Cassie didn't technically submit this... I found it and begged her to let me share. And she was gracious to agree. There is something about her writing combined with her photography that touches me on a profound and paradigm shifting level. I wanted to share her with you. Rather, I needed to share her with you.

I Was Smarter When I Was Fatter

You lose thirty pounds. You gain fifteen. You look in the mirror and down at the scale, and want to bang your head against the wall while shoveling fifteen birthday cakes into your mouth. Everything is reduced to that three digit number, staring up at you from between your feet. You are no longer you. You are nothing but 163.2 pounds of guilt, anger, and resentment. You cry. You skip meals. You slip into patterns so old and established that they fit flawlessly, a second skin, a perfectly measured noose. You feel comfortable within your self-loathing, even as you scratch at the walls of it, trying to find a window, a door, a crack that lets a little light in. Thirty pounds, thirty years, everything becomes numbers, and you float in a sea of evens and odds, reeling in your line again and again for that trophy combination that always eludes you.


Three and a half years ago, I was seven pounds heavier. I would gain another ten pounds before starting on my weight loss journey. I was at the highest weight of my life, and yet I seemed to be at my most self-accepting. Last night, I remembered a self portrait I had taken then, and I remembered taking it; the light was perfect, and I was not, but I felt wise and brave and ancient as I stood completely exposed in front of the camera, allowing it to document every stretchmark, wrinkle, fold, and roll. Later, as I looked at it on my computer screen, I saw that beauty can exist within the flaws, can be insistent inside them. I didn't liquify my curves. I didn't photoshop out the visible veins, or the worst of the silvery stretchmarks that circle my belly like a labyrinth. I felt strong, and when I wrote the accompanying words, I meant each one of them to my core. That was  a day I did not let the numbers define me. I defined my own damn self.


It's not often you can look back and gain wisdom, perspective, and some measure of strength from your past selves. Yet I look at this image, and I read what I wrote about myself back then, and it's as though I'm looking at a better, freer me. Someone who valued her words over her weight, who loved herself enough to stand in front of a camera and say, "This is me, and I am pretty amazing." I don't know where she went, or what happened for her to hide herself from me, but I can take her message and tuck it away inside my heart; I can take her image and etch it into my mind. I can stop standing on the scale, stop looking for the world to validate my weight, and start remembering that my body is real: this is what most of us look like, give or take a few pounds, a few stretchmarks, a few cup sizes. I am posting this because I think sometimes we all need to be reminded of that. Society has airbrushed the entire human race, but unedited, we all have flaws, and they're all beautiful in their own way because they are US.


This is what I wrote, back when I was a little smarter and a little fatter.

"170.4 Pounds. BMI 29. Every time a friend goes on a diet, I think, "I should lose weight, too." But then I think, why? Is it for me? Or is it because I am bigger than I used to be and somehow feel I am expected to be that size again? Does it really bother me, or do I just FEEL like it should?

And I have finally decided that no, it doesn't bother me. I like who I am at this moment in my life. I can look at myself in the mirror and not feel sad, or angry, or resigned, or disgusted.

I just feel like ... me. A woman. A mother. A wife. An artist.

I am more than my weight.

170 pounds does not describe my soul. My BMI does not tell you of my hopes and dreams.

A body that is soft and stretchmarked and scarred does not define who I am - it tells stories of where I have been, certainly, but it does not tell the story of ME.

That story is lived through dreaming big and loving bigger, through taking the high road whenever I can, and not stopping at the low one very often, and through loving who and what I have become as I near the third decade of my life.

My story is here, in this photograph, and in every photograph I take.

My life is a work of art, and so is yours. Look at the canvas - love the good brush strokes and paint over the bad."

Thank you Cassie. For spending the time to capture this in writing. For being brave enough to share this with the world. For simply existing.

You can read another open letter by Cassie here. Leave her some love.


  1. Very beautiful and poignant. Thank for sharing with us.

  2. This made me smile and tear up. It helps to know that you're not the only one going through that same shit. Thank you Cassie, from one Cassie to another.

  3. I am a firm believer that it only matters if you are comfortable with yourself.
    The beautiful plus model Emme says, "it’s the beauty of our differences that makes life so wonderful", and I agree 100%! Thank you for sharing this wonderful post!

  4. Simply beautiful. I have recognized as well that some past parts of me have been wiser than I am now, and i am learning from them.
    Beautiful writing thanks for it to the writer and thanks to Jes for having thr courage to stand up and out of the norm. If all of society stood up and out we would stop living the illussion that we are homogenous and robotic, while its all the opposite, we are heterogenous and human.
    Thanks again.


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