Jen and her son
I’ll never forget the night I wanted McDonald's but was on some radical diet for the hundredth time. As I returned home from the drive-thru, I was so mad at myself. I proceeded to strip naked and ate my food sitting in front of a full-length closet mirror. It was my punishment. Many of the details escape me, but I will forever remember one thing — how sad and desperate I appeared.
As far back as I can remember, my mother would comment about how her girls were lucky. We wouldn't endure our parents' weight struggles. Then puberty hit and my luck ran out — or so I believed.
My parents tried their best to instill confidence within me, but growing up a fat girl in southern California was challenging. While I'm quite certain kids everywhere are mean, I was bullied a lot in school. I was touched, but never loved. I deeply believed that I should be ashamed of my body.
On the cusp of my 19th birthday, I moved to Colorado on my own. I was craving something beyond the plastic utopia where I grew up. Years passed by, but not a lot changed.
It took me a long time to realize the main bully I was trying to escape was actually me. I saw her each time I looked in the mirror. The girl I tormented.
I’ll never forget the night I wanted McDonald's but was on a random radical diet for the hundredth time. As I returned home from the drive-thru, I was so mad at myself. I proceeded to strip naked and ate my food sitting in front of a full-length closet mirror. It was my punishment. Many of the details escape me, but I will forever remember one thing — how sad and desperate I appeared.
Things became a little better as I allowed myself to be loved by a wonderful man. He adored me, but I still couldn't feel the same way about myself.
We became engaged when I was 28. As we were planning our wedding, I taped a sign to my office door — "Please do not feed the bride." At the time I thought it was funny. I now realize it was as equally destructive as eating McDonald’s naked in front of a mirror.
Following our wedding, I had a deep desire to become a mother. I also felt pressure to lose a significant amount of weight.
Two months after my 30th birthday, my husband and I were thrilled to find out I was expecting. Like most new moms-to-be, I jumped on the Internet. I signed up for weekly updates telling me what kind of fruit my baby compared to in size. I also Googled "plus-size and pregnant." To my dismay, I read that I would develop gestational diabetes and have a C-section. Essentially, large women are horrible people for wanting to become mothers. The internet was far crueler than the bullies of my childhood.
I made the decision to not allow those negative messages set the tone for my pregnancy. I promised myself I would not become a statistic. Water aerobics quickly became an obsession, and I ate healthy food that made my body feel good. I started falling in love with the little baby growing within me — and also with my body. Even though I started to feel this remarkable shift, I secretly kept waiting for my body to fail.
After a completely healthy pregnancy, my water unexpectedly broke three weeks early. For 16 hours, my body and mind danced together. With every contraction I could feel the tension in my body increasing. I worked hard to let go, and surrender to that. When it came time for me to start pushing, I knew I had to mentally let go — I had to trust my body and myself.
I took a deep breath and fully relinquished control. My body knew exactly what to do! I gave birth on my knees to my son, straight into my husband’s hands. I immediately felt an indescribable level of happiness the first moment I held my perfect baby boy. My body didn’t fail me. My body was magnificent!
I am no longer ashamed of a body that can do something so extraordinary. It took me 30 years to come to this realization.
My body is amazing and there is no looking back.