93. Big, Beautiful Heroines

93. Big, Beautiful Heroines

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Big, Beautiful Heroines

I am always naturally drawn to heroines that have human flaws because I enjoy people that have lived their life with courage and make big successes and big failures.

~Romola Garai

I was eleven years old when I saw my first height/weight chart in a women’s magazine, and even though I wasn’t a teenager yet, I started judging my body by an adult woman’s guidelines.

Therein followed twenty-two years of yo-yo dieting, to the point that I was near death. I went on my last diet — the one that almost killed me — when my only child, my son, was three years old. I lost 60 pounds in ten months. And basically every day I had the nervous shakes and a headache. During that time I kept asking, “Why am I doing this to myself?”

Finally, I decided to stop. I realized that my true self lay in my heart and my mind. My body was just the package that I was wrapped in.

From that time forward, I determined that I would, without dieting, eat as healthily each day as I could, without being obsessive about it. I would be as active as I chose to be each day, and with a very active three-year-old that wasn’t hard to do.

But most of all, I promised myself that I would start dressing myself to look the best that I could each day. From that point forward, I never left my house without my clothes, hair and make-up done the way I liked them.

This wasn’t hard for me because I’d always loved to play “dress up.” But as I’d gained more and more weight after the birth of my son, I’d fallen into a pattern of wearing clothes that didn’t make me feel confident. So, even though we didn’t have much free cash at the time, I went shopping and bought a few new items of clothing that were designed for my larger body.

Up until this moment in my life, I had no idea what my adult body would look like if I didn’t diet. So I determined to love the body that developed, whatever size it was. I also determined that I would hold my head up, shoulders back, and show the world that I loved who I was.

“You can love me just like I am, or you can stay away from me.”

And a remarkable thing happened. Almost every time I went out in public, a stranger would give me a compliment. I began to realize that my looks hadn’t changed; it was my opinion of myself that had changed. And as I learned to love, respect, and enjoy my body, my confidence grew and grew and grew.

I can’t explain the pure joy that began to surge through me as this newfound “self” was developing. There was such a freedom! I no longer cared if someone secretly judged me, because I was larger than they thought I should be.

I developed an entirely new attitude. I became a size-acceptance activist. Very seldom did anyone say anything about my weight, but when they did, I carefully explained to them that this was my weight and not their concern.

For example, I was at a church function and an older woman kept telling me how beautiful I was. She went on and on, until I was actually getting a little tired of it. Then she said, “If you would only lose 70 pounds, you’d be a knockout!” I remember leaning over to her and whispering for her ears only, “You can love me just like I am, or you can stay away from me.”

I also started taking on anyone who dared to say something negative about someone else’s larger body. I let nothing pass. Friends, family, strangers, ministers, letters to magazine editors, letters to the editor of my local newspaper . . . nobody was safe from me and my one-person campaign to educate the world about weight issues.

Furthermore, I stopped allowing anyone to stand in my presence and say negative things about themselves.

Soon, I began to see that there were very few positive role models for larger-sized women in the movies, magazines, novels or anywhere. Basically, anytime a larger woman was mentioned in these outlets it was in a negative way.

So, having always loved to write, and having always planned to write a novel at some point, I decided to write a novel with what I called a Big Beautiful Heroine. But I soon realized that the major publishers were afraid to take a chance on this type of novel, because these books might not bring in the kind of money that they wanted.

So I self-published my first four books, then found a small publisher that wanted my books. At the present time, including the book I just sent to the publisher, I will have thirteen fiction and non-fiction books published on learning to love the body that you have.

My main theme is to encourage people of all sizes to love the body that they have and stop trying to be or look like someone that they’re not genetically programmed to be.

The one phrase that I use constantly is, “You are a one-of-a-kind work of art. There never has been, and there never will be another you. So love the unique being that you are.”

~Pat Ballard

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