why we look our best + realize it least

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Upon viewing some of my past skinny pictures, someone recently commented, "Seeing how amazing you look at 118 pounds, what keeps you from going on an extreme diet to recapture that?" I have an answer.

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Ignoring the wrongs of "extreme dieting" outright, I will say that the times in my life where I’ve been my thinnest, looking my best, I was, in fact, at my worst. I smiled pretty for the camera, but inside I weighed more than I ever had; I was heavy with anxiety, self-doubt, and felt the pangs of rejection. I was miserable, but damn did I look good. And you know what? I don’t want that back, not even for a second.

My bum

Aside from hate-dieting my way to thin, there were times when I thought thin was the answer. We all have been victims of the "someday" mentality, believing that someday when (X) happens, all our "Y" eldest dreams will come true. But it doesn’t work that way, and I can honestly say, I’m happy with where I am right now. Could I stand to lose 15 lbs., absolutely. But I’m at a normal weight, and I feel extraordinary. Do I like having a double chin? No. But do I want to work my ass off, keeping a food journal, and watching those around me feast while I abstain? No.

My bum

I have no desire to sustain the unsustainable weights of my past, a life lived in single servings of fat-free yogurt with grilled chicken dinners without carbs or dessert. A weight attainable only if I ate at home where I knew the exact measure of olive oil, the precise cut of the butter, or the seconds with the non-stick spray to the pan. I don’t want a life of occasional indulgences. I want it to be filled with everything I love as often as possible without sacrificing my health. I want every last thing I can get away with. Life is too short to deny myself shortening, and I believe, above all else, life should be lived with gusto. Not excess, but gusto.

Stephanie Klein
At my thinnest moments, I didn’t even feel like a person. It felt like a lie. It’s not that I aligned myself with a fat girl identity and believed the thin me wasn’t real. I wasn’t sabotaging myself because thin didn’t feel familiar. I felt empty, soulless, ghost-walking through my life. I wasn’t nurturing my spirit or my body. I was anxiety in a size 4. It didn’t feel real because I wasn’t eating or living real. I was exercising too often, and eating too little. What I did eat wasn’t real; it was processed, unwholesome. Chemicals. Substitutes. Never mind healthy, it was all empty.

Stephanie Klein with Beyonce

Whereas the calories that people have come to consider "empty calories," sustenance from your mother’s chocolate chip cookies, for example, were a comforting, calming, indulgence. This might just draw one to argue, "Aha! You use food as comfort, and that’s your problem!" I can only respond, it’s not my problem. I have no qualms about food anymore. I don’t feel guilt or fear or panic when it comes to fueling my body. Sometimes I eat too much, sometimes not enough. But at least I feel whole.

In the photos where I’m thin, I smiled. In my behavior, I was more forward, less inhibited, eager to meet up with people from my past. But in the quiet moments, alone in bed, I didn’t like myself. I wasn’t really a person, just a thin container. I loved fitting into fashion-forward clothing, that men seemed to be uncritically fond of me, but really a part of me was missing. The heart of me.

So now I eat the heart out of everything, and I’m happy.

59 Responses to “why we look our best + realize it least”

  1. HelenSparkles Says:

    Once when severely depressed my grandmother told me how good I looked, I responded by giving her a bit more information about my psychological state, and she implied that it was worth it if I stayed that thin. The thin me was utterly miserable, and maybe she thought that was ok because Grandma was pretty miserable too (which she was), and that this was a fairly permanent state of affairs due to grandpa… Grandma was wrong and superficial, and although the real me isn't fat, I do need to find a middle way which disassociates being thin with being unhappy.

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  2. kari Says:

    Well said, Stephanie. I lost a bunch of weight on WW, and while I have managed to keep most of it off, my low end weight (130 pounds) proved to be completely unmanageable. In fact, I couldn't even get there. I made it to 131.5, and as soon as I so much looked at a slice of pizza I blew up and gained 2 pounds. Maddening.

    I can't live a life where ice cream is out of the question. I can't work out five to six days a week at 2 hours a pop because a) I don't have time b) I don't want to and c) an extra five pounds lost is just not worth it to me. I feel like where I am now (135-140 depending on the time of the month) just has to be good enough. I'm a size 6. I'm toned. I am far healthier than I was at my heaviest. I'm happier without obsessing. I have a husband who loves me as I am, and that should be enough. Besides, when I get too thin, I lose the boobs! I'd rather have boobs and hips than be a stick figure.

    (I still secretly wish I could be under 130. Just for a minute to see 129.9 on the scale! hahaha).

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  3. Babs Says:

    I love the last line of this post, Stephanie. It truly is about "heart."
    I felt like a ghost at my thinnest – 5'9 and a size 0, and it wasn't until last week that I finally went through my closet (a full 5 years since that time) and cleansed it of those long-unworn sizes. Everyday, jeans and skirts I hadn't worn in more than one passing stage of my life would look me in the eye and say, "You can do this again."
    But for what? I am healthy, and not simply in a justifiable way (like, I smoke a pack of cigarettes and drink a lot of coffee and just slunk into those skinny jeans or, on the other end of the spectrum, I ate a 12-pack of processed donuts but, really, "I like myself the way I am,"). I am healthy enough physically/emotionally to actually pay attention to my life!
    I look back on my skinny picture and think, jesus, I was so busy counting calories and thinking about the gym, I was able to avoid all other deep emotional thoughts. Now, when I sit down at a lovely dinner with friends and my husband and we talk about all that is our shared lives, I wish I could show this me to the old and tell her, "This is the good stuff. This is the stuff that matters. Now eat a damn brownie."

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  4. ATX Says:

    Also extreme dieting is close to impossible while you are raising children: impressionable children. You want them to see a happy mommy not one performing OCD food rituals and joining the family for dinner after everyone is almost finished eating.
    Dieting like that also ruins- absolutely destroys- your metabolism. Sounds like you have a pretty healthy balance going on right now and are happy. And you still look good.
    I think Helen Sparkles and I have the same grandmother!

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  5. kris Says:

    Beautifully said. I wanted to give the commenter an earful when I first read her posting, but I think you've done a much nicer job here.

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  6. jessica Says:

    Very well said. I'm losing weight for the 2nd time in my life, and it is very slow going, but the longer it takes, the better I adjust to a new way of eating and exercising, and the more natural my body feels to me.

    THe last time I lost weight, it happened really fast, a result of phentermine and cigarettes. ANd I had praise heaped on me all the time, but I was miserable. Dying inside, really.

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  7. Cathy Bueti Says:

    Great post Stephanie, there are so very many women out there who can relate. I was only 11 when my mom dragged me to a WW meeting with all of the severely obese adults in my neighborhood. I was a chubby kid at one point but I don't think that was the best place to bring a child. Ever since then I have had issues with weight, mostly mental! I gained the freshman 15 when I went to college and was up to a size 13ish. My mom and grandma were always good for making comments to me throughout my life if they thought I had gained even a pound.
    I went on a quest after college to loose 10lbs for my first wedding. And I did. Then 2 years later he died and I dropped about 15 lbs probably just from severe stress, depression and not eating. But I noticed that the attention I got for being thinner and I liked it. And yet I wasn't healthy in many ways.
    Then when I got breast cancer I tried to tell myself that at least I could look forward to loosing weight with chemo! Pretty twisted huh?! So even while I was fighting cancer I was still thinking constantly about weight because of not being able to obsessively exercise and being laid up on the couch sick from treaments.
    Today I mostly want to maintain my health. I still have issues with how I look and my weight which is pretty steady and I continue to be a size 6/8. I eat much healthier than I ever did before cancer, and I eat about 5 times a day which I would never do when I was starving myself for the sake of loosing a few lbs. I feel better and allow myself the things I still love in moderation….my icecream, pizza, chocolate.
    As you said, life is too short……no more deprivation! Just health and some chocolate truffles! :)

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  8. T Says:

    I concur. I'm 5'7, been a size 2 and a size 12. I can't say I was "happy" at either. I find happy to be where I'm healthy, feel good, but not thinking about the size of my jeans while enjoying my nephew's Carvel b-day cake last sunday.

    Obsessing over fat grams, carbs, and calories makes no one happy- you or the people around you. If your life feels full you'll automatically know when your stomach is too without stressing about it.

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  9. jennifer Says:

    I recently commented on past skinny pictures of mine that I would never be that weight again. A friend asked why not and I said because I will never, I hope, be that unhappy again. I got all the praise but inside I didn't feel thin, I was stressed out, in an unhealthy relationship, and wasn't dieting but didn't have a great relationship with food. I would always be surprised when I saw pictures because I realized then how thin I was. Now I feel great and happy but cringe at pictures at how big I look. But I think that is more that I feel out of shape, not necessarily "fat". It is such a tricky balance.

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  10. Teresa Says:

    "Seeing how amazing you look at 118 pounds, what keeps you from going on an extreme diet to recapture that?" What a bitch thing to say.

    You are such an awesome person for loving yourself!

    I know this is a totally self-serving thing to say and it may even diminish the value of what I previously said, but if you ever sell your old clothes, please let me know bc they are so spectacular! = )

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  11. Rebecca Says:

    Stephanie,

    This is a timely post for me as I am trying to lose some weight to get healthy. I would like to lose about 15 lbs or so. I have just become obsessed with it all of a sudden. I wonder once I do get the weight off, if I will be obsessed about not putting it back on. It's a never-ending cycle.

    Also, this is completely off-subject, but I was wondering what you thought of the season finale of The Bachelor last night, seeing as you were not a fan of Shane.

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  12. Meghan Says:

    I think it's great that you feel comfortable as yourself now. I've always been a thin person but I can tell you, even very thin people still have their insecurities. I've learned that eating healthy isn't just to stay thin, but to keep everything in working order inside for a long time. Good healthy food is what helps the body stay in good shape for a long time. I also think there's more to life than food, and it's good not to focus on appearance all the time.

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  13. Susie Says:

    This post is just one of the many examples of why I come back to read day after day. You are so raw, beautiful, and real.

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  14. Mel Heth Says:

    You're exactly right – life is too short. Food deprivation is ridiculous. And besides, you looked fantastic in that post where you were trying on the white pants.

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  15. Jessica Says:

    I have struggled with my body image for my entire life. Legs not long enough, skin not smooth enough, ass too big, not enough space between my upper thighs and the list goes on . I am now a mother of 4 year old and I have never felt prettier in my entire life. I have read of other women in my position and it reminds me that in a world where it seems the younger you are the MORE YOU MATTER, aging does have its benefits. It feels very good to say to myself "I am worth it. I am a good person" I am 42 and it's only in the last year or so I could say or think anything of that nature. Thanks for the post

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  16. Bee Says:

    I remember the first time I read your blog and the quote
    "Fat passing for thin" jumped out at me. You had me right then and there as a loyal and devoted reader. You incapsulated my own struggles with weight. As Bridget Jones
    said " I will always be, just a little bit fat" but I have come to love the fact that I have hips and boobs and a bottom.
    Would I love to be the 114 of my twenties. Hell to the Yeah.
    But would I sacrifice the pleasure Of a few glasses of wine
    or a plate of smothered chicken. NOPE! It doesn't help that my
    career and my simple passion is cuisine. I would rather have a
    a nice size black truffle to experiment with then a haute coutue dress- size 2. Anthropolgie does me just fine these days. I didn't always feel ths way, but my thirties brought me
    a great love- Pasta.
    As always, love your post.

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  17. Donna Says:

    Totally agree with your point, it's all about balance and the more we learn about nutrution, the less extreme dieting makes sense. Starving your body only makes it go into "stress" mode, causing it to then store every extra bit for the future.

    However, I have recently started working with a nutritionist who showed me a healthy, balanced way to both lose weight and improve my overall health. It's all about eating real, unprocessed food, and flooding your body with the beneficial nutrients and vitamis it may be lacking. It's a very scientific and customized approach, based on blood work and other simple tests. I feel a hundred times better (more energized) and giving up the foods I did have to give up is actually a lot easier than I expected. The tradeoff in terms of quality of life is so worth it! (and I am a total foodie, eat for comfort, etc)

    Just wanted to share a different perspective; it is possible to be healthy and not feel starved! And to achieve longer-terms results than you would with weight watchers, atkins, etc.

    Good luck with everything you have going, you looks great in pictures, and I look forward to seeing you in person at the LA event!

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  18. bestmansgrl Says:

    Amazing post! I'm am with you 100%; I was a size 3 for like, 15 minutes of my life and hated every stressful, loathing, self-hating moment of it.

    Now, at 37, I am a size 12. I think I would be happiest at a size 8-10, but the truth is I have autoimmune hypothyroidism and my body is extremely efficient with every calorie taken in or burned. I'm very active and eat healthy, but I know my body has its limits and it's just not worth it to me to be so damn unhappy at a size 5.

    Instead, I am grateful for every day I am healthy and able to do the things I love. I am strong and happy and wouldn't want to go back to those dark days ever again.

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  19. kat Says:

    from one Kathy to another-I also thought I'd lose weight once I started chemo from BC-and in fact, I gained 25 pounds instead-the steroids and cravings I had-plus the fatigue-made me the heaviest I've ever been in my whole life. So now I see myself fat and part bald (hair's in the process of growing back)and the farthest thing from pretty or sexy I can be. And no one can tell me different. So yeah, I'm a bit of a mental case right now, it's been a big pill to swallow for sure. I know once I'm able to, I'll be exercising again which I love, but until then, I'm still just trying to grasp the concept of get over myself and be happy I get to live.

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  20. me Says:

    This sounds like justification of an unhealthy lifestyle. You don't need to obsessively count carbs and have grilled chicken every night, but from the menus you post and the food you describe, it doesn't sound like you're eating well. Sugar has no nutritional value, yet you seem to have quite a bit of it in your diet. Also, you don't work out, which is quite unhealthy. It's nice that you are comfortable with how you look, but there are more benefits from a healthy, balanced lifestyle than just being skinny. Think about your kids. Don't they deserve a mother who's going to be around a long time?

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  21. nh Says:

    Well said.

    I also cringed at the "extreme dieting" comment from yesterday and would agree with "other K"'s assessment of how you looked then and now. I am so glad to hear that you have embraced a healthy approach to eating, especially as you have a daughter to raise. I suppose I don't have to tell you that daughters ape their mother's attitudes towards food. Ahem.

    I would much rather be the girl who is enthusiastic about food (especially if it is fresh baguette, good cheese, wine and charcuterie) than any one else. Now, back to my 71% dark swiss chocolate…

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  22. Lori Says:

    Ditto. I love delicious food. In moderation of course. When I was at my thinnest I was eating Dexatrim, xanax, and darvocet instead of real food. My on again off again bf had utterly broken my heart and while I may have looked damn good. Like you, I felt far from it. One day my heart started feeling funny and I decided to quit the diet pills and other meds. I'm a happier person with these sexy womanly curves. So much happier now.

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  23. Amy Says:

    Re: "me's" comment: I totally agree. I happen to think that SK looks great in her "skinny" pics, and I cant imagine that is not achievable through healthier means, including exercise. There is no reason to feel that a life without shortening and other crap is a lesser one, it may just be less fun at times. There is no reason to shun the rigors of healthy eating and exercise in order to feel fulfilled. Especially since you have a propensity towards obesity.

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  24. Jen Says:

    Although I admire your attitude, and your desire to live healthy rather than thin, one can't help but notice while flipping through those photos that many of your comments include your weight and what you happened to be eating at the time. It's slightly sad that you look back at those photos, and what comes to your mind to comment on is your weight in them, not the memory of who you were with, what you were doing, thinking, etc. So I see a sort of falseness in your carefree "this is how I am, I won't change how i look" attitute when contrasted with how hyper-focused you are on your weight in every photo.

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  25. Jane Says:

    That's so good to hear! You are happy in life, happy with your body, enjoying tasty food & setting a good example for the beans. You look great (and happy) in your latest photos so you don't need to fret about weight. If I didn't have a high cholestrol problem, I would be eating more treats than I do now. You know, we are coming into ice-cream season!

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  26. 3 teens' mom Says:

    Weight. Fat. Diets. Body image. Exercise. Self control. Self deprivation.

    Every word above is a button to push on millions of women. Why, oh why, do we allow it?

    I come from a fat family – and it's everything I can do not to weigh a million pounds. I am disciplined but not ridiculous. I exercise, but not maniacally. I watch calories, but don't obsess.

    But still – the sense euphoria when I see that scale down just one pound and the despair when it creeps up, are real. Why am I not strong in this respect like I pride myself on being strong in most respects?

    You look beautiful and healthy – strong and confident. That's the perfect weight. Let us all strive to be content in our plump, thin, strong, weak, healthy and soon to be healthy bodies. A mantra. A badge of honor we can wear – I love myself.

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  27. Alyssa Says:

    Thanks for this post. I gained weight when my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer over the summer. Now, I'm preparing to get married soon (so that she will definitely be there). I'm working hard not to give in to the voice that tells me to go towards "extreme dieting" just to lose the weight before the wedding. I know that lots of people do the extreme pre-wedding diets, but I think I'll miss out on enjoying this time with my mother, family, and fiance if I get too intense about losing the weight. Your post was helpful in reminding me not to give into that mindset and to focus on enjoying myself and this special time in my life.

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  28. Paige Jennifer Says:

    Wait, someone really asked that question? I would have pinned her down and force fed her a hot fudge sundae.

    For a year or so I was diva thin. Like a Versace zero fit perfectly. That same zero wouldn't even get around my thigh these days. But as perfect as my cute little ass was, my head was a mess. My confidence and self worth was adorned with fabric that did nothing more than pretty up a crumbling girl. I'd rather be true to myself at a size 12 than a miserable beast at a size 2.

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  29. Megan Says:

    Bravo, Stephanie. In our weight/looks obsessed society it's nice to find people who are happy with themselves and not defined by the number on a scale or clothing tag. I am 5'5" and weigh 150 pounds, and while I would like to lose 20 pounds, I'm not going to do drive myself crazy thinking about which "extreme diet" I can embark on just so I can fit into a bathing suit by the time Shore season rolls around. I'm trying to eat better and exercise, and it will take some time. But at least I'm going about it the right way.

    I remember my freshman year of college when my suitmate Lisa had her jaw wired shut as a result of a car accident. She could only eat chicken broth and applesauce for 8 weeks, and she lost quite a bit of weight. Our sorority sisters took notice and starting eating that way, too. They squealed with delight as they watched their bodies shrink like Lisa's and it became their new favorite "diet". Sick, I tell ya.

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  30. Ellen Says:

    Stephanie–Thanks for this post. As as recovered anorexic/bulemic, I am hyper-aware of the awful socially constructed notions surrounding women, weight and happiness. Thanks for giving voice to the "someday" disease that haunts so many people in so many different forms. It is beautiful to hear that you, too, now feel extraordinary as you live your life with gusto. I am reminded of a fave Nigella Lawson quote: I live my life in moderation, with occassional excess.

    Bravo to you for using your writing as a carrier of such noble thoughts. Looking oh-so-forward to Moose.

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  31. Jennifer Farrell Says:

    I was flat-out anorexic for four years in high school and college. I looked great, but I was not a happy person. I was sickly and bitchy and generally unpleasant.

    Today, I'm a "big girl." I'm fit, but I'm big. I'm short and stocky and well, happier and healthier. But that anorexic girl is never too far away and that is what scares me the most. At what stressful, out of control point will I revert to being that girl because it made me feel powerful?

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  32. Lee Says:

    Thats great that you feel that way about your weight. Because it doesn't matter what you look like if you're not happy

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  33. Esther Says:

    I'd love to know if this post is a passing feeling or how you feel every day about your weight. I'd be shocked if it was the former, since just a few months ago you were bemoaning a double chin.

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  34. Cathy Bueti Says:

    Kat,

    I totally understand how you feel. And it just SUCKS! And you are right, it doesn't matter what anyone tells you…..you still feel how you feel. Only someone who has been there can truly know. I can tell you that you will start to feel better….it takes some time. Now that your hair is growing back , just like the spring flowers blooming you will be coming back to yourself. And recognizing yourself again. It took me about 6 months after my chemo was over to start getting back into the swing of things and feeling stronger and better.
    As far as getting over yourself………give yourself a break girl! You have every right to be pissed, angry….all that stuff. Although I am very grateful to have survived in the beginning I was just trying to make sense of it all which took me a while. And you will too……

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  35. Julie Says:

    I gotta tell you- that pic of you at 118 pounds looks no different than the pics you've posted recently with the new book. You look like the same weight, man.
    You look fantastic, 118 lbs or otherwise.

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  36. ubers Says:

    my mom missed many of the symptoms of her cancer (gastric) because she was losing weight. lots of stomach pain, gastric distress, but to her it meant that she could eat and not get fat. sigh. 6 years, 2/2/2. miss her.

    i have a friend going through a hard time now (divorce). she's the first of my friends to go through this, and i'm at a loss for what to say besides listen. another instance of mom being the perfect person to call and get advice. it's wierd to not have any older women in your life because they all got the C.

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  37. binaross Says:

    You look nearly the same in that old photo as you do in your recent ones, in my opinion. Except, you seem happier now. I remember thinking thinking how great your tush looked in those white pants pics, and maybe you thought the same thing because otherwise you wouldn't have posted them.

    Honestly, when I read that comment about "extreme dieting" I thought she was joking. Her very use of the word "extreme" says that she knows how abnormal that kind if dieting is.

    There's nothing unusual about knowing how much you weighed in a certain photo. A lot of us are like that. I have ones where I'm a bobble-headed 138 living in Los Angeles, to a porky 178 polaroid, taken on that street corner in SoHo. Both of them were wake-up calls to my eating habits.

    And anyone who tells you that you're not going to live long because you eat sugar can just suck on it. Plus, how do they know if you're exercising or not? Are they spying on you?

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  38. Suzanne Says:

    What a bitchy thing to say! (Suggesting you go to extremes to recapture a certain weight.) And the fact that the commenter knows you'd have to go to extremes to get there a) illustrates how uncomfortable you appear in that photo, and b) says a lot about the commenter herself (suggesting that anyone do anything "extreme," cyberspace-stranger or not, makes no sense to me).
    You look perfectly slender and healthy at your present weight, Stephanie. You (a person) would have to be a moron (or pretty sick) to not see that. And I think your attitude is amazing. I wish you could give the millions of women the world over who continue to slavishly try to reduce themselves to the new size-zero "ideal" a talking to. It's sick. I mean, where do we go from here? Sizes in negative numbers? In 10 years is it going to be "acceptable" only if a woman weighs 100 pounds or less? Oh wait, that's right now–at least in Hollywood.
    I'm with you and your readers who say life is too short. I've been seriously depressed and a size 4 with jutting hip bones and visible ribs as a result, but there's no way I'd want to go back there. I'd have to be in full crisis mode in order to maintain that kind of thinness, anyway. I did work to maintain it for a couple of years, but the over-exercise and under-nourishment simply weren't /aren't worth it. I may have more body fat now, but I'd argue that I'm a hell of a lot healthier than I was then. Waiting til 4 pm each day to eat is not healthy. Nor is calling two spoonfuls of yogurt and some lettuce "dinner." Or being woken at night by screeching hunger pains. Nothing about that is natural, wholesome, or the least bit alluring.
    I am now a size 8-10, and if "society" deems that fat, I say fuck 'em.
    You hear me, Eve?
    Sorry for the long comment.

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  39. erose Says:

    When I was in college, I got down to 103 pounds. I ate 200 calories a day and worked out for two hours each day at least six days per week (one hour cardio, one hour weight training). I was miserable in so many ways. I was also severely anemic. But, I was a perfect size 0 and I had my pick of any guy I wanted. I look back at pictures of those days, and it is actually kind of sad.

    Now I am happy, but I am overweight for my frame. I have definitely indulged too much. I have been trying to lose weight for my upcoming wedding, but it is a lot harder to do it the healthy way, and I refuse to take it to an extreme this time. Instead, I'm working with a nutritionist and a personal trainer, which have been a huge help.

    I have no clue why I felt the need to share all of that. I guess the point is the same as everyone else's. You are happy and healthy and far more beautiful now than you were when you were unhappy and unhealthy, yet thinner. And frankly, from what I have seen in pictures, you look fantastic. The suggestion that you should "extreme diet" to get back down to that weight is so wrong for so many reasons.

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  40. Torrie Says:

    This is a fantastic post.

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  41. the other K Says:

    I confess I haven't read beyond the first paragraph yet.

    It was hard not to notice the same blog comment yesterday, and it was somehow haunting, probably meant as a compliment or encouragement (hard to be sure but one would like to think so), but still unintentionally back handed, because between the lines it implied that you were prettier at 118 lbs than you are now. That is not true. And yet it seemed somehow like an "honest" assessment, because the implication was buried somewhere in that comment ("if someone says I looked great at 118 lbs, that must imply…" – and I've been there myself), and again, that's just not true.

    You look radiant and happy. In the skinny picture, you don't radiate; you're smiling, but you look small, and if small is how women are supposed to act and look, then okay, mission accomplished, but to me, that's really not a good thing. You said you weighed 118 lbs in that picture, and yet it's the kind of skinny that immediately made me think, Eating disorder? What's going on in that picture? It didn't seem like your "happy weight." As I said, you look small in the picture, and you've got a big spirit, which is what makes you you. Where was the spirit when you were small?

    I've been to the "121 lbs land" (a separate illness turned into a de facto ED), and my family started questioning me about my weight loss; for my frame, that's my "scary weight." In all honesty, though, there have never been as many men wanting to date me as there were at the time, and that still hurts. The sudden interest is a back-handed compliment not unlike a not-so-subtle encouragement to crash diet or whatever.

    But I would not starve myself to be small like that (again), no matter what. Looking a certain way didn't bring along love or acceptance, just lots of phone numbers that I'm never going to call again.

    What I'm trying to say by drawing this parallel is that your 118 is/was skinny, but it looks like scary skinny to me, just like I know my 121 lbs were. I wonder how you "got there." Maybe people can read about it in "Moose." (I got there by being sick and unhappy, the same way I once got to 144; the downside of 144 was no compliments or phone calls, but either way, I was lost – my weight was a kind of indicator of *how* lost, and actually still is. I've been gaining weight all spring long.) I'm going to go back and actually read your entry now. Just wanted to share my thoughts while they were fresh.

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  42. jackson Says:

    What happened to "normal" weight? I hate that people are assigned into these fat or skinny categories. Nobody is fat just because they are 15 lbs heavier than they are when they were skinny. Doesn't make any sense to me

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  43. Stephanie Says:

    Love the post!!

    And years of working in fashion have taught me that the best looking women are the ones who are comfortable in their own skin and happy!

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  44. misstraceynolan Says:

    I would like to go on record as saying that I think you look worlds better now than you did at 118 pounds. Thanks for this lovely post.

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  45. Andria Says:

    Very well put.
    While I am weight thin these days, I find that I am not necessarily body thin as well. The resulting body after giving birth to two children has resulted in a different look. Things have shifted, flesh stays loose no matter what. And, you know what? I don't care. I have two beautiful children looking up to me, and who think I am wonderful no matter what weight I am at.
    I would rather be a few pounds over, than angry at the world as the result of extreme dieting.

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  46. Carole Says:

    I don't think I've been on a scale in 20 years. I tend to be somewhat compulsive so it makes sense not to fixate on a number. If my clothes fit comfortably I'm happy. The practice works well for me. I'm small and my size hasn't changed in all that time. If waists get a little tight I cut out those bad carbs I know are the culprits & continue to eat healthy foods. In very short order things are back where they belong. An easy way of life.

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  47. Raphael Says:

    "Seeing how amazing you look at 118 pounds, what keeps you from going on an extreme diet to recapture that?"

    So someone actually said this to you? What an ass! This question implies that you are somehow a fatty now. Ridiculous!…….You are stunning!!!!!!

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  48. Lisa Says:

    I'm torn between Amy's comment and Jen's comment. While my skin prickles at the schoolmarmish tone of Amy's, I see an element of truth in Jen's.

    I don't know.. for me personally, eating whatever I want doesn't make me feel fulfilled; I feel fulfilled through experience, and food is part of the experience that fulfills me. I think that's the difference: the experience of FOOD isn't key, it's experience overall. When the doc says your weight and health are fine, that last fifteen pounds is just a matter of vanity. And if I have to choose between experience and vanity, experience wins every time.

    I find it interesting that Amy even differentiated between SK's pics by putting the word "skinny" in quotes, meaning (to me) that there really isn't that much difference between the two sets of pics. Stephanie certainly isn't fat, so why the big fuss to begin with? Amy thinks she looks great in her "skinny" pics, I think she looks great now. Matter of perception.

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  49. Andria Says:

    Oh my goodness Stephanie, I was just rolling at the Moose promo bathroom video! That was hilarious!!! "Do my boobs look straight?" LOVE IT!

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  50. Jodie Says:

    I think it's all a matter of perspective. "Model thin" type women usually look way too thin for comfort. I imagine if I were a guy having uncomfortable sex with them since their pelvis bones stick out. But on the other hand I've been plus sized for awhile. I grew up thin and people obsessed that I was too thin… so gaining weight improved my self image. For my health, I need to learn to love eating less and working out. I know that intellectually, but it never seems to happen. Too many other problems to deal with that one.

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  51. Stephanie Says:

    As another Stephanie who’s had her share of weight struggles, I totally agree: being happy is far, far better than being skinny. And who wants to be that woman who’s afraid of real food? Besides, you look so much prettier at a healthy, happy weight than at 118lbs.

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  52. Alicia Says:

    Amen, sister! It seems all my friends, neighbors, family are on a diet and all they can talk about is food and exercise. I think that its fine they want to loss weight but I want to talk about something real, somethig meaningful. I have also been super thin and was depressed at the time. Being healthy is my goal. I get so fustrated with the media projecting the “perfect” image on us. Come on girls lets not focus so much on our bodies and maybe it will catch on, eventually! Also, as a mom I just have one question, how am I suppose to cook all this yummy food for my family and not eat any of it? What would that be teaching my daughters?

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  53. Edison Shelhamer Says:

    Can’t help wanting to check it out. I usually just pick up a few useful pieces of knowledge from any of the hot new diets.

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  54. ally Says:

    You have echoed so much of my life its scary. When happy, I love cooking, enjoying food and wine, with people who love me. Unfortunately due to a painful ongoing breakup I’m in the can’t eat, don’t want to feel mindset. When everything else is screwed up, I’ve always found controlling my weight to be so easy. You were able to verbalize here, what has been my relationship with food. Thank you, for putting words to what is often indescribable.

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  55. Anne from Germany Says:

    Wow : )
    I am so proud of women like you who accept and love themselves, just feel good about themselves even including their weight. Hopefully there will be a lot more happy women around knowing how to enjoy life. Women who aren’t afraid of real food and real life. I love that.
    Thanks for your post!

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  56. Jodie Kash Says:

    Best compliment I ever got…

    “I love how comfortable you are with yourself.”

    I was size 14 and naked at the time. And getting laid.

    Still am, and often.

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  57. Andrea Says:

    I like the part about how absurd it is to have to count every calorie and the only way you can really be safe is if you sit at home measuring the exact amount of olive oil, etc. I want to enjoy my life. There’s gotta be some dude who will be into that.

    I love the commenter above – “I was a size 14 and naked at the time. And getting laid.” Awesome.

    Reply

  58. Marianna Says:

    I LOVE this post. Couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thanks, Stephanie!

    Reply

  59. Sarah Says:

    It’s too bad there is only a “Like” button. I “LOVE!” this!

    Reply

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