Today on the blog we have guest blogger, The Fitness Blondie who has heard this one to many times, “You are so pretty for someone your size.” She recounts her own personal story and struggles with weight and image issues, and wants to bring awareness to the size of health. Keep reading for more on how she is breaking the fitness mold!
Hello everyone, my name is Liz Taylor. I write a blog called “Fitness Blondie”. Today I am thrilled to be able to guest post for PumpUp. I thought an appropriate post would be to acknowledge the different sizes and shapes of health and fitness.
Typically I try to shy around from writing posts that eulogize one female body type over the other. I am a curvy, muscular woman; and I love my curves, however, they do not make me more of a woman than someone who has a thin body type with small assets. I loathe the popular quote “real women have curves”. It is discriminatory and dividing. If you have a vagina, you are a real woman. Real women are not determined by their body type or shape.
What I do want, is to bring awareness to the size of health. The world sometimes has a misconstrued standard on what a “fit and healthy” person— specifically women should look like.
I have received some pretty heartbreaking comments about my looks over the course of my lifetime; which at 25 years old may not seem like a lot, but it has been a chaotic journey. I grew up as an ugly duckling that no one ever gave a second thought or glance. I finally started to change when I was 16 years old. I was still not thin or small by any standards, but I was healthy. I was in the weight room at school lifting weights with the guys, I ran track, and was a cheerleader.
When I graduated high school, and began college while still working part-time, my weight ballooned to it’s highest. Below are some of the comments I received from my family, friends, and complete strangers. I can recite a few of them verbatim. One never forgets something like this:
"If I had a face like yours, I would wire my mouth shut to prevent me to from eating."
A family member of mine was showing some of my photography pictures [like the one above; I like to pose and take “artistic” like pictures sometimes for fun] to her friends. One of her friends made the comment:
"Who cares if she has the face of a model? She is fat so none of it matters".
"You are so pretty… for someone who is your size."
"Can you imagine what you would look like if you did not have all of your weight holding you back?"
"She is actually really pretty to be a big girl"
It was never fun to hear comments like that. Some of the comments I knew were malicious; but sometimes it would be hard to decipher the intent: to be kind or passive aggressive? Nonetheless, I did not dwell on them.
It was not until I received similar comments this year, that they effected to me.
The first was in February:
It was a Saturday afternoon, it was warm, and Kelly and I were on the way to the “Spring Home and Garden Show”. I felt confident; I was 3 months into my weight loss journey, had lost over 20 pounds, and was wearing a pair of white capris that had not fit in a long time. I was so happy that they fit, that I remember dancing around to Kelleigh Bannen’s new single “Famous” in my living room before I left.
On the way to show, we stopped at a gas station so I could get gas and Kelly a coffee. I walked into the gas station once I finished pumping gas to find Kelly. As we were waiting in line to pay, a woman walks up to me and says “You know how to dress your body well. You’re bigger, but you have good style.”.
I said nothing. I was so taken back that I just stood there. She continued; “I mean you are really pretty and I like the fact that even though you aren’t skinny, you dress yourself well”.
I finally muttered a “thank you” then ran out of the gas station. Kelly was behind me; her face almost as red as mine. Being the best friend she is, she assured me that it was a compliment and that the woman just did not know how to properly deliver what she was trying to say.
I understood that, but it still hurt. It had been a long time since someone had made a comment like that; at least to my face. It just caught me so off guard. The first thing this woman noticed was my size. I had felt so confident and been working so hard; whether the comment was meant in a positive way or not, it hurt.
The second instance was in May:
It was not a good weekend. My plans had fallen through that I paid a lot of money for, and I felt like nothing was going right. My girlfriend Alexis stepped in and saved the weekend though. She and I decided to spend the day together. I had gotten new clothes the night before and was excited to wear them out.
For the first time in years, I was going to wear shorts. I wore black shorts with a really pretty white blouse, black and white wedge heels, and a black and white necklace. I am no fashionista, but this outfit made me confident. I thought I did a good job (for someone like me).
Alexis and I went to the movies then out for dinner and drinks. Once we finished, I realized I needed to go by the grocery store for something. As I was walking through an aisle, two women approached me. One of the women put her hand in front of me and moved it up and down. She smiled and said “Honey this works”. I laughed and asked what she meant. She said “You have curves and you dress them well. You look great. Your looks really suits you”.
I smiled and told her thank you. This did not hurt like the other one did. I felt more confident in myself. The only thing that really “irritated” me, is that once again, my body was brought into it. Why is it not enough to say “I think you’re pretty”, “I think you dress well”, or “I like your outfit today”.
The most recent comments were written over features I have had online about my blog and/or my weight loss journey.
They were from women thanking the author or company for featuring a woman that was not small or skinny. For featuring a woman that gave them hope… that showed it’s plausible to be healthy, but not have to be thin.
Then I understood the comments; everything came together.
Like I said, I have received comments similar to this most of my adult life. I did not understand the stigma that had to come along with them: why could someone not just say they liked my hair, makeup, outfit, that I am pretty, etc…. why did people sound so shocked to see that because a woman was not thin, she could still dress her body nicely and look attractive?
Years ago and even earlier this year, I would get so upset and talk to my mom about these comments. Her reply was always “maybe you need to break the mold and boundaries. Maybe you are meant to inspire and break stereotypes. Embrace your body’s makeup; do not let this defeat you”. I shrugged her attempts at consoling me off since she was not telling me how awful people were and how sorry she felt for me. I would pretend to agree and think to myself, “I will be thin one day, I’ll show them”. Now I understand what my mom was trying to say. Now I understand what other people were trying to say.
Health and fitness have many different shapes and sizes. A person does not have to look like who you see in magazines, TV shows, and/or fitness competitions to be healthy. I may not look like some of the fitness bloggers out there, but I am now in great shape.
Since I have lost a significant amount of weight thus far, I have closely monitored my health. In November of 2013, per my doctor at my annual physical, I was rapidly approaching ”morbid obesity”. I had put on so much weight; and at the rate I was gaining, I was only a few months away from 300 pounds. The triglycerides in my blood were abnormally high, but I was fortunate enough to not be at risk for diabetes, however I had to make an immediate change.
Since that checkup, I changed my life drastically. I dropped a ton of body fat, added a lot of lean muscle, strengthened my cardiovascular system, corrected my view of food… and in a sense, made over my life; not just my body. I had my blood drawn again last month at an RLS checkup appointment, and I have corrected my health 100%. All levels are not just normal, they are great, and I’m in nearly perfect health, even though I still have about 25 more pounds that I personally want to lose.
I do not know who developed this standard that one must feel they have to follow; but I would like to break it. I may not be thin and small, but I am solid, curvy, muscular, and in great health. I can hike mountains, do single armed bicep curls with 17.5 pound dumbbells for 3 sets of 15 repetitions all the while ensuring my form is perfect. I can leg press 270 pounds comfortably and for just as many repetitions, but I do not fit the mold whatsoever as skinny or thin. The truth be told, no matter how much weight I lose, those words will never be accurate adjectives to describe my looks. Well,I suppose I could be if I wanted to stop lifting weights, boxing, and force myself to follow a strict nutrition plan; but I know what that would lead me to mentally; and it would not in anyway be beneficial.
I am more than happy to show the world that you can be curvy, thick, muscular, and most of all healthy. (I would also like to add that the opposite could be true. A person could be genetically just very small and be mistaken for anorexic or bulimic; yet they’re perfectly healthy. I just did not write on the subject because I do not have direct experience. That is part of the reason why I was hesitant to write this post; because I know it must be just as disconcerting for people to think you are sick and need help, when you don’t). To me, healthy living is all about balance. I enjoy “bad” foods at times, and enjoy clean foods most of the time. I stay active, get plenty of rest, and most of all I have found a happy median when it comes to fitness and maintaining great health.
I overcame binging on foods, stuffing myself with junk until I was sick— an all out addiction to food, and depression to this point. I may not fit a typical mold that one may expect, but I am healthy and fit. I do not hold myself to unrealistic standards either— and if you are, and that is what is preventing you from even starting a weight loss journey, let it go. I know that feeling all too well. I would see the women on the fitness magazines and think “My God, look at me. I will never get to where they are”. Those thoughts would prevent me from even trying. You have to specifically learn your body and know yourself before you can find what will work for you. That is precisely what I had to do and 63 pounds lighter, it worked. For me personally, it is important for me to keep this median that I have, because if my diet were to become too strict, it would undoubtedly pull me back into those awful eating habits.
Throughout my recent journey and now understanding those comments, I can for once in my life say I love who I am. My imperfections, my genetic build, the strength that I have had to exude. My only hope for whomever is reading this is that you can find it within to love yourself, too. Please love who you are. Love yourself for your strength, for your work ethic, for your drive, for your family values, for your artistic ability. Your body and looks should never define your worth. I hated myself for so long, and it is such a miserable way to live. I hated every single atom of my physical makeup. I chastised every imperfection I had and let it tear me apart.
Now I embrace them: I have a gap in my teeth, the upper part of stomach holds no fat and because of that, my lower stomach carries it all. It would make me cringe the way my lower stomach would stick out. It looked especially awful in bathing suits. My butt is abnormally large for my body ratio— and before school in the mornings, when I was young, I would stare at my body in the mirror in the living room tugging, pulling, ensuring my shirt was big and baggy enough to cover it so it would not stick out as much. Now I love it. I have lines on my forehead, and deep smile lines around my eyes. My face is very red without makeup. I have imperfections and now I embrace and accept them, because they make me who I am. This is who I am supposed to be.
I may not be the standard picture for fitness. I may not be what someone ever aspires to be, but one by one, I am going to keep “surprising” people until this standard of health and beauty is finally broken. I am finally content with that.
My blog and my story is about being healthy and happy; they are the same thing. A healthy mind brings a healthy body. And if there is one thing I have learned, it is that a weight loss journey is more about a person’s mind than their body. The first step to change your life is to love who you are. I wish I had learned this a lot sooner.
Check out Liz and her blog at http://fitnessblondie.blogspot.ca/ and be sure to give her a follow on IG at FitnessBlondieL! Liz is an amazing motivation and inspiration to us at PumpUp, keep up the amazing work! :)