I Used To Be Skinny

I was a college Junior when I saw the movie Spanglish. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie about a Hispanic single mom going to work for an upper class white family. It explores a lot of themes, but there was one quote that has stuck with me for nearly 10 years now. 
American women, I believe...

actually feel the same as Hispanic women about weight.

A desire for the comfort of fullness.

And when that desire

is suppressed for style...

and deprivation allowed to rule...

dieting, exercising American women...

... become afraid of everything

associated with being curvaceous...

such as wantonness, lustfulness...

... sex, food...


All that is best in life.

-Spanglish 2004

At the time I knew there was some truth to that statement. I had seen firsthand how a desire to be thin had ruined and extinguished the joy in friend’s lives. But I was about to learn what this concept would mean to me personally. 

I used to be thin... and now I am… well…not.  I won’t go so far as to say I am fat, or heavy, but the scales and charts in the doctor’s office are very clear that I could afford to lose a good 30 pounds. And that is ok.
You see when I was thin, I was young. I was a college student who was convinced she had all the answers and was confidently in control. My weight, my looks, my potential career path defined me. Going up a size in jeans would cause an existential crisis about my identity. I was one of the “skinny girls” after all. Who would I be if I no longer wore size 4 jeans? I was terrified that by gaining weight I would lose my identity.  And in a way I guess I was right.
I started gaining weight my senior year of college. I met someone and we fell in love. I knew what it meant to be loved for who I was and for the first time, probably since puberty, was comfortable in my own skin. The weight gain was gradual. Just a few pounds here and there, not so much that anyone would notice, but enough that by my wedding day I looked like an adult rather than a 12 year old boy. Physically at least, I looked the part of a woman mature enough to be married. 

Seven years later I have just had m third child. Size four jeans are only seen in our house in my children’s dressers and my body is covered in countless stretch marks. The weight of my college days is long gone but so is the concept of hanging my entire identity on a scale. I am a wife;  I am mother; I am a dang good home cook and I have the curves to prove it. I may have grown in size, but pounds are not all I have gained. I am confident and happy with who I am. I have gained children, and memories, and value, and worth, and joy, and (I hope) a little bit of grace and wisdom. 

It’s not always easy to accept this new vessel; my instincts are to return to the controlling child of my youth and hide from the world till my mental image of myself matches up with what the mirror shows me
But I would miss so much in doing so.
Baking cookies with my daughters.
Comfort found over a cup of coffee with friends. 
The pleasure of sharing a decadent meal with my husband.  
The chance to have an amazing photographer capture my growing belly in pictures. 
My life is full and beautiful, and because of that, yes, I would like to lose some weight. I want to be as healthy as possible. I want to have a long life filled with the laughter of my children, the comfort of my husband’s arms, the warmth of a family meal. But in the mean time I refuse to live on carrot sticks and hide from the camera.
I used to be thin, and now I am not.

I used to be a frightened child, and now I am contented woman.


  1. Love this Joy! May women everywhere become as wise as you are.

  2. I couldn't have said it better

    From a doting Grandmother of 5 plus one in the oven

  3. This was a great post Joy! I can definitely relate, thanks for being vulnerable and sharing :)