Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson
I’ll never forget the day I first saw and really recognized a woman who owned their size.
From childhood I was taught to apologize for my fatness, to see my size as a grievous shortcoming that the whole world could see. Every effort was made to be acceptable, from diet pills to disordered eating.
I tried the cabbage soup diet, I attended weight watchers meetings, I would do an hour of aerobics daily using a Jane Fonda workout video that we borrowed from the library – and all of this was before I turned 16.
Despite my best efforts, my body stubbornly seemed to always return to a place of amplitude.
Big, bold, rippling curves and sturdy hips.
I was heartbroken. Why couldn’t I ever get this right?
I lived my life in a constant state of shame and unspoken apology for the mass I commanded.
Then one day, I saw her.
I don’t know her name or anything about her, but I’ll remember her for the rest of my life.
We were at a bar one night, and I must have been in my late teens, early twenties.
My friends and I were out for a few beers and some dancing at this new club that had opened up and were enjoying the feeling of spaciousness that you can sometimes get in a bar that hasn’t really caught on yet, before the crowds come and the place is packed every night from then on.
Now, I love dancing, and I have since I was a teenager, but I wasn’t dancing that night.
My big, fat body was holding me back. How could I move and flow and be free, how could I allow myself to command attention and be seen when I felt like such a disgrace?
I sat at the tiny table in the uncomfortably high chair and sipped my vodka-cran, enviously watching the beautiful people enjoying themselves on the dance floor and wishing I was smaller.
I saw the girls undulating on the speakers, showing off and having fun, and I sat in a puddle of jealousy on the sidelines.
Then, a small miracle happened.
The cluster of bodies on the dance floor shifted and I saw her for the first time in all her glowing glory.
She was commanding attention all right, and she seemed perfectly comfortable with it.
She was a radiant, pink cheeked goddess on that dance floor.
She closed her eyes and let her body ripple with the music.
She threw back her head and laughed.
She was fat.
Sometimes we need to see someone do something before we even register that it could be possible.
In that slightly hazy, otherwise completely ordinary moment, I realized that it was possible to be fat and love yourself.
I saw a living, breathing person who looked like me, and she was magnificent.
People were looking, but not with pity or judgment or disgust in their gaze, but with admiration and appreciation of her free spirit and light!
She took up space, and she was unapologetic. She owned her size without shame.
She was a revelation.
Sometimes when I remember this moment, I smile quietly to myself because there’s no way that she could have known that by simply being there that night she would change someone’s life for the better.
We never do know just who is watching, and what they are absorbing from our presence.
A decision to wear the beautiful sundress, to dance at the party, to swim in the pool or to eat the dessert *unapologetically* could have massive ripple effects for the people around us who might be quietly watching.
Body positivity is not an overnight thing, I feel.
To this day, I struggle sometimes with feeling too big, too fat, too much.
In a world that has conditioned us to believe that a slender body is the pinnacle of feminine achievement, it is an act of rebellion to wake up and decide that you love yourself exactly the way you are.
It flies in the face of our conditioning to be content with who and what we are.
Recently someone asked me if I was from New Zealand, as my face and figure reminded them of the big, beautiful Maori women that live there.
I am not from New Zealand, or Maori, but come from East Indian and French parents. My features are distinctive and I was curious to see what the Maori women looked like.
Later that night I looked up some images on Google and tears came to my eyes because reflected in the faces of those beautiful Maori women I saw *her* essence – wild, powerful, free. Unapologetic.
I thought about how much energy had been wasted over the years living in shame about my body.
Then I imagined how it would feel to let that go, and to allow myself to be truly comfortable in my skin.
I remembered her, the dancing goddess in all her luscious, radiant glory.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t hurt myself like that anymore.
No more apologizing, no more shame, and certainly no more sitting in a puddle of quiet jealousy on the sidelines while my life passed me by.
It sunk in – enjoying life is not a privilege reserved for the thin.
In the moments that I forget this truth, I am learning to take a deep breath, and call back my power.
I visualize all my energy being called back to my being, and feel my aura swell and glow with my power, my birthright, my radiance.
I say to myself,
“I am a big, beautiful being. It is safe for me to take up space in the world.”
And then, I shine.
Maybe in those moments there is someone quietly watching who is discovering that they could shine, too.
From the heart,
P.S. I’m going to be sharing more from the heart like this on my blog, and I hope that you will enjoy reading these posts as much as I have enjoyed putting them out into the world.
Did this resonate with you? Do you remember the first time you saw a woman who was unapologetic about their size? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
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