I currently coach a volleyball team. When meeting with one of the parents, I mentioned that I had four kids. She promptly looked me up and down and said, “Wow. I thought women with that many kids …
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I currently coach a volleyball team. When meeting with one of the parents, I mentioned that I had four kids. She promptly looked me up and down and said, “Wow. I thought women with that many kids were supposed to let themselves go!”
I’m guessing she was implying that I looked slimmer than she expected for giving birth four times.
And despite my understanding of what she was trying to do, I was frustrated.
I never had a “skinny” body. I always had a healthy layer of chub growing up, which only increased in my college years. I have many memories of kids in elementary and middle school calling me “fat” or “the Pillsbury dough girl.” Since then, I’ve attached being liked and having friends to my weight.
I started having children in my early 20s. Obviously, my weight fluctuated a lot in the nine years of bearing and nursing four babies. To no one’s surprise, my body always got more compliments or attention when I was thinner than when I was heavier.
Currently, I am at the lowest weight I’ve been since middle school. I’ve been at this weight since 2018. But there’s a reason for this: genetics, time and money. I spent that year carefully planning my workouts to be a balance of weights and cardio. I went to the gym for two hours daily. The gym had a daycare for my four kids. I hired a health coach. I bought meal plans and apps. And I had the money and availability to do all of these things at the same time.
And it paid off!
I had chiseled arms and low enough body fat to get lots of attention. The first thing out of people’s mouths were, “wow, you look so good!”, “Your face! It’s all gone!”
You look good
But it didn’t make me feel good.
This may sound weird, but that attention and those compliments REALLY bothered me.
To be honest, I thought I looked good before. So now I wondered, what was everyone thinking before I lost weight?
Here’s another thing, I didn’t feel any different. My body still looked the same in the mirror to me, just smaller. I still nitpicked at myself every time I looked at it. Instead of enjoying it, like I promised myself I would do for so many years if I lost the weight, I just looked for the next thing that needed to change … there was always something.
The only thing that my appearance demonstrated was where I spent my time. When I was working on my body, I was not working on my writing, I did not have a career, I wasn’t reading, I wasn’t going to school, I wasn’t starting a new business, I wasn’t taking care of an elderly parent, I wasn’t dealing with a mental illness, I wasn’t unemployed, I wasn’t training ill-behaved dogs, I wasn’t volunteering with refugees and I wasn’t traveling.
There are trade-offs. And just because you choose something else besides having chiseled arms, it doesn’t make you unhealthy or less worthy of attention.
You can be healthy AND chubby. To reach the look of magazines and certain celebrities, it takes a huge amount of time and energy and an undeviating nutrition plan for most people. Are people who don’t have the time to do what I did less worthy of attention? Are people who don’t have the money to do what I did less health-conscious? Are people who don’t have my body type less beautiful?
That’s the correct answer.
Though what we choose to compliment and to whom we choose to give our attention will be the ultimate deciding factor.
Stacey Carruth is a mother of four living in Arapahoe County
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