Princess Dresses Don’t Come in Plus Sizes

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I don’t have a single dream, fantasy or personal fairy tale that doesn’t begin with, “Once upon a time there was a beautiful, thin girl named Mary.”

Every dream I claim as my own begins and ends with me losing weight and looking different than I do right now.

Granted, right now I’m pregnant. But I’m also significantly overweight. And I hate it. If I’m honest, I hate myself a bit for it.

Last week I went to the MOPS annual conference for a few hours. It was in Kansas City this year, and I joined my friends and colleagues from DaySpring on Friday morning. Alex Kuykendall spoke in the morning session, and she asked us, “What keeps you from believing you are God’s masterpiece?”

She instructed us to write our answers on the piece of paper she’d had placed on each chair, wad it up and toss it in the trash bags being passed up and down the aisles.

I wrote, “Fat.”

Look, I know the Truth. I know I am wonderfully made by the Creator himself. I know He sees me as beautiful, and therefore I am beautiful. I know that and at least part of me believes that, no question.

The other part of me hears the scale groan and the threads tear and the lungs wheeze as I hoof it up a flight of stairs. The other part of me has eyes and sees what the mirror reflects. The other part of me accepts God’s acceptance – but longs to care better for this body He’s given me.

The other part of me dreams of walking into the regular side of the department store, of feeling confident when I walk into a room of strangers, of knowing I can use this body to walk, to run, to play, to work – just the way He intended.

I may have given up on fairy tales in a lot of areas in my life, but this one right here is one I still struggle with every minute of every day. No, I don’t fantasize [anymore] about wearing slinky dresses and showing off toned, dimple and stretch mark free skin. I don’t give that size or that number more value than they deserve. And I though I still hope to someday find knee-high boots that fit over my calves, I don’t believe my worth is determined by my footwear or jeans size or closet full of sleeveless shirts.

But I dream of losing weight. I imagine how good it will feel, and how lovely I’ll look – and how loved I’ll feel. And I admit that a tiny, irrational part of me still believes single digit sizes might lead to my happy ever after.

What fairy tales do you still struggle with?

Please note: I am well aware that it’s possible to find beautiful dresses in plus sizes. And I promise I am not asking for – nor do I need – your reassurance that I’m beautiful the way I am, that God loves me no matter my dress size, that being thin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or that I need therapy to get over my issues. I’m simply baring my heart a bit for you – and asking you to be brave enough to do the same.

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{Photo by workshoppe}

Comments

  1. my princess fairy tale is that is that i wish i was a princess…i want to be a princess – beautiful. successful. talented. perfect wife. perfect mom. perfect cook. basically i struggle with perfectionism all the time. each success is never good enough…because…i could do better. i could be better. i’m not enough. like you…i believe i am perfectly created in Christ. I KNOW what is true. But the little voice inside sometimes isn’t quite as silent as she should be. maybe i should just shove the tiara down her throat.

    and you…i do believe you are beautiful. inside AND out. xoxo

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Have you read A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman yet? I’m in a chapter right now that addresses perfectionism – and the trap of believing we have limitless potential. I haven’t quite absorbed it all and will probably re-read a time or two before moving on. But it’s definitely similar to what you’re saying here. If we don’t beat this monster of “I can do it all if I just try hard enough,” no success will ever be enough, will it?

  2. Like Lisa, I also struggle with perfectionism. I want to be outgoing and well-liked by everyone. Have a perfect body, six pack and all. Be a stay at home mom. Have a perfectly clean well decorated house. Be perfectly organized. I guess that’s “all” but that’s quite a bit.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      That IS quite a bit! I read a question this morning in A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman, asking if my quest to be THE BEST was getting in the way of being MY BEST. That’s a point I try to come back to when I start making my list of all the ways I want to be perfect…and was glad for the reminder today!

  3. I’m struggling with an aging body … I understand the natural course and that the alternative to not aging is, well, death. But it’s strange and unsettling to look in the mirror and the reflection is not the one I visualize when I think of myself- it’s so old! So haggard. So lined. And I know it is only going to get worse!

    I’m not in single digit sizes, but I’ve accepted the benefits of a fuller frame and feel like a “Large” fits me as a person. It is this aging that presses me.

    • You’re speaking my language, Missy June. Turning 50 has been rough on me.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      I obviously don’t see you up close like your mirror does. But I just have to say that every time you’ve shared a photo of yourself on your blog, I think you just glow! I know, I know, that’s not the point. THANK YOU for sharing so honestly about how aging can be a struggle. (And I think I’m going to steal your belief that “large” fits me as a person – that’s fantastic!)

  4. For me it’s the Prince Charming fairy tale. I love my husband, but gosh darn it, he’s not perfect, and my life sure would be a heck of a lot easier if he was! How it is that I continually get so frustrated with his faults, without acknowledging any of my own? It’s really not fair to him, and not good for our relationship, either.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      I have struggled with this one, big time, Sarah. It takes a lot of intention to focus on his good parts (and there are really so many when I look for them!), and to be humble about my own less-than-princess-perfect self!

  5. I have struggles with your same ‘fairy tale’ about being thin. I am now 62 years old and it pains me to think that I have spent too much of my life wishing I was as skinny as all the beautiful people Isn’t that sad? I haven’t weighed myself for almost 8 years and I don’t care to know what it is. I am what I am and I am working on accepting that! Good luck

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Sounds like you’re doing a great job of accepting who you are, Paula. To put away the scale – literally or figuratively – is a great step!

  6. I have such horrible body image issues. I actually am in single digit sizes which, at 5’7″, pretty much means I don’t really need to lose weight. However, I have a history with anorexia and, though I’ve been healthy for many years now, it never really goes away. And the worst part of it all is that I feel like I’m lying when I tell people that I feel so much better and healthier now– is IS true. I AM healthier. I DO look better. But there’s a tiny part of me that misses my almost ridiculous looking size 3-longs. :/ I kind of miss being the girl who had that elusive model frame that other girls (foolishly) envied. And that makes me a pretty lousy, shallow woman. :(

    • You are not lousy or shallow, Jessie. I know this struggle well. It took me so long to finally get rid of my super-skinny jeans, even knowing how desperately unhealthy I was when I wore them.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      JessieLeigh…thank you for sharing your heart and your struggles with us. You are absolutely not lousy or shallow. Simply human, battling the same stuff so many of us are!

  7. I hear you, because I think all the thoughts that you wrote here. Except for the single digit clothes size…I know that will never happen. But to shop on the regular side of the department store? I long for that day.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Haha, well, single digits probably won’t happen for me. That’s why it’s purely fantasy. ;)

  8. First off….I LOVE your disclaimer. So many people think that a heavy person {which I am} who says anything about their weight is doing so for all the reasons you stated. Oh so many fairy tales to give up of my own, but the fat one…that’s at the top, always has been and probably always will be.

    Right now, my life is pretty darn close to perfect…4 healthy kids, a great hardworking husband, a home, security, but that fat thing….man…it’s a struggle.

    *BIG HUGS* To you!

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      I hear you, Jess – and love that the rest of your life (the important parts!!) is so close to perfect!

  9. I fight against it and I’m worlds better about it than I used to be but there’s a part of me that still believes that if I was really pretty, I’d be married. My Prince Charming would have come along already and since he hasn’t (and since the church’s message is geared around marriage), I’ve often concluded there must be something wrong with me. Most days I know that’s not true but it’s still not easy. I think that’s part of why I write about singleness so much: to remind myself of the Truth, to give light to the gifts of singleness, to hold steady in each season, whatever it might be.

    • I hear you, Leigh! I think this is one way in which the church unintentionally equates beauty with value. :(

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Oh, Leigh. I hate to hear that you fight those thoughts – but I’m so thankful you’re brave enough to share with us! And I’m with you – I write about several things purely to remind myself of the Truth.

  10. Unfortunately, the one that trips me up is about being a happy family and having huge holiday celebrations. I remember one holiday in particular. It was just myself and my husband, our little one who probably wasn’t old enough to eat anything, and my husband’s grandmother, who was like oil to my water. I fought back the tears from my plate that year. Every year is hard, but that was the worst.

  11. I love this post, because even if you set the particular issue (in this case, weight) aside, you are left with an internal battle all of us women fight. We KNOW and BELIEVE things on the one hand but just CANNOT HELP hearing that other nagging voice in our heads. Best to you, Mary!

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Yes, I think you’re right. We all face these battles – some of us over multiple issues! Talking about it, though, can help us release those chains and stand, stronger, together (I hope!).

  12. Great post, Mary.
    You might think my own struggle (anorexia) was the opposite of this but I can tell you it is very much the same: the idea that if only we could control this one area of our lives (weight) everything else would magically fall into place. And THAT is the really big, fat lie! ;-)

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Thanks for sharing, Adele. It’s hard for me to imagine, but I have heard others say the same – that no matter which end of the spectrum you battle, the underlying issues are often the same!

  13. Thank you for this lovely, honest post, Mary. I struggle with aging, as some of the commenters above shared. When I was in my early 40′s, it was easy to think I wouldn’t care about gray hair, etc., but at 49, after 5 years of the most rapid physical change I’ve experienced since childhood, it’s a different matter entirely to look in the mirror or look at myself in photographs and think, “Is that really me???” :-)

    • As I posted above, I am with you, Betsy!

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Seems like once we overcome one self image challenge, we’re faced with another! I suppose it’s one way we can continue to rely on God, going back to Him for our identities and worth, no matter the phase we’re in.

  14. This was such a courageous thing to write, and I nodded my head all the way through it. Thank you.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Glad to know I’m not alone, Becky! (Well, you know. I wish NONE of us struggled with this! But I’m thankful for women who walk beside me, whispering, “Me too”!)

  15. Well that just totally made me well up with tears. This is me, 100%. I don’t know what else to say except thank you for saying it better than I ever could. Totally there with you, my friend. Thank you for being brave and speaking the truth about this struggle.

  16. Mary, your words are life-giving here and lovely and perfect. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to say what so many are thinking.

    Ah, if only there were a magic solution to the negative self-talk we give ourselves each day. That would be my happily-ever-after. If my brain would just turn off all of that crap and tell myself the truth, I would be so much more productive.

    Thanks to the couple of women who wrote about aging. I still recognize myself in the mirror, but not on the scale. I just hate that my weight has creeped up, but no matter how hard I try, the few extra pounds seem to be winning. And (this comes from reading too many blogs) I wonder whether there’s a place for me to minister any more now that I’m older. It feels so much like younger women don’t want to hear anything I have to say. Feeling not needed is really hard.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Yes, you’re right, Shelly – the REAL solution would be an end to the ugly self-talk. Then, no matter what we struggle against, we’d be able to rest in God’s truth and the way He sees us!

    • Shelly, I can tell you that I want to hear what you have to say! I think “younger” folks and “older” folks have a lot of misperceptions about one another. But we really do need each other!

  17. chelleybutton says:

    I struggle with the same. And the flaws that I CAN’T change. And the same sins that never seem to go away as well. As far as losing weight, I do feel better when my clothes fit better. Still, I can also put too much importance on that. But it makes a world of difference to me when they fit comfortably and I FEEL thinner and more attractive. Still, I’m also learning (see my most recent blog post, even though it’s not that recent) that what I really want is not what I think I want. What I really want is to be beautiful on the inside, to reflect God’s beauty. But I still have that nagging voice inside me, reminding me of all my flaws and how nobody in their right mind would ever accept them. :/

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      I’m so glad God knows what’s best for us…even when we think we know better!

  18. This is a really brave and gorgeous post Mary.

  19. Man, I can really relate to this post!

  20. Thank you for sharing! It helps the rest of us to know that we are not alone! I also struggle with my thoughts about my weight/body. I always have, no matter how heavy or skinny I am. I admit, I have a history of anorexia. Thankfully through our Lord, I am free from my eating disorder. And He has healed me! But I still struggle with my body thoughts. And even if I was back to being a rail in a healthy way, dieting while honoring God, I question if I would be pleased with my body, even then, because my bones. I really dislike my ribs. My ribs are manly ribs. I can never be skinny, even fatless, because of my thick ribs. The other day, I really realized that my 30s face acne doesn’t bother me much and although I wish that my my cheek open pores were not noticeable, they don’t bother me. I have just accepted my pores. But I can’t accept my ribs—the one thing I can’t change. But, I admit that this year I have have turning to God more to help me to accept the ribs He gave me, because he created me. (I also am pregnant! I’m having a baby boy! I admit that I have been able to think positively about passing my manly ribs to my future boy. :) Ha!)