Dan's Story

Lean In


Stretch marks
On my stomach, on my arms
To some, they represent
Success, willpower and self-control
You made it,
You’re good enough
To be one of ‘us’

But to me,
They stole years of my life
And represent deep secrets
Before untold
But now unfold

I wanted to be wanted
To be loved, to feel like I belonged
I thought that’s what
Those stretch marks would
Give me but how
I was wronged

Because instead
That quest led to a path
Of obsession
Of social isolation
I fell into a deep depression

And for what?
To fit into society’s
BS beauty ideals
With its constant judgement
And impropriety
What happened to the real me?

I looked the part
But still didn’t feel
Like I was enough
And so continued the shame
And self blame

All those fantasies gone
Started a period of mourning
But no warning
That what I had to do
Was harder than
Control my body
It was time
To work on my mind
Question my beliefs
Where did they come from?

In a time of reflection
I discovered it was my younger years
That’s when I was teased
By siblings, by strangers,
By my peers

It hurt so bad
Did they know the damage?
Those constant messages
You are fat
Don’t eat that
How else does a kid translate
But you aren’t good enough

Now, twenty years later
I realize
My self worth
Is not dependent
on my size
That I am enough
Just as I am

I have broken free of
The shackles
Obedience, no longer
To a culture that is sick
In its own right
Resilience, I am stronger

I haven’t given in
And let myself go
But rather just letting myself be
I have found self-acceptance
Not quite love,
But neutrality

I have found my dharma
My calling
To stand up and challenge
The status quo
Time to put on the armour
I hold forth my courage
And advocate
For Health At Every Size
And body positivity
All bodies are good bodies
This isn’t a guise
But a way to set ourselves free
We have a choice
We don’t have to conform
To the social norm,
Of self-hatred and punishment
Losing our self and voice

Self-compassion and care
Look after yourself
Be mindful and reconnect
Live a life of vitality

Yes, it’s a challenge
To step into the darkness
Without seeing the light
But when we lean in
Lean in to the vulnerability
It makes our story and life richer
Lean in