No really, I am.

But the reason you shouldn’t hate me for it – no really, you shouldn’t – is because I haven’t always looked the way I do, and I’ve worked damn hard to get here.

I started thinking about the topic of my own beauty when I read this post over at Rachel Lucas:

… 99% of the jeans that “fit” me extend beyond my toes. I mean, really – is your average size-sixer REALLY almost six feet tall? Look around, and I think you’ll agree, the answer is oh hells no. It makes no sense.

Well, I am (now) a size-sixer. And I am REALLY almost six feet tall, or at least two inches shy, on a good day.

Trust me though, I wasn’t always that way. I was a size-twelver, or at some points in my life, a -fourteener or even -sixteener. People who have only known me in my current incarnation never seem to believe me, but honestly, I was. Conversely, people who knew Zoe 1.0 are convinced that I’ve done serious damage to myself to lose so much weight (45 pounds, more or less, on a good day).

Fortunately, that’s not true, either. I’ve just learned how to be true to myself, in a culinary sense.

After getting back from London, I was amazed to find that despite the year of beer, I had somehow contrived to lose weight. (Mostly because I refused to take the bus and walked the 40-minute round trip to school, sometimes twice a day. That’ll do it!)

Once I discovered that, I refused to lose these gains.

So I changed my eating habits, and I stopped eating things like cheese pizza, ravioli pasta with cheese, which I lived on in London, melted cheese sandwiches (can you tell what I miss the most???), and oh yeah, dessert. But the great part is, I actually started eating more of everything else, in smaller quantities, all the time. So when people ask if I’m eating enough, I say, “Spend more than an hour with me and you’ll see!” Because I do eat. Constantly.

Funny thing is, I actually enjoy eating the way I do now, which is why this kind of diet won’t work for everyone. A tofu-and-cottage-cheese salad for lunch isn’t everyone’s idea of gourmet, but I don’t mind it. I do, however, very much enjoy buying a size six wedding dress (that is the perfect length on me, thank you) and knowing I look amazing in it.

In fact, I enjoy that more than I miss cheese. It’s a close call, but for now the clothes are winning out.

OK but I’m not just writing this to be totally obnoxious, I promise. I am gloating, yes, but I am also trying to play a bit of a devil’s advocate. In the end, I totally agree with Ms. Lucas up there.

Having experienced it from both ends of the spectrum, I still think that the fashion industry is ridiculous. I fit into these clothes due to a major lifestyle change, one that may not suit everyone’s budget, schedule, or even tastes. I happen to like tofu and cottage cheese, but what about people who don’t? What about people who don’t get their kicks from running every other day? What if I didn’t have a freakishly tall gene in my family that means I don’t have to get everything tailored? These so-called beauty standards are simply unfair, and yet I continue to conform to them. Go figure.

But while I’m on the subject (yes, this is turning into something of a rant) – I refuse to believe that I am a better or more worthy person simply because I am a different size now. In fact, I felt far sexier and more womanly when I was a size 14 than as a size 6. Half the time I feel like a prepubescent boy! And I’m sorry, I don’t care what the designers tell me, that’s just not very sexy:

Zoe 1.0 Zoe 2.0

You tell me – who is sexier? Tintin, or Anna (RIP)? Hmm let me think…

The point is this: really, don’t hate me. I do miss eating cheese and dessert. Yes, I have a gorgeous wedding dress, but I didn’t start out on this path to achieve that end. I started eating how I do because it felt good to me, as does running. But for most of my life, things were different, and probably will be again.

Yes, I am “beautiful,” but you know what? I always was. And whether I end up a little more Anna or remain Tintin for a while longer… I always will be.

So don’t hate – celebrate.