Big Thoughts and Belly Laughs

two photos of me very pregnant

In a recent text exchange about my potato of a cat, I told a friend “I am a (sometimes) very happy large potato of a person and have never felt more myself than in this big body.”

I’ve been small and large to extremes, on and off throughout my life. My weight sometimes changed dramatically in a short period of time for no obvious reason, while other times, the yoyo was due to pregnancy and breastfeeding, exercise, disordered eating, stress, and menopause. The longest I’ve ever stayed the same size was three years, and that was only once; I’ve always kept a drawer of clothing that is the next two sizes up and two sizes down to switch into as the yoyo did its thing.

Fear ruled my life for decades. Being overweight was a disgraceful fate I was warned about from childhood. At my high school for gifted students we were told, “smart people don’t get fat.” As we broke up, an ex-boyfriend cursed me, saying, “I hope you get fat!” (And I did, shhh don’t tell him about his powers). Too many people to list gave me advice about changing my size without knowing anything about me and my body. I was always praised for having the self-control to starve myself.

“I am a (sometimes) very happy large potato of a person and have never felt more myself than in this big body.”

My no-longer-disordered eating habits are nothing dramatic. I eat regular healthy meals of simple whole foods and occasional junk food. People sometimes comment on how little I eat (the “considering how big you are” part goes unsaid), and a doctor told me he’d never seen anyone with such a slow metabolism. I have no health issues, but my natural muscle tone is quite low. One consistent way for me to get smaller is by building big muscles through heavy weight training. I don’t do that right now, I mostly do yoga and walking. I ran marathons in the past (for fun, really), but that made me hungry and I ate more so it didn’t affect my size one way or another. When I worked out a lot (as in, a couple of hours every single day, as in, before I had children), I was slim and toned but also self-obsessed. I couldn’t relax because any change to my routine might lead to instant obesity.

My recent path to this big body was gradual, mostly related to going through menopause. And the neatest thing happened! My large pregnancy belly came back. I rest my hands on it all the time, half expecting to feel a kick ❤️ Rather than being upset about it, I find it nostalgic and heartwarming. I remember being in the shower with my daughter when she was a toddler. She touched my little stretch-marked pooch of a belly and lost herself in giggles at its funny movement, like jello. We played the game often because I couldn’t get enough of that belly laugh.

The odd thing is, I don’t feel shame or disgust at my big body this time around, I feel comfortable and home. During the times I was slim, I often felt like I was playing a part, pretending to be someone I wasn’t. I “carry my weight well,” meaning I feel like an impostor no matter my size (a boyfriend’s mother would buy me size S clothing and I’d cut my size L tags off for fear she’d find out the truth). I didn’t like the constant worry that whatever magic combination of exercise and hormones led to that small size would disappear as unpredictably as it arrived, which it often did. This time, though, no fear. This is me, full of belly laughs.

I don’t post many pictures of myself online because even as a middle-aged woman with only a headshot showing, I get more than enough random creepy guys in my DMs. Not to mention, the natural world is beautiful, and I have cats and kids to take photos of, why worry about selfies? Today I remembered destroying all the pictures of my previous large-self each time I got small again (yeah, messed up, I know) and thought, I want to celebrate my don’t-give-a-f*ck menopausal body. I have nothing to hide, I love this body and have never felt so comfortable in it, so here it is 😊 [and thank god I got rid of those pregnancy bangs!]

Size 2 or 2X, I’m always Karen.

2 thoughts on “Big Thoughts and Belly Laughs

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with your body. It’s so refreshing and uplifting to hear someone – particularly a woman – talk about how much she appreciates and values her body in this way. I think I really needed to read this today as my Inner Bully started shaming me for my imperfect body first thing this morning. I gave it a good telling off, but it was just wonderful to read your words to help reinforce the message, thank you.

    1. I’m glad my belly laughs helped scare off your inner bully today, Julie 🙂 Wearing comfortable clothes throughout this pandemic (not that I was a polished dresser before…) has made it even easier to just enjoy my body as it is and appreciate being healthy!

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