(This post is for Day Nine of Blogging 101. It was inspired by my visit to the blog miss-kris.com. She’s such a beautiful woman)
I have struggled with my weight and my body image all my life. I can remember being in grammar school crying in the department store when it was time to buy new clothes. I was so hurt that my clothes were always purchased from the ‘husky’ rack; these were not the most attractive clothes. When I wanted to look like a little girl all sweet and cute I had to settle for clothes that looked, for the most part, androgynous. The only saving grace for me was that they couldn’t make dresses for boys. Every day I envied my petite, girly- girl playmates as I tried to come to terms with the chunky frame I had to carry.
Things didn’t get any better when I entered the middle school years. My classmates were getting taller and thinner and I was just getting taller. I still had to deal with my not-so-thin body and it became very apparent to me that this was something to be abhorred. Once again in my life I knew what it was like to be on the outside when it was time to shop for new school clothes. Instead of this being a fun occasion it was filled with more angst and tears when, as a pre-teen, I was forced to move over to the misses’ section of the stores my mom and I visited. I would sit behind my desk day after day wishing and praying that the body that had betrayed me would show some mercy and get rid of my unwanted pounds. This never happened.
High school was no less a nightmare than my previous academic career. My height had finally plateaued but my body and my body image was still a major source of sadness for me. It seemed like all the girls I looked at were ‘perfect’. They didn’t seem to have to worry about hiding a bit of a muffin top or robust breasts. They were the ones who had no hang-ups getting dressed in front of one another for physical education and who didn’t cringe from the thought of wearing a bathing suit when it was time for the mandatory two-week stint of swimming. Outside of school they could wear the short shorts and bikinis that I could only dream of putting on. I would spend hours in the mirror at home dissecting my body trying on one thing after another looking for something that would hide my thickness and make me look more like my female classmates.
At this time I also got hip to fad diets and so-called counting calories. What this was exactly was me starving myself and then going through a period where I was bulimic. I loved this because I was finally seeing results to what I was doing. Binging and purging was paying off in my waist line but it was adversely affecting me in other ways. My gums were bleeding, my throat hurt, my ribs were always sore from throwing up and I was generally in poor health; but I kept doing what I was doing because my body was getting, and staying, smaller…finally.
Throughout my college years I started feeling better about myself as I kept on starving my body in pursuit of the perfect frame. I was often tired and consumed with how many calories I was taking in and worrying about being caught throwing up in the bathroom in order to maintain the body I’d been dreaming of all my life. This routine lasted for the better part of my college years but after graduating my body began to betray me again. All the years of doing the wrong thing to stay ‘thin’ and lose weight had caused my body to rebound to the other end of the spectrum; I started gaining all the lost weight back.
This was the worst period of my life. Not only was I gaining weight I was officially plus-sized. I had to actually shop in the ‘big girls’ department and I was internally mortified. Oh I kept a good face and I would smile when I got compliments on my outfits; from women twice my age mind you, but I was just not happy with my body and this was affecting how I felt about myself overall. Instead of loving myself and my body and reveling in my uniqueness I went to the opposite end of the spectrum. Not only was I dressing from the plus-size department, I was over dressing. Instead of figure and body flattering clothes I would wear clothes two and three sizes bigger in order to try and hide my assets. Then I started losing weight again. Joy and rapture! Ironically, this gaining and losing, losing and gaining would go on for a number of years.
All of this had finally gotten to me and a vowed that it could not go on. About six or seven years ago I finally decided that I was going to embrace the body I’d been given. I was tired of depriving myself of the foods and drinks I like, wearing too-big clothes that hid my true shape, hating what I saw in the mirror and hating myself. I embarked on a journey to love myself at whatever size I might be.
Though it was slow in coming I began to see women like myself in magazines and on television. I began to really look around me and see all the beautiful women who had actual shapes and filled out their clothes sexily. Most importantly I gave myself permission to love me in all my glory and splendor; I would not hide behind bulky clothes and shapeless shifts.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have those moments when I wish I could lose a few pounds for any number of reasons but I refuse to get caught up in this and slide back into the loop of self-loathing. I’m perfect just the way I am.