Saturday, 14 January 2012

Body Image

I haven't talked to anyone but Jon about this stuff, but it's time to come out of the closet. For the last three months I've liked how I look. Not just a "these clothes look great on me" or "my eyes look nice today" but a no secrets, standing-in-front-of-a-full-length-mirror-naked, kind of like how I look. This is a new development.

When I was around ten years old I had this really 90's, floral print shirt with a metallic sheen that I LOVED. I thought it was the coolest shirt ever. Then, one day, I was walking by the mirror in my brothers' room and I saw it. The shirt was tight, and just over the top of my jeans there was a bulge. It stopped me in my tracks. I stood there, a little nervous, inspecting my pre-adolesent pudge. I have no memory of noticing something negative about my body before this day. I may have been home schooled, but I still knew that bulge wasn't "supposed" to be there. I was embarrassed. I wondered if anyone else had noticed. I changed shirts and never wore the floral one again. It was about this time that I started dressing in boy's clothes - the baggier the better. The feeling of hunger became a negative one, and I learned to suppress it. A few years later when I was thirteen my Mom casually asked me how much I weighed and I wouldn't say it out loud. I couldn't let others hear that I was up to a disgusting 120.

Once I hit my 20's I started working through some spiritual issues and as I became more confident inside, I stopped hating my outside as much. The big turning point though, was (surprisingly) right after I had Nathaniel. There was a tiny little shift in my perception of bodies. It had gone from "fat" and "skinny" to "pregnant" and "skinny". Since I wasn't pregnant anymore, I was skinny. It wasn't long before I started noticing things I didn't like again. I still thought my arms looked thick, and hated looking at my thighs and butt in the mirror. I wondered if Jon wished that I was different. I talked to him about it, and he said that I was beautiful but that I would never be able to believe him if shame was my standard.

It's been almost two years since I had my boy and took a step to get shame out of my life. Now, for the first time since that day when I changed my floral shirt, I don't want to lose weight. I have been working out a lot for no other reason than that I like how being active makes me feel. I've never, ever done that. For the first time, when I see a really thin woman, I can see that she doesn't look healthy instead of feeling like an ogre and skipping lunch. For the first time I don't avoid the mirror, or wince at a glimpse of my butt. I honestly like the way my hips curve out, and I don't mind the specs of cellulite on my thighs. I like that women's bodies look SO different, and I'm starting to get upset that we're shown that that's wrong - and tell each other (and ourselves) that it's ugly.

I am a small woman. I'm not overweight. A lot of people say I'm thin. My top (non pregnant) weight was 150. If you're thinking that I don't have any room to talk about being "fat", that I don't really understand, you're right. What I do understand though is what it's like to hate yourself; To get a sick feeling when you see the reflection of your body. My point is that shame and comparison KILL! They kill your spirit and your confidence and your beauty. It doesn't matter how much you weigh (or how much weight you lose), if you don't value yourself you will never feel valuable or beautiful to others. If shame is your motivator, it won't go away when you reach your "goal." Shame sticks around, and it's even tougher to get off than those last few pounds.


  1. Awesome Linda! Thanks for being so honest!

  2. Having babies (also somewhat unexpectedly and counter-intuitively) solved a good deal of my body image issues as well. I have a theory on that, but it may only hold true for myself... remind me to tell you about it the next time I see you.