To see me and my chubby roll, watch the pilot episode of the Journey into Wellbeing—after you read and share this article, of course.
I’ve had a running dialogue with my chubby roll most of my life. It has been a long-time, but mostly unwanted companion. My negative opinion of it started with the help of others. The first boy who ever saw me in my underwear said…“uhhh, you look alright… I guess”—causing me to run downstairs, grab a hand mirror and for the first time find the flaws in my body. The cheerleading coach who said, “You can never be on top of the pyramid because you’re too big”—making me feel like a tank in a tutu. And finally, my own voice, being far crueler than any other, saying things aimed to shame and diminish, like “porky,” “tubby,” and (I cringe to type it) “the chubster.”
One day not so long ago, after years of self-recrimination about my body, an extreme thought surfaced. What if I really showed up in the World and chubby roll or not, found out people still loved me; that I was amazing and could do whatever I wanted? Could years of negative judgment be overcome? The voice that criticized every time I passed a perfect girl on the cover of a magazine stilled. Was it possible to live life fully, even with the roll of fat that sits so smugly above my jeans? Today, I plan to have a different type of conversation with my muffin top. If it is going to hang around, I might as well make peace with it.
Dear Chubby Roll,
I have spent years hating you. As you grew bigger, I grew smaller. Because of you, I stopped showing up…for meetings, for opportunities and for myself. I worried that when people would see you they would think, ”She has let herself go, she looks terrible, she is lost.” The worst was imagining running into people who knew me when…when I was smaller, when you were smaller, when I was better. Me, standing in front of them in my uncomfortable skin wondering if they noticed not only you, but the extra 35 pounds. If they did notice, were they thinking less of me? I assumed everyone would hate you as much as I did.
Some events couldn’t be avoided. So you would be smashed into some horrible stretchy garment so tight my feet would swell and I thought for sure my head would pop off. It squished you around some, but it didn’t get rid of you. As much as you annoyed me, I couldn’t wait to set you free, so I could breathe again. Chubby roll, I have wished more than anything you would just wither up and blow away, so I could be free.
Something changed recently. A new voice spoke to me. I was preparing to go on camera for the first time and bring a dream to life; a dream to inspire people to follow their passion and to inspire healthy change in the World. The critical voice had been there for weeks. “How come you didn’t lose weight? You know the camera adds 10 pounds, right?” Just mere hours before the cameras rolled a new voice spoke up. It said…”This is it Deb. You have to show up for this. If you are self-conscious and stink on camera your dream is over. You will never have a chance to evoke the change you hope to in the World. You cannot let a little roll of fat keep you from doing what you are supposed to do. Is it fair to hold yourself back and not even try to help others? Chubby roll or not, you have to do it.” As my heart pounded and the camera went live, I listened to this new voice. I showed up and did my best. The pilot episode of the Journey into Wellbeing premiered in February on PBS. There we are…me and you, for the World to see. And guess what?…no one ran screaming in the other direction when you made your film debut!
Now, my critical voice towards you is softer. When catching a glimpse of you in the mirror, I realize how small you really are. If you were next to a house, you would appear miniscule, a handful and nothing more. Imagine how small you are in comparison to the change we hope to invoke—almost non-existent. Now, I even let others grab you…not strangers of course, but people I love. I say, “Hey, you want to pinch my chubby roll?” They look at me like I’m nuts, but trust me, it is very healing when they grab you. People really do love me, chubby roll and all and in fact, they might even love me more. I’m not in love with you and most likely you will still find yourself smashed into tight breath-restricting garments, but I’ve stopped calling you names. You are part of me and as I learn to love myself more, I will learn to love you more.
Dear Readers: What is it in your life that keeps you from showing up? What are you ashamed of? What would it feel like if you knew you would be loved and supported even if everyone else knew or saw what you were ashamed of? Think about it—and if you’re comfortable, leave a comment here.