Body Image

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I would love to be content with my body shape. Once, what seems like a hundred years ago, my body was desperately thin. It was not “thin” enough. It was not “good” enough. As much as I sought it, I could not obtain it.  Not in my mind. Never in my mind.

I admired girls or women who were comfortable in their own skin. Women who, normally, wouldn’t be found attractive by beauty magazines, but, who found their own beauty. These woman exuded confidence. Magazine articles or not, they were beautiful. I wanted to feel that within me, but it almost always escaped me.

When I was in my childhood, I read a book about attaining the perfect form. I think it was a book from the Sixties, though it was late in the Seventies when I read it. The part I practiced most was walking in a straight line with books on my head.  Posture was important.  In Junior High(Middle School), I had a teacher who taught our class about beauty rituals of the olden times.  It involved saying: Peaches, Prunes, Plums.  Somehow that was going to keep your mouth small.  She wasn’t embracing this.  She was definitely a feminist who was bringing up history.  I had the feeling she thought the practice was ludicrous.  It stuck with me though.

While in my adolescence, I ordered a breast enlargement cream through an ad in the back of a magazine.  I do not remember how I was able to do this.  I did get it.  It smelled funny and I had to hide it from my mom(who was always well endowed).  It was the last time I ever bought anything to increase that part of my anatomy.  I did do exercises.  Judy Blume, the author, helped with that through one of her books for young teens.

By High School, I learned how to control my eating.  I tried throwing up once.  It hurt and I couldn’t stand the taste.  That was the last time I did that.  It didn’t seem worth it to me.  I could easily stop eating and I did.  Just enough to not draw notice.  I fed my meals to our dog.  I claimed I was not hungry.  I took advantage that my mom was a single, working, mother, and she could not always be there to see what I ate or didn’t eat.

It is important to note that my mother was overweight.  I was told by my father, while I was a child, that no one would want me if I became as large as my mother.  No one would want me.  Perhaps he was drunk.  Perhaps he only wanted to hurt my mother.  Perhaps he no longer remembers.  I do.  I know what he said is not true.  I have never had someone who loved me leave me because of my weight.  Though, on some level, I definitely dared them too.

My mother and I did discuss these issues.  She was an amazingly, strong, woman and she could not control her weight or her smoking.  She tried every diet out there.  She bought various exercise machines off television commercials.  Her looks were important to her.  She said she was always what people would think as a chunky girl, but she was secure in that, I think.  It was when her body gave way to her depression, her loss, that she became large.  She joked about it with her friends and family.  It bothered her immensely.  She told me once, she felt it was a comfort, a wall, a protection against getting hurt.  She knew what it was to experience love and loss and she didn’t want to chance it ever again.

When I met my current husband, I was in fairly decent shape.  I wasn’t overly skinny, but I wasn’t overweight.  After we were married I did put on some weight.  A friend of mine and I joined a work out group and I controlled my eating habits.  Overeating had never been much of an issue.  The old messages played through my head.  I actually ate realistically.  I didn’t deprive myself like old times.  I could eat and I could exercise.  By the time I became pregnant, I felt the best I had ever felt about myself.  I was not the skinniest I had ever been, I was, however, the healthiest.  I loved it!  That was the most content I ever felt with my body.

During my pregnancy, the doctors watched me for Anorexia signs.  I was good.  I could rationalize the weight gain.  I didn’t freak out about the weight until I stopped nursing.  It was the darkest I had felt in years.

By my second pregnancy, I still hadn’t lost all the weight but I managed to except the gain.  My only goal was to be healthy for this child and the one I was taking care of.  Afterwards, my body gave in to illness.  I could no longer exercise and it did not matter that I did not eat, I still gained weight.  Years later, we have the answers, but my body is the heaviest it has ever been.

People, medical included, look at me and assume that I eat too much or I eat fattening food.  I must not “want” to exercise.  Of course, with all of this I have avoided pictures, going public places, etc. .  Old messages have not left my head.  I have not had any fun getting to this place.

I lost my mom recently for various reasons, one was bad health choices.  She used her weight to protect her, but she also enjoyed her food.  I do not want to lose my life.  My choices are healthy, despite my weight.  Now I am going to do all I can to find a way to exercise without negative effects.

Most of all, I want to feel good about myself again.  I want the negative messages away and I want, whatever the weight my body is capable of settling down to, be happy with who I am.  That can’t be too much to ask, can it?

 

 

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