Health And Wellness

I'm A Size 22 — And I've Never Been Happier With My Body

Photo: courtesy of the author
photo of the author

I’ve only ever been skinny twice in my life: When I was a child and couldn’t hold food down because of some undiagnosed medical illness, and when I thought losing 60 pounds would help my (failed) acting career. In neither of those situations did I yet know the tools for how to love myself.

Putting aside the time I was skinny due to illness, let’s discuss my acting phase. I had just gotten home from an audition (I didn’t get it) and I was discussing my career aspirations with my father.

“You may need to lose weight. This industry is harsh and you have to look a certain way,” he told me.

Immediately, I decided that I was going on a diet. However, my diet consisted of starving myself, binge eating, vomiting, and having the scale remain the same. 

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So I joined Weight Watchers and successfully (and healthily) lost 60 pounds. I was so obsessed with how I looked, but most importantly, with how others perceived me.

I was devastated to see the final print of my headshot, which had been touched up to clear up my bad skin, whiten my off-white teeth, and just sharpen my features, in general. I realized that I wasn't what people wanted.

What if I sent in a head shot and the director thought he was getting one person but got another?

Photo: Author

After I quit acting, or rather, acting quit me, I relegated myself to working in an office, pushing paper, and doing exactly what I had promised myself I wouldn't do. I was thin but unhappy. I slowly put the weight back on, falling back into old habits full of grilled cheese and French fries, my comfort food. 

I met my husband when I was average weight; according to the BMI chart, I was considered obese, though I didn't feel that way. But just like with everything in life, as we get comfortable, we feel free to be ourselves.

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Dinner dates added another 50 pounds to my already heavy frame. I was unable to fit into jeans, so I mostly wore sweats or yoga pants. I was embarrassed when I could no longer fit into booths at restaurants and was forced to sit in chairs that didn't even cover my entire butt. 

I was determined to lose 100 pounds after the birth of my son, but my focus was on my colicky baby, not how many Twizzlers I was stuffing into my mouth between diaper changes.

Ultimately, I gained a lot of weight. I was heavier post-baby than I was during my pregnancy. I felt guilty because I kept a memory in the back of my head that I tried using as motivation to lose weight.

When I was around five or six, there was a little boy I played with. His mom was large, like my mom was. We were playing in the backyard, on the swings, when his mom started to push me. I asked, albeit politely, if the other mom, the skinnier mom, could push me instead.

I wanted to feel "cool." Having a fat mom was not cool. And yet, here I was (am), WAY over what I should be.

The above picture was of my heaviest weight, which was approximately 280 pounds.

Something clicked in my head and changed my perspective. I know who I am. I know what I enjoy. I love to eat food. I'm healthy (I've had blood work done and physicals) and my weight doesn't affect what I can or can't do.

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I never wanted to be the fat mom, but I also never wanted to be the sad mom.

Right now, I love my life. I have a great job, a beautiful family, and a roof over my head to shelter me from storms. And the food — lots of food.

One day, I may want to consider going on a diet or changing my lifestyle, but for now, I've never been happier now that I have a better idea of how to love myself. I don't care what anyone thinks, because now I know the secret: If someone doesn't like you based on the way you look, then you really don't want them in your life anyway.

This is me. No filter. No makeup (I never wear makeup, anyway). This is what a 34-year-old woman looks like.

This is what a mother of a special needs son looks like. This is also the face of depression, bipolar, and severe panic disorder. But it's also the face of someone who's happy just where she is.

Messy hair, stained pillowcases from previously bad dye jobs, a shirt I've worn for two days, and stray facial hair I've yet to tweeze — this is me. All of me. And I've never been happier in my life.

Be the YOU that you want to be. Be the YOU that you'll love. Everything else will follow.

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Lola Stark is a writer who focuses on current events, pop culture, and true crime. She is a former actor-turned-writer with works that have appeared on Today, among others.