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.