Pictures are really just captured memories, right? We’re lucky enough to have something better than our memory to recall them. I’ve often said that no obese person is born that way. Every pound has a story. Well, here is some of mine.
I don’t have any pictures of me prior to high school. My mother has them, but I don’t. I can assure you that from the time I was nine years old, I had a weight problem. Though my mother knew my diet and activity level hadn’t changed, the doctor assured her that my weight problem was a matter of me eating way too much. And from there, the pounds began to stack up.
This is me during the Christmas of my freshman year of high school. Yes, I am the second from the left — little Tabby, wearing clothing that made her look she was more suited for a nursing home than a high school. Plus clothing wasn’t as easy to find back then, so you had to get creative.
A funny thing happened over the summer before my senior year of high school. I worked at a skating rink as a floor guard. I worked between 25-3o hours a week, and I was on skates the whole time. I loved every minute of it — and I shed 60 pounds. At this point, I was somewhere around 160 pounds.
Summer after Graduation
The summer after my senior year, I met the “man of my dreams.” Or at least I thought I did. I had been training to enlist in the Army (which was messed up because of a knee injury), and I got down to 140 pounds. This was the smallest I have been during my adult life. And, it was literally because I ate almost nothing and walked or ran every day with my recruiter.
After 1998, there is what I like to call a dark period. I was married to a man from 1999-2005. During that time, I became depressed, and the weight began to come on because of my issue with emotional eating. I was disgusted with myself, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be in a picture. There were spurts of time that I felt fine, and other times, I felt like I could never leave my house. As I said, it was a dark time. I lived on a Marine Corps base, surrounded by athletic or skinny men and women, and I was packing on more pounds every day. It was a terrible cycle that I never thought I would break. I also felt embarrassed for my husband at the time because he had to be seen with me. After we divorced, I actually told myself for a while that he had every right to do the things he did because he didn’t sign on to be married to a fat cow — he married a smaller woman, so it was okay.
After the separation, I moved with my children back to Ohio. It didn’t take me long to start smiling again.
As you can see from this picture with my friend, Blake, I still didn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. Sure, I’d show my face, but anything to make me look a little smaller. I couldn’t look fat on camera, after all. That would be captured for a lifetime!
In 2007 and 2008, I met some friends in college who were larger women. They didn’t make apologies for it…didn’t care what other people thought. One of them went with me to a local bohemian community festival an hour from our home. I felt comfortable in a tank top for the first time. I even danced in the rain (hence the wet hair). That year, I got a grant from the college and went on a research trip for my senior honors thesis. It was the first time that grant had been awarded to someone in the English Department at my school.
In 2009, I started to make a name for myself in the writing community at my university. After winning five awards at the year-end assembly, I felt comfortable enough to let a friend take a half body picture. It was the first one in years.
This was snapped at a Chuck E. Cheese in 2010. My mother wasn’t exactly sure where to look (lol), but that’s okay. In 2010, I still had one more year of school, and I was dividing my time between work, school and raising two kids on my own. After a couple of years with my parents, my children and I had finally moved out — life was moving right along.
I was preparing to graduate in 2011. First, I had my award ceremony. I received seven awards that night, including a first place award for my poetry and the award for top senior for the campus. The picture at the podium is me giving a reading of my poem, and the other picture is my father, my daughter, me and my son at the reception after.
This is a photo of our graduation party. My sister, Becky, and I graduated the same day. This picture, from left to right, is me and my sisters Jennifer, Becky and Kimmy. As you can see, my sisters are not the same size as me. I am the only one in the family that is morbidly obese. I remember that it took me a LONG time to be okay with this picture. I was happy that I graduated. I was proud. But, I was wearing a gown that looked like a circus tent and made me look even bigger than I was. Looking back at it now, I see a nice picture with my sisters. :)
So, who do I look like? Yes, this is my sister, Becky, and I with our parents. Once again, it took me a long time to appreciate this picture. But, looking back, I see this picture of two people who were proud of both their daughters, despite either of their sizes. It makes me stand up a litter straighter now to know that my mother and father have never judged me negatively because of my weight.
Last year was a busy one for me.
This was me in early 2012, when I was a reporter for The Marion Star here in Marion, Ohio. The haircut was new. Everyone had told me for years that my round face could never pull off shorter hair. I think they were wrong — I got more compliments on this haircut than I ever had before.
I had been working on being more healthy because I was sick of being tired all the time. So, I decided to walk a 5K on my 32nd birthday in June 2012.
In July 2012, I went to visit friends in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and had a job interview for The Daily News. This is a picture of me from the trip. Still not a lot of full body pics for me.
I got the job and moved to NC in August 2012. Here is a pic of me the second day at The Daily News. And below is a picture of how much I changed from my first day at the Marion Star to my first day at The Daily News (A year apart; the top pic is the older of the two):
I felt better, and I had more confidence than ever before. That’s probably why what happened next even happened —
This is Ricky, the love of my life. I met him in early September 2012. He was the first man I’d ever met who made me feel completely comfortable in my own skin no matter what I wore or didn’t wear.
After a whirlwind romance, Ricky asked me to marry him in November. We decided to wait until the following September to get married.
This is Ricky and I in February of this year. We were preparing to climb into a U-haul and move from North Carolina back to Ohio. It was quite a trip that was snowy and took 24 hours instead of the normal 12 hours!
Ever since I met Ricky, I haven’t felt self-conscious about my body. I feel beautiful. I am beautiful, despite my weight. I know that no one can make you love yourself, but after hearing you are ugly, fat and disgusting for years, it took some convincing to believe otherwise. This picture was taken at my kids’ school. We chaperoned their prom.
Ricky and I were married on September 28, 2013. For any stories about planning a wedding as a fat bride, please refer to any blog post between February 2013 and September 2013. It was an adventure, that is for sure!
And finally, pictures on our honeymoon. This was a 50 picture shoot with a professional photographer. Talk about coming full circle. From not wanting pictures taken to a photo shoot. I love it!
This is me today. I have a double chin. I have a big face. And, I have a lot of weight that my skeleton is carrying around. Here is what I’ve learned in almost 20 years of photos — I am worth more than the image that appears in any of these pictures. I am a person. I am a fat person, but I’m still a person. I am a writer. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am a sister. I am fat. This is who I am. There is definitely no need to make apologies for that.