photographs, I’m inspecting myself in the mirror. The fear of putting the weight back on is a constant worry buzzing through my being.
I was at a family party and a relative told me that now I could find someone to marry because I was “deserving”. That word really cut me because I am still the same gold hearted person inside and I think weight or size has nothing to with how deserving someone is of love.
School was the hardest time but I was able to block most of the teasing out with one thing; denial. I was in denial for so many years about my weight issue. I was a strong believer that if my body isn’t nice to look at then just don’t look my way.
The peculiar thing is, I never felt uncomfortable at a size 22. Apart from being shielded by denial and the feeling of normality (because most of my immediate family also had weight problems), there was never any doubt in my mind about the way I looked. When you’ve been overweight since birth you get used to seeing yourself at a certain size and believe it or not it is almost impossible to notice when you’ve put on weight. A size 22 teenage girl may be shocking to others who had never seen me before, but to me, I was always just me. The problem came from other people.
Eventually, my mother gave our family the biggest wakeup call possible by having a heart attack. I thought I was going to lose my beloved mum and that wave of dread probably saved my life in the long run, as I know I would have ended up mirroring the same health problems. After that I was on a strict diet and visiting the gym daily. Weighing under 8 stone now, I have literally halved my weight. I just love food and it is a real miracle that someone like me could ever find the willpower to drop the pounds, but at the same time, I find myself hating food. Nowadays, I just can’t relax when it comes to what I’m eating. My new lifestyle has given me a slight obsession with calorie counting and weighing myself religiously. I wish there was a happy medium somewhere between being a large, in denial teen and being and insecure slender woman. Perhaps that is where some of the sadness comes from when looking over old photos of my former fatter self; the realisation that skinnier doesn’t mean happier. The realisation that I will probably obsess over my size for the rest of my life rather than just ignoring it. Losing weight and keeping it off are two completely different mindsets. The process of losing the weight is all very well and good, achieving my personal goals and watching my body change and seeing the pounds physically drop on the scales, but no one ever told me the feeling you get after all that is done; the feeling of extreme paranoia that eating that extra biscuit is going to snowball me straight back into a size 22 dress.”
Words and Photography by Loo Loo Rose
Originally published in ‘ROUGH UK Magazine’