I feel like a fraud when I post my drawings of beautiful fat women, because I don’t feel that way about myself. I have hinted about those feelings in my artist statement when writing about seeing behind the surface, the difference between what the world sees and what is hidden inside, etc… but I haven’t really spoken about it personally. I’m going to try to do that. This is my first step.
I haven’t been honest. I draw naked fat women and give lip service to body positivity and fat acceptance, but I don’t feel it. And I’ve never publicly shared my own story or thoughts around it.
I mean, I see beauty in other people’s fat bodies, but I haven’t internalized it. I don’t see it in my own. I don’t feel it. I try to project an air of confidence that I have never felt.
I do believe it’s fine to be fat or skinny or tall or short or black or white and male or female or anywhere in between any of those descriptors. But I have always wanted to be thinner.
I’ve tried every possible way of losing weight. Dieting, exercising, therapy, medication, hypnosis, surgery, the list goes on… I’ve been jealous of people with eating disorders different from mine. I mean, if you’re going to have an eating disorder, you might as well have one that makes you thin, right?
And I used to say, well, I’m fat, but at least I’m healthy. I have always had low blood pressure, low cholesterol, been fairly flexible and had no trouble getting around. But now my body is betraying me. I’m heavier than I have ever been in my life and I’m about to turn 50. My blood pressure is on the upper end of the normal range, but can get a bit high when I am anxious or have exerted myself. It never used to do that. My cholesterol is a tiny bit high. My vision is declining at a quicker rate than it has before – a terrifying thought for an artist!
But the worst offenders are my feet. They’ve been hurting for a couple of years now and I thought I had achilles tendonitis. Which I do. But I finally saw a doctor (or two) about them and had x-rays and discovered that I have arthritis, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and plantar AND achilles calcaneal spurs.
I’ve never been very physically active at all, but since my feet have been hurting so much, I’ve avoided even fairly short walks that used to be quite simple. Which also means that my heart and lungs are suffering. I get out of breath doing such simple things that it’s embarrassing to admit.
A small disclaimer: when someone posts something like this, people’s first inclination is to offer solutions. I’m not asking for medical or diet advice. Intellectually, I know all the things. I’m just asking myself to speak and be willing to be heard.
I’ve always been one to say, as soon as I get to this magical place, then that will happen. As soon as I lose weight, I’ll be happy. As soon as I get all of this work done, I’ll have time to make art. You get the idea. ‘As soon as’ either never comes or doesn’t change anything when it does. This is the body I’m in right now. This is where my life is with my design work and my art. I might as well try to work with what I’ve got instead of waiting for one day.
That goes especially with acceptance of my body and trying to learn — if not to love it— at least not to hate it and blame it for everything. It’s time for me to practice what my drawings preach.
I love you, My friend! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much Monica 🙂
I used to hate my body and tried every diet in the book. Well I finally lost 75 lbs. how? Chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiation. Breast cancer. Now the body I used to hate is painful all the time and my once proud breasts are mutilated and only one. I now try to do the keto diet because my cancer Dr said it will help me to feel better. Its hard to stick to it. Your drawings of fat ladies are truly beautiful and sensitive. Your blog is too.
You have topped the chart in cool by being bravely vulnerable. I want to be more like you. xo
Thanks! And wow, look at all that hair!
Hey, we had a good time together and your body delighted me.
I feel you, my friend.
I mean, I’m not LITERALLY feeling you. But, you know. I kinda, sorta, maybe relate an awful lot.
I didn’t mean for that to be a reply to Monica. It’s been way too long since I’ve commented on a BLOG!
I know! This is so old school. Going to go check out my MySpace now.
I get it on lots of levels. Losing sight is a bitch, but we keep trying to run faster, than the things chasing us. Hugs and ❤️ !
Thanks Bettie, back atcha!
Yes! Speak your truth. I’m here for you.
I am one who totally relates on every word you have written here including all of the medical diagnoses. My body and I are at odds with how I want to look and feel. I am 18 yrs. older than you and I still haven’t figured it out. Maybe you will. you….
Yeah.. …… it’s tough. I think it was Betty Davis who said, “Aging is not for sissies.” I gained a lot of weight with menopause and don’t like it. But, I’ve always felt that the most important gift is health and when that starts to go, it gets scary.
I read “The Coming of Age” by Simone de Beauvoir when I was in my early 20’s. I’ve been thinking about it and want to read it again now that I am in my 50’s:
From what I remember, the book starts out by talking about how some of her peers and artists before her (this is Paris in the 50’s I think, post WWII) address aging. Some are all about wisdom and insight while others rag on about their rotten, sagging, putrid flesh and how they can’t stand themselves. Then, she looks at cultures around the world and how the aged are treated. She finds a strong link between children and the elderly. Where children are loved, so are the old and where they are hidden and kicked around, so are the old. She ends with looking at senior citizen homes and an experiment that was happening in Paris at that time where the elderly could live in neighborhoods where walking had all the amenities you need. Of course, she found that those living in the city with all ages were happier and healthier.
This has nothing to do with weight, but it does have a lot to do with mortality and limitations. I think you would enjoy reading it, too. I know that for me, I realize that almost everything I do is sitting and mostly in front of a computer and that has to change. Easy to say, harder to do when bills need to get paid…. Big hug!
Thanks Rachel… I’ll check out the book!
You’re a brave girl. Woman. Thank you for this.
Bold and brave to allow yourself to be visible. It makes it easier for me too. As always, you inspire. This time through vulnerability. Thank you. May the wind be at your back for all you want to achieve.
Thanks Charlie… the admiration is totally mutual! 🙂
I have always been confident about a lot of things…but body image is a huge insecurity, that sometimes lends itself to other insecurities. Thanks for sharing and confirming that now is the time for self-acceptance…and when I can get motivated to lose weight, that will be a bonus. For now I am just me, doing whatever my ADD brain and mature body let me. Have a groovy day!
Thanks Linda, you too! 😀
You are brave and strong -this blog proves it – and you should hop on your bicycle. Truly.
Thank you, Cathy 🙂
I believe we all have things we like to change… and while you point out you’re not looking for answers… I have to offer one up…
Only because I believe that you can’t truly know how one feels until you walk in thier shoes.
I’m not a woman, I’m heavier than I should be… and I can’t walk.
The water makes you lighter, it doesn’t hurt your feet or joints… and even with out the use of my legs, I can get stretched out, feel the freedom from my body .
That said, I can’t “know” what your going through, except it doesn’t get any easier as we age what ever the “thing” is
So draw a bathing suit on one of your gorgeous drawings and give it a try yourself.
Try and find a saltwater pool its easier on the skin
Thanks for writing the blog, it touched me too.
Thanks Carl… swimming is the best! The only exercise I really enjoy. And thanks for sharing 🙂
I see you, and stand with you sister. Thank you for putting into words what I also feel.
Thanks Sarah 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story. I have always admired your work because it helps me to see that there is beauty in women of all sizes. Most of my life has been on the heavier side of the scales. I have used the same rationality about timing. I love your honesty and authenticity. Keep on!
Beautiful post, Nikki. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Thanks Brenda 🙂
I think most of us are guilty of not practicing what we preach. I think most of us struggle with insecurity of some aspect of our lives too. Good for you for having the courage to speak out – I enjoyed it and can relate very much!
That took some courage! Proud of you Nikki. Coming from a person that has had physical limitations since I was 19 I can tell you that it may be hard to get around and do stuff but it is all in your attitude. I know you have it. Things may be different but you will always have fun and good things will happen. Love you dood.
Thanks dood! Love you back. And you have always been my hero when it comes to bravery, attitude and doing stuff!
You are a truth and beauty magnet. Happy to have this time on the same path with you.
Thanks so much, John 🙂
Nikki, you had a disclaimer about your writing. I think you wrote very well. Authenticity pored out.
It takes courage, as you know, to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Kudos to you for your honesty. Hope your feet and you feel better soon. Hugs, Cherry
Thank you very much Cherry 🙂
Health probably has to be #1. Why is it so hard? Hugs to you for telling the truth. I was just looking into a mindfulness course for stress – sheesh! 😉 <3
Thanks so much, Alice!
You are not alone in your thoughts and have touched a chord that runs deep within me. Dieting has forever been a constant and intrusive companion throughout my entire life. And while, I too admire the curves of others, I cringe when I look at my own in the mirror and get depressed when I step on the scale. Despite the fact that I am relatively healthy at age 56, I know that I haven’t done all the things that I wanted to do because of fears about my body image.
Thank you for being so open and for letting me know that we are not alone. We are what we are….. (ps I’ve always been drawn to the freedom and beauty of your confident-curvy women. )
Thanks so much, Jill! Fear is a bitch, eh?
Love you girl
Brene Brown has given me so much to think about
Love you back, Barbara!
We all have issues that we hide, but I applaud your words and encourage you to embrace your beauty. I too need to move more and eat/drink less – thank you for continuing to be an inspiration Nikki!
Thanks PJ 🙂
Love love love!!! Keep on keeping on chickadee! We can do this!
thanks for your bravery. I love your work, I can feel it.
Have you tried sketching your feet? I’ve done that at times, loving realistic images to crazy exaggerated monsterized versions….then I try to chose to love it all (cuz really, what choice do I have)
Live in joy
Thanks so much, Deb. Can’t say that I have tried drawing my own feet. I’m still hardcore in the hating them and denial phase.
You are a beautiful and confident person that I admire greatly, and always have. This post is something that i have enjoyed and can relate to personally also. Thanks for being vulnerable and for being you Nikki!
Thanks Erin 🙂
I feel stuck in “as soon as” and my body is doing things I never gave it permission to do. Thank you for your brave post. Your blog post is going to help me face some reality that I’ve been running from. xxxooo
Thanks Deb 🙂
I applaud you for speaking your truth, Nikki. What you wrote is very courageous. I have always loved your art. I don’t think you are being a fraud for portraying beautiful fat women when you can’t quite embrace your own message . I think of it this way- your art depicts where you are going, a journey to your most perfect self.
Thanks so much, Nancy.
Thank you for this Nikki, you’ve taken a leap into the unknown by baring yourself. It’s a courageous thing to do and scary. But from comments that I’ve read it shows how your revealing yourself has touched everyone. The self discovery and honesty is inspiring. You are inspiring and beautiful. You always have been. You are you and I’m so glad I know you. Swimming sounds really good. When I walk along in the ocean shallow the salt water lifts me in so many ways. Or floating in a friends pool. It’s comforting. Hopefully you can spend some more time in water. Love you Nikki ❤️
Thank you Julie 🙂
It has always been difficult not to love you. Now it is impossible.
I feel that way every time I read one of your editorials in the newspaper! Thank you 🙂
Thank you for sharing something so real, transparent and beautiful.
Thank you 🙂
love you Lady, thank you for your openness and honesty
Love you back Renee!
Beautiful. Simple as that.
Thanks Kijsa 🙂
I have always admired your work . In fact , I think you are an outstanding artist .
I am so glad you are able to share what’s going on in your life . Most of us never dare share the darkness in our lives and the trials faced daily . This is hard work . I see you are faced with some glaring facts about your health .
This still does not diminish your work; but only enhances its meaning and beauty.
I send you love and light as you go on this journey to secure a healthy body .
Thank you for sharing and giving a new dimension to your work .
Thank you so much Iris! 🙂