A Timeline of One Girl’s Relationship with Her Body
Age 10: I am a head taller than the boys in my class, and sometimes two heads taller than the girls. My sister and I are both alarmingly tall for our ages. I’m sitting on the bus next to a friend, and we’re both propping our knees up on the seat in front of us. “Look!” she says, innocently enough, “Your legs are like, twice as big as mine!” We weren’t old enough for it to be a snarky girl comment, it was just an observation, but regardless, I am horrified beyond all belief. I never prop my legs up again, and from that one comment, I feel myself turning inward. I feel my shoulders hunch, I feel myself trying to shrink, to become smaller than I am. I don’t see my height as an advantage, I see it as a monstrous growth I have to apologize for.
Read the full article via xojane.com.
Most women have been there. This article is incredibly relatable. I recommend that everyone, not just women, read the entire article.
To add to this from my own perspective:
From the time I was young until a few years ago, I’d remember each and every negative comment that has ever been made about the way I look and my body.
Growing up, I was very, very thin and had no curves to speak of. Other girls would ask me if I threw up my food. I didn’t, I just had naturally high metabolism, but it didn’t stop the questions. Boys would ask me what’s wrong with me because I had no breasts, when clearly other girls - some of which were much younger than me - had breasts.
It was about this time that I hunched over like the author did, afraid to stand up straight and be noticed. I even let my hair fall and cover my face because I was trying to hide myself. I hated the way I looked and I didn’t want anyone to notice me, because I “knew” they’d hate it too.
I was a late bloomer. I didn’t really develop until the last few months of my senior year in high school. I developed so quickly though that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wasn’t well adjusted to that new body. It was nice because no one would ask me if I had a eating disorder and no one made fun of me for being flat anymore, but that’s as far as my happiness went. Otherwise, I was still not the biggest fan of my body.
Like the author of the post I linked, all I knew is that this new body made boys happy. It was something.
I then started to lose my fast metabolism. I gained weight. I went from being too skinny to being “too chubby” or “fat.” Those were the comments I heard. Some people liked my figure with extra weight, but others didn’t. The ones that didn’t made comments. Comments that I never forgot.
All the comments I heard growing up and through this point never left my brain. They were always there, reminding me that no matter what - skinny or with more weight - that I have never been perfect.
I continued to not be a fan of my body. I drank heavily. I ate fatty foods without any regard. I kept gaining weight. I got sick all the time. I don’t think I could go more than two months without getting sick and going to a urgent care center. More often than not, it was because I didn’t take care of my body.
I’d go on diets. My weight would go back down but it resulted in losing a lot of my curves because it’d always be an unhealthy way to diet (in order to lose a lot of weight fast). I’d gain weight back. This would yo-yo again and again. It was always fluctuating. And even when I’d lose weight, I kept thinking it was still not good enough.
The only source of feeling any kind of temporary body acceptance was through the men that liked my body. That was the problem though: acceptance through others, and not myself. Acceptance that was fleeting.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that things started to change. Some of it has to do with getting older, but a lot of this has to do with the influence of my fiancé. He loved me for me. He didn’t make comments about how I needed to lose weight, or dress better, or anything at all. There were no criticisms. He just supported me, loved me, and valued me, through and through. I was shocked and startled by it at first. But then I started asking myself why I didn’t love myself through and through. Why did I not feel good enough before? Why didn’t I value myself? And why was I punishing myself for it by treating my body so badly?
I decided that it was time to value myself and my body.
I started exercising more. I started balancing was I was eating. I made sure to eat things that actually held nutritional value. I’d still indulge, and still do, but in moderation. I stopped obsessing about wanting to be perfect. In fact, after a few months of respecting my body and building healthy habits, I stopped weighing myself completely. I stopped obsessing over the scale. I stopped obsessing about perfection.
I just DID stuff. I’d just do the exercise, push myself, feel myself struggle only to eventually gain more strength and conquer what used to make me struggle. It made me feel good. Eating nutritional food made me feel good too. I just felt GOOD.
Doing these things with no goal in mind other than making sure I value my body enough to keep it healthy was all I did. I was happier. My body responded to it. I am almost never sick. I am stronger. Once I treated my body well, felt good, and felt happy, it showed. Maybe it showed a bit through me looking more fit, but I promise you more than half of what I look like now can be attributed to my happiness. Happiness directly impacts confidence and makes you more radiant.
And by the way, there are always going to be people that say something negative about you or your body even if you’re healthy and happy. People have always said things to us, haven’t they? It won’t change. But it’s important to remember that absolutely none of these things that people say matter. Every body is different. It’s all about being in the best shape that works for us.
Right now, this is my body when it is healthiest and happiest. It’s not perfect but I no longer care about perfection. It’s what works best for me.
Don’t wait to value yourself and your body. Don’t wait to respect your body. Don’t wait to accept your body. It’s the only one you have.
Take care of it, respect it, embrace it, accept it, love it.
edit: This article really expresses what I was trying to express towards the end!
The more I worked to divorce physical activity from the concept of weight loss — the cultural imperative of weight loss, as though the only reason a fat person might like going to the gym was to lose weight — the more I felt like, yeah, actually, I do love all kinds of movement.
Physical activity isn’t a punishment for your body failing to conform to some arbitrary and impossible ideal. Physical activity is about being in your individual body.