‘WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR, I DON’T SEE A FAT PERSON’

Charmaine Jennings’ weight loss journey didn’t start because of a lack of confidence

GUEST WRITER INFO

Charmaine Jennings is the owner of Strategic Charm Boutique, a boutique marketing and public relations agency in Winnipeg. She also created Hustle & Charm Community, a group for female entrepreneurs and bloggers to gather, learn and grow together.

She’s an entrepreneur, marketing and copywriting whiz and all around boss bitch.

I ran into someone I went to elementary school with the other day. As soon as she recognized me I knew what must’ve been going through her mind, “Wow. Charmaine’s still fat!”

Now let me be crystal clear, I NEVER call myself fat. Not out loud, not in my head – never. I mean do you know what fat is? It’s yellow globs of gloop (that’s the scientific definition) and I can assure you, I do NOT look like yellow globs of goop. In fact, I’m quite adorable if you ask me. But I’m not ignorant to the fact fat is a word many people use to describe people who are overweight.

Anyway.

I’ve been overweight my entire life. Even when I was just a little kid and it shouldn’t have been that big a deal. Looking back now at pictures of me when I was 8, I wished being 15 pounds heavier than the other kids was something I didn’t notice. Was something no one noticed. 

Charmaine at age 6 or 7.

 

I always had a lot of friends, but there was always someone who had to comment on my weight. Although I was only called fat a few times before I hit puberty, I can’t pretend it didn’t make me sad when I heard it.

Once I hit grade 5 or 6, I started to hear it more frequently. Mostly from grungy boys, but from some of the older girls too. But you bet your booty I’ve always been able to hold my own. Sure I would get sad and upset when kids teased me, but I wasn’t the girl to bite her tongue and go home crying. I mean crying came at some point, but it wasn’t my default reaction. I dished out what I had taken, and kept reminding myself that I was cute, generally a good person (I had my bad girl moments, okay!), smart, and ambitious. And funny. Yes, I was funny as a kid too.

In about grade 7 or 8 I started to notice a bit of a pattern between the people who would call me fat or allude to the fact that I’m eating once again.

“Gotta eat to live gotta live to eat, tell you all about it when I’ve got the tiiiiiiiiime” (name that Disney movie!)

Angry Aladdin GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

By this time the older girls had moved onto high school, so it was mostly those grungy boys in my grade who kept yapping. The pattern I noticed was that these were boys who weren’t happy. Boys who had a hard time with their school work, and who would have a hard time making it to high school graduation. It’s hard to put into words, but I decided that if calling me fat was the only thing that was going to put a smile on their face that day, then so be it. Plus, I was going to spend the summer after grade 8 getting nice and skinny before high school, so who cared what they had to say now?

Grade 9 rolled around and I still wasn’t skinny. I was close to 200 pounds if my memory serves me correctly. Although I was fairly confident in middle school, I was nervous about what might be in store for me with high school kids. I was scared I might get teased more than I was before, and that someone might dump pig’s blood on me at the dance.

I watched a lot of high school horror movies growing up, okay?!

I won’t bore you with all the details of my high school experience grade by grade, but overall I had a blast! Tons of friends, new positive experiences, and I was a total joiner so I had my hand in almost everything. Band, drama, student council, yearbook committee – you name it, I was in it. And you might not know this about me, but booty shaking is one of my not so hidden talents. This talent obviously stemmed from my love of dancing. So what was one of the groups I immediately signed up for? Cheerleading!

Again, I was all about high school movies so being a cheerleader on the field at the big game was totes one of my life goals. And I did it! Sure I was nervous because cheerleaders in the movies were always thin, but thin or not, I was getting myself on the squad. And just like grade 5, the older cheerleaders looked at me with judgment. Like, how dare I think I belong on the squad? But I wasn’t going anywhere so they were just going to have to deal. I defied the odds, but not the laws of gravity so obviously, I wasn’t tossed up in the air or anything. But it felt good to be part of the team.

As far as I can remember, there were only two older boys who teased me consistently throughout high school about my weight. One of them even threw a shoe at my one day as I was walking through the halls, and you know what I did? I picked it up and threw it in the toilet. Boy, bye!

When I dished out what was thrown at me (literally!) some people didn’t know how to react since they expected me to crawl in a hole and hide in shame. Some left me alone after they realized they couldn’t shake me the way they wanted to. Others persisted but with hesitation; they waited to see if others would join in or not before making a move. A select few continued until they dropped out of school – their coping mechanism for dealing with their own anger and emotions.

Every summer in high school was the summer I was going to lose a bunch of weight and be thin and greatly desired by all of the popular fellas. But nah. All I did was gain weight year after year as if someone had put an obesity curse on me. Ugh!

My beautiful picture
Charmaine at age 18.

Once I hit my graduating year, I decided this would FINALLY be my chance to shed all the pounds and get it right and tight for university. Guess how that turned out?

Now here I am, 30 years old, still thinking this is going to be the year where I shock the universe and lose 100 pounds.

As you can see, I’ve been on a weight-loss journey my whole life. Last August I decided to make that journey very public by documenting my progress or lack thereof on the gram, using the hashtag #journeyto200 to categorize all of my posts about health and weight-loss on my way to 200lbs. For my first post of my public journey, I shared a video discussing what this journey was all about, and included a picture of me on the scale, weighing in at 327.4lbs. This is the first time I’ve ever disclosed my weight to anyone, and I decided to share it with the Internet. I paced back and forth in my apartment right after posting it, thinking I should take it down. But then I got immediate positive responses to the post, so I figured what the heck – it’s out there now for the world the see. Let the journey begin.

It’s 9 months later and I’m sitting at 315lbs. I haven’t even dipped my toes into the 200s yet. Ugh!

I’m frustrated by a number of things:

  1. I went from 312 to 279lbs in less than a year when I was living in Alberta, so I know I can do this
  2. Pastries are my weakness and I hate that I let them consume me
  3. My confidence about my body is part of my problem

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a fat person. I see a woman with curves, a juicy booty, muscles, and cheekbones that make my smile cute. I never shy away from wearing a bikini to the beach or a short skirt to go dancing. I don’t go out of my way to cover my arms because they’re almost as big as my thighs. I truly and deeply love my body. And as grateful as I am for the confidence I carry, I can’t help but notice that that very confidence sometimes holds me back from becoming a healthier version of myself.

IMG_1723
Charmaine at age 27.

I’m not waiting until I lose 150 pounds to finally wear that two-piece I’ve been dreaming of or those short shorts that show a little extra cheek. I’m already there and I’m enjoying every minute of it. And I know a dramatic weight-loss isn’t all about how I look and what I wear – it’s about living a longer and healthier life. 

There are times where I want to stop documenting this journey because who the hell cares that I’m averaging a loss of 1.3lbs per month. What I remind myself is that I’m doing this for me — but I’m also doing it to inspire others who are struggling to get their voluptuous booties over the same hurdles. And hey, the feeling of knowing there are other people on a similar journey who can feel even the teeniest inspiration from my story, might be just the motivation I’ve been looking for all these years.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR CHARMAINE AND HER JOURNEY TO 200

Guess you’ll have to follow her on Insta and keep up with her blog to find out!

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✨A N N O U N C E M E N T 🙌🏼 Are you interested in learning more about the Body Positive Movement? Do you find yourself wanting to get more involved but don't know where to begin?! If so, we’ve got just the event for you! It’s the BoPo Panel, a podcast event created by 8 other like minded people who all feel so passionately about the BoPo Movement! We're all on a mission and have one common goal: to expand education on the topic of body positivity and reach a broader audience of diverse individuals in our community, to open up a dialogue about each complex topic under the umbrella of body positivity.🤗❤️ Each time we meet, we will discuss topics such as Diet Culture, Weight Stigma, Eating Disorders, Perfectionism, Language Around Food and Bodies, Media Literacy, the Beauty Industry and so much more! We’ll also be bringing in guests when we meet who are experts/who’s voice will be crucial on the topic!! 🎙 There will also be time for a Q&A period after the one-hour podcast, where you will hear from all 8 of us and our individual thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the subjects. The first event will take place August 29th at 7PM, at @fhcoffee_ Tickets are $10 💕 And the best part??? Proceeds from this event are going to the Women's Health Clinic (@whcwpg), to support those struggling with eating disorder and other body image issues!!!🙏🏻 You can find more information on how to purchase your tickets from the link in our bios! SIGN UP MY LOVES!!❤️❤️❤️ 👊🏻👊🏼👊🏽👊🏾👊🏿 BoPo Panelists: – @tillieandtrue – @mybodywpg – @_risingstrong – @strategiccharmboutique @hustleandcharmcommunity – @jenihaileyyoga – @nakedskincareapothecary – @blondesovereign – @caseylanxon

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