Letters to myself: Does my weight define me?

If my jeans don’t fit, I’m down on myself. I spend a lot of energy then faking confidence, even if no one is fooled. The circle is vicious and has undoubtedly cost me precious time. But our society values the fit far more than the fat. Studies show overweight women earn less than their thinner counterparts. When was the last time you saw an overweight new bride with her fit, attractive husband? I thought so. Conjuring the opposite – the pear shaped groom with the runway model on his arm – is easy.

More proof that extra weight defines women more than men: Winston Churchill, Jack Nicholson and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan were, or appear to be now, happy, successful men. And yet, one of the most powerful and richest women alive, Oprah Winfrey, has felt compelled to publicly address and reveal her battles with the bulge.

So, yes, my weight defines me because I’ve allowed society to define me. At every turn, I know it’s wrong. I realize that who I am inside is far more important than the physical person I show the world. But more often than not, I can’t help myself. Part of it is a brainwashing. More of it is the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe that good things come to me when I’m fit, and so they have. On the flip side, I struggle with relationships, work and my children when I’m tipping the scale above 145 pounds at 5’8”.

Do I owe the world my best self or my thinnest self? Can I separate the two and enjoy the cookies I bake for my family without feeling as if I’m letting myself and others down? It’s not a question easily answered, but most certainly one worth asking as I try to get into my tight jeans. Maybe it’s time to simply wear the ones with a skosh more room and then go clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Perhaps one action resolves the other.

– Althea