It has been a lifelong struggle for me to love and accept the reflection I see in the mirror every day. I have come a long way from the self-critical young woman who tried every fad diet and would do almost anything to lose weight, but from time to time I still have to remind myself that I am more than my body. Our worth does not come from our weight, I’ll say that again to affirm it…our worth does not come from our weight! I am thankful that my husband Eric has always been vocal about thinking I am beautiful and sexy at any size, but I needed to believe him. When I finally came to a place in myself where I could accept the fact that his love for me is unconditional, it allowed our connection to become much deeper.— Jessica Simpson, Guest Editor, the Honesty Issue
“You’re gonna get bored with Anastasia because she’s fat,” the mother of someone I went out with told him—to which he responded, “I mean, honestly, you’re right.” He looked me in the eye as he casually recounted their exchange. I was frozen as I listened to him. Hearing him agree with his mother’s fatphobic rhetoric made me nauseous. We’d been dating for a while. Had he felt this way the entire time?
Being fat means constantly internalizing messaging about your desirability and worth—or lack thereof. Dating is tricky enough, but breaking up as a fat woman presents its own challenges. I’ve been through my fair share, but hearing a lover share his family’s negative opinion of my body was particularly shitty. It was the first time I realized that someone could claim to love me and still harbor fatphobia. I’d always wondered whether my weight bothered him. I reassured myself that we were in love, though I always heard his mother’s words in the back of my mind. Did I have some expiration date because I was fat?
This same boyfriend accompanied me to the E.R. once when I was really sick. The doctor had me step onto the scale and called my weight—285—aloud to the nurse. I was shocked by the number, and so was my boyfriend. I could see the horrified reaction on his face as he turned to me and said, “Honestly, I’ve noticed that you’ve gained weight.” I was too tired and weak to respond. But mostly I was humiliated because I believed he was right. I believed I should be ashamed of the number on the scale. Eventually I got a lap-band surgery to help me lose weight, convinced I needed to take drastic measures. It made my life miserable. I was in pain often, and in the end it didn’t help me lose weight. I had paid to have myself literally cut open because I believed I had to lose weight to be loved fully. I believed I had to lose weight to avoid being dumped.
We dated for a long time after the surgery before he unceremoniously dumped me. As unexpected as it was at that moment, a part of me wasn’t surprised. I believed a breakup had been inevitable. If I was thinner, he’d still be in love with me and everything would be okay. But his mom was right, I had officially reached my expiration date.
This is the delusional rhetoric I fed myself for most of my adult life. I should have broken up with that guy the first time he made negative comments about my weight. But I stayed with him because I believed he was just telling me the truth. I subscribed so deeply to self-hate that I stayed with a man who made me feel like shit about myself. In the end I moved on, but the specter of that breakup lingered for a long time. I spent the next several years either single or giving my body to people who didn’t deserve me, constantly aware of the idea that being fat made me unworthy of a partner.