140, or Why I decided to wear a bikini to my brother-in-law’s wedding

by Cooper Young

When I was fourteen years old, I was chubby. Five foot even, a hundred and forty pounds. About dead-center of the overweight BMI range. Oh, and I lived in South Korea, so  everyone around me was, you know, Asian. Trust me, in that scenario you aren’t chubby. You’re fat.

I weighed about the same for most of high school. I lost about five pounds by senior year, and I swung back and forth through that five pound range through most of college. Vertically I only ever gained an inch and a half, so it’s not like I ever grew into it. I was never really comfortable with my body, but I didn’t go to great lengths to hide it either. If I was going to be the fat girl, I was going to be the fat girl stuffed into the cute clothes. I was going to be the hottest little sausage I could, dammit. A college friend of mine once said “It must be spring! V’s dressed like a hooker.” It was hookeresque, really. Fat thighs in fishnets. I told myself I didn’t care.

But I never, ever went swimming if I could help it.

There’s no hiding anything there. There’s no faking being cute. You can’t be a hot little sausage when the required casings turn you into just a lumpy, awkward meat pile with weird grainy jiggly bits. Needless to say, I haven’t worn a two-piece that showed even a little stomach since I was twelve. I would go to the base pool with my brothers in the summer, but there were two and I’d go to the one where all the families with small, shrieking children would go, the one with no diving board and a small deep end–the one where no high school kid would be caught dead. I don’t think I went swimming once in college. In fact, I don’t think anyone I know in this state who isn’t family has ever seen me in a bathing suit. That was where I drew the line.

I had my first kid at twenty. A hundred and eighty, then back down to one-forty-five. Her dad was eighteen. We moved in together when I was twenty-one, and I tried to raise a baby while doing twenty-one credit hours a semester and planning a wedding. A hundred and sixty. We got married. I graduated college, finished the first draft of my first novel, and then promptly slipped into depression when no employers or agents wanted anything to do with me. A hundred and sixty eight. At twenty-three I tried a diet that had worked well for my mother years before. I’m not talking “eat only this and loose a bunch of weight stupid fast and then quit”, I’m talking “stop eating X, Y, and Z forever because they’re freaking awful for you; shit, honey, what were you thinking”. A hundred and forty eight.

That right there should illustrate something to you: if I remember every single one of those numbers off the top of my head, I was pretty damn well obsessed. More obsessed than I maybe ought to have been. Obsessed for a very long time. If someone is that obsessed for that long it doesn’t matter how they dress or what they tell you, they’re not ok with how they look. I wasn’t. Even during my hot little sausage days I was trying ridiculous things to lose weight. None of them worked, mostly because I love sweets, but that didn’t stop me from constantly trying.

I got pregnant again after only six weeks on said diet. A hundred and eighty, then a hundred and fifty-seven after about a year. Back to that diet, the good one. The things I was eating made me feel more sane. I realized that my once-violent mood swings were tied heavily to my blood sugar.  I started to feel like myself again for the first time in five years. I felt…healthy.

Healthy, at a hundred and forty.

My brother-in-law is getting married at a nearby hot spring next week. I have a toddler and a preschooler and we’re staying at the resort by the pools, so swimming is pretty much mandatory. I have a suit I liked, but as I’ve lost close to thirty pounds since I bought it it’s no longer really usable. I went shopping today, and the cheapest thing I could find was a $12 black bikini. I tried it on. My stomach is a little poochy and my legs aren’t the best and good golly, the stretch marks, but I decided to get it regardless. Wanna know why?

Because I’m twenty-five years old, I’ve had two kids, and I weigh what I weighed when I was fourteen.  I spent years weighing myself twice a day (yes, I know that more than once a week is a bad idea and more than once a day is sheer madness. I know that on a logical level. Many hoarders know on a logical level that they should be able to find their pets and not have to poop in places that aren’t toilets.) and never ended up any thinner–but I ended up older and wiser. The weight that I once felt ashamed of is now something of which I’m a little bit proud. This isn’t really that bad after all.

I’m a mother of two who weighs what she did at menarche. I’ve been playing this game for too long. I’ve been obsessed for too long. I’ve been ashamed for too long. I’m too tired, too old, and too filled with new perspective for this.

Guess how many fucks I have left to give.

This many.

This many.