The Weight of It All: The Scale, Success and Self

I had a professional headshot taken recently, that I really liked. It’s the image here.(Taken by Marc J. Franklin).This year, as I spent much of my time working hard to build up a start-up, I had also started to really focus on writing again. I was being published more and more. And I wanted to capture who I was, not in a selfie but through the eyes of a good photographer. I would always be more than my looks. Yet, I knew an image would be something I’d need more and more for bios and maybe one day a book cover.

When my writing or work is criticized. I can take it in stride. Always aware there is lots to learn, this year was about learning how to fail and fix it fast and not take things personally.

When it comes to my face or my body, I am far more vulnerable. But I had been feeling beautiful as of late. My confidence had been riding on my career success. Well, that was about to come crashing down.

Last night, when visiting two of my closest friends, the headshot came up and re-touch suggestions were made, “fix the dye line on your hair”, the “shadow on your nose” and then somehow, my weight came into play. (Now full disclosure, I was eating some buffalo cheese dip and drinking a glass of wine at the time. But I also had been enjoying the end of the holidays and letting go a bit. It should also be noted, that majority of my close friends are workout fiends. It’s their thing and god bless them, they look gorgeous.)

“You’ve always been fat, right?”, he asked me.

And suddenly I knew three things all at once:

1. I wanted to defend myself. To tell him there were other adjectives to describe me too: Smart, Sexy, Confident, Talented and Strong (with the exception, of this moment).

2. Truthfully, barring a few exceptions, he was right. I had always been heavy. I had been on a million diets and weight loss binges and even had an intense eating disorder but fat, I had stayed.

3. And that in one sentence, a fun evening had turned into my worst nightmare. I couldn’t let him see me cry and that I had to leave immediately.

The truth hurts. But it’s how we handle that truth that makes us or breaks us.

Turns out I am a writer and I can define my own narrative. So here goes…

Being heavy is hard because it’s something I have struggled with for my entire life. And oddly, I like that I am curvy and I never wanted to be super skinny. But there’s this constant pressure to look good and professional in the business world. I have always strived for that body that could wear “cute business suits”. Several female mentors have told me, “You can’t be the chubby girl forever. If you want to be a powerful business woman, you need to shed those extra pounds.”

What I wanted to ask them was, “Seriously? Let me send you my LinkedIn. I’m doing just fine. Thank you.” But after each encounter, I’d secretly starve myself for three days.

Here’s the thing, Oprah was so successful because with all she accomplished, all the accolades, her struggle with her weight made her human. People who watched her thought, “She’s so smart and kind and beautiful, but she’s not perfect. She struggles to be thin.” When she became a Weight Watchers spokesperson, I signed right up (for the 6th time, thank you). And yeah, she looks great now. She also looks like she always did to me, like the goddess that is Oprah.

Shonda Rhymes once said, after getting thin, she felt “seen” for the first time. This woman, who created “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” is a power house. Why should she ever be crying in her Jenny Craig?

Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald could be classified as list of women who have struggled with the scale. But they should really be a on a list of a few of the best female singers who ever lived.

You may be able to tell, I’ve thought a lot about this. What I have come to realize is that we all have a “catch”. My catch is fixable. But if losing weight and keeping it off was easy, then a multi-million-dollar industry wouldn’t exist around it, would it? This is hard. If you have never had a weight issue, you would never understand. But this is my reality. Now how do I deal with it?

“You aren’t a person. You are a force”, another dear friend told me over the summer. Later that day, he posted a photo of me in all my curved glory, wearing a fabulous dress and hat and exuding attitude few even possess. “A weekend with this gorgeous lady”, he captioned it. My immediate reaction was to criticize the photo. “Was that a shadow or a second chin?” “Could he have gotten me at a more flattering angle?” Stupidly I couldn’t’ see what he saw. And let me tell you, he wasn’t thinking about my dress size. He was thinking, “This is Vic. She is my friend. And damn, I am proud to know her”.

Owning it. Knowing who you are and being ok with it. I would rather be that. Yes, you can always be smarter, better, faster and more. Yet, I know very few people less driven than me. Should I redefine what I am driving towards?

It’s nearly 2018, New Year’s Eve day to be exact. People discuss their resolutions and wonder which ones they will keep. Yes. I’m going to try to eat better, drink less and exercise more. I also know I only have so many hours in my lifetime. I could lose them to obsessively dieting or I could spend my time writing. I do want to be healthier. I do want to feel good about myself. But I don’t need to judge myself against others. My body will go at some point or another but my words will remain.

Weighing more may or may not influence my success. Forgetting who I am, will cause far more damage. Here’s to who I am, who I can be and being ok with all of it along the way.

Writes about women and work and all else