Monday, July 13

Super, just like I am.

When I was a young girl, my best friend was named Betsy. Where I was short, Betsy was tall.... I had white-blonde hair, and Betsy had super shiny brown-black hair... (both of us had straight hair... go figure... anyway...) I watched TV, she read books... you get the picture...

Oh yeah... I was thick and she was thin. As a little kid, I wasn't chubby or overweight. But standing next to Betsy in our bathing suits at camp, I would always marvel that two people could be so different.

Then one day when we were probably 13, Betsy told me that she thought she was fat and that she would need to start exercising. My eyes popped wide as the gears in my head whirred to process this information: if Betsy, beautiful, thin Betsy, could be fat (gasp!), THEN WHAT THE HECK WAS I???!!

And so it began... my infinite downward spiral into the bizarre rabbit hole that is a girl/woman's relationship with her body. What started with a blissfully ignorant childish awareness that my body simply looked different than my thin friend grew, cancer-like, over the years to become an all-out obsession with comparing my frame with any other woman present... and usually coming up short. When I walked into a room, I immediately sized up the "competition," judging, quite literally, how I sized up with them: it was either good or bad - no in between.

The worst part is that I let these judgements color my friendships. Often, I felt unworthy of friendships with women I felt were thinner than me... on the flip side, I let myself feel superior to those larger than me. Not that I didn't appreciate people's intellect and inner light... it just didn't weigh as heavily on my unfairly skewed opinions of weight and appearance.

When I was in college, I gained a few too many pounds and decided to start exercising. I lost weight, a few pounds and felt smugly satisfied with myself... until THE revelation... I was the same person, thick and thin. It didn't change who I was!

As time marched on, marriage, life, kids, stress and anything else you can think of took their individual tolls on me. Scars from c-sections, post-baby body, lack of exercise, too much exercise, and despite my stellar collegiate revelation, I still berated myself for my perceived imperfections. Did I believe others judged me for these "flaws?" No. Did I judge myself? Yes.

One day about fifteen years after that first revelation, staring at myself in the full-length mirror, and spewing vitriol at myself, I made a second revelation: I would never allow another human being to speak to me with the hatred, anger and distaste that I reserved for myself. Why should I allow my own self to do it? Hmph! I had stumped myself. And with that realization, I resolved that I could not continue the hate/hate relationship with my body that I had nurtured for the better part of a lifetime... I needed to learn to love myself right where I was, then and there, despite size, appearance or age.

That was about three years ago, and I can say that for the first time I really love my body for what it is today. Is it perfect? No. Am I as thin as I was when I first realized that my body weight wasn't actually a true indicator of my goodness or rightness? Absolutely not, and I probably never will be. But I know that I am good and right none the less... and on top of that, I am fit, and strong and healthy.

Today, I choose to love my body, because I am super, just like I am.

I hope you will love yourself today too.


azaleafaye said...

I have a book recommendation that came to me after I read the first part of this blog about you comparing yourself to your friend that you felt so different from.

Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden

On the topic of body image I grew up being constantly teased for being so little and skinny and then I had no boobs. Now I've grown up and somewhere along the way I just lost touch with my body, when I look at another woman I don't know if I'm bigger or smaller. Of course in extreme cases of difference I have some sense of difference. Body issues and senses of identity are a plague upon femininity and now that I'm what I'm told is a normal weight I miss being skinny, what I was tortured for to begin with and struggled to overcome. Brain! Media! Perceptions! They will do you in before you even realize what's happening.

Swestie said...

Thanks, AzaleaFaye! I'll have to check that book out. When I do, I'll let you know. Love a good book about body image!!

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