Jun 8, 2010

i hate to burst the bubble...

you know that list of things you'll do "when you're thin?" that fantasy you have of how life will be when you fit back in your skinny jeans? the kind of man you'll land when you wear a size (insert goal here)?

the truth is, losing weight won't make any of that happen.

thinness does not equal happiness. just like there's never enough money to satisfy you, there's also never a perfect enough body to satisfy you.

if you have issues now, you will have issues when you weigh 20,40, or 10,000 pounds less. i promise.
there's not a magic bmi where your problems disappear... and if we're honest, we know skinny girls aren't always happy, so that couldn't be true.

um, do lindsay lohan, heidi montag, and paris hilton have issues? seriously, there's not enough space on the blog for that one.

but why do i care? i don't really toss around the fact that i've lost more than 50 lbs since high school. what is important, though, is what i used to believe about myself. when i was heavier, i didn't feel good enough. i felt "fat," so something must have been wrong with me. when i lost weight, i thought i would have nicer clothes, a sexy boyfriend, do better in school, yada yada yada. you get the picture.

really, i was just unhappy with everything in my life, and i figured that since my body was so terrible, it must be why. my weight must be the reason my life sucked... so naturally, how did i fix my life?

i started to lose weight (more on that here). i got new makeup, new jeans, and a new boyfriend. i started running and weighed a lot less. people noticed, and i was ok with that.

brilliant, right? i thought so. kinda.

... but my issues from before? yeah, they never left. the same thoughts and fears that haunted me when i was heavy still haunted the new me... and actually, i ended up picking up a few more vices in the process.

not only was i still carrying the emotional baggage of the previous years (loneliness, mom's cancer, dad's anger problems), but i managed to acquire an abusive boyfriend, some disordered eating habits, and an alarming reliance on vodka as well. score.

was i happier in a smaller size? appearance-wise, sure. i felt great in my new clothes! i was proud of my accomplishment. but did my new bod solve anything i thought it would? not a chance.

i'm not trying to say weight loss CAUSES problems. the opposite, actually... weight loss does just that - make you smaller. the number on the scale goes down. you wear smaller pants. you walk quieter. and wonderful health benefits, yes, but truthfully, that's about it.

you look different, but you aren't different. your body is.

the problem wasn't what i saw in the dressing room mirror. the real issue was in my heart, not my thighs. i was trying to address an emotional problem by physical means.

unfortunately, you can't shortcut healing a broken heart. hiding behind your jean size isn't going to get you anywhere. those problems won't go away until you deal with them independently from weight loss.

you see, i could never diet away how much i wanted a relationship with my father. i couldn't get skinny enough to make a guy perfect for me. and my hips certainly would never be small enough to heal the heartbreak of watching my mom close to death.

when i was heavier, i let my weight be a symbol of my pain. i let it stand for the hopelessness i felt. i never allowed myself the chance to heal, so when i tried to move forward, i carried those burdens with me everyday. they didn't have anything to do with my weight, but for some reason, it was less scary to admit i was fat than i was depressed.
i was thin, and i wasn't happy. my size 0 jeans didn't teleport me to a different life. dang it!

my turning point? realizing it was ok that i didn't have it all together. i was scared, broken-hearted, and in a world of hurt. once i addressed that, i could see myself and my life for what it was; that heart issues are separate from body issues.

the point in all this?
i had been telling myself lies. my pants didn't have anything to do with my crappy choice in men, my flaky friends, or my awful grades. i was a snarky little punk at 170 lbs and i'm still a snarky little punk under 120 lbs.

i used my weight as justification for not pursuing better for myself. i talked myself into believing that the reason i didn't have good things was because of my weight, but the truth was, i didn't have good things because i was too scared to go get them. my weight was my excuse. i was too scared to get real with myself, so i hid behind something less scary.

but you know what? god has big plans for me, and always did, no matter what the scale said. the only person who cared about the number was me. did i really think i would be less successful because of 5 or 10 lbs? there were so many things i passed on because i was afraid of failing; so much time and energy wasted... now, i wish i had that time back.

please girls (and guys!), don't be fooled into believing the world hinges on the notches on your belt.  thin people don't have super powers, and they don't have all the answers, either.
please never let yourself get sucked into believing you aren't capable because of how you look. your potential is not determined by what you eat.
please never compare yourself to someone else because of their jeans/weight/eating habits. you aren't them, are you?

please believe you deserve good things, and then do something about it. you deserve what you want. really, you do.

and please, please, please: like my mom said tonight, lose weight for your health, and deal with your heart for your happiness. happiness is something you find when you make peace with yourself, not when you reach X weight.
your thinner weight might thrill you for a second, but it will never make you satisfied. the joy of smaller jeans is nothing in comparison to the joy of finally being free of your demons. do yourself a favor and let go of your issues TODAY, not 10 lbs from now.

if you don't take away anything else, please rip up that list of "when i'm thin..." thin is a biology term, not a measure of success.

you are beautiful, healthy, and alive NOW. don't you believe you deserve good things today?

- rebekah
p.s. - interested in more? part one, part two, and part three of our body image discussion.


  1. Your posts are always so beautifully worded, I can't get over it! I think this message is so important for everyone to hear. Like you said, it isn't your weight that makes you happy, it's YOU! Love that peace quote :)

  2. I second Megan - you put things so beautifully, and so inspirationally. I have loved this entire series (so glad I've been able to load them - but this is the first time the comment box loaded. Don't worry, I've been here! :P ) and am so glad you posted it. Everything is SO true. It's terrible how much faith we put in how we come across to others...when really, I notice attitude and personality before anything else...and yet as a society, people tend to assume it's body image. Such a shame - I can only hope we can shake that soon :)
    Thanks for the Tuesday inspiration, Rebekah!

  3. Rebekah, again you amaze me. You are a gifted and incredible spirit, believe me.
    You attitude and your ability to share your attitude with us, that is something we should be thankful for and something you should feel proud of.
    You are right. Happiness does not come in a certain size. Happiness is not a size, it is a feeling.
    To hide behind our weight, and to use food to deal with our emotions is not solving the underlying challenges. One day we have to face them, to confront and deal with the emotions we carry with us. They can not be solved by reaching a certain weight.
    I did not feel more secure by loosing the weight I did. In the process I lost not only weight, but actually also my health, my life, my happiness. All I thought I would improve by making the numbers on the scale go down. And no, neither did any of my other difficult emotions heal.
    The conclusion is that weight is not the solution.

    Again : I am proud of you my friend, very proud of you. You have a beautiful and inspiring mentality, a way of relating to life that will help you.

  4. Such a profound post.

    I think that realizing that one thing (whether it weight, money, getting a boyfriend) isn't going to make you happier if you aren't happy with yourself.

  5. I LOVE THIS! spread the word love :) im reading a book SO similar to this.. its one of the books i picked up from the used book sale- "food is not the problem; deal with what is" .. its so eye opening reading it and i only wish that i could have read it years ago!

  6. My all time favorite post. Hope this doesn't sound strange but I think you are a wise old soul. :D

  7. I just stumbled across this post, and I have to say, it's so true. I always thought, oh, if I could only lose 4-5 pounds, I would be so much happier, my thighs would look better. Now, I've more than that, and am I happier? Nop. Do I feel prettier? oh no. Just more miserable, and maybe malnourished.

  8. Just a quick note:

    I've always wanted to wear a bathing suit (just a Speedo one-piece) without being self-conscious about my butt and thighs.

    Now I know that it's not the weight that will make that change; it's my attitude.

    Your post echoes this perfectly, and I love you for this! This is TRUTH. Amen.

    Alisha :-)

  9. PS. Check out my newest post - FAT: being vs. feeling (http://alishanewton.wordpress.com/2010/06/09/fat-being-vs-feeling/ ). I was planning it and this post meshed so well. Thank you.

  10. everyone should read your blog. you are a great writer about this stuff...this is just great...you hit it on the spot..keep it up girl!

  11. you guys are too kind!

    thank each one of you for being so honest and brave... the scariest thing in the world can be to share your fears!

  12. I've been planning to write a post on this exact topic for MONTHS! (it's been brewing in my head for too long :)) wow! totally spot on. love this post.. so true.


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