"I've worked really hard for this body"

I ran into an old friend at Starbucks.

After the usual warm greetings and hugs, I said, "you look amazing!"

She smiled, "thanks, I lost 15 pounds".

"Oh, I didn't mean that you look like you've lost weight--"

She looked pained. "What? It doesn't show?"

"I just meant you look beautiful and that shade of yellow really complements your skin tone. And those shoes are ador--"

She pursed her lips, playing with the straw in her fat-free tall mocha. "I've worked really hard for this body. You should be happy for me".

That phrase. I loathe that phrase: "I've worked really hard for this body".

Sure, some people do work hard to be thin. Tirelessly planning low-fat meals, spending hours at the gym, poring over calorie-counters. But why is that something to be proud of?

Then people like me, more zaftig than svelte? If we're not seen exercising or dieting, we're assumed to be lazy slobs. We haven't "worked for our bodies". We've just sort of fallen into being fat. And we should be ashamed of ourselves.
But the ones society really wants to fill with shame? Those of us who have larger bodies because of equally large illnesses-- diabetes, PCOS, you name it-- all correlated with fatness, but not caused by it (though many would disagree with that statement, fat is not a proven cause)? We work hard to stay healthy, to battle the illness itself, but unless we concede to losing weight to 'cure' it, we're a lost cause.

What I've learned from this, is that all of us work for the bodies we have. God or nature (or both) gave us our body, but we toil to feed it, wash it, love it. And that takes a lot of effort, no matter your size.

Next time someone tells me she worked hard for her body, I'll put my pudgy hand on my curvy hip, look her straight in the eye and say, "I know. So have I".

Image: Jennifer Lawrence for GQ

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