[Content Note: reference to methods of dieting and weight loss]
18 months ago, I was a teacher in Korea. Despite running a cooking blog, I was pretty thin – my parents later told me that when they visited, they couldn’t believe how much weight I’d lost in the 10 months since I’d seen them. It wasn’t intentional – I had just really gotten into fat acceptance and was very uncomfortable with anyone making comments about my body.
Now I am about ten to fifteen kilograms heavier. I have been pregnant, given birth, and still breastfeed. A friend told me, last month, that I seemed so much more confident now than when xe last saw me (summer 2011), which xe put down to parenthood.
And yes, I am a confident parent. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by people – women and mothers especially – who followed their own instincts and shun much advice from the ‘experts’, and I believe unwaveringly that I am the expert on my relationship with my daughter (though of course she is the expert on herself). I don’t always know exactly what to do, but I am sure that my partner and I are flexible and imaginative enough to parent N the way she needs to be parented, and I am very happy as a mother.
But my increase in confidence over the last year or so is not just down to the change in my circumstances. It is also down to the changes in my body.
When I was three months pregnant, long before I was visibly pregnant, my partner and I got to spend a month backpacking around China. The other day I was looking through those photos and on seeing a full-body shot of the two of us on the Great Wall of China, my first thought was “that’s not my body.” And suddenly I was thinking back on years of being discontent with my body – ill-advised diets, fasting, going to exercise classes and really hating them, the new year that I sarcastically made the resolution to “not eat all year.” (I happily broke that resolution with a very delicious breakfast, then continued to break it all year.)
I realize now that I was unhappy with my body and its shape, but I assumed that I wanted to be thinner, in accordance with the patriarchy’s constant drumbeat of thin is good, fat is bad. Lose weight and take up less space in the world.
No. I am not the kind of person to take up a small amount of space. I have more presence than I did eighteen months ago, and – as clichéd as it sounds – I feel like an earth mother goddess type. I know that my larger body can do amazing things. As a bonus, my body is now a “fuck you” to the patriarchy.
You know how people sometimes say of fat people, “there’s a thin person inside waiting to get out”? For me, there was a fat woman inside waiting to get out.