Picture 1- Middle school. Completely lost myself. The outgoing child turned into a completely terrified tween. I hated how I looked. I always felt like the biggest kid, and therefore the least important. I had sports shoved down my throat, and even though I enjoyed them, they weren’t a passion. I had no voice. Dieting and body shame started here.
Picture 2- High school. Even more lost. I started to feel like the life I was being told I needed to live, wasn’t the one I wanted to live, and pushed back slightly. That worked against me. I heard about my body and why I needed to eat less and exercise more at home on a daily basis. To the point that I was given an exercise routine I had to do several times a week to help me “improve”. I would binge and purge, restrict and then give up, only to start the cycle over. My body was my worst enemy, but my entire focus. I was beyond depressed, I hated my world and everyone in it. (This is not to point fingers or shame my family, this was their way of showing love.)
Picture 3- New mom. Years of yo yo dieting, diet pills/drinks/programs had gotten me nowhere and my new changing body made me cry daily. A lifetime of body shame, not meeting expectations and searching for unconditional acceptance led me into an abusive relationship with an addict. I ate to fill voids, I ate to comfort myself, I ate to stuff emotions away. It was several more years and another baby before I could finally say “No More”.
Picture 4- Today. I’m still battling body image issues. But I am not at war with my body. I know that I am capable of amazing things because of this body, not in spite of it. I now love whatever stage my body is in, because I’ve learned that I can’t hate it thin, or myself happy. My journey is now health based. I had been furiously trying to change my body and up until the last few years, it’s been for the wrong reasons. It’s time spent focusing on the imaginary when true and real life is right there in front of you. This path to body acceptance is a LONG one. One I am still navigating and it doesn’t come with a map.
Telling her she looks just like me while feeding her the lie that a body like mine is disgusting and should be hidden, dooms her to a life of shame, dieting and never feeling worth.
My fat body created her. My fat body grew her, fed her, nurtured her. From her beginnings, my body was her vessel. It’s only ever shown her love. She never saw weight until it was shoved in her face.
We groom kids, ALL KIDS, to be afraid of what their bodies are, and will become.
We’ve shown them cookie cutter bodies and given them face slimming filters.
What about teaching our children the value of a persons being and not the measure of their jeans. That their bodies will change. That they can choose to change their bodies. That however their bodies changes, by choice or by life, their value and worth does not.
I want her to know her value is in her actions, not her body size. And that my body isn’t her future, and even if it was, it’s beautiful and amazing and made my best friend.
You know those moments in life when you have to make emotional flight or fight choices?
The really uncomfortable ones that mean being in the memory living in our bodies or being just outside of the memory, hiding our bodies. There, but not really there.
We have learned to be so anxious about those choices. We fear them long before we are even faced with them. They are in the back of our minds, looming.
I spent so much of my life on edge about those choices. How would I explain that I “just don’t like the beach”. Or I “forgot my bathing suit”. Mulling over my excuses long before the beach day or pool party. I had my list of “no’s” prepared, pre planned.
We can continue to choose the flight response, and be a shadow in our memories. Or we can fight, and be a glow.