Well, how’s that for a catchy title, eh? Eh?
So I believe in my review of The Broken Eye I posted a few weeks ago, I made a reference about writing a post about how a certain character inspired me and how I hoped to “use” him as motivation. That character is Kip Guile. You might have heard of him, if you’ve read the books. If you haven’t read them, I will try not to spoil too much for you (as you will read them, if you’re smart and enjoy fantastic literature), but Kip is a bastard–a royal one, but a bastard nonetheless–who is fat. Kip knows this. Kip accepts this, usually making the jokes before anyone else can make them. And sometimes, he seems okay with this. It is what he is. Yet more often, he is ashamed by this. Always, he is aware and thinking of it.
And boy, have I never resonated with a character so well as him.
When I first discovered Kip, his awkwardness and his rolls while reading The Black Prism, as a writer and a reader, I was excited that he was fat. Kip was the hero of the story! Finally, a fat protagonist. Though, after reading the first three books out of a five book series, I don’t think there is a cut-and-dry protagonist or hero or villain. There are many players at work, yet Kip is no mere secondary character. He’s a mover and a shaker and he’s fat. And I was excited about that, mostly because I understand him. Finally, a character who I can resonate with because of our mutual struggles regarding our appearance. After my initial excitement, however, I became sad. Because I understood.
I understand knowing what it is like to constantly be thinking about your size, constantly being aware of your own body, but only because you’re constantly worrying about others perceive you. That is my life, 100%. Now that it is summer, it has only gotten worse. And least in the winter, I can hide under large sweatshirts. Here, let’s go inside my head:
Swimming or no swimming this year? Swimming requires a bathing suit and bathing suits require exposing skin, so…yeah, probably not. Oh, I love this tank-top, but my bat wings make me self-conscious. Time to throw on that cardigan, because I’m to sweaty to wear a t-shirt alone. Dammit muffin top, you’re ruining everything, including any chance at confidence or someone of the male variety to be interested in me. Stop that. Your biggest size is large? Guess I won’t be buying anything from you. Oh, I’m going to buy this online…and now it doesn’t fit. Of course.
Then, when I’m around people, like Kip, I feel the need to point out the obvious before someone else does it. Like Kip, I don’t do it tactfully, though I’m not as brave as he is. I usually say “curves,” as if the word makes the rolls and jiggling more attractive. Right.
Though Kip lives in a different time and age, I saw the parallels in our thought processes and our ultra-awareness of our size went hand-in-hand. While I avoid taking pictures at all costs–and if I have to, definitely neck-up only–Kip doesn’t have to deal with that. But I know he would react the same way. Just like I know, if I was forced to join The Blackguard–an ultra elite bodyguard group where fitness and being skilled in being fit is everything and essential to making the cut–I would be terrified, too. Kip and I, we are kindred souls.
I’ve included some fanart of Kip, just so you all can get a reference. You notice I didn’t include any of myself. Purposeful, that. However, I’ll describe myself for you, in case we’re only internet friends. I’m roughly, what, 200 pounds, perhaps (gosh, that hurts me to write and publish)? I have non-existent triceps that cause my arms to flab and look horrible in pictures. I have what I label as a doughnut as a waist, comprised of lower back fat, saddlebags on the side, a nice pouch in front. My thighs touch and I wear size-16 jeans. I’m this awkward combo of fit and overweight. For example: I have nice biceps and shoulders and calves, because I used to play soccer and I used to work-out more regularly. Yet having those features, paired with the features that give away my love for Southern food and extra helpings, makes me a weird looking individual. I’m not ugly, but I’m nowhere near gorgeous, either. Of course, I know plenty of people, lovely-hearted souls that you are, who would disagree with this description of me. But this is how I see myself, complete with a lens tainted by society. Like Kip, only I can change my perception of myself, regardless of whether I’m right or I’m wrong.
Come to think of it, I think Kip is actually bigger than me, but his pain and struggles are very similar. And that’s why Kip is such an inspiration.
You see, without giving away too many spoilers, Kip is forced to join The Blackguard. He is forced to run, to train, to fight. And he does. And he fails. Yet he also succeeds, but not immediately. Throughout the three books, we follow Kip on his journey and his journey isn’t to get skinny, though I’m sure he thinks it would solve a lot of problems. His journey is to discover who he is, discover his role in a very complicated world and to make it into the Blackguard, which requires hard work on his part–often times, putting in extra work, hours and effort compared to his comrades. Does he make it in? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out.
Reading about his journey inspired me in more ways than one and gave me some important reminders. Despite Kip’s size, he made friends. He had people who loved him. We even have similar situations regarding the romance department (similar until the end of The Broken Eye, in which case, Kip, good luck with the headache you got yourself into, bud. You know who I’m rooting for). He could be successful and use his size to his advantage or be successful despite of his size. And though he does tone up a bit, I think Kip learns to slowly accept himself as he is.
I would love to do that. To sound cocky, I kinda love the person I am. I like my awkwardness, my nerdiness, my quirkiness, my personality, my beliefs and values. I hate my body. I hate how self-conscious I am about it and how much I hate it. I want to love my body. I want to accept myself regardless of my size, my curves, my fat. Yet I haven’t gotten there yet. But it is something I want to work towards. And though I know I have supporters and friends and family who will love me no matter what size I am, reading about Kip and seeing those same type of bonds was a good reminder.
Kip also taught me that you can overcome your obstacles, even if it feels impossible. He reminded me it takes hard work. It takes determination. It takes sacrifice. It takes the desire to want it and then acting upon that desire. You can’t just want it and do nothing. You can’t just complain and expect change. Also, it is okay to fail. It is okay to have a bump in the road. But more importantly, he showed me two things: focus on your goal and remember the realistic time it takes to reach that goal. You see, Kip’s ultimate goal wasn’t to get fit. It wasn’t to get skinny or become hot. He wanted to join The Blackguard. He wanted to do something for himself and make Gavin and Ironfist proud. Becoming more fit was a requirement to reach that goal. And that didn’t happen in one chapter. It took three entire books and it isn’t over yet. He’s still going.
We’re surrounded by the desire for instant results. We expect to be able to workout and suddenly be ten pounds lighter the next day. And we always give ourselves a deadline, when trying to get fit: I have to get fit before summer, I have to drop ten pounds before the wedding, I have to get into size ten jeans before school starts. Or, almost worse, we compare ourselves to others: I have to workout so I can be as pretty as X, Y and Z, because I can’t be considered pretty unless I am like them. Yet those aren’t healthy motivations, expectations or goals. And Kip reminded me of that.
So, what I am going to do with this inspiration, you ask. Well, I’m going to start working on changing my lifestyle and my mindset. Getting healthier, walking more, working towards a better lifestyle, without a deadline. I don’t want the pressure a deadline brings or the mentality of, “Once I lose ten pounds, I’m done.” I want to be healthier for the rest of my life and I want to do it so I can love myself wholly, not love myself except for my appearance or weight or body size.
I made a tank top that says, “Training to Join the Blackguard” on it. My plan is, while I’m living at home, to walk the family dog every day (because the pup could afford to lose some pounds, too) for at least 30 minutes. Today marks four days in a row for us, average 1.75 miles a day. And, I joined a “Walking to Rivendell” challenge that started today and goes until Mid-August, to help me stay accountable with others and walking every day.
Once I move into my own place, I’ll start running at the gym, also 30 minutes a day. By that time, the walking will have strengthen me up to running. I’d love to lose 40 pounds, whether that takes a year, two years, five years, ten. And at each 10 pound weight-loss mark, I’ll make a new tank top (one will say “Training to Save Thedas” and another “Training to Save Skyrim” because the female characters I created in those games are basically aspirations of what I wished I looked like). The fourth tank top will say, “Training to Join the Mighty.” It’s another reference to Kip, but one I won’t explain so I don’t ruin it. However, I will say this: the significance of it means that I made it. I did it. And I absolutely cannot wait for the day, years from now, when I post on this blog a picture of me wearing my “Mighty” tank top, telling you all I followed in Kip’s footsteps and I persevered, despite it all.
Until then, I plan to work. I plan to fail. I plan to try and love myself, even if I never lose forty pounds–even if I gain ten more. I plan to try and build my confidence and start working out not to lose weight–though that is a goal–but to live a healthier lifestyle. Focus on that, not the numbers, not the scale. Focus on improving. Because, like Kip has taught me, while others may define you by your body size, you are so much more than that. You don’t have to be limited by your body size and you don’t have to hate yourself, regardless of how big or small you are. You can love yourself, even if it is a struggle.
Here’s to loving ourselves, fat rolls and all.