Body Image, I’m a 70/30

I’ve had this post floating around in my head for months now. I haven’t written it yet for several reasons. One, it will make the issue all that more real for me. Two, I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to “copy” other bloggers since this has been a popular topic around the blogosphere lately. And third, it’s a subject that I don’t often allow myself to spend much time thinking about (since it’s not really an “upper”). Still, it is important to me and I wanted to share my own experience. Just know that I am writing this from the bottom on my heart.

70 percent of the time I am not comfortable with my body.

Which is absurd since I’m 5’2″ and weigh, on average, 115 pounds. I wear a size 2 or 4 in pants and extra small size in most shirts. I’m not fat, but I often feel like I am.

I know I’m not overweight. I know my BMI is healthy and “normal”. Still, most days I feel fat.

Of course, about 30 percent of the time I feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. On those days I love that I’m not stick thin. I love that I have shape. I feel like my slender curves add to my appeal. I love that my calf muscles and my triceps are defined. On those days I am happy with my body and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Then I am met with the days of personal disapproval and dread. On those days I hate that I carry my weight in my thighs and butt. I hate the cellulite I have on the back on my legs. I hate that my stomach pooches out and isn’t completely flat. On those days I despise myself for not having a perfect body.

I don’t know I let myself feel like this. I’ve never had the perfect body (um, who has?). There are pictures of me in swimsuits where my inner thighs touch, even at five years old. I have always had a big, round butt which I don’t think it will ever go away, no matter how much I exercise. And I’m okay with that, really. It’s part of me that I’ve learned to love and embrace.

I have always made an effort to be healthy. I exercise, I don’t eat many fried foods (but I also don’t always watch what I eat). I eat small portions. I take the stairs rather than the elevator. I’ll do a set of 50 crunches before I go to sleep, if I remember. I try not to feel guilty and I try to be proud of my body.

In fact, I weigh ten pounds less today than I did the day I graduated from high school. But I don’t feel healthier; I think most of the weight loss has been muscle mass. I don’t exercise nearly as often. Back in those days, I took at least 5 hours of dance class a week, plus going to the gym at least 3 times a week. I was in shape.

All those dance classes did something to me, though. In second grade, during our dress rehearsal for The Nutcracker, wearing only a leotard and tights and standing in front on the full length mirror, I noticed my thighs were larger than the girl standing next to me. I felt my stomach drop. I was embarrassed and appalled at how my legs could be so huge. I was SEVEN when I became self conscious about my body. That feeling has never gone away.

In sixth grade, I walked three blocks home from school each afternoon. I dreaded it every day, but especially when I was wearing shorts, for fear that someone would look at the back of legs and think, “Wow, she is so fat, how can she stand herself?” I’m sure I weighed less than 100 pounds at the time.

I’ve come a long way since those pre-teen years. I’m much more confident (although sometimes  that is due to the positive  feedback and comments fed to me from other people), but I’m still working on it. I’d like to be more comfortable with my body. I’d like to not care if my legs feel like stubs some days. I’d like to each french friends and chocolate cake and not feel guilty afterward. I’d like to not freak out if I go up a pant size in a few years. (Hey, it’s bound to happen eventually!)

And I worry about getting older. Eventually my metabolism is going to slow down. My waist is going to fill out. My skin will begin to droop. And then what? I won’t be receiving those lovely comments from friends and strangers telling me how tiny I am. Then what? What will I be good for? If I’m no longer “tiny” then I must be big. And big is not attractive, right?

I know this is all crazy-talk, trust me. I know I have many other positive qualities. I know I’m smart and funny and sincere, and trustworthy. But if I’m not skinny, I feel like nothing else matters.

I’m not sure what my final point here is supposed to be. I guess I just wanted to explore some of my thoughts and feelings about my own body image issues. It’s still something I struggle with on a daily basis, but I think if we all become more vocal and open with our stories, we might feel a little less insecure and alone and little more supported. That’s my hope, anyway.

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13 responses to “Body Image, I’m a 70/30

  1. I think that struggling with body image is a natural thing that ALL women go through. For me, my body image has improved DRASTICALLY since I started working out on a regular basis. I usually do 45+ minutes of exercise (running mostly) 5-6 days a week.

    When I don’t exercise for a few days I start to feel sluggish and disgusting and my body image drops a lot!

  2. I have a post eerily similar to this sitting in my drafts… I bet MANY of us do. I’m also 5’2″ and am an average 115lbs… and I think and feel these same things! I do love those days when I love my body… I wish I had them more often!

  3. I know that I always feel better when I’m doing something for myself. For me, my stomach is really important. No idea why. But I do 20 sit ups a day to each side & the normal way, and one back strengthening exercise, and even that makes me feel like “Wow! I’m tough! Cool!” It’s something silly about feeling my abs being strong that makes me feel positive about my body, so I do one thing for it and I feel better. Maybe there’s something simple like that, that’s toning that you can do?

    It’s really hard to get to a happy place, but it is possible. I’m so relieved that I can finally look in a mirror and say 20 things about me that I like, even on my bad days, because for a long time there was no way I could come up with 5.

  4. Oh, I can so relate. For me it’s such a wake-up call to see that people with bodies that I consider gorgeous (like yours) struggle with these same issues. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I think one of the most important things to remember is to not compare yourself to every body out there (easier to say! I feel I check out every person walking by, though not to compare myself anymore really, but just to see what’s there). I think we have to accept who we are, and see what makes us unique and beautiful. Perhaps another thing that works is knowing you are not going to do some crash-diet, but instead, lead a healthy lifestyle and know you are doing something for your body and for yourself– and that definitely makes one feel better!
    p.s. I’ve been reading your blog before I even had mine, so I decided to finally comment.
    Take care!

  6. When I was reading your description of your body type, I thought I was reading about my body. I too am a short girl who carries her weight in her lower body and most days I hate it other days I don’t mind it too much. Honestly I think EVERY woman at some point struggles with the way she looks. I think it’s great though that we talk about it and realize we are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

  7. It’s so brave of you to share this. I’ve had similar issues and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

  8. I feel the same way. I’ve always been skinny, but every so often its like, wow I have really big thighs… or my stomach isnt as flat as it used to be. A big thing is that my best friend is now skinnier than I am. I don’t think it looks good on her at all, she’s bigger boned and so she looks kind of emaciated, but its still a weird feeling when someone who has been bigger than you all your life is now smaller. But then again, now I have a big chest and she doesnt. 🙂

  9. Lauren From Texas

    i like Kyla’s comment. I am going to try to look in the mirror and see at least 5 things I like, instead of always going straight to the thing I don’t.

    you’re beautiful – and the most beautiful thing a woman can do is exude confidence. I have met some not-so-pretty people who were just full of confidence and joy and I walked away thinking they were gorgeous.

    and of course we can be friends! 🙂 so glad we’re “blog friends”

    xo

  10. i’m pretty positive we all go through this every once and a while and it’s more than necessary to talk about sometimes. so woo you to girl, woo. 🙂

  11. When I was about 7 or 8, I quit dance classes because I thought I looked too fat in a leotard.

    True story.

    Needless to say, I know how you feel. I am a mess about my body more often than I would like to be, and it sucks. I appreciate you writing about this, I bet it felt a bit cathartic, yes?

  12. When I was reading your description of your body type, I thought I was reading about my body. I too am a short girl who carries her weight in her lower body and most days I hate it other days I don't mind it too much. Honestly I think EVERY woman at some point struggles with the way she looks. I think it's great though that we talk about it and realize we are not alone. Thanks for sharing.;. All the best!!

  13. I was a dancer until my freshman year in high school. I wish I hadn’t quit because my dancing body was AMAZING. My adult body? Well it shows signs of sitting in an office for 9 hours a day. I know how to eat healthy and workout but with everything else in my life, it takes a backseat. And so, I’m about 6 pounds heavier than I would like to be. Fat? No, not by many standards, but by mine. My measurement? If my size 8 pants are getting snug, it’s time to get back into it. I also realize that at 5’9″ my hips & butt won’t every be truly gone but I can slim them down. And so I must!

    But I hear you on the 70/30 thing. I’m in that area as of late too.

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