There are no full-length mirrors in my home. The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, it's so small that there really is no place for one and I have a tendency to break mirrors or something happens beyond my control that shatters them (one once fell off my bathroom wall at my feet). Second, I have not wanted to look at my body for a very long time.
Not having a full-length mirror is both a good and bad thing. I'm sure that on the way up to 380 lbs., I might have been more aware of bodily changes if I had been looking at myself everyday. Maybe willfully ignoring your body is something fat people do so they don't have to face their self-loathing on a daily basis. Not torturing myself like that was probably a good thing. Now, I can't easily reassure myself that things are changing except by external environmental and lifestyle factors, like fitting in a chair with arms or being able to stand up more easily. Perhaps a full-length mirror would be a good thing now. Perhaps not...
Sometimes I leave my home feeling pretty good about myself, or at the very least not feeling bad about anything. I may have noticed some small change in my thinking or in my body and have my progress in mind or I may simply be in that brief, blissful state of not thinking about my weight or body at all. When you've been fat all of your life, you spend most of your time in front of other people thinking about your body because others are going to remind you of it. It's part of the way you develop your fat anger, fat PTS and defensive nature. Every time you walk out the door, it's into the war zone.
These days, it's possible for me to "forget" for brief periods of time that others define me by my body. That's when I walk out the door in a state of peace. Sometimes, I'll even walk for an entire half hour without someone drawing attention to my body. Even when others aren't there to bring me down, there are sometimes those reflective surfaces. I walk by a window or a mirrored metallic surface and all of my peace is tossed aside. At the moment that I catch a glimpse of my 240-something-pound-body, I'm no longer "me" as defined by my positive internal dialog, I'm once again this horrible fat person who still looks awful after losing the weight of an entire person.
One thing which I have realized as of late and that I'm going to start actively working on changing is that my body is not my identity. I think it is because all of my life people have focused excessively on it and judged me by it. They think they know everything about me and can define me with a glance. One of my husband's male friends when he first met me gave me a quick, vaguely-disgusted once-over and then pretended I didn't exist. He didn't even speak to me after that because my body was all he needed to "know" me.
There are two sides to this consideration of identity. The first is that I need to stop looking in reflective surfaces and feeling bad about myself when I otherwise felt good or at least neutral. "Fat" isn't an identity, no matter how hard the greater world would like to believe it is. Alternately, and this is perhaps of greater importance, "thin" also is not an identity. When I reach a state of no longer being overweight, I will not be defined by my body and I need to make certain that I don't attach value to a smaller body simply because people have been telling me all of my life that I lack value because I have a bigger body.
I have been thinking lately about people who have lost weight and continue to ruminate on their diet, exercise, and form. I have also been thinking about how they continue to write and talk about their BMIs, calorie counts, and exercise habits and how they wish to "inspire". While I am happy for people to be who they want to be and to achieve their goals, I'm not "inspired" by their continued focus on their bodies. I realize that for them "thin" is an identity, just as "fat" was an identity. They are the same people in different bodies, but their definition of self remains strongly tethered to their physicality. They have moved away from one bodily and food fixation to another.
For me, this type of body-based-identification is simply not my goal, so I cannot be inspired by the continued efforts of the super-fit out there. I don't want to be defined by my body anymore. I want to escape that place, not find another corner of that same room to live in. Essentially, moving from a socially condemned body status to a socially sanctioned one is what I see many people doing. Certainly, escaping the punishing state I find myself in as a fat woman is part of my goal, but no part of it is finding approval or praise from the same sources that have been abusing me for so long.
The thing is that people who have never been fat and have unremarkable and average-looking bodies in no way attach their identity to their form. They don't think of their average-looking body as defining themselves the same way that they don't look at their food choices as defining themselves. Their body isn't a factor in their self-image or the perceptions of others. They are who they are and their body is just a container. This is what I want to be at the end. I want to be me, not my body.