Fat girl fear debunked: my right to bare arms.

My mom is a photographer, which means that several times a year, whether we want it or not, we’re subject to family photo shoots. Most of the times I’m grateful for beautiful, professional portraits at no cost — I mean, who wouldn’t be, right? Good photography is expensive (but well worth the cost. Don’t get me started on that — pay for a professional for your wedding, your maternity and infant portraits, and your professional headshot. It’s SO WORTH IT! Memories last forever, and so does a crappy underexposed selfie of yourself on LinkedIn).

Beautiful Photography by Lynnette Joy. 3/4 sleeves for the win!

Beautiful Photography by Lynnette Joy. 3/4 sleeves for the win!

She’s taught me and my sister how to pose to slim our bodies, but there’s one body hangup that I KNOW drives my mom crazy. My fear of my arms! Why does it drive my mom crazy? Because if I’m sleeveless in a photo, I ask her to photoshop my arms to be smaller. Ridiculous, right?! She probably wanted to kill me as she designed my wedding album because I asked her to photoshop my arms in like, every picture. And that was 30 pounds lighter than I am now. Hahahah. Vain and horrendous, but at least I’m being honest! I carry most of my weight through my abdomen, ass and arms (AAA!). My arms, no matter how much weight I’ve lost in the past, still remain pendulous and large, reminding me of bat wings. I need to get over it.

Behold, my unphotoshopped arms on my wedding day!

Behold, my unphotoshopped arms on my wedding day, now on the interwebz for the world to see!

My mother lovingly slimmed down my arm in this photo!!!

My mother lovingly slimmed down my arm in this photo!!! Can you tell?

My self-consciousness about my arms means I own more cardigans than anybody on the planet. Gray, black, white, turquoise… I’m a cardigan fiend. It means that I wear these cardigans even when it’s 103 degrees out, like it was today. But today, I did something pretty brave. I left the cardigan in the car when I got back from my lunch break. And surprise, nobody said anything about my arms, and I was a lot less hot than I would have been in my cardigan. Stupid insecurity? Yep.

My husband notices my weirdness about my arms, too. In Mexico, I had put on this  adorable, polka dot tank top with a little bolero, a fancy little short sleeved jacket to COVER YOUR ARMS. He asked why I put it on and I sheepishly had to admit I was self conscious about my arms. And that was in front of my HUSBAND — the man who’s seen the worst of me probably a heck of a lot more than he’s seen the best. We’ve been together almost 11 years and I’m pretty sure he knows me better than I know myself. A little pep talk from my hubs and the bolero came off, and once again, nobody said anything and my arms lived to see the light of the day.

My husband helped me get over my arms in Mexico. Cute tank top, eh?

My husband helped me get over my arms in Mexico. Cute tank top, eh?

Despite all these arm-fearing situations, I have come a long way in accepting my arms because three years ago, I would have never stepped foot in the gym in a tank top. It would have to be sleeves all the way, because god forbid somebody see my big fat upper arms. Ridiculous! It’s only when we take a step back sometimes out of our own insecurities that we see how stupid and miniscule they really are. Letting my insecurity of my arms affect my physical comfort is stupid. My arms may be big, but like the rest of me, they’re a work in progress, and quite frankly, I highly doubt many people have looked at my arms and been like “LAWD! She should NOT be wearing that tank top!” And if they do… well, who gives a fart? (You thought I was gonna drop an F bomb, didn’t you?! I didn’t!)

I have a right to bare arms. I have a right to show off my arms no matter what state they might be in. I have a right to say yes to tank tops, tube tops, strapless dresses, deodorant, arm tattoos….you name it. Arms are arms are arms. So this is my new mantra… I have a right to bare arms.

Who’s with me? What ridiculous body insecurity do you have? Let’s get it out in the open today and I’ll comment back with my thoughts… this is a safe place! Get it out in the open. When we address our inner demons, they become a lot less scary! Take the power back and tell me, what’s a stupid body insecurity you have? Why?

Identity

We had our dear friends Jason and Juan over for dinner last night, and as we were finishing off the remains of a carrot bundt cake (there goes my ketosis (low-carb lifestyle)) (And I had been SO GOOD- we went out for mexican food and I didn’t have ONE chip. Do you know how hard that is to do?!?!?!) , I saw an article in the LA Times that caught my eye. It was called “The Fat Man Dreams of Running the LA Marathon“. I briefly skimmed over it and was enamored with this line: “If he does (finish the marathon), he says he will be sending a message to a society obsessed with being thin. “Big people,” he says, “can do the unimaginable.”

I read it out to my friends and made some sort of exclamation about how I loved that message, and our friend Juan, (a licensed therapist – a Ph. D.), said “You really identify as a fat person, don’t you?” The question set me back a little bit, but then as I thought about it, I thought, Yes, I do identify as a fat person.  He explained to me how most people he treat view being fat as a complete setback, and allow themselves to wallow in misery, but that he was surprised that I seemed to be so at terms with my weight. I definitely have my insecurities, but I’ve realized that in the past few years, I’ve really learned how to OWN who I am. My body, despite the excess weight, can do amazing things. My body wailed on a punching bag for 60 minutes yesterday in my impact kickboxing class. My body carries me through 45 hours of work a week, and then 15 hours of school. My body lives and breathes, and hurts and aches and comes back around and heals and does it all over again…. and it does this all despite the excess weight. My body is an amazing thing.

The boxing gloves I just ordered for my kickboxing class.

If I could, would I snap my fingers and turn thin? Absolutely. But that’s not possible, and as Popeye says… I am who I am.  My capacity for joy or success is no less attainable than somebody who weighs 114 pounds. And who knows – maybe because of the challenges I’ve gone through with my size, I’m apt to appreciate the smaller things more. All I know is that identifying with myself as a larger person is not a bad thing. It took me awhile to be ok with who I was, and now, there’s a tremendous sense of freedom of being able to accept myself at any weight. I’ll continue to work towards my health, but I’m no less of a person (heh, that’s punny) at 200 pounds… or 100 pounds.

Do you feel that you identify with yourself based on a size? I know I have some naturally thin and petite readers too, so don’t feel that you have to be chubby to chime in. Have you embraced yourself, size and all?