This is for my 16 year old self
Or, why I wrote Main Character Energy
My novel comes out tomorrow. TOMORROW. Actually, tomorrow? Huh!!! What a wild sentence to write and have it be the truth and not just some manifestation I’m hoping will one day come to fruition.
I feel remarkably calm.
Today, I want to talk about why the story I wrote in Main Character Energy means so much to me.
I grew up hating my body. I grew up believing that I would never be happy if I didn’t lose weight. I grew up watching rail-thin actresses play every single role where a woman has a big and interesting life. I grew up in a time when one of the only representations of a plus-sized woman was Monica in Friends, as the punchline and before picture, food in her hand, fat suit on to make sure it’s clear that life doesn’t begin for any woman until she loses weight.
I grew up thinking I didn’t actually deserve to be loved.
Courtney Cox deserved to be loved but only if she wasn’t Fat Monica. Julia Roberts deserved to be loved. So did Meg Ryan. Fran Drescher in The Nanny was a size 0 but always worried she was too fat (or too old) to get a man. Thankfully she wasn’t actually fat so she, ultimately, deserved to be loved, too.
Weight loss was sold to women as the cure-all. It was salivation. It was the only way we could have value, respect, love.
Eat your yogurt for dessert and your fat-free sugar-free Cool Whip and fit into those skinny jeans and be happy forever! Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, after all! 10 ways to bust that tummy. 15 ways to curb your hunger. 20 ways to hate yourself enough you may finally lose that weight.
I hated rom-coms. I hated magazines. I hated celebrity culture. I hated anything that posited thin women as inherently better and more worthy of life than anyone above a size 12. It hurt me, to see these same stereotypes perpetuated over and over. I was an intelligent and talented woman that felt like she’d never be acknowledged until she “released the thin woman from within.”
If I had read a book like Main Character Energy when I was 16, 21, 25—my life could have been remarkably different. I could cry thinking about how much I needed something so bad that showed a woman who looked like me having a fun life. Having any kind of life.
I wrote this novel because plus-sized women deserve the big love story—big romance, big self-love, big adventure. They deserve to see themselves represented in places like the French Riviera and Paris. We exist. We are here. We don’t need to hate ourselves. We can be loved just as we are. We can love ourselves just as we are. We can want to improve in any number of areas but we can still love ourselves right here, right now.
I wrote the character Poppy Banks for all of us who have felt unworthy of our own lives, who have questioned when someone loves us, who don’t think we deserve a grand adventure of a life.
When I met the man who would become my husband one random Monday in 2011 outside the Notre Dame in Paris, he loved me quickly and without hesitation.
I fought his love on a near constant basis. I worried he’d leave me, that he didn’t really want me, that he had ulterior motives. I asked him why he loved me. I questioned him, trying to collect evidence, wondering why he would want me when I’d been told my whole life I didn’t deserve to be loved.
He was in love with the before picture. I hadn’t transformed yet. I didn’t have my big weight loss makeover. What was he thinking? What was wrong with him?
I felt this way about friendships, job opportunities, everything good that tried to force its way into my life. So I self-sabotaged constantly, fighting every good thing because it didn’t fit inside the box I thought I deserved to live in.
Why should I be happy if I haven’t lost the weight yet?
How could I possibly love myself if I’m not a size 4?
And why would anyone else want me if I don’t even seem to want myself?
And on and on and on.
Eventually, I grew tired of my self-hatred and learned to love myself through years and years of intense healing. I detail a lot of that story in Radically Content.
But part of the healing was also writing the story I needed when I was younger. Actually, writing the story I still need now. Where the main character’s body is a part of the story, but not the whole of it. Where she is not defined by her body. Where she is loved not in spite of or because of her body. Where people love and respect her. Where she is seen, understood, and pulled from the depths of her own self-loathing. Where she has talent that is recognized and seen and appreciated.
Where she matters.
And where she is the main character of the story, not the before picture or the supporting role or the best friend or the punchline.
I deeply needed this story to exist.
For me now. For me then. And for anyone else who has sat on the sidelines of their own life because they’ve been told they don’t deserve something beautiful.
I am telling you that you deserve something beautiful.
This is your life. You are the main character of your own story.
And I wrote this novel for you.
Get your pre-order in, or if you’re reading this on or after Tuesday, grab the book wherever books are sold.
It’s almost time—I feel like I’ve done all my younger selves proud.
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