Skinny or Happy: Pick One.
This was the beginning of a shocking conversation between a good friend and I.
She chose skinny.
I stared at her completely incredulous. Really? I couldn’t even believe it, so I asked her to explain her reasoning and warned her that she’d be finding our conversation anonymously written on my blog. “Well, I really want to lose twenty pounds, and I know I’ll be happy once I do.” Have I thought that in the past? Yes. Yes, I have. The reality is this: The size of my jeans doesn’t make me any happier. It doesn’t make me a better person, make my problems go away or pay my bills. All that being skinnier means is that I’m smaller.
Just last week, I victory danced in the Gap fitting room hallway infront of my Mom, my son and two complete strangers because the size 2 pants were too big. As I strutted out of the fitting room in the size 0’s, I felt like a million bucks. “This is better than winning the lottery”, I joked. Am I proud of my new physique? Of course I am – it took a lot of discipline and hardwork, (although, admittedly some of the weightloss came from an inability to eat thanks to grief and stress) and those pants made me feel really great. I joyously wore them to school on Wednesday, and excitedly told my
uninterested encouraging father about the whole size zero amazingness. Only four days later, I looked in the mirror today and told myself I looked fat.
Wait a minute – my reasonable self knows that I am not fat. I’ve had a baby and wearing smaller pants now than I did in high school. I should be patting myself on the back and shouting it from the rooftops, but instead I berate myself and momentarily obsess over what I’ve eaten. My time, energy and certainly my sanity would be better spent on something productive, like cleaning my house or saving the world. As I tried to explain my stupidity to my friend she looked at me with what I imagine is the same dumb face I had on mine only moments before. No way, she swore. Not her. If she was twenty pounds smaller, all of her problems would be smaller too.
Finally, I gave up. She’s sure that being skinny will make her happier. She also [hopefully jokingly] told me she’d be happier if I got “fat” again. I was never actually fat. I was 147 pounds standing at five feet four inches. I was hardly overweight. I think her saying that was twice as startling as her revelation that she’d rather be skinny than happy. Is that what we’ve come to as society? As women?
Am I happier now at my current weight than I was before? Yes – but it’s not related to the size of my pants at all. I’m proud of the accomplishment, but it hasn’t made me a better person. It hasn’t changed who I am or made my problems go away. Truthfully, losing the weight has only gone to show me that if I set my mind to something and work consistently at it, I can accomplish whatever I’m faced with – but reasonably, I knew that before.