“Such a Pretty Face” – Guest Post by Author Amy Queau
?She has such a pretty face. She?d be gorgeous if she just lost some weight.?
That was the first time a guy had ever given me a compliment. I heard it from his girlfriend, my friend, and I thought, ?Wow. I guess that?s the only way a man is going to love me. I?d better get started.?
I was 12.
My name is Amy. And what I can tell you now, at 41 years old, is that it doesn?t matter. It has never mattered. I?ve spent more time trying to love myself than wishing someone else would love me. I?ve been to hell and back, and back again. I?ve spent years wishing I was someone else and then spent even more wishing I was my old self again. I?ve lost an accumulative 800 pounds in the last 17 years.
But once I understood the truth, there was no turning back.
It?s true: I started my first diet in middle school. My uncle told me he?d pay me $100 to lose 50 pounds. Obesity had always been that warm blanket when I wanted it. It kept me isolated. It gave me excuses. At 6?1? and 425 pounds (when I graduated high school), it had been what was expected of me. And what I expected of myself. Mind you, it would be another decade before I understood my relationship with food. But I wasn?t there yet.
Let?s go back to the age of 20. I had just graduated from business college, and I had been working in the field of graphic design. The fact that I hated my job was the least of my concerns.
My best friend was newly diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma.
She had a year to live, at best.
Elizabeth was my rock. She was the sweetest thing you?d ever encounter. Innocent. Kind. Empathetic. All the good things rolled into one. Elizabeth had battled anorexia for many years and with that diagnosis, I guess you could say we shared a common bond. We both abused food. It was our control when everything was out of control. Some teenagers turn to alcohol. Others to drugs. Some don?t have any issues at all, or if they do, they don?t choose to abuse things that ease the pain. *shrug* That was a long time ago. I can?t remember all the whys and hows, and I?m not sure I?d change them anyhow.
Elizabeth died 20 days before her 21st birthday. And it crushed me. There was a part of my spirit?and my sanity?that left the earth with her that day. I would never be the same.
I often said that perhaps a part of Elizabeth stayed with me here, in this dreadful place. Because for over a year, I had no appetite. I moved from apartment to apartment, city to city. I barely ate, drank, or slept. My anxiety was at an all-time high along with my depression, though I didn?t know that at the time. I thought it was going to be my new normal.
About a year after my ?haze? (as I call it), I started seeing a bit clearer. Life wasn?t as muddled as it had been. I could dream about things other than Elizabeth. I could smile and not feel guilty that I was still alive. And I was slowly beginning to love again, allowing myself permission to care about people and myself. I?d also lost 100 pounds and didn?t even realize it.
But I still weighed 260 pounds.
I found myself living with my parents again at the age of 23. I was better. I got a job at a local restaurant and several of my childhood friends were among my coworkers. I?d gained some weight back, and I remember my exact weight when I saw him.
He was perfect. Anti-social. A complete asshole. But smart and sarcastic and funny.
He was perfect. Six feet. Solid muscle. About 180 pounds.
And there I stood, gawking like a complete idiot, at 322 pounds.
He was totally out of my league.
It had been the first time I?d ever felt like I had a goal in mind. There was a reason to lose weight. I never cared about myself enough to use ?my health? as a good reason; as far as I was concerned, the less time I had to spend on this godforsaken planet, the better.
But man, I wanted him.
Even today, when I think about it, I still get chills and become a bit light headed. It?s funny though, after what transpired between the two of us, I came out the other end 189 pounds and realizing that losing weight wasn?t what I thought it would be. If you want to read more about that story, feel free. (Link below.) I?ve rewritten it eleven times, and to be honest, there isn?t much more I could ever say about it.
Since my twenties, I?ve married, had two children, one dog, and one cat. I?ve gained and lost another 300-400 pounds. I now sit back at 250ish, and I wear a size 16-18. Do you know what that makes me?
Many might see it as a failure. That I got down to 189 pounds and let myself slip again. But over the years I?ve discovered that I will always fight a good fight with food. And that?s okay. I?m not going to hate myself if I overindulge one month and go on Weight Watchers the next. I?ve realized that I just need to make more smart choices than lousy ones. I will never be perfect. I will never be slim and sexy. I?m 6?1? and tower over everyone. I?m already unique and I was meant to be exactly who I am. And regardless of anyone feeling like my weight is a flaw, I believe otherwise.
I will continue to fight the good fight. Sometimes food will win. Sometimes I will. But the bottom line is that I love me. I love my family. I love my husband. I love my house and my cat and my salt lamp and my throw pillows (I?m a bit obsessed). I live a simple life with simple needs. Bringing in the drama and complication of hating myself isn?t something I have time to deal with anymore.
It?s so much less important to me than it was in my twenties. In fact, it shouldn?t have even been as important as I made it.
My feeling is: if you love the way you look, don?t change a damn thing. There?s no motivation there anyway. But if you don?t feel good; if you wake up every morning and your feet still hurt from the day before, there?s only one person who can change it, and only one person you can blame for it.
It?s your life. It?s entirely up to you what you do with it.
Be beautiful. However it is you define it.