I lost a lot of weight before I had my baby. I got down to a size six. I have God to thank for that.
Since getting pregnant, giving birth and nursing, I have put on a whopping 70 pounds. It’s taken a little getting used to. The reflection in the mirror is a bit changed from how I remember it. I’ve had to buy new clothes and, for a while, I was camera shy.
I was raised old-school. My mother had taught me how to pose for a picture and also that we put on our Sunday best before we click the button. We put our best and our brightest out for there the world to see. And I can see the wisdom in that. And for years I hid behind the knowledge that what I was showing the world was not my best, as I had always struggled with my weight.
I barely have any photographs of me for the first 10 years of my marriage, from age 21-31.
I finally came out from hiding when, by God’s grace, I shed the weight in 2009. I then, in my mind, was allowed to come forth and be photographed.
And so I did. And it was great. I have a veritable gold mine of photos of me and my spouse having adventures and living life. But something changed. I emerged from my pregnancy saggy and flabby and, when I went to take pictures, they no longer looked the same. It was as if it happened overnight. I was once again un-photographable. Not photogenic. Not able to participate in life.
And so, for a while, I reverted back to the shadows. Back to the drudgery of holding the camera to take photos for others. I was still going on adventures, but no longer felt at liberty to display me, as I looked now, in photos, much less on Facebook. Until I realized something.
Each day is a gift. It comes from God, and we are not guaranteed another.
To treat each moment as if it is not good enough because I weigh too much is to throw away valuable time that I will never get back. It is to act as if life is going to begin again only if I, with God’s help, lose the weight again. But what about all the days, months and years between now and my goal of losing weight? Don’t they count for something?
What about the moments with my friends and with my family?
What am I showing my baby?
That Mommy won’t be involved in special moments because she’s unworthy? Or will my baby misunderstand and think I am bowing out because she is the one who is unworthy?
Will she love Mommy any less because she is fat? Of course not. Will she want to see photos of herself as a baby with her mom? You bet. Am I going to deprive her of the memories because Mom was insecure because of her weight? No way.
We can’t be so focused on chasing after tomorrow that we forget about today. The reality of today is that I am fat. Not taking my picture won’t change that. It doesn’t improve upon the situation. It simply renders me invisible in the moments of my own life.
I decided that I was going to hide no longer.
I was going to take videos of my baby and I at the aquarium.
I was going to be photographed as I sing and perform concerts.
I was going to post pictures of me conducting my first radio interview with Janet Porter, author of “The Heartbeat Bill,” as well as a dozen books (I look really fat in those ones).
And so, I strive to enjoy each God-given day I have and each opportunity to be present with my family. I will take the time to laugh and play and to even, gasp!, be photographed doing so. I am no runway model, nor am I trying to sell shorts in a magazine. I strive, with God’s help, to be as healthy as I can be and I look forward to losing the weight.
What I am proposing is that I have the right to live my life in the meantime. I have the right to be seen. I have nothing to prove to anybody and am just as valid as anyone else living in this world.
I refuse to give power to others to decide who is and who is not worthy to be deserving of love. I refuse to let them decide that only certain people are beautiful.
We are all beautiful people living in this world, because we’re alive and because God gave us life. It’s time we saw beauty where it lies: everywhere. And it’s time we stopped hiding. Our people want to see our smiling faces.
Rosa Hopkins writes for www.lifeinsidethehouseontherock.com and is the co-host of, ‘The Joe and Rosa Show’ on WDZY, AM & FM, Richmond, VA. She is a radio recording artist, musician, singer, producer and co-founder of Great Commission Records. She lives in the hills of WV with her husband, miracle baby, Jack Russell and a shapeless hound named Lou.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.