Performed live at Louder Than A Mom 7/15/19
Today in 2019 you can type in “thick thighs” and the first thing that’ll come up is “saves lives”. We’re in a quote un quote “body positive” moment. I’m not going to get into the fact that a majority of the world is still fatphobic because I only have seven minutes and I’m not Elizabeth Warren who HAS A PLAN FOR THAT.
So although I have always been super supportive of the body positive movement it never really affected me, I was a size double zero to two at my largest, AKA extra small until I was 21.
That’s most of my life. Up until my senior year of college. I’ve actually been out of college longer than I ever was in college. But I don’t want to be one of THOSE people who talks about the past all the time, one of those people who can’t move on. Like Joe Biden.
I was about to graduate college and I gained over 70lbs in under a year. I was put on a medicine to help me sleep because I was having a lot of trouble sleeping at the time due to my depression and anxiety and one of the side effects was weight gain. At first I didn’t notice too much but after about 15 lbs and some tight jeans I went back to my third parent, the internet, and googled the medication and the first thing that came up when I typed in the medication was “Weight Gain”. I’m like really into google algorithms if you couldn’t tell.
So I went straight to the doctor and asked her to take me off it right away because I was uncomfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life and she basically refused because it was doing its job & she was right, I was finally sleeping. I backed down because I’ve always had an issue with authority figures, something I can blame on my upbringing in the Catholic Church.
I quickly went from a size 2 petite young lady to a size 12. Now, to be fair, a size 12 is pretty average; I’m just saying that I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t feel like myself, who I identified with a certain size.
So when I gained “The Weight” as I like to call it because I’m a dramatic Gemini I felt lost. I was about to graduate college with a pretty weird useless degree in basically fashion psychology and I was offered a job in Tennessee working on a congressional campaign. I moved to Tennessee two weeks after graduation, in June of 2014.
When you gain a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time you start to notice things you’ve never noticed before, like how uncomfortable the summer heat is. I remember that summer in Tennessee I experienced what people refer to as “chub rub” for the first time. I already have sensitive skin, and as you’ll learn, I also have a sensitive disposition so when my thighs touched for the first time it began to get raw and painful. Especially when I walked outside in the Summer when wearing dresses. I honestly, this is not a joke, thought it was some kind of allergy to Tennessee but when I asked my friends they just looked at me like I was bananas, haven’t I ever had chub rub before? They told me to get bike shorts or to apply an expensive LUSH product called “silky underwear” to my inner thighs to help combat it. I just saw it as one more thing that was wrong with me.
I was so uncomfortable in my new body that I saw every “little” thing as a big issue. From the chub rub to the zebra-like stretch marks that appeared first as raised red lines and then dissolved into opaque silver-ey uneven lines on my inner thighs, under arms and stomach, every reminder of my changing body affected me deeply.
The depression and anxiety did not help. That summer of 90 degree days in Tennessee full of high humidity made me feel horrible in my body. It was a never-ending cycle of depression and anxiety, then pills to fix the depression and anxiety which had the side effect of weight gain which led to more depression and anxiety to higher doses of the pills that caused my weight gain.
I remember the Fall before, one of the few mornings I was conscious due to my depression. I was so excited to be awake before noon that I went outside to get a bagel sandwich to celebrate. It was a beautiful day and I didn’t need a jacket, I walked outside in my pajamas of an oversized t shirt and leggings to walk down the street to the bodega that had the good bagels when I realized I wasn’t wearing a bra. This wouldn’t have been an issue three months before with my “mosquito bite” breasts but my breasts had grown so fast I honestly hadn’t noticed. I only noticed I wasn’t wearing a bra when a group of high school boys began yelling at me and to each other that “my tiddies were bouncing”. I ran home with tears stinging my eyes without my bagel and cried about my body for the first time in my life.
I felt such deep shame that the boys had noticed my body and that I wasn’t wearing what society expected me to wear to shield them. Looking back, I realize I obviously was comfortable in no bra, that’s not the problem. The problem lies in others expectations of us.
I suddenly got extremely sensitive, everything from a look I interpreted as snotty to a critical word made me dig deeper into myself. Before my weight gain I never cared what anyone thought of me, I wore floral dresses to high school, bows the size of Lady Gaga head pieces and when I wore one brown shoe and one black on accident I just laughed and Made It Fashion.
The new me would be genuinely embarrassed to wear anything that brought attention to my body.
I started performing improv the summer after that dreaded summer full of undiagnosed chub rub in Tennessee.
That was four years ago. This past spring I performed stand-up for the first time (click here to see THAT) at an Irish “selection” of women aka a pageant. It’s called The Rose Of Tralee and although I have an issue with pageants as a whole this was a wonderful experience for me. I never thought I’d do a pageant due to what my mom calls me “feminist agenda” but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was young and I decided my little cousins who are five and eight need to see women of size performing.
They of course can’t come to my improv shows at bars so I saw this as a great way for them to get me see perform. They see me have fun and do cartwheels with them at my parents Lakehouse and going on the tube but to see me stand on a stage and command that stage was something really important to me.
Although I say did it for my cousins I really did it for myself with them as cover story. I knew I had to finally accept my body– flaws and all. After all, it’s been almost six years since I gained The Weight. Flaws and all I still refuse to fart in front of my boyfriend of two years. Don’t get me wrong– I believe everyone should be able to fart in front of their partners– I just could never go through with it. I guess I’m pro choice that way?
So I did the Rose of Tralee and it honestly changed my life. I’m sorry to say I didn’t win the selection but in a way I did win. I won my confidence back after six years of dormancy. Getting a dress was tricky because stores don’t carry my size, luckily David’s Bridal did but I had to order a size 16, the largest size I’ve ever worn.
The funny thing is I remember my mom visiting me my sophomore year of college and taking me shopping at Ann Taylor Loft. I remember refusing to buy a dress because it was a size two and I was convinced I only wore zero’s.
Here I am, buying a size sixteen. And never feeling more attractive.
My confidence has soared since I did The Rose of Tralee in April and my creative performance, work performance and just about every other aspect of my life has gotten better too. Some like it hot, and some don’t, due to chub rub. Every once in a while you have to trick yourself into doing something with the intention of doing it for someone else just so you can do something nice for yourself. You never know, it may change everything.
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