No, this is not going to be a list of things that are wrong with my life because I’m fat. I feel like I have to tell you that because this post takes forever to get to the point. What? You wanted coherent, to-the-point missives from me?

I’ve been thinking about my weight loss history, spurred on in part by the fact that I’m getting married in January in India and will not be anywhere near thin. It is time for me to accept that I will be a fat girl when I get married. I’ve been finding this a little difficult. Let’s just say that if you think that it is hard being a fat girl in the U.S., it is nothing compared to being one in India. In my experience, negativity towards fat is expressed more subtly in the U.S. than in India, and I’ll take the subtle discrimination over the overt, comments on my weight and what I should do about it. Part of it is cultural – our concepts of privacy and boundaries are different from those in the U.S. Part of it is situational – I have very little family in the U.S. and therefore have had the luxury of choosing my inner circle. Needless to say, I rarely choose to hang out with people who comment negatively on my weight. This wedding then becomes the perfect storm of cultural and situational factors for me – I’m going to be smack in the middle of a cultural milieu where it’s not OK to be fat, it’s OK to be told that to my face (in many, many, oh sweet lord, so many ways) and where I have very little ability to choose who is around me.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Strangely, while I have this underlying anxiety about not being thin enough, I’m not as crazy about it as I thought I would be. A decade ago you could not have gotten me to the altar at this weight – the thought of being the center of attention while being fat would have made me hurl with anxiety. Now, I’d like to be thinner and at times I get really upset about it, but on the whole I’m very excited about the wedding, meeting friends and family, and being in India with Mr. CC. The weight issue just doesn’t crop up as much as I expected it to. It got me thinking about how my attitude to my weight has changed and I’ve been having trouble pulling all this into a blog post. But then, the blogosphere delivered and I found this article by Kate Harding on The fantasy of being thin (via Bitchphd).

It’s a great post, go read it. Extremely short version – fat people fantasize that if we are thin, we will become different people and all of our problems will disappear (Really, go read it, I can’t do it justice). I suspect that my current obsession about my weight at the wedding is just that – That somehow the wedding will be nicer, better, easier, more fun if I’m thin. That I’ll fit the image of the traditional bride better (given that I haven’t made it to traditional in any other aspect of my life why I think it would happen now I don’t know). Clearly, I’m still hanging onto some of the fantasy of being thin.

The good news is that I no longer suffer from ‘The Nightmare of Being Fat’ – you know, where you think that being fat is the scariest thing ever and that nothing can ever be right in your life if you are fat. While I still sometimes think of being thin as the panacea to all that is wrong with my life, I no longer think that being fat is terrible and the cause of all my problems. A decade ago, I truly believed that if I was fat I could not finish my PhD, couldn’t get a job, couldn’t teach, couldn’t date, couldn’t be in a serious relationship, couldn’t get married – basically, couldn’t do anything but eat and breathe. I could not do any of this, not because I was stupid, incompetent, unstable or crazy. Oh no, just because I was fat (or thought I was). In fact, you could be stupid, incompetent or ______ (insert any characteristic here) and get what you wanted, you just couldn’t be fat.

Since I had worked it all out in my head – the entirety of my hopes and dreams hinged on my losing weight, I got my shit together and over the course of 4-5 years got to a point where I liked my body. I was lucky that my weight loss included a lot of physical activity like lifting weights (Thank you, Mistress Krista), Squash (no, not the vegetable), yoga and only a few questionable diets (Fuck you, Atkins). I lost weight – of course I did, I had so much riding on it.

Did I get everything I wanted after I had lost weight? Nope – It was still me under all that fat – still in graduate school, still working on my PhD. Oh yes, I was dating, but was now in a dysfunctional relationship and was longing for the days I wasn’t dating. That realization sucked, but having lost the weight I now gave myself permission to do all the things I said I couldn’t or wouldn’t do. As long as I blamed the fat for everything that was wrong with my life I didn’t actually need to move on and address the other problems, but having lost the weight I saw that certain problems had nothing to do with my weight and needed to be addressed – after all, it wasn’t like every time I lost a few pounds, a few pages of my dissertation magically got written. So I moved onto other things I wasn’t happy with – I focused on my dissertation, graduated, got a job, moved, got out of the dysfunctional relationship, dated a lot more, bought a house, met MrCC – the list is long. In a nutshell, over the last 5 years I grew into the person I wanted to be or allowed the person I was all along to emerge now that she wasn’t so fat anymore. (You want the story to end there, don’t you? Admit it, it would be a good fantasy!)

Except, while I was doing that I gained all the weight (and then some) back. Strangely, while the pounds came back, my attitude to them didn’t – I didn’t lose the confidence that emerged when I was thinner. I continued to do all the things I gave myself permission to do when I was thin, even though I was getting bigger. So, now here I am 5 years later, bigger than I have ever been in my life but still thinking like I did when I was thinner. My weight is still an issue (I do have a weight loss blog, after all), it’s just not an issue that has the power to derail my entire life. I want to lose weight because I feel unhealthy and don’t like the aches and pains that come with it. I certainly haven’t got to the point where I accept myself as I am – but that doesn’t stop me from putting on a swimsuit and going to a pool party, or getting a job, or getting in a kayak.

You know that depressing statistic that 95% of people who lose weight gain it back in 5 years. I’m clearly in that 95%, but I’m happy I gained the weight back – even though it makes a failure in the eyes of most people (and sometimes, in my own eyes). I don’t think that I would have changed my attitude to being fat if I had not gained my weight back – losing weight would have been the magical key to regaining my life and I would have lived in fear of ever gaining it back. This time around I know that if I don’t manage to lose weight, or if I do manage to lose it and then gain it back again, it will not impact the rest of my life. My weight is just one more aspect of my life, not the only thing that defines me. I’m hoping that losing the Nightmare of Being Fat gets me one step closer to losing ‘The Fantasy of Being Thin’ completely.