This essay is part of the series, Accepting the Self: Latinas on Body Image. To enjoy the full series, please read the introduction.
For the last two years, I’ve worked at an eating disorder center. Our philosophy is to eat intuitively, to listen to your body’s cues about what it wants and needs. I’ve adapted some of the techniques in my everyday life, but it has been a struggle.
It’s hard to ignore the Latina in me, the voice in my head reminding me that mami and abuela taught me to never leave anything on my plate. En Cuba se pasa hambre and I’m lucky to have all this food. It’s also been hard to think of the words “gordita” and “flaca” literally and not as terms of endearment.
But society tells us we need to be thin, we need to exercise for hours every day, and we need to be a size 6. No, wait, a 4. No way, Jose. Not everyone is built to be a size 4, especially us Latinas. So I have found a happy medium. I’ve learned to accept my body for what it is. My body is a temple. It is a work of art that brought two beautiful little people into the world. And screw the media and the magazines if they don’t agree.
But at the same time, I know it’s healthier for me if I exercise and eat healthy.
Since I started walking on a regular basis, my blood pressure, frighteningly high and controlled by meds since last October, has normalized. I don’t need my meds anymore. I haven’t lost more than four pounds, but my body is appreciative of my efforts and tells me so.
With every exhale it whispers “Thank You,” every step a clap recognizing my accomplishment. I’ve been a double-digit size for the past nine years, but I feel great, and I embrace every ounce, for this is me, and I love me, curvitas and all.