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**Note: I wrote this post several weeks ago and have been too afraid to share it. I’ve been struggling with this a lot over the past month or two, and didn’t have the courage to open up. But the other day, I saw a segment about this book and I almost started to cry. It was fitting that I was at the gym at the time, telling myself to work harder because of what I ate the night before. I immediately went home and bought the book and as I’m reading it it’s really hitting home for me. So that is what gave me the courage to finally share this.**

No recipe, today…no, this is another type of post. It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to tell, but I just didn’t know how, or when, and I didn’t have the courage. I’m not sure what my goal is here, except to be therapeutic maybe? It’s a little long, so I understand if you want to come back another day, when there’s sugar. But if you stick with me, thanks. 🙂

A few weeks ago I bought Jordan a dance uniform that the local HS cheer dancers wear. They had a clearance sale, so I got a shell and a skirt for $10. She was brimming with excitement to try it on. They’re size small, but meant to be small – tight – and are stretchy to accommodate. It’s a dance uniform, after all.

Her eyes were shining as she tried it on. She was so excited! And then I noticed her sucking in her stomach in the mirror. I asked her what she was doing. And she told me she was fat, so she needed to suck it in.

In that moment, my world and my heart shattered into a million little pieces.

Because she was only doing something that I do, every. single. day. I have sucking in my stomach down to an art form. Don’t we all?

Sure, society has given her influence. She watches TV, sees magazines. She is most certainly not fat, but she is a different body type than most of her friends. She’s cursed with my genes and my husband’s: stocky and built. Not fat – solid. Big boned. Prone to weight in the tummy. Her friends are all…not that way. She’s bigger than most of her friends – by design, not by fat.

As hard as I have tried to shield Jordan from my body image issues, I’ve failed. F-A-T. It’s a dirty word and I’ve said it, a million times.

I do not have a good relationship with body image. I always say I don’t have a good relationship with food, but that’s not the case. It’s body image, the way I feel that I look and the way I feel about myself. Body image and self-esteem are BFFs, in a way. Without a good body image, your self-esteem takes a pretty good hit. I’ve always had problems with both: I’m too fat, I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not a good enough wife/mom/friend/blogger. This has roots that go way back, to where, I have no idea.

I first realized I was overweight when I was 10 years old. I had been blissfully going along, not noticing that the pre-puberty weight was actually chunk, until one day in the fifth grade. Someone was videotaping PE class. I was wearing a turquoise sweatsuit, one that was so popular in the 80s: pullover sweater and sweat pants in a bright solid color.

My world changed when we watched the video. All of a sudden I realized what everyone else could probably see. I was fat. Big. Blubber, as I was always called. The mean boys (and girls) were right!

After a few awkward years and a puberty growth spurt where weight distributed itself (ahem), I was down to a regular, normal non-chunky me. But I was still bigger than all my friends. I had passed the 100 mark. (I still remember that day too, like it was yesterday.)

In high school, teen angst, depression, and friend drama made my body image even worse. It was at that point that FAT became a regular member of my vocabulary. It’s also when I started hearing the voice in my head, the one that told me I was fat. Ugly. Not good enough. I wanted to stop eating. I wanted to be thin. I wanted to be in control of what I ate. But I didn’t stop eating. I watched the Tracey Gold saga play out in the headlines. I was obsessed with For the Love of Nancy. I wished I could be Kelly in the Peach Pit bathroom. But those people had to stop eating to do that. Who would want to stop eating?

{A future food blogger, I was.}

The voice in my head just told me that I wasn’t good enough, not controlled enough. I was a failure because I couldn’t become anorexic. I was a failure because I couldn’t purge that meal in the TGIFridays bathroom. The voice was good at telling me I was a failure at things, be it life, school, or food.

In college I was lonely. My boyfriend lived away. I didn’t make many friends. I lived at home, and my HS friends all went to the same junior college together, so they were having a HS part two. I gained a lot of weight.

The perfect storm happened one night my senior year. I had been broken up for awhile with no boyfriend prospects in sight. Then the pivotal thing in my relationship with control and food happened: I failed a test. Not just any test, one that I needed to get into a teaching program. It was a really difficult math exam, for future math teachers. I missed the cutoff by 3 points. I had never failed something so epic in my life. I had let everyone down: my parents, my teachers, myself.

That night, I stopped eating…mostly.

For a few months I lived on coffee and Excedrin. I ate dinner because I lived at home and had no choice but to eat with my parents. There would have been too many questions if I skipped dinner, so I ate it. It felt good, not just to lose the weight, but to be able to say no to something. No, I don’t want that cereal. No, I don’t want lunch. It felt good to be in control of what I wanted. Finally, I was strong enough. I dropped over 30 pounds in a month.

People noticed. I got compliments. I also finally, after so many years of coveting it, could see the triangle. You know the one: when skinny people stand upright with their legs together you can see a triangle of light through the thighs. I had one! Finally!

I remember being hungry. All. The. Time. My friends were worried about me, they urged me to eat. But I was too happy about needing a belt to wear my jeans to listen to them. I wasn’t anorexic, I didn’t have an eating disorder. I was just losing the weight I needed to lose.

I’ll never forget the day I started eating again. I went to breakfast with a couple friends, which turned out to be an intervention of sorts. They ordered me pancakes and stared at me so I’d eat. I still remember my inner conflict: eat the pancakes? Or not? I ate a bite of the pancakes. I made a decision that day, to not go all the way down the road I was headed.

That’s also the day I discovered laxatives. We don’t really need to go into that…you get the point. That went on for awhile, even into my relationship with Mel.

I made a choice to start eating again, but that certainly didn’t solve any problems. The voice in my head was still there – and strong. It’s still there today – I have never dealt with any of the issues that drove me to that point, and even though I wouldn’t ever stop eating again, I still wish I could. Every. Single. Day.

I was 5′ 4″ and 120 pounds when Mel and I started dating. I still remember pinching my tummy and calling myself fat. Now, I want to go back and slap that girl. Dude. 120 pounds? Be thankful!

Marital bliss changed my thinking. I stopped fixating, and got to a healthier me, but Mel would argue with that. F-A-T was always part of my vocabulary. I had Jordan. I gained an obscene amount of weight, but lost 50 pounds in 6 weeks because of water weight. But the 10 pounds left eluded me, and everything moved. Since I began blogging, I’ve gained a lot of weight. It’s very hard to be in this job and not, especially when you love sugar and have no willpower like I do.

I often feel like a hypocrite: I show you lots of sugar, and tell you how good it is. It is good, and I should know, because I eat it every day. But I beat myself up for every single bite. I pinch my fat and tell myself I’ll never be good. I’ll always be overweight. I refuse to weigh myself, because every number is like a stab to my heart. And when you roll your eyes at me because I say I’m fat, know that I’m not just saying it. I actually, 100%, feel it. I feel it on my stomach, in my thighs. I see it in my head. I feel it in my heart. I don’t say it for a “no, you’re not” answer. I say it because it’s my coping mechanism for how I feel about myself.

I’m not happy with the way I look, but I never have been. No matter what weight I am, I look in the mirror and I see that chubby 10 year old in her turquoise sweatsuit. And now, I’m passing down these wonderful traits to my daughter.

#momfail

I get comments all the time like, “how do you stay so thin?” and I laugh. I joke, and say “spanx” or “photoshop” but inside I’m saying, “those people are cray-cray” because they’ve never seen me naked and boy, a good black shirt can cover up anything. But I certainly don’t feel thin, not at all. I never have, and I’m not sure if I ever would – even if I lost another 30 pounds.

That episode with Jordan made me realize how unhappy I am with how feel about how I look. I mean, I always feel unhappy with how I look, but I’m realizing I need to change that. I’m not quite sure how. I don’t necessarily mean weight loss – I mean I need an attitude adjustment. I could lose 10 or 20 pounds, sure (and I should) but that’s not going to change how I feel about myself. Will losing weight change how my clothes fit? Yes. Will it make me happier? Yes, to a point. But I’m still going to feel fat. That’s what I need to change…somehow.

Here’s the thing: reading the book Almost Anorexic has made me realize something. For 15 years I told myself I didn’t have an eating disorder. That I don’t have one. I had “failed” at anorexia. I felt that if I told someone I had an eating disorder in college, or that I still suffer from symptoms, I felt that they would either (1) look at me and laugh or (2) get angry because my saying that was an insult to anorexics everywhere. But in reality? Eating disorders are a spectrum. Back in college I most definitely did suffer from an eating disorder. And guess what? I still do. Sure, I don’t starve myself. I don’t purge. But the self-belittlment I force on myself, the anger I feel when I eat, the hatred I feel for myself when I don’t work out hard enough, those are all symptoms that can fall on the eating disorder spectrum.

These feelings have been hitting me so much harder lately. Life is busy, I’m more stressed. My husband is being so successful at his weight loss. Bloggers around the internet are talking about the Food Blogger 15. Gaining weight seems to be the mark of a food blogger; it comes with the territory. I think all of this combined is making the voice in my head get louder.

Here is another thing I’m learning about myself: I’m scared. I’m scared to diet. I’m scared to cleanse, to change the way I eat. I’m scared to work with a trainer, I’m scared to try all those so-called natural gym booster supplements everyone uses. I’m scared of my scale. All of those things are triggers for me. I think I’m past the point of starving myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. All of those things are scary for me because they trigger the voice in my head. If I start a diet and cheat, I’ve failed. If I don’t work out as hard as I should, I’ve failed. I think what reading the book has me realizing is that losing weight is not the answer. Before I can lose weight, I need to silence the voice in my head.

I think I need to start realizing that I am me. I’m not a number. I’m not a pound or a dress size. My self worth should not be tied to weight. My body is my body and at 155 pounds or at 130, I need to be appreciative of it. I need to learn to accept me. Now, if I can learn to do that, I can probably bottle it and sell it for a million dollars. Because it’s something all women want, right? To be happy in their own skin?

The difference is I want Jordan to be happy in hers. I want her to put on her sparkly skirts and wacky leggings and be herself. I don’t want F-A-T to define her. When she’s called that in school, and she already has and will again, I’m sure, I want her to be able to shrug it off and say whatever, dude, I’m wearing a sparkly t-shirt and I’m happy about it. I’m not quite sure how to get her to that point, but I’m going to give it a concerted effort.

I’m going to try and cut myself some slack. If I eat a cookie, I’m going to try not to tell myself I’m ugly.

If I have a second (or third) bite after a photo shoot, I’m going to try not to hurl hurtful words at myself because I’m a disgusting piece of fat that cannot stop at one bite.

If I skip a day at the gym, I’m going to try not to tell myself I’m worthless and a piece of lard, which usually results in eating a tray of brownies.

I’m going to try not to pinch my stomach fat. That’ll be a hard one, because I do it so often, it’s a reflex.

I’m not sure if I’m going to be successful at any of those, because right now I’m certainly not. But I’m going to try.

I’m also going to tell the 10 year old fat girl in the mirror to get the f$*! out of my head. It’s about time she found something better to do.

Instead of saying “I’m fat” I am going to try saying “I’m me.”

{Now…if only I knew how to do that, I’d be golden…}

Thank you for reading. I just feel like I had to get that off my chest, and I feel better knowing I’ve finally said everything that’s been stuck inside me for a really, really long time. I appreciate it if you made it all the way through. 🙂

I’ll be back with sugar on Sunday. And, hopefully, less guilt.

Last Updated on May 13, 2020

Dorothy Kern

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315 Comments

  1. I read this post here on body issues. I can relate, who can’t? BUT I want you to know before I read it, I saw the picture of your family and I thought what a beautiful girl and her beautiful momma. Really, true girl! I think y’all are gorgeous and I am sugar-addicted and can’t stop thinking about the chocolate-covered coconut things. When I saw y’all, I just thought pretty ladies and look at the sweets!

  2. This: “If I start a diet and cheat, I’ve failed. If I don’t work out as hard as I should, I’ve failed.” This flipped the light switch of understanding for me. Thank you. I am a people-pleaser with an immense fear of failure, which has held me back from so many things in my life. It all leads to frustration for me because I cannot get logic to outweigh the emotion attached. I need to lose about 100 lbs, and even that will put me a the high end of the BMI scale for my height (I got here looking for a cake recipe for my almost 7-yr-old daughter’s birthday). Baked good are my kryptonite, savory or sweet. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Hey Dorothy, this is a beautiful post! It speaks truth for a lot of females, all across the age spectrum. One little piece of advice that I like to say is that healthy is different than skinny. It is a hard concept to understand but I and other females alike need to start associating health with happiness instead of depending on skinniness for happiness. Much love!

  4. I’ve been suffering with my weight problems since I was 9 years old. Although I’d a terrible childhood I’ve always had bad weight. I’ve been called horrendous names by people in my school and my own family. This struck a cord as I am a binge eater. When I’m emotional I eat and eat and eat until I can’t eat anymore. Then my head kicks in and it does exactly what yours does. I’ve struggled with diets etc so I haven’t done any. I’m disabled so exercise is really hard for me as it’s fibromyalgia and scholiosis which gives me constant pain. I’m glad that you wrote on here about this as I know it will help others. I had a childhood that no child should have and suffered abuse, I was called tree trunk legs, sloth, sugar plum fairy, by my mother. Fatso, if I ever fell I’d need harland and wolfs crane to come and lift me. Fat a**, fat bit*h, ugly cow, sloth like candy, all horrible. Not a happy childhood, then there was the physical abuse being hit all the time by my brother. He’d get me in trouble for nothing.So I’d get hit again by my mother. Horrible, not happy about that. So I unhappily ate the pain and anger away. Although it never went away it just sticks there.

    1. I’m so so sorry for your struggles. I hope you know that you’re beautiful inside and out! I hope that someday you can let go of all the demons of your past. ❤️ Thank you so much for reading!

  5. I am in awe of your bravery. And at the ability to have gotten inside my psyche. Having been called “chubby”, “pudgy”, “overweight”, “fat cow”, “tub of lard” (should I go on?), your words struck right at the heart of my inadequacies. For years, I truly believed that the only thing I was any good at was failure, and boy howdy, I was a champion at that!

    I can’t imagine what a panic you must have been in to realize you were influencing your precious daughter’s self image. It’s bad enough that the voice in our head manipulates our happiness, but to have it spill over onto our innocent children seems at once cruel, and a wake up call. Because, as I read somewhere (on Facebook, I’m sure, because isn’t that where all truth surfaces?) that we HAVE fat, just like we have freckles, or knobby knees. We would never say “I AM freckles”. They don’t define us, they don’t show to the world what failures we are. But guess what? Now I have fat. I also have freckles. And wrinkles. And grey hairs. But they aren’t what I am. I am more than that, and day by day, I’m un-learning that self hating behavior. Some days, I win the battle, some days, well, you know. So, all that to say, thank you for your bravery, and I hope women and girls everywhere-okay, boys too- read your words and realize that they too have the power to change their thinking.

  6. Hey Dorothy,

    I got here through a link from your latest post, and I’m so glad that you seem to be making real progress.

    I’ve had similar problems in my relationship with food and it is SO difficult when you’re a food blogger. Today for the first time in a very long time I made three desserts for my blog without eating a ton of cookie dough and other stuff while I was making it. I was so proud of myself! But equally next week I might eat more cookie dough. I won’t let that mean that it’s okay for me to beat myself up, or sink into a cycle of eating crap. Sugar is addictive for lots of people and it’s difficult to break the addiction, especially when you’re around it all the time.

    You are a really really beautiful lady with a lovely family and it would be such a shame if you lived your whole life with this kind of unhappiness around your appearance. You are SO much more than that, and your self-worth is so much more than that. And negative self-talk is so harmful. Think how you would feel if someone said those things to your daughter or friend. That’s a hard habit to break too but it can be done. xxx

  7. Hi Dorothy!

    I just saw came upon this older post today and wanted to comment. I think most women (and probably even many men too) can relate to all of this on some level. The media and society send us messages subconsciously about how we should look, sure, and that takes hold, but it also takes root somewhere in us in other ways. For myself, I don’t know exactly where. My mother didn’t beat herself up, so I didn’t learn it that way. Who knows, but I do know I’ve spent the better part of 33 years agonizing over being some concept of ‘better’. Regardless of how much or little I had to lose, I always felt a need to be ‘better’ somehow than where I was. I went to some extremes too… not eating, doing 3.5 hours of cardio/day, appetite suppressants, all of it. Most recently, I worked with a fitness coach to lose the weight, and weighed every single thing I put in my mouth, on a food scale, in grams, for 1.5 years. Seriously. Finally, just recently, I decided I couldn’t really believe how much of my precious, wonderful life I was allowing to waste by beating myself up to be ‘perfect’. How much energy I was expending to be negative toward myself in a life that is short. Was that all worth it? Do the people around me care if I have 15 extra pounds? Do they love me less? I was placing value in myself strictly on one criteria alone. How senseless it all seemed to me at that point. It just clicked and I decided I simply CANNOT spend anymore of my time in in this life hating myself. It was no way to live. Going through life tormenting myself over a few lbs.?? We all have good days and bad days when it comes to body image, but on the whole, I don’t beat myself up anymore. Life’s too short, and no one else cares but me. I eat the bite of cookie and don’t feel bad about it at all. I look in the mirror and want to change some things, and I will keep trying in some ways, but I generally shrug and say “eh, who cares?” And I move on from it. It’s always a battle and struggle to some extent, but I hope you find more peace in how you look at yourself and feel about yourself. It’s been freeing to finally get to a place where I feel more comfortable. You will too, and you deserve to! Your talented and successful, and SO MUCH MORE than one tiny fraction of what makes up a human being. Anyway, just wanted to post my thoughts on this beautiful and relatable post you shared. Happy Sunday to you!

  8. Yes…like so many people have already said, I get it too. Not the same story, but a very similar mindset. Again, thank you. xo

  9. Hi,
    I would like to tell you. My husband was over weight – almost 400 pounds while he and I were dating. I talked with him that he needed to lose weight to prevent the heart disease, high blood pressure. high chlostroles, diabetes, and many many more. I helped him with the diet and he had lost a lot of weight before he and I were married. My mother-in-law was really surprised how thin he was. He was happy about it. Later on after the wedding, he gained weight back. He did tried a few diets and they didn’t help him anymore. A friend of ours had the gastric bypass and he looked realy really good! I had suggested my husband to try this new methods. He had the stomach surgery and he lost most of the weight and he looked realy realy good!! but sadly he re-gained weight a half back but now his weight has been stabled which is good. Now the doctor discovered that he’s a diabetic. He needs to watch of what he eats but he doesn’t follow the doctor’s instruction. I have tried to help him and these hasn’t worked. All I did was just leave him alone and it is his decision . Nothing I can do…… It is the hardest part.. Any recommendations that could help me, please.

    1. Hi Kathleen! I’m sorry that you are going through that. Unfortunately, I can’t be of much help. I would recommend that you consult your doctor or a therapist or some family members to get him the help that he needs. Good luck!

  10. Hello Dorothy!
    I just stumbled upon your blog today and I usually start by reading the “about”-section to get a glimpse of the person behind the creativity 🙂 Your open words and honesty really touched me and I instantly put you on my list of blogs to follow!
    Thank you for so much honesty! So many of us women struggle with the same thing and so many of think they are all alone with it.
    I am 23 and I just went online with a food blog today actually^^ and the thought of weight gain came up in my mind too.
    I am also solid built, as you called it. Even if I were super skinny, I would never be “thin” in the imaginary sense of the word. I am a 1.83m tall woman, I have broad shoulders. I will never be the tiny, starved-looking girly you see on photoshoped pictures. But should that really be our ideal?? Especially regarding that these models in pictures aren’t natural either.
    I had that little voice in my head for a long time too but one day I decided: no more. I won’t that stupid little voice dictate my life.
    I had the fortune of growing up in a loving family that alway had my back and made me strong and I had a circle of great friends and a great school where what matters were your skills, not your size.
    I lost and gained weight over the years and found that I didn’t feel any different two sizes smaller. I was and am still me. All the time.
    I developed a second voice in my head (it’s quite busy up there^^) that, when the first one speaks up too loud, tells it too shut up.
    I will not be defined by a stupid number on a scale! None of us should! Think about it: You are not a number on a scale! That number does not define you. It doesn’t change your character, your personality or any other part of you. I am healthy, I workout three times a week, so no alarming reason for any stress.
    And my personal opinion: People who like you less because of a few (or even many) pounds more are absolutely not worth having in your life!
    I love that second voice, keeps me from getting too crazy about weight and all that – try to develop it too 🙂
    I try too loose weight too, but just because I know it would be healthier if I weighted a bit less, but I don’t stress about it all day anymore. It is just one of the things I want to achieve, like finishing my uni exams as good as possible, or whatever. But I won’t let it control my life.

    You may think yourself fat (really an ugly word -.-) but think about what damage you do to your body by starving yourself. It is so much worse than a few pounds more (besides, I think you are so pretty in your pic, even though, you might see it differently)!! Be nice to yourself and calm your mind. I wish you all the best to achieve the peace that your looking for. Your little girl will notice and from own experience I know how much it can help for a little girl’s self-esteem 🙂

    Jenni

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Jenni, and for sharing your story! I’m working on developing that second voice. It’s not very strong yet, but it’s getting there. 🙂 Thank you so much!