I hate my body. But, probably not in the way you think…
Body image is a weird thing. Growing up I wasn’t really a chubby kid. I did have a round face with chubby cheeks. I wasn’t rail thin but I wasn’t overweight either. I was fairly average I’d say. I went to a small Catholic school and from Kindergarten to 8th grade there were never more than thirty-two kids in my class. I guess something in my average-ness stood out, and there were no overweight kids in my grade to boot, so I was the fat one. I got called the Goodyear blimp, Moby Dick, all kinds of awful things. And from that point on I believed that I was fat, ugly, and generally unloveable. I believed that through middle school, high school, and college. And during that time, I gained weight, until finally in 2010 I resembled in real life, the thing I had always thought I was. I had made my outside match my insides. It destroyed me to look back at pictures and see how much smaller I was. How not fat I was. To see in the present, what I could not in the past. I was miserable. So my then boyfriend and I booked a trip to Disney and I vowed to not hate how I looked in those pictures. I got a trainer, I changed my eating habits, and I lost twenty pounds.
Over the next four years I lost thirty more pounds. I looked great. I felt great. I was still considered “overweight” at 155lbs and 5’5” according to the BMI scale but I felt like my body was where it was supposed to be. I felt so comfortable in my skin for the first time, maybe ever. After my husband and I got married in 2014 I put on about 10lbs. Nothing crazy. I was annoyed with myself but I was happy and taking it a little easy after the craziness of wedding planning. But then I got a weird lower back/hamstring injury in early 2015 and gained twenty more pounds. I’m still in pain every day. I can’t run anymore, and I feel out of sorts, frustrated, and mildly depressed. But the crazy thing is it’s not really about the weight. And that’s why body image is such a weird thing.
I don’t feel like I’m fat. I feel like I look good in fact. When I have bad days and start to get down on myself I think about how little space I take up in the world, how I truly feel small in size, and how insane it is to label people when bodies are so different naturally. How they carry weight SO differently on their varied frames. I dress well and I know what works for my body. How much real estate do I take up realistically? About a square foot? This whole idea of acceptable vs unacceptable sizes is so obscenely absurd. I don’t feel the need to be a certain weight at all. I can’t stress that enough. And yet, when I see pictures from two years ago I feel destroyed by them. In my head I’m screaming and pounding my fists against the walls and I don’t quite know why. Is it because society and the media have ingrained the idea that thinner is better into my brain? I’d like to think that’s not it. Is it because I felt SO good and comfortable back then and so out of sorts now? That seems closer to the truth. But it still escapes me how I can look in the mirror today, think “you look great” to myself, mean it, and still long for the me of two years ago.
So yes, I hate my body. Not because it’s bigger than it was or because it’s “better” to be thinner. But because I feel like it’s betrayed me. I feel like it’s given up on me, and I simply do not feel at home in it. It has affected how I see myself. Despite our best efforts, how we see ourselves can be influenced by so many factors. The mind, the heart, and the tangled web they create can trap us in negativity, doubt, and destructiveness of our own creation. Body image is a tricky thing and having seen it from so many different angles I still don’t understand it at all.