Mamavation Monday: Is Seeing Believing

Warning: I’m going to use the F word in this post. No, not that F word.  The word “fat.”  We don’t use it in my home to describe anything other than what we trim off of our meat.  It is certainly never used to describe a person, especially a child.  However, for some reason this little girl used it to describe herself.  I was probably in sixth grade here and was sure that I was huge, especially in that stiff, wool sweater.

By the time I was in 10th grade I had discovered loose, hippy dresses.  They hid what I was sure was an unattractive body (by the way, was totally crushing on the boy in the plaid shorts next to me here…)

Senior year of high school I grabbed this poor boy to hide behind. I was okay being seen in the brown cords and baby tee if I was standing up, but sitting down! Oh hell no!

Senior year of college? Bought this dress a size too big so that it would hang like a shiny red sack on me.

The jeans that I had on to kiss the Blarney Stone were rolled at the top so that they didn’t fall down while I traipsed around Ireland. It never dawned on me to buy a size smaller. I was too fat for that size.  I mean, look at me. I was HUGE (God, what I wouldn’t give for that flat stomach now…).

So here I am after the Summer of Mamavation and I’m only a few pounds away from what I weighed in these last three pictures. I look at these images now and I think I look thin.  Yet I look at pictures of me from the last month and the word that still pops into my head…fat. At what point do those of us who have struggled with body image see what’s really there and not what is in our heads? I can see the numbers on the scale every morning. I can see the number on the tag inside my new jeans. No, not the new jeans from June, the new jeans from August. The ones that I hope to replace in another few weeks.  I’m shrinking. I know that I am.  But I still feel the way that little girl in the scratchy sweater felt. In fact, at an event last month I wore a dress that I never would have had the nerve to wear before, not in high school, not in college, not traveling around Europe where people wear nearly nothing on the beaches and in the clubs.  Stepping off the elevator to walk into the event, I was shaking like a leaf, terrified.  I felt naked. I felt huge.  Does that ever go away?

Leave a Reply


  • I’ve fought with my weight my entire life. A few years back, B & I went on a Weight Watchers inspired diet and I went from 255 to 173. People were calling me “too skinny” for the first time in my life. I had never been even called “skinny” before, much less “too skinny”.

    I’ve since gained weight back and lost it again. I seem destined to battle up and down between 180 and 210. It’s still better than 255, but I don’t “feel” skinny. Even at 180. (I don’t think I even felt skinny at 173. I liked being called skinny, but I don’t think it really sank in.)

    I’m mostly ok with my body the way it is. I have periods where I feel like I’m just fat and should just give up the battle. Then, I think of my father: 65, overweight and with a lot of complications either due to his weight or exasperated by it. I don’t want to wind up like that, so I fight the weight off a little harder.

    I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’m skinny, though.

  • Kay (@ACSKay)

    I have struggled with weight issues most my life…at 15 at least when my parents divorced. Even before then I refused to believe I was as small as I was. I look at pictures from then and refused to believe it’s me in the photos. It took me many years to be comfortable in my own skin. I reached that point until about a year ago. Battling a reoccurring UTI and going through a horrible break up destroyed all I worked at.

    Now I’m struggling with why I’m not as accepting as I once was of being who I am. Being in control of any changes. Loving myself and not my focusing on my ‘shell’. Why did I stop remembering that I’m smart, funny, loved, needed?

    I think most women/men have body image problems whether they are large like me or skinny like you.

    But, one thing I’ve learned that helps is that the people who love me (friends & family) don’t look at me everyday and think she’s ‘fat’. They look at me with love and see me as just me. That’s more to me than any jean size.

  • Reading this brings back all those bad memories for me when I thought I was so fat when I was younger. My mom dressed my in clothes that were always too big, so therefor I thought I really was that big. I think that is what has skewed my self image to be very negative and I can’t seem to shake it either. I have been working out for 3 months now and know that my bod has changed for the better, but I just can’t seem to shake the idea that I am huge. Maybe one of these days we will get these negative thoughts out of our head!!

  • I don’t think that feeling goes away. I have lost over 100 lbs and still see myself as the old me. and have to remind myself that I CAN do things.

  • I have had a skewed body image since childhood and now look at those pics, just like you and find things I never appreciated before… that flat stomach, muscled calves, shapely arms, etc. I think my weightloss journey now is more about loving and appreciating what I have now and being healthy. Great post!

  • I wish I knew the answer to that. I remember being in college and feeling huge. Now, I look at the few pictures I have of me from that time (I was already avoiding cameras.) and all I can say is wow, I was beautiful. I think this is something a lot of us struggle with and honey, you’re not the f’re beautiful.

  • This is really interesting! I’ll tell you why. I have only been heavy with pregnancies. I couldn’t see how “fat” I had become. I still saw a skinny person. I don’t know if I will be back to where I was pre three children. What I do know is that I am healthier, stronger, faster and I have a lot more confidence because I do work out. I think that is why Crossfit is such a pull for me. You are constantly surprising yourself. When you accomplish a work out you leave with such confidence. That confidence just carries over into all aspects of your life. You hold your head a little bit higher, your back is straighter and your shoulders are little less up to your ears!

  • I wish there was a one fits all answer. It is therapeutic to write a letter to the “old” you, letting her know how beautiful she was. That may not erase childhood and adolescent insecurities; but it will begin the process of healing.

  • I hope it goes away… I’m in a very serious relationship with a man I hope/plan to spend my life with and he tells me all the time how beautiful he thinks I am…and I tell him he’s crazy…does he not see the big bountiful booty?? The belly he thinks is sexy makes me cringe. I walk around saying 15 more lbs… 15 more lbs. I would like to think that one day I can see myself the way he sees me. Reading your post gives me hope.

  • No. For me, it doesn’t go away. Body image is just something I have to deal every day when I wake up. I’m a recovered bulimic and doing my best to make sure my daughter grows up with a stronger sense of self and love of body than I did. I don’t know if I’m succeeding. But I’m trying. Good luck with everything. You’re doing great.

  • I think that it will, at least I like to hope that it will some day. I can totally relate though…all my pictures from high school and beyond I am trying to hide behind something or someone. I actually did that yesterday at a local event I was at. Maybe one day when all that flab goes away and my clothes fit the way I invision them. Way to go with all your progress though!! That is incredible success and I think that if you are back to the weight in those pictures shown…you should feel confidently beautiful in your skin! Have a great week.

  • First of all, you always looked beautiful and never, ever the “f” word! And when I met you in college, I thought how awesome you were — not a single thought about your body!! It’s funny how we see ourselves, though … and sad.

    Body dysmorphia is a very real and horrible, horrible thing. It’s what led me down the disordered eating path and it took years to get out of that netherworld. I was a size 4/6 and still thought I was “fat” — how screwed up is that?! Oddly, now — with that past long gone — I’m an 8/10 … certainly not thin … but I feel damn good in my own skin – a far cry from a few years ago when I WAS thin and still hated my body. Pregnancy was a blessing in so many ways … Anyway, you look amazing–but it’s more than that. It’s about how you feel.

    My whole blog began because I felt like I wasn’t alone in my post-weight-loss disordered habits and body dysmorphia issues. Turns out … I wasn’t.

  • Tanya Herb

    I love this post! As a child I never had weight issues, other than the ones in my head. My hip bones literally stuck out and would get bruised from going down the slide on my belly at the pool. I was skinny-so skinny that a girl in school whom I though was skinny one day told me “how skinny I was!” That all changed when I turned 17, I moved out of my parents house and went through things most can’t imagine at that age. The weight began to come from nowhere, by 18 the rumor was that I was pregnant. NO, I was not pregnant..just fat! It’s been a struggle since, and I’m now ready to turn 40 in a few months. A few years back I lost 80 pounds and never felt better in my life, and then my parents both passed away unexpectedly within 5 months of eachother…like someone flicked a light switch the weight came back in an instant and is still doing so. I of course was very upset over this happening, watching my body spiral out of control. The one day I was reading a book, and I realized that God loves me just as I am, he see’s me as a precious child, he see’s all of us this way. Not only that, but he wants US to see ourselves just as special, talented, amazing and beautiful as he see’s us-something clicked right there. I don’t see myself as “fat” anymore, I see the abundance all around me, I see that God does love me and he wants me to live an amazing, loving, abundant life beyond my dreams-he wants that for all of us! So, to answer your question, yes-it does go away when you realize just how amazing you are, big or small. Do I want that body back I had pre 17, of course I do, with everything in me-but I now know that I am beautiful,even now, with the extra weight on my body. 🙂

  • Great post, Amy. I’ve lost about 7 pounds on Weight Watchers recently and am feeling pretty good…until I remember that when I last weighed what I do now, that was a “fat weight.” It’s crazy how much time we women waste on playing these mid games around our weight and body image. I’m only about 7-8 pounds away from my weight in high school, but felt fat even then. Oh, but if I could go back and live in that young, healthy, firm-skinned body back for a few weeks I wouldn’t waste a minute of time fretting about my looks- I’d be too busy running around, flirting with guys and having fun.

  • P.S. you were adorable and still are!