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What Does That Girl in the Bikini Have on You?

February 24, 2014

Weight LossMy Boring-Ass LifeFat SexDiet Talk

A few years ago, when I was pretty new to the whole fat acceptance scene, I was in the car with my husband and we passed a billboard for a plastic surgeon that featured a woman on the beach in a white bikini. Like this:

Billboard

I looked up at her svelte, tan, surgically-achieved body and immediately felt inferior. Because I was transitioning from the dark side (aka, a life of self-inflicted fat shaming and dieting) to a the glorious freedom of self-love and acceptance, my feelings of inferiority were followed by anger, confusion and the strange guilt that comes with failing to achieve self-acceptance instantly. This guilt was, of course, caused by a lifelong pattern of feeling like I am responsible for the fact that my body isn’t good enough (or pretty enough or whatever), so feeling guilty for failing myself is a default emotional state.

Because my husband is awesome, or rather supportive of my Fat Acceptance, and because I have to talk about everything in order to process it, I said, “See that billboard of the girl in the white bikini?” He nodded. “Images like that still make me feel like shit.”

He appeared to ponder this for a second. He’s a ponderer. He’s ponderous. Then he said, “Why?”

It was such a simple question. And I thought it had a simple answer. “Because I never got to be that girl,” I offered.

“What does that mean?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes at him.

“No, I’m serious,” he insisted. “What did that girl have that you didn’t?”

I was struck dumb.

He offered a suggestion, “Friends? Did you have those?”

I nodded.

“How about boyfriends?”

“Yep.”

“A prom date?”

“Absolutely.”

“Fun at parties?”

“Yes,” I giggled.

“Hot sex?”

I lifted my eyebrow, and bit my lip for a sec and then, eyes smiling at him, twinkled,  “Done it.”

“A husband that loves you and thinks you’re fucking gorgeous?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“And recently, I’ve seen you on the beach in a bikini, have I not?”

“You have.”

“So, let’s recap, shall we? What does that girl on the billboard have on you?”

It was such a simple argument, but it had never even occurred to me that being that body — the coveted one, that half-naked body splayed all over billboards everywhere — had little to no concrete value. In other words, there was nothing I hadn’t experienced because I lived in a fat body. I had friends; I went to parties; I made out with hot guys and fell in love more than once. I have a husband who is awesome and a family who values and cares for me. That “ideally thin” girl in the bikini was an empty promise. She couldn’t give me anything that I didn’t already have.

Now, I know that not everyone is as lucky as me. Not everyone has a family that loves them or a husband as insightful as mine, but living in a fat body is not the real source your unhappiness. I am living proof of this idea. For years, I hated my fat body. I tortured and starved it, truly believing that it was keeping me from experiencing the life I wanted. I woke up depressed and regularly failed to see how amazing my life was already. Today, when consider the way I used to live,  I know that the only barrier between me and my happiness was my own self-hatred. My fat body didn’t hinder me from the joy in life, my narrow mind did.

So, what does that girl in the bikini have on me? Nothing.

Are you still holding onto her?

Let her go. She’s just an image on a billboard. Plus, I bet you’d look hot in a bikini — or a fatkini. I do.

Feminist Cupcake

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Leila Haddad permalink
    February 24, 2014 11:04 am

    How lucky you are! This is really a great thought provoking post.

  2. February 24, 2014 5:23 pm

    I was with you up until “a husband as insightful as mine.” Because of all the ways I’ve been able to let go of this bikini-clad woman, I have not been able to let go of the idea that the reason I don’t have a husband is because I don’t look like her.

    I know that fat people fall in love and have wonderful relationships… but it hasn’t happened for all of us.

    • Feminist Cupcake permalink
      February 24, 2014 5:57 pm

      I didn’t always have a husband. It hadn’t always happened for me. And do we know that this girl in the bikini has a loving relationship?

      What I took away from my husband’s comments was that this “bikini” body doesn’t make any promises that are different than the potential that my body has lived up to.

      In other words, no body equates to a specific experience – your body is not equal to your joy.

    • February 24, 2014 9:47 pm

      I can see how you got this impression. Love can be a significant struggle for heavier people because of the stigma. But I do believe we all have Divine Complements and in time, most of people do eventually find one. But as Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

      The way I read it was that in Lindsey’s case, she had a husband who reminded her of what really matters. I think it’s the kind of nudge from a loved and trusted partner or friend who feels comfortable helping us see what really matters. I think in Lindsey’s case, it’s somewhat more poignant because it’s coming from a guy, and guys can tend to be on the tone deaf when it comes to these issues. And remember, many of the things her husband reminded her of were things from her past, prior to finding love. So, it seemed more like a comment on the fact that her life hadn’t been held back by her weight, despite feeling as though it must. And it’s definitely the kind of reminder that we could all use from time to time, even if it’s through an individual’s story that doesn’t necessarily reflect our own. We can all embrace life to our fullest potential if we stop believing there are limitations on who we are.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  3. Happy Spider permalink
    March 2, 2014 9:10 pm

    I am a solitary person and it always amazes me how easy it is for the crowd to convince me that I want what they want. Or in the case of manipulators likes sales folk or advertisers, that I want what they want me to want.

    I’ve gone car shopping and was convinced to want a car I didn’t like and so had a nagging feeling of dislike all the years I drove it. I went house shopping and desired houses that would have been no good for me. I’ve bought stocks during a stock bubble. I’ve gotten angry at news reports and then, years later, thought back upon them and been unable to understand why I cared.

    So I’ve gotten wrapped up in the mob mentality and then, much later when I had distance from the situation, realized that I had been wanting things that weren’t what I wanted when I was by myself.

    Years ago I used to wonder how social people could be anything but very superficial. How can you know who you really are when you are always surrounded by other people influencing you? How do you ever develop a sense of your own self? How do you know what you think when you’re never alone in your head to really chew things over? That still mystifies me although I’ve met enough social people (how could I not? They’re so friendly!) to conclude that they aren’t necessarily superficial.

    Anyway, good for the poster here, getting enough of a distance from the mass media position of “desire to be the woman on the billboard” to realize that she didn’t actually want that.

  4. Bridget permalink
    April 28, 2014 5:29 pm

    This is awesome. I absolutely love it.

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