Life in this Body, Part I

After years of being entirely consumed by diet and nutrition, I’m in a much better place now. I pay attention to my body’s cues and try to give it what it needs. I eat regular food and try to stay warm, but not obsessively. I feel pretty darn good. But I look… different.

I went straight from a highly restrictive diet to eating without restraint, and I put on substantial weight. If you aren’t familiar with the phenomenon, here it is in a nutshell: Your body rapidly gains fat to repair itself after a period of extensive deprivation. Oftentimes, your body overcompensates, gaining more fat than you initially lost, as protection against future deprivation. Well, at least I’m well-protected! At present, I am the heaviest I have ever been (pregnancies excluded). And if that weren’t enough of a blow to the ol’ self-esteem, I calculated my body mass index.

The result: “You are obese. To obtain a normal body weight, you must lose between 38.86 and 73.85 pounds.” Stupid BMI chart, always making me feel inadequate and stuff. But it’s not just the charts, scales, and calculators; it’s the media, peers, family, friends, and even perfect strangers criticizing my body at all times, in all places, both directly and indirectly. I’m way beyond just having a low self-esteem—I’m ashamed, jealous, angry, and insecure.

too short
All my life I’ve had people either alluding to my physical inadequacies or scrutinizing me straight to my face. It seems like their criticisms only serve to fuel mine, and the longer I stand in the judgment of others, the more I feel like doling it out. At the end of the day when I’m face to face with my own reflection, all I see is a person I despise. How did I get to this awful place where I am the one person I find so difficult to love and accept?

It wasn’t until recently, when I overheard my six-year-old son say he was “fat,” that I realized the far-reaching effects of my self-deprecating talk. It’s funny how we try so hard to teach our children to be kind, confident, and accepting when we don’t even afford ourselves those luxuries. And what do you suppose our children actually take to heart, what we say or what we model for them every day? In this case, the answer was painfully obvious.

When I complain about my shape and size, what am I communicating to my family, friends, and everyone else in earshot? That my body is not good enough? That physical appearance is what I value most? That happiness is only attained by being a certain weight? If that’s the message I’m conveying, maybe I should just shut up.

So I did. I quit complaining about my tight clothes. I quit pinching my belly and sighing in disgust. I quit discussing my need to get in shape. I quit talking about losing weight. Instead, I asked myself, “What is life in this body really about?”

Stay tuned for Life in this Body, Part II…


3 thoughts on “Life in this Body, Part I

  1. 1. Someecards are hilarious.
    2. You are beautiful.
    3. Some people suck (but not you).
    4. When I stopped watching television (and commercials, and reading mainstream magazines) my body image issues decreased enormously, almost without my even realizing it. I guess I was no longer comparing myself against all those “beautiful” people. But even short bouts of resuming tv watching would instantly make me feel inadequate again.
    5. You are so right about the messages we are sending to our kids. I remember my mom always belittling appearance and complaining about her weight when we were younger. And, funny thing, when I look back: she was (is) beautiful! And not fat!! I pray for my daughters, that they will not be hampered by these unattainable ideals of beauty. I try hard not to say negative things about my own appearance, but am conscious of women all around me (even strangers out in public) making negative comments about the appearance of themselves or others, and I pray that my girls are not listening. It is particularly hard for me right now not to complain, as I am still not wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, and often find myself with nothing to wear due to the fact that only three of the shirts I own actually fit me, and etc. But I try!

  2. Pingback: Life in this Body, Part II | Coffee & Corduroy

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