On the very first day xoVain was live, I pondered the possibility that I may be the heaviest beauty director in New York City.
The vast majority of readers were hearteningly supportive of my brain-before-body priorities, my belief that beauty isn't directly linked to weight, and my struggles with autoimmune and chronic pain conditions.
But it's those very struggles that, lately, have me wanting to put losing weight higher up on my to-do list.
In addition to a fibromyalgia diagnosis I've had for more than a decade and a more recent Sjogren's Syndrome diagnosis, I started going numb in my shoulders a few times a day and having lower back and hip pain that was preventing me from standing up straight in week-long spells several times a year.
In seeking a reason--and treatment--for these new symptoms, I found the shoulder numbness was probably due to large-breast-related posture; and while losing weight probably won't change my bra size (I've always been busty), I can start doing exercises to improve my shoulder strength. But that's not what stood out to me most among the answers my doctor gave me.
An x-ray revealed that I had developed scoliosis in my lower back. Now, technically, this qualifies as idiopathic, meaning the cause is more or less unknown. But I can't help but wonder if it's the weight I've steadily gained over the last five years that put this strain on my spine.
Looking thinner has never been motivation enough for me to take action towards losing weight. And while I never really doubted that I may feel physically better if I lose weight, it never felt like a clear solution until now.
This is causing me a lot of emotional turmoil.
I believe in body acceptance. I've been proud to be one of the few people in my kind of position who's almost-plus-sized, serving as a representation of a broader and more inclusive concept of beauty. And the comments on that article! Ohhhh, the comments:
"To see a beauty editor actually look like a person who looks like me? BEST EVER."
"I will take this beautiful confidence that you have in yourself and apply it to myself."
"I'm heavier yet than you are and am coming round to the idea that how much I weigh has nothing whatever to do with my qualifications."
"Thank you for helping me to realize a truth that I think we all sometimes forget: It's just a number and it will never define you, your beauty or your worth."
Words like that mean so much to me; so much so that I'm worried, by making a concerted effort to lose weight, that I'm betraying those who found me relatable and admirable exactly the way I am; that you'll think I'm saying "You should try to lose weight, too."
But I'm not. I'm really not.
I just think it might be the right choice for me in order to finally physically feel better. It's been such a long time since I've felt like I've had energy, vitality, pain less than 50% of the time. Losing weight could be what changes that.
Next week, I'm taking a blood test called the ALCAT--it sounds like something to get into grad school, which makes me anxious--and it will identify the types of foods that are causing the most inflammatory responses in my unique system. I'll essentially get a prescription for how to eat. I plan on following it, and on starting pilates to help strengthen my core.
I just want to feel better.
I reread a few more comments left on that article:
"If you feel like making different choices for yourself, your health or just because you want to--do it!"
"You are crazy gorgeous. Lose weight, gain weight--that won't change."
I feel better already.