*Lite rants contain less than 30% of the intensity of regular, full-blown rants.
I’ve been thinking a lot about body image over the last few months. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how comfortable I am in my own skin these days, perhaps for the first time in my life, and so it follows that I’ve also been lamenting the fact that it’s taken me this long to get there.
I’m not naive; I know exactly why I’ve never felt comfortable in my body – can you say Mean Girls? I’ve always been surrounded by bullies and other self-conscious girls, in addition to the media, perpetuating the “ideal.” But I also had people close to me who would tell me I looked great just the way I was. It’s funny how we choose to listen to the haters more often than to those we love, isn’t it? Why did the opinion of the “public” or the kids I didn’t like in class supercede those of my family and my friends? Why did I long to fit in with jerks rather than appreciate the circle of support I already had?
I suppose the short answer is that time brings a maturity and an understanding that the 12-year-old-me, hearing I needed to go to Weight Watchers, and the 17-year-old-me, getting scoffed at for my untanned legs, just didn’t have. So many moments like these where I was belittled for the way I looked are ingrained in my brain. How is a girl supposed to fight such indoctrination?
Part of the impetus for starting this blog was to motivate myself to lose weight – you know, the whole “if I post it for the public to see then I have to follow through,” thing. We had just gotten back from a trip to Cuba with 4 other couples, and a few of the pictures really emphasized the fact that I am much bigger than the other girls, and even some of the guys. I looked like a sore thumb, like I didn’t belong, next to all my skinny friends. To my immense shame and self-disgust, I even wondered briefly why those people were friends with me.
Yep, that’s what happens when a chubby little girl is ostracized by the skinny girls her whole life… it makes her think that somehow her weight is the one true measurement of her self-worth.
The worst part about my reasoning was that having this blog and my published-for-the-world-to-judge goals to hold me accountable actually did nothing to encourage weight loss; nothing at all. So sometime during that first year, I realized what a stupid thought that was. I also realized that those people we went to Cuba with are my friends because they choose to be, and that their choice has nothing to do with my body. But even thinking that it might for a second meant I was still under the thumb of my childhood bullies, and even though I’ve talked the talk before about how I shouldn’t care what others think, in many ways I’m still that little girl in kindergarten on the playground being called fat.
I am aware that I have the power to change the way I look, and though it’d be incredibly hard, I could probably succeed at it eventually. It’s that precise conviction that has kept me going back to program after program, year after year. But who would I really be doing it for? And how long would the change last once I reintroduced carbs and burnt out from all the early-morning workouts? I’ve got the body I’ve got and not much is going to change that. The truth is that I’m tired. I’m tired of being unsatisfied with the way I look. I’m tired of letting self-deprecation rule my life. I’m tired of even thinking about this subject. Period.
So I’m putting it to bed. If I bike, it’ll be because I love biking, not because it’s exercise. If I eat a salad, it’ll be because I made a kick-ass dressing, not because I’m “supposed to eat more greens.” If I enjoy a workout it’ll be because I felt like a good sweat session, not because it’s my responsibility to be healthy*. And while I recognize that body-negativity is rooted deep in my self-conscious and I will undoubtedly have some bad days, I need to get out of the negative feedback loop** and strive to remember that I am not my physical appearance.
Who I am is a considerate, kind, respectful, friendly, shy, thoughtful, logical and silly person with an affinity for dogs, grammar and video games. And I am comfortable in my own skin.