On New Year’s Day I posted a very raw and vulnerable picture of myself in just a tank top and…
I’ve spent most of my life obsessed with my size. For a long time, I wanted to get rid of all of it. It felt disgusting and wrong to be big. It felt like I was failing at being beautiful. I wanted to be tiny and adorable. I had this image in my head that I should be this little waif-like thing, that boys could easily swing around. More profoundly, I thought that becoming this little-bitty person would make me worthy of love.
Many years of soul work later, I no longer believe that narrative. In my own journey toward finding both, fitness and myself I have lived in many different body sizes. Armed with the information I need about exercise, nutrition, and my own body to lose weight, gain muscle, and achieve the results that I truly want for myself, I feel empowered. Get maximum results with our complete training program! I’m not obsessed anymore with numbers on the scale or numbers on the bar. And from this much healthier, neutral place, I have fallen in love with being big.
I realize “big” is all relative. But I feel big. So this isn’t related to anyone else’s definition of “big.” It’s my own word for my own body. I also want to be clear that praising my own bigness is in no way an attack on thin or lean women. I don’t support messages that lift up one “type” of body while ridiculing another. That wouldn’t be empowerment. That would be bullying. There are so many ways to be beautiful, to be strong, to be happy in your skin.
Since I let go of my own damaging self-talk, I have found so many things to love and celebrate about my body at every size. But here is what I enjoy about being big:
Having spent so much time and energy in the past beating myself up for being big, loving my bigness feels like a revolution. There are so many ways women are asked to be small, that being proud of being “big” feels wonderfully radical. It’s a tiny victory in a lifetime of feeling shame over my size.
One of the things I didn’t enjoy when I was at my leanest is that I suddenly found sitting down less comfortable. Having always had plenty of “cushion” back there, it was odd to sit down and feel hardness. Having gained back some weight is like adding a nice cozy layer of pillows. The very fact I used to squeeze and cry about in the mirror, I now find ease and comfort in. It’s like cuddling with myself.
I’ll be the first one to get angry about any messages concerning what a woman is “supposed” to look or feel like. All of those are damaging. But in my big body, I like feeling soft. I like the way my softness fills out clothing. I love my big, pillowy breasts (the first thing I lose when I get leaner). It feels sexy to me to have softness to my body. I enjoy it.
With ad campaigns and weight-loss commercials constantly talking about “losing the jiggle,” I have to say I love mine and, again, it feels pretty rebellious. I (not so) secretly love to watch my thighs jiggle when I do plyos at the gym.
I love watching the playback of training videos that involve seeing the jiggle in slow motion. It’s simultaneously silly and sexy to me.
This is especially true when I’m with my fitness pro friends at conferences. Maybe I love it because, in the past, being the biggest person in photos would send me into tears. But my hips take up imposing more space than everyone else’s, and I love it. . It’s not that I’m judging anyone else or measuring myself against anyone else in a “ranking” sort of way. It’s just a cathartic experience for me to look at a photo and immediately see I’m the “big” one and not feel sad. I’m happy to be “the big one.” It’s beautiful.
Not being lean or having particularly defined muscles often leads to people dismissing my athletic abilities. Strangers underestimate my strength, endurance, and speed. There is something really satisfying about recognizing that small slight and breezing right through it. You cannot tell by looking at someone what they are capable of, and I love reminding people of that fact.
Because big bodies are not what women are “told to have,” I don’t have people regularly complimenting my physique. My body doesn’t look anything like a model you’d see on a runway or fitness magazine cover. In terms of Western beauty standards, I’m an outlier. The wonderful thing about this is that I’m deciding I’m beautiful for myself. I look in the mirror and see nothing that I’m “supposed” to love, and love it anyway. That kind of self-validation is powerful—and it’s something we all need to give ourselves.
Not getting any “outside” validation for my body forces a kind of self-love I don’t know that I’d have otherwise. I can’t look to others to tell me I’m OK. I have to do that for myself. And I do. Proudly.
Mostly, it just feels powerful to take up space without apology. Instead of crossing my legs and ankles and sucking in to try to be as compact as possible, I like to spread out. Power pose. I like that my bigness can be physically imposing if I need it to be. I love how dominant I feel stepping up to a deadlift. I just love taking up space. Not over others or more than others, but I take up all of the space I need.
I don’t know where my fitness journey will take me. My leanest times involved a kind of training I’m not currently interested in pursuing. Perhaps my interests will change. If they do, my body will follow. I will love and appreciate my body wherever it goes. But for now, for today, I love being big. It feels powerful, sexy, and rebellious. There are a million great ways to have a body, this is the one I love having today.
We realize that reaching a place where you feel confident in and about your body, where you are at peace with your body—where you actually love your body—may sound like an unattainable goal to some women. It may feel that way at this moment, as you read Erin’s story, you may even be thinking something like, “Yeah, good for her. But I could never feel that way.”
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