I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I feel the need to do this one. I’ve been feeling really raw about this issue lately, and generally, even when I do these, I don’t get quite this personal. I ask for you kindness and compassion on this.
I remember a time that I was comfortable in my body. It lasted for about 6 months, the summer and fall of 2011. I don’t remember a time before that, since pretty much from the time I noticed my body, I was uncomfortable in it.
I was always tall. But until puberty, which for me came early, towards the end of fourth grade, I was tall and gangly. Thin, with a flat stomach and spindly legs. Then my body settled into what it looks like now. Still tall, but big breasts, a large butt, a round tummy, thick thighs.
And this all happened a good two years before the development of any of my friends. I was always a little insecure, I dressed in leggings and oversize sweaters. This was both after and before this was considered an “in” look. When shopping for Bar Mitzvahs and school dances, I went to Annie Sez, while my friends got to gleefully play in Mandee. The first pair of jeans that didn’t make me feel like a mom were a pair of Gap boot cuts that I stumbled across when I was 15. I wore them until I was 20 and a hole wore into the crotch.
I remember my worst body image day. It was junior year of high school and I went shopping with my mom and sister. I tried on a pair of jeans that I couldn’t even zip. I burst into tears in the dressing room. Meanwhile, my sister, who’s tall and lean and a natural size 6, still had to shop for bathing suits. My mom was apologetic, knowing that watching that would be impossible after what had just happened, still needed to soldier on. She sent me to the mall Starbucks and a few weeks later, I was signed on with a nutritionist and personal trainer at a studio gym.
I hated every moment of it, but for once I felt in control. Then school started up again, and theater, and there just wasn’t time anymore, and I fell back into bad habits.
College didn’t help, and there was another bad day when picking out Christmas outfits when something was too tight, or revealed too much of a muffin top and my mom tried to coax me into something else and I snapped, “I want to dress my own age for once!” She relented and I still cringe at the pictures.
By my fifth year of college, I was pretty much OK with the fact that I was never going to be thin. It’s just not how I’m built. But I was determined to be fit. So I stopped snacking between meals. I cut out beer. (SO HARD your final year of college.) I ran 3 or more miles a day. I lost 30 pounds. I managed to keep it off for about 6 months, and then put about 15 of it back on.
There was a moment that summer that I remember as clearly as the breakdown at the mall. I was at a pool party in a bikini (The first one I’d worn since age 10) I was drinking a miller light and eating a piece of pizza. And I thought. “I did it. I’m over my crap. Girls who hate their bodies don’t eat pizza and drink beer in bikinis.”
This past year has been great for me in a lot of ways. I’m more mentally and socially healthy than I’ve been in a very long time. My financial situation is immensely improved, to the point where living with my parents is actually “a responsible decision I’ve made” and not, “my only choice if I want to ever go outside or eat food that isn’t cereal or spaghetti.” But I’ve let my weight go. I gained back that other 15.
I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should, and I make horrible food choices. (Still not much beer though! Seriously, wine drinking instead of beer drinking is the best habit I’ve ever gotten into.) I’ve made some strides there, but not enough.
I don’t like the way my body looks these days, although I’ve committed in the past month or so and I’m happier than I was with it. I envy people who like their bodies, who are comfortable in their own skin.
Because I don’t hate my body anymore. But I’ve never been comfortable in it, and I want to fix that. I voiced some of this on facebook this week and received an outpouring of love from friends. One in particular really made me feel good.
But I’ve recommitted to things, walking every day at lunch, working out with Darebee’s superheroine work outs (which I’ve been posting on twitter and facebook, so that I’m accountable to someone. It helps!) And I’m also immensely proud that this past week, feeling insecure and frustrated with my body didn’t translate to feeling depressed an useless in other aspects of my life, save a few hours of self indulgent self pity I allowed myself. (See “more mentally healthy” above.) I was able to remind myself that this is something I can control and make choices about. That my life and self worth are not defined by my weight, waistline and dress size.
I’m just saying that there are days that it’s hard to remember that.