Dearest (future) daughter
I wish that you never know what the word diet is. That food will not be your enemy, as it was for me for many years. You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been overweight. I was always a fat kid. I was often teased. Clothes for my age group never fitted, and the shame was endless.
I heard the whispers, every so often the word glutton, and there was a look I used to get, the one where I knew was overstepping and had to reign myself in and put down that third cupcake. There were tummy aches and nausea, and I told you so’s…
I must have been about 11 years old when I tried my first diet. I remember it so clearly. It was one of those ‘lose 5 kg in 3 days’ diet – 2 slices of ham and beetroot for lunch, 2 viennas and green beans for dinner, with vanilla ice cream for dessert, etc., etc. After that I was always on some or other diet, and so the lifelong yoyo diet, and bad relationship with food began.
Funny thing is, even though I was “chubby”, I always loved clothes, and dressing up. I wanted to be a fashion designer. My fashion sense was described by others as funky, and I loved bold colours. My mom and my aunt would make me clothes, and I would often sneak into my dad’s wardrobe and wear his big shirts and cardigans. I still really love clothes and bold colours.
I remember as a fat teenager, one of my biggest fears was that I would never have a boyfriend because of my size. But I’ve had boyfriends. When I was my heaviest and when I was at my lightest. And they loved me regardless of the size of my thighs. One of them even proposed to me.
Finally, at 40, I have realised that there is so much more to life than the shape of my body. I’ve learnt that I have to live in the present and not put my life on hold until the scale says I’ve reached my ideal weight. And writing about this really helped. I also found that exercising regularly, doing something I really enjoy, has made me feel fitter and stronger.
I wish I could go back and tell younger me that being overweight doesn’t make me less than, to wear whatever I want to regardless of what others will say, to have more fun, to stop worrying about what others think, to stop dieting, to love my body, that life will get better as I get older.
My wish for my sisters is that we teach our daughters to love themselves, not by telling them how beautiful they are, but by showing them how it’s done, by being the role models. By loving ourselves where we’re at right now. By being grateful for the amazing things our bodies can do. By taking care of ourselves first, so that we can take care of our loved ones, by wearing whatever the hell we want, by putting a stop to fat shaming, by no longer supporting the diet industries “lose weight quick” schemes, by not referring to certain foods as bad, or to ourselves as bad for eating those foods.
I’ve learnt that there is so much more to life than obsessing about the cellulite, and the size of your jeans. Stop letting your life revolve around the number on the scale. That number doesn’t define you, and it no longer defines me. Wear that damn bikini and dive in the ocean, because right there, in that very moment, that’s living.