Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love, and to put it’s trust in life.
– Joseph Conrad
I AM Enough by Chelsea Hellings
You cannot change what is a part of you,
Although I’ve often tried.
My body was never thin enough,
My imperfects I’d always hide.
I smiled when they said I was beautiful,
I laughed when they said I was great.
But it took a long time to believe in their wrods,
I figured lonelines was my fate.
The boys I wanted, didn’t want me.,
I was tossed, used and torn.
So many took me as a joke,
I crawled inside myself- scared and forlorn.
My self-eteem had let me down,
My belief in myself was nil.
I did not understand where I was headed,
Could not until….
I finally decided to believe in me,
I realized that I was worth so much.
This was when I could see through the storm,
When I allowed my soul to be touched.
I sometime wish for money and love,
When times get distressing and tough.
But I know that I will always love myself,
No mater what….
I AM ENOUGH!
Once upon a time, there was a girl. And she was fat. She didn’t like being fat either. She thought everywhere she went people were judging her on her fatness because as life experience had taught her, they were. But this girl kept her head high, ruthlessly resilient and determined to prove to others that she was more than she appeared. For years she shouted from rooftops, preaching her differences, her ideas and ideals, believing that they made her special. The people around her would shake their heads and chuckle, sometimes even giving a small patronizing pat on the head, before shuffling along. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe her, they just never once took her seriously. She was of course, the girl with a million and one dreams. And she was lonely.
Then this girl met a boy. She had met boys before. But the boys of Before either couldn’t see past her fatness or they tried to hold her back. The boys of Before were like statues, perfectly content where they were in life, and the girl wanted more. She wanted more, much more, only she wasn’t sure how to get it. And this boy, the boy of Now, was on a similar journey. The boy of Now understood how she felt about her body. He didn’t try to fix her but never the less, he was always there to help. He didn’t just listen with interest to every one of her million inane plans or her body concerns, he selflessly jumped in with both feet to help her. And befuddling to the girl, he found her beautiful. The boy shared his life with her. And so this girl and this boy became fast friends and helped support each one another.
For a few months, this boy and this girl lived in a bubble built for two. They shut the rest of the world out of their lives and for a while, that was enough. Months passed by and suddenly, the girl became restless. Through the bubble, she began watching the world move around without her. The life of two was just no longer good enough for her, and again she began to crave something more. Part of the void inside of her had been filled but it was like watching carbonation bubbles deflate after it reaches the top of a glass. Her cup had not yet runneth over. It wasn’t enough that the girl had found someone who loved her completely, she wanted the relationships she idolized that were cultivated on television. She wanted a Kramer and a Carrie and a Lorelei and a Phoebe in her life. In her own way, this girl wanted to create her own family.
“Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.” – About A Boy
But like any illusionist would have you to believe, such things are often much harder to come by than they appear. The thing was, the girl was lucky. Like all human beings, she had the tools to accomplish anything she ever wanted but, she just didn’t know how to use them. And so she went through life constantly asking the imaginary audience, “is this your card” until this girl finally had an epiphany. The truth is, the answer has always been there, had always been there and always will be. It was a simple question really: How could you really comprehend another’s love for you when you cannot understand what it is to love about yourself. Most know what it is to unconditionally love another soul but cannot comprehend what the other see’s in return. Or at the very least, I didn’t.
And so, a little over a year ago I went on a journey to change myself. I may not have understood what I was getting into when I started it all, and my attempts certainly didn’t intentionally begin that way but never the less, it’s where my feet, and heart, ended up. I don’t have all the answer’s yet, and I doubt I ever will. There are days when I feel like I am little more than an annoyance to be tolerated by all those around me and then other days that are full of such joy that words could not even put justice too. I understand now what it’s like to completely surrender one’s will to thyself, not to a god or any one person, and to love what they see. It’s more than not feeling guilty over eating a whole box of cookies. I don’t have to love the parts of me I deem as flaws, but I do accept that, as a whole, it doesn’t make me an ugly person.
It’s a journey of just letting yourself be happy, even when the world around you is constantly trying to rain on your parade. And it’s time to move on to the next chapter, I guess. If the first stage, or chapter, is just loving yourself, then the next is letting people in. That in itself is a scary thought. There are too many fears to simply relay in an already long-ish entry. Fears that are common that almost every single person has ever had like, what if I get hurt? If I can forgive, how do you trust again? How can I communicate well to others? How can I make others understand how I feel?
And the truth is like before, I don’t know. I don’t know how this next chapter will play out but, I can make the same promise as I did when I started out last year, to just keep trying.
I think most women will agree with me that, being a woman is hard. Don’t get me wrong fellas, I’m not proclaiming one sex has it easy and the other has it hard. I just feel that, in the battle of the sexes, women generally get dealt the shorter end of the stick. You’re free to agree, or disagree, with that statement. But, as you’ve probably figured by now, I’m going to explain why.
Women in general, have a lot of negative stereotypes. And we’ve had these same negative labels associated with our gender for thousands of years. I could get into plenty of detail about the history of women and give you countless examples but let’s face it, not many will disagree about the struggles women and our rights have fought for. When it comes down to the basics, in any culture, in any society, women always have much harsher and higher demands placed upon our heads. And sometimes it does costs us our heads if we fall below those standards.
That’s not to say that being a woman are without their perks. I know there are people who would argue that women today have more unfair advantages then men. But I’m not here to argue which gender has it better or worse than the other. On that note though, one thing I love about being a woman is, we as a gender are amazingly resilient and are always finding a way to push through the envelope. We are always looking for way to place a toe beyond the forbidden line of standards and push our boundaries further and further back till one believes these lines are non-existent. For instance, did you know that since Chinese women weren’t allowed to know how to read or write, for thousands of years they created their own secret code of writing? They wrote poems and letters as they developed their own system, they passed down through generations.
But sadly, despite wishing for equality, the boundary line of expectations and standards women are supposed to have are always still there, and they quite never disppear, no matter how hard one tries to wish otherwise. The tricky part of these standards for women are, they can’t really be blamed on men anymore. I mean sure, the jokes men still make about women making them a sandwich are enough to roll your eyes at, but it’s not really what holds our gender back. But I’m getting ahead of myself here and excuse me while I back track a ways.
For my boyfriend Chris’s thirty-first birthday, I decided to buy him a bike. I don’t know anything about bikes. I spent some time nonchalantly acting like any girlfriend does, asking advice months in advance about bikes as if I were shopping around for one, and what kind of bike he would get. And so forth. I was successful in my plan of utterly surprising him but the hitch was, he would be slightly delayed in receiving his present until I could finish paying off what I thought was a good Trek bike from a pawn shop. I was told I could switch out the bike, or bring it back, if anything was wrong. Finally, five weeks later, I finished paying off his birthday present. Three days later, the bike’s gears wouldn’t stay and worse, the bike seat came flying off while he was riding it home from work one night.
Two days later, I took it took the bike back to the pawn shop, hoping I could switch out bikes. But no such luck. The bike seat had gotten lost after Chris almost crashed and had to run to catch the last bus home at one in the morning. The pawn shop told me that no seat, no credit, and that was final. To say I was upset, is a understatement. I tried putting my foot down and pleading for humanity, that it had taken me five weeks to pay this off of my pitiful salary. I tried explaining the sacrifices I had made but none of it made any difference. They were unmoving and unsympathetic to my plight.
I left the store feeling defeated and stupid. The moment my feet were outside, I wanted to run back in and try harder, fight harder. I didn’t feel like I had truly left all stones unturned or tried hard enough. But I didn’t. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid, it was more that, I was afraid of not looking like a lady.
Little girls are told to be good, but above all, to act like a lady. What exactly a lady is, or expected, is tricky to explain and different in many people’s eyes. It’s typical for a lady to be portrayed to be as old-fashioned, conservedly dressed, well spoken and usually found drinking tea. Stepford Wives comes to mind. But honestly, I find that concept a little dated. Because a woman and a lady aren’t the same thing. One is born a woman, and one becomes a lady. But how? And if what we define a lady is no longer so black and white anymore, what makes a woman a lady? It’s bad enough that women degrade ourselves, and each other, to make such an ideal of becoming something as simple as a lady, nearly incomprehensible.
For I knew why I didn’t press harder in the pawn shop. Because deep down, I may not feel like a lady, but as nuts as it sounds, I am always fighting myself to reach that ideal. I’m always trying to teach myself to be more graceful, poised, charming and as much as I don’t like admitting it but, complacent too. And if I had argued back and pressed the issue, till I had thrown a huge scene, like my mother would have, was just something I didn’t know how to pull off. I never reach the lady like ideal, at least not completely. It’s like that quote from Sex in the City, “I know I’ll never be the girl with the perfect hair, or be able to wear white without spilling anything on it, but that’s okay.” And it is okay, at least for the most part. Because I’m not striving to be perfect and honestly, nor does anyone really expect me to be.
The thing is, trying to act like a lady isn’t as arcane as it’s perceived to be. I think there is something to be said about how little we put into our appearances or manners today. A lady doesn’t have to know an entire twelve course place setting, knowing how to use each and every fork. But she does know how to eat gracefully, without slurping or spilling food onto herself. A lady knows how to dress for her body, so therefore there are very few wardrobe malfunctions (but nobody is perfect). A lady is articulate and chooses her words wisely. She debates rather than argue. A lady doesn’t have to raise her voice to be heard, nor does she yell, throw tantrums or often swear. A lady has direction in her life, or at least a life, but does not over dramatize every bump in the road. A lady is comfortable with her body and doesn’t sweat over a few measly pounds.
I know I have trouble with a lot of those sentiments but, for the most part, I do try to live up to what I just said. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty though, the problem isn’t about trying to be perfect or act like a lady. Because having a little tact, a little charm and a little grace in today’s society are sorely lacking. The problem is among our own gender. The boundaries we should be pushing are for less hate and more acceptance among women. Because honestly, we are the ones who label too many of ourselves negatively. She’s too fat. She’s a bitch. She’s a slut, prude, weird, nerd, drinks too much, etc. So, let’s stop being in such a rush to grow up as we’re missing steps along the way and just let, Luck Be A Lady.
I long for the days as a kid, where I would eagerly waited to be big. My “bigness” was a trait I adored. I was the one my friends relied on to grab the cookies on top of the fridge and I could get to the top shelf in the hallway closet where anything from Christmas Presents to art supplies were stored. While being bigger came with it’s challenges, like not being able to play dress up with my friends or finding places to hide for a hide and seek challenge, for the most part, I enjoyed my “bigness.”
Being big meant that I was growing up, and like most kids, I couldn’t wait to be older. Being big meant that I would get more and more grown up privileges that I longed to earn. Being big meant that I could stay up later and watch TV Shows I wasn’t allowed to watch before. Being big meant that I could ride public transportation without supervision and be out on my own. Being big meant that I would have my own money to buy things like Christmas presents, or things for myself, without having to ask or explain why. Being big meant that I would someday get to travel and write my own life filled with stories and memories that I only got to hear about from all the grownups around me.
But being big also meant to me that I was unique. Until fourth grade, I was always the tallest girl in my class. But as I lost one status, I gained another kind of “bigness”, except this one was around my middle. Early on, I found ways to put positive spins on my incessantly never-ending growing body. When my mom started taking me shopping in the juniors department, I told myself that I got the cooler, more grown up, clothes. My mom helped me make sure my clothes were hip and tried her best to make me fit in. Instead, the more my waistline increased, the more socially awkward I became.
Because I couldn’t quite fit in, I found ways to tell myself I liked being different. In fact I realized by sixth grade that, if I couldn’t be exactly like my friends, then I wanted to be as different from them as I could. I wanted my own tastes, my own interests and my own quirks that made me stand out from the crowd. I wanted to be different so badly that I had placed a semi-barrier between me and everyone around me so slowly, but surely, I had distanced myself from ninety-nine percent of the people I knew. By the time I reached high school I had packed on a good two hundred pounds. I was wearing size sixteen jeans and I had grown very tired of my bigness. No one refered to me as “cute” or attractive anymore and all I saw was BIG.
My bigness had turned me into a self-conscious recluse. I didn’t like going out very often because not only was my bigness the only thing I thought people saw when they looked at me but, I felt like an elephant in a room full of mice. I was constantly going out of my way to try to make myself smaller because it felt like my bigness was constantly getting in the way of other people. “Excuse me” as my backpack and I bumped into strangers on the bus. It didn’t help that I was growing up in Los Angeles, the universe of superficial people. It was just added pressure because I didn’t know of any other socially awkward bigger girls like me.
But one of the many thoughts that have been mulling over in my mind lately is, what if big is just relative? My whole life it feels like, or the last decade or so, I’ve been the fattest girl in the room. And I felt like that’s the only thing anyone ever saw when they looked at me. Fat, fat, fat, fat quiet don’t give two cents about girl. I thought was no way a guy was flirting with me unless he was old and creepy. I was so sure at what I saw in the mirror, and while I didn’t think I was ugly, I didn’t think it was quite possible for any one guy, not even my ex, to truly find my body attractive. The only thing I thought a guy could ever love about me was my goofy personality that I worked so hard on making loveable.
When I was five, my grandpa was the biggest person I knew. Not only was he wellover six feet tall but he had the biggest, most impressive belly I had ever seen. The older I grew, he was still large, but he was no longer the giant I had imagined him out to be. It wasn’t like he had shrunk, it was more like my perspective had just readjusted. But even as a giant at five years old, I didn’t love my grandpa becauseof his size. I never saw my grandpa as ugly or unloveable or even clumsy because of his size. Just because he was big, it didn’t make me love him any less. His bigness was not the only thing I ever saw in him.
And as I grow bigger and bigger, so does my perspective. Now, at a fluctuating two hundred seventy-five pounds, I wouldn’t have called my teenage adolescent self fat back then, just clumsy. As I start to shift my perspective now though, I still see myself as a really big girl but, I don’t make myself out to be the giant I originally perceived myself to be. That’s because I’m not. And neither are most people. Like my roommate Devyn explains about how the same aura color can mean different things on different people, so does the numbers on the scale for different bodies.
I have no doubt in my mind that I am fat, and that I need to lose weight to be healthier. That isn’t the point I’m trying to argue. What I am trying to get across is that, what if we were to just readjust our perspective that fat doesn’t make you unloveable. Fat doesn’t make you unattractive. Fat isn’t the only thing people remember about you. Fat doesn’t make you clumsy or mean that you have to make excuses for your size. And here’s the hardest one I had trouble for the longest time believing… that fat is beautiful.
I’ve learned that people aren’t going to remember me anymore as that fat quiet nice girl with brown hair. Because I can literally “put my fat behind me”, I realize people see and will remember me as I am. People see me as the friendly big girl with a pretty smile who likes to laugh, who is silly and who is sort of a brat. Maybe that’s how people always saw me before, and I just didn’t want to believe it.
The weirdest thing is how most days, I don’t feel big as I actually am. Like an old man who still has a young mind, my body (or mind) seems just not to care of its actual physical size. I squeeze pass without embarrassment when I need to get by. I hold my head a little bit higher and sometimes I sway my hips just to feel my feminine curves and remind myself that I do have a waistline. While I do desperately want to lose weight to feel healthier, and yes attractive, I don’t let it stop me from just accepting who I am now. I’ve beenable to take the “weight” off my mind and stop comparing myself to other people. I am enough.