The Art of Wearing a Crop Top

Reclaiming Over Twenty Years Lost to Diet Culture

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Being a chubby girl could not be an option.

My mother, who was usually so good at reassuring me of my beauty and worth and never mentioning a word about my weight, told me what would become a deeply held belief for the next twenty years: chubby girls can’t wear crop tops.

Eventually, all the rules became about what I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, eat.

A couple of years later we got our first computer and the internet introduced me to a whole new world of diets and exercise plans. No wonder I hadn’t been successful before! I had been operating without the information I needed to finally lose weight and be the skinny person I knew I could be. Now I was armed with all the resources I needed. I could try out different diets and see what worked for me: grapefruit for breakfast, cabbage soup for dinner, eating normal meals, but very slowly, chewing every bite of food 100 times, eating ice chips instead of potato chips, not eating dessert, not eating “junk food,” not eating meat, not eating carbs.

As someone who defined my worth by my ability to achieve every goal I had set myself with absolutely no room for error or failure, losing weight became another benchmark for success in my mind.

Weight Watchers provided a simple formula for eating and for success, and I loved formulas. I loved clearly defined rules, and I loved knowing the right way of doing something and then succeeding at doing it.

I realized I didn’t want to miss out on anything anymore.

Then, last year, my grandmother, who I was incredibly close to and who had suffered from asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and virtually every other respiratory disease one can acquire after sixty years of smoking a pack a day, took a turn for the worst. She was moved into a nursing home, then into a hospital, and finally into hospice, all in the course of a few months.

It turned out that the scale wasn’t the purveyor of absolute truths I always considered it to be after all.

I began lifting weights and taking some bougie workout classes that I really loved. I started seeing changes in my body from the weight training, and I could fit into jeans I had only been able to wear when I was 15–20 pounds lighter. Ironically, my weight has settled somewhere close to where it had been when I was in high school, right before I started Weight Watchers, back when I was “fat.”

Follow along on my quest to make diet culture another millennial casualty. Find me on Insta @life_after_diets

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