Archive for appreciation

Gabourney Sidibe is Important


Gabourey Sidibe (GABB-UH-RAY SIDD-UH-BAY) is living everybody’s dream life sans the typical “dream body.” She’s beautiful and fabulous, and in her interviews she seems like a really cool person. (a.k.a. please be our friend, Gabby.)

Gabourey Sidibe got her first acting job with absolutely zero experience. At age 26 she went to a huge open audition at age and was given the lead role in Precious, which would later earn her almost universal accolades for her acting ability, along with an Oscar nomination for best actress.  In other words, she’s living the exact daydream we all had in middle school.

She is one of the few plus-sized actresses really in the game right now, and she’s using that exposure to encourage confidence in young girls. As as she said in her speech at the 2014 Gloria Awards, “It’s my good time, and my good life, despite what you think of me. I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame. I show up because I’m an asshole, and I want to have a good time.”

Gabby has dealt with more than her fair share of bullies and internet jerks, and she’s handled it with grace and aplomb. All you need to know is that, after numerous magazines and fans criticized her appearance at the 2014 Golden Globes, she made this tweet: “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK


Puberty is a Rip-Off
In which I fish for compliments and ponder the struggles of being short.

So here’s a question for you…

At what age, exactly, did you first realize that you weren’t going to be beautiful?

Like, maybe you were okay looking, but when did you realize that you were never gonna be heart-stoppingly life-destroyingly gorgeous?

For me, it was a very specific moment. I was at the orthodontist in eighth grade, and he was looking at an x-ray of my hand to determine how much longer it would be until I could get jaw surgery.

“Well, you see,” he said to my mother, “there’s no real space left between the bones of her hand, so she’s pretty much done growing.”

And that was the moment when I realized that this was where I peaked.

See, I’m a pretty short person, and I don’t mean the tiny, fae-like sort of short. I’m more like the…stubby, hobbit kind of short. I’ve been short since day one. I was a short baby probably. I started out short, and whenever I grew, the other kids grew proportionately, so it’s just been a lifetime of shortness.

This has only been exacerbated by my twin brother, who is a giant. He has always been a giant. He is, currently, over a foot taller than me. They literally thought he was going to eat me in the womb. It’s probably the biggest injustice of my life.

And the real issue is that, when you’re a short kid and your behemoth of a brother is making fun of your shortness, adults always say the same thing: “She’ll grow.”

They talk about how they were short as a kid, or they throw around fancy words like “growth spurt” and “growing pains,” and it all adds up to that fact that I entered into puberty with certain expectations. There I was—little fifth grade worm Rachel—waiting to enter a pubescent chrysalis stage and bust out of it as sexy grown-up butterfly Rachel.

Now, I knew that there would be a given amount of acne, and I understood the whole business with a period, but those were all pitched to me as being mere steps in the process to becoming Adult! Rachel.

So in my imagination, puberty was a lot more transformative than it actually turned out to be. It would straighten my nose, fluff my boobs, plump my lips, and make me taller. And by the end I would be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, because that’s what adulthood is, right?

Now imagine all of those expectations, all of those hopes and dreams, and they’re all smushed by some orthodontist telling you that your height had peaked at five-foot-two.

Okay, five foot one.

People act as if puberty is very cut and dry, start to finish. There’s kid you, there’s teenage you, and there’s adult you. So I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the shock of a lifetime when I realized one day that, hey, adult me is already here, and she still has acne!

I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the disappointing thought that this is as good as it gets.

Please don’t misunderstand. I get by. I have no real issues with how I look. I actually think I’m pretty goshdarn cute. It’s just that I was all set to become a ten, and instead I settled into, like, a six and a half (in the right light). You know, all right, but nothing really special.

And that could have been the sad end to my puberty tale except that there’s a little secret nobody tells you in middle school—

It’s hard work to be pretty.

Being pretty takes time and determination and make-up and spanx. It requires a whole lot of effort. Pretty girls don’t just wake up that way. Well, okay, maybe some lucky jerks do, but most people don’t just wake up one day and find out they’ve become gorgeous (barring plastic surgery). Pretty is something you have to cultivate. Famous people and super models look that way partially because of fortunate genetics, but also because someone is paid a lot of money to spend two hours putting make-up on them.

And the thing is, you can approach this in a few ways:

  1. You can say, “screw it. Screw everything. Screw Tyra Banks and her stupid tv show.”
  2. You can say, “I have control over how I look, and I am able to make myself prettier if I want to.”
  3. Or you can embrace a cautious mix of numbers 1 and 2.

Now, I’m never gonna be on America’s Next Top Model. (Their minimum height requirement is 5’7, the fascists.) But I also sure as hell don’t look the same as I did at age thirteen. Even if I haven’t grown in height, I’ve learned about make-up, I’ve figured out how to dress myself better (thirteen-year-old Rachel really liked cargo pants) and I’ve taken plenty of bombin’ selfies. Turns out it is possible to take the bum deal that puberty gave you and make your own gorgeous out of it. And whether that means t-shirts and yoga pants or sundresses and sandals, we’re allowed to change ourselves into any version we like.

And, just a heads up, at six-foot-three my brother is well within the requirements of America’s Next Top Model, so that’s something for him to start working towards.


Rachel Sudbeck


Friendship is magic: reflecting on the semester

My favorite movie right now is Frances Ha, a film about a 28-year-old woman who has a little trouble growing up and finding someone she truly loves. The movie could very easily be turned into a movie all about a landing a guy, but instead it’s about friendship and taking your time to develop into the woman you dream of being.


Frances and Sophie from Frances Ha


I bring this movie up because when I think of what I have learned this semester as the intern for I Will Not Diet, it’s that friends are so important. It’s easy to pretend that I love myself all by myself, but that’s not the truth. The truth is we all have good and bad days, and there is something that keeps a lot of us going even on the bad days.

Some of the people I have talked with while working on The Real You Project have told me stories about how they grew to love themselves. Many of the stories and advice they give reinforce the importance of friendship.

Regardless of the importance of having a positive body-image, I have been not so nice to my own self-esteem lately. It is easy to tell others how beautiful they are and be completely honest about it. It’s not so easy to tell yourself that. That is where I am in life. I can say a hundred mirror mantras, wear the cutest clothes, and take a million selfies but something is still missing. Part of it is loneliness and that goes hand in hand with the fear of never finding someone who loves curvy bodies as much as I want to love my own. Part of it is isolation as well as separating myself from the people and things that make me feel pretty and happy.

me and hil

Leah and her friend Hilary


After being down for a while I just got out of the apartment. I went to a few parties. I talked with wonderful people.

It was like magic.

I still am not in the best mood about how I look, but the change that took place was drastic. For the first time in my life I was having conversations with people I barely knew, and I was smiling authentically.

The medicine that got me to that point was friendship.

It sounds clichéd, but at the end of the day returning home to an empty house with mirrors everywhere and nobody to talk to can get exhausting. Whenever there is someone there who is willing to watch silly horror movies on Netflix and eat cheese-sticks and fried mushrooms, it can turn a bad day into something great.

I have learned that sometimes a good friend is the best antidote to a low self-esteem, and a best friend is the only thing that can boost a Monday.

—By Leah Railey


In honor of Christmas, give yourself a little gift and then give me one too (one that costs nothing)

Today is Christmas, and that means a time of giving for many of us. In honor of the Christmas tradition of giving, I’d like to ask you to give one gift to yourself and then give one gift to me.

1) First the gift for you—it’s just one little thing. (Okay, it’s a big thing, but it only takes a tiny little effort and a strong will.) I’d like you to look in the mirror and appreciate something—at least one thing if not more—about the way you look. Go on. You can do it. I’ll wait here until you come back.

2) And after you’re finished with that, I’d also like you to give me one thing for Christmas—I want a photo of you. A photo of you in which you think you look good but also look real. And by real I mean not photoshopped and not overly made up. Just the real you—”warts” and all. I need these photos for my New Year’s blog post, and you can email them to me at molly at iwillnotdiet dot com with the words “Happy New Year” in the subject line. You can learn more about what I’m going to do with these photos in my post called “The Real You Project.”

Thanks in advance for your gift, and have a wonderful holiday season!


The glass should always be half-full

One year ago today, I gave up making New Year’s resolutions because I realized how unhappy they had made me over the years—and how unattainable some of my resolutions were. The truth is that resolutions make us focus on what we don’t like about ourselves when we should be focusing on what we DO like.

In that vein, here are my 2011 non-resolutions (in other words, the things I appreciate about myself this year). . .

1) I’m proud that, despite a hellish work schedule, I exercised at least five times a week this year.

2) I’m glad that my weight hasn’t gone up but instead has stayed basically the same. (In case you don’t know, I weigh 196 glorious pounds.)

3) I’m relieved that I did not have any major injuries or physical setbacks this year.

4) I’m happy that I have a closet full of clothes that make me feel good about the way I look right now.

5) And finally I’m thrilled that I still feel attractive even though I weigh more than most people think an attractive person should weigh.

That’s it for me—what about all of you?

What are your non-resolutions??? I challenge you to make at least one.

My new year’s resolution: no more resolutions









New Year’s Eve Ball, 1978, New York Times

190 pounds

It’s New Year’s Eve, and the world is alive with enthusiastic revelers and booming fireworks. I love New Year’s Eve because of the energy and the hope it brings.

But one of the things I don’t like about bringing in the new year is all the focus on resolutions and losing weight. It’s almost impossible to think about new year’s resolutions without thinking about how happy or unhappy we are with our bodies, and I feel like at this time of year, we focus more on our flaws—specifically what we want to improve—rather than our assets, and honestly, that breaks my heart.

For years, I have made numerous resolutions about my weight and my body. I even made resolutions on my birthday some years.

When I was looking through some old memorabilia recently, I found a list of resolutions from my 25th birthday, one of which was my resolution to get to 140 pounds.

140 pounds!!

What kind of crack was I smoking?!

I weighed 150 at the time and really hadn’t weighed less than that since high school, so why did I think I had any chance of getting below that number? And, more importantly, why on Earth wasn’t I happy at 150 pounds?!!!!

That’s 40 whole pounds less than I weigh now. I can’t even imagine weighing 150 pounds now. Nor can I imagine what I would do to weigh that little. I’d probably sell my soul to the devil to have my old body back. So why oh why couldn’t I appreciate it when I had it?

I think the answer is simple: because we live in a society that teaches us that we always have to be thinner or better or smarter or happier. It’s never enough to be just who we are now. I’m not saying I’m opposed to self-improvement, but I don’t think it can be achieved until self-appreciation is also achieved, which is almost impossible if we’re always focusing on what’s wrong with us and resolving to change.

So rather than make a list of resolutions I won’t keep and that will make me feel bad for weeks to come, I’m going to resolve this year not to make any more resolutions. To be happy with what I have and what I am. Right here and right now.

I hope that all of you can do the same, and I wish you all a very happy new year—see you on the other side!

Life on the disabled list

192 pounds

As I said in my last post, I had surgery this past Saturday, and I’ve been laid up since then recovering. I haven’t done much of anything this week but sleep and try to avoid taking more pain pills, and the result is that I find myself feeling pretty lethargic and . . . wait for it . . .
. . . completely jonesing for a few good minutes of exercise.
Except for the eighteen-month hiatus from June 2007-February 2008 that led to my recent weight gain, I’ve been committed to exercising almost every day for coming up on eleven years now. Sometimes that means twenty minutes after work and sometimes that means three hours on weekends, but mostly I come it at around a sixty-minute workout each day. That is, until my surgery on Saturday.
I’m not going to lie . . . there are many, many, many, many days when I don’t want to exercise at all. I want to sit my butt down on the sofa and watch re-runs of Glee or Mad Men until I dream about chain-smoking adulterers doing song and dance routines in my sleep. In fact, sometimes I have to practically force myself to put on my running shoes and jog bra, and when things get really bad, my normally mellow husband has to give me a falsely cheery pep talk and reminder about our life goals.
It’s not that I don’t like to exercise. I always love the endorphins that kick in afterwards and make me feel as giddy as a teenager who’s just engaged in a heavy, sweaty, after-school makeout session, but sometimes it’s just had to motivate, you know?
But over the past two or three days I have been thinking about how much I love it while I am exercising too. I love it because of the physical rush but also because of the mental one: because I feel more confident and fulfilled both during and after the workout.
So while I’ve been sitting on the sofa this week and watching re-runs of Glee day-in and day-out with my mom—who’s here to help me recover (Thanks, Mom!)—I find myself longing to exercise as much as I normal long for a big, fat cheeseburger. And I promise that once I’m well enough to exercise again—hopefully next week or the week after that at the latest—I will fully appreciate how lucky I am to be able to do it.
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