I’m learning to love myself, by gaining weight

It feels like it happened overnight. One day in the shower I noticed painful, red, inflamed lines travelling from my thighs to my waist. It took me a while to realise they were stretch marks, first I thought they were a reaction to a soap or moisturiser I’d used. From then on, it was like an avalanche. I noticed none of my jeans fit me anymore. Whatever, they’re pretty old jeans. At this point, I didn’t have a job and was studying online. It’s hard to notice changes in your body when you spend almost every day at home wearing oversized jumpers and pyjama pants. Did it really matter that my shirts were tighter, and my underwear didn’t reach my hips like they used to? Nah.

Then I went clothes shopping for the first time in a very long time. The downside of following our Ethical Fashion Challenge is that I’ve hardly had the chance to spend a whole day trying on clothes because it was so hard to find something ethical and affordable. I spent that entire day going changing room to changing room, holding back tears when I couldn’t even pull the jeans past my calves.

I’ve gained weight.

In the space of a month, maybe two, I’ve gone from a size 10 to a size 16. And I hate myself for feeling bad about it, but I can’t help it. I’ve been raised in a world where “fat” is a dirty word. This world has taught me that femininity can only be reached by being pretty, thin, straight, white, and wearing dresses. And I know it’s not true, and I know it doesn’t matter, and I know that femininity is not the be all and end all, but I still feel like shit. I used to have a mathematically perfect hourglass figure, and now measuring my waist to buy clothes online is a punishment.

So, what now?

I find a way to feel great about myself, right here, right now, as a size 16. And I find a way to feel good about this weight gain and to feel good about the possibility of gaining more weight. I’m going to find a way to stop subconsciously equating weight to worth.

Here’s how:

1. I overhaul my wardrobe

All the cute clothes that won’t fit me anymore is out the door, either hand me downs to my sisters or sold online or at the upcoming suitcase rummage (see you there?). And now, I get to find new cute clothes that make me look and feel amazing. I’m shopping in my size with confidence, and only wearing the clothes that make me think “I’ve got this!”

2. I find new role models

Thank god for Instagram, and thank god for the beautiful girls out there rocking their body without shame or fear. If every day I see someone bigger than me and think “I want to look like her in those jeans!” then I’ll only feel better about myself when I do.

3. I stop fearing change

So many things in my life have changed lately, and this is only a small portion of the bigger picture. I welcome change into my life with open arms, and I look forward to experiencing the unknown.

4. I value my health, not my size

And if I decide to prioritise fitness more in the future, fantastic. Right now, I’m not going to obsess over working out or dramatically changing my diet. As for today, I think some light stretches, maybe some occasional yoga and a homemade veggie stirfry are good enough. And yes, I’m going to have choc chip ice cream for dessert. Because I fucking want to.

5. I don’t try to hide

I’m writing this post because I was ashamed when I realised I’d gained weight. And that’s ridiculous. This is my blog, this is my body, and I am proud of how I look. My initial reaction of sadness, guilt, and shame says a lot about myself, and if I want to change my way of thinking then I’m not going to hide something like this. I’m gaining weight, every day. That’s the truth. And I’m going to “deal with it” in my own way, with positivity and acceptance.

At the end of the day, it is harder to change your mental traits than it is to change your physical traits. And the way I think about myself and others is far more important to me than what size I am. I am going to make an effort every day to end the prejudice I was harbouring, and I hope you do too. Not for my benefit, but for your own.

If you have any tips or stories about gaining weight and accepting it, I’d love to know.

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