I was probably 10/11 years old and it was summer time. My best friends at the time (who were twin sisters) and I were riding our bikes to end of my street. I have this distinct memory of looking at my legs in shorts and then at Sarah/Theresa's legs in shorts and not liking what I saw when I looked at myself. When I didn't like what I saw, I equated what I saw in me as bad, ugly, fat, etc. It is a distinct memory I have shared with therapists over the years on how the majority of my life I have not liked what I see in the mirror when I look at myself; I have judged myself to the world's standards of beauty and have spent much of my life looking in disgust at my body, constantly wishing I could be "skinny-ish" instead of "fat-ish".
Over the last month or so, I have seen a lot posts in the blog-o-sphere related to these types of issues. One thing I really enjoy about blogging is the real, heartfelt honesty of so many of the gals I follow...all of us have a story, and I think one the deepest desires of the human heart (after knowing God and truth) is to be understood by others in the context of genuine relationships.
We are created/made for relationships, I mean why do babies not emotionally thrive when they are not nurtured as infants? Because in the depths of our soul, we crave.thrive.desperately need. relationships! And so today I share something deep on my heart...
So that summer day in my childhood has left a mark on me on how I see/value myself in the world.
I grew up watching and hearing my Mom look at her own body in disgust and complain and self-loathe in the mirror (No, I'm not blaming my Mom, but those experiences leave a lasting mark on a little girl). As I became a teenager, the junior high years were rough for me. Looking back I was never very overweight. I went through chubby stages, but I would constantly compare myself to other girl's my age.
In junior high my Mom could sense my frustration with my body, she started having me stand in front of the mirror after I brushed my teeth at night and helping me practice saying nice things to myself to help kill my negative self-talk. When I knew girl's my age wearing bikini's, I decided one time while at Target myself to just try one on and see how it looked. After seeing how I looked, I broke down in the dressing room and came home and cried about some more. I hated how I looked in shorts. I freaked the freak out if I was trying on a sleeveless top/dress for fear of my jiggly jello arms. My stomach looked like a deflated balloon.
Over the years, I have done quite well with different diets. I thrive on routine and structure and became quite good at expecting the utmost perfection with my body; however, when my idealistic expectations are shattered because the number on the scale is too high for my comfort zone, my world comes crashing down and I flip on the inside. When I did the Atkins diet, I was down to my lowest weigh ever, 145 pounds. For a taller girl at 5'8, my parents started getting worried about my excessive dieting habits, and told me I could no longer do that. I was devastated. I had no sense of balance and self-medicated those awful feelings with food. When I got my first job at Panera, the weigh piled back on as I sought "comfort" in the left overs from the bakery as I came home from a shift.
My highest weight, was at 195 in the beginning of college and I started doing Weight Watchers. I have kept off a good portion of that for a long time; even though I'm still not at at weight I'm really comfortable with. I still to this day struggle with food. This week, I gained weight. After a disappointing weigh in, I went and tried to drown my sorrow and frustration with a chocolate milk shake. Knowing I need to fuel my body with good, healthy choices vs. emotionally eating to satisfy a need within me I think I cannot fix without eating it away.
To this day I still have a love/hate relationship with my body, even with striving to live a Weight Watcher lifestyle (which is pretty healthy and safe). I still feel HIGHLY uncomfortable bearing my arms in a sleeveless dress/shirt. I already worry about what will happen to my body when my husband and I have children someday; what that will do to my already shaky impression of how I view myself. Will a new postpartum body send me off into a black hole of feeling even worse?? I still struggle with emotional eating and feel I'm constantly on a see-saw going back and forth how I feel in my own skin.
I heard some statistic recently that more people in the US would rather shave 10 years off there life earlier just so they could be at the exact ideal weight they have wanted their whole life? What does that message send to us?? What kind of message are we sending to young girl's learning to feel comfortable in their own skin or young men on how they treat the women in their lives?? There is an emotional, spiritual epidemic in our culture that robs peace/joy of many men and women who struggle with the desire to be more "skinny-ish" vs. "fat-ish." And I am one of those women. Recovering? Yes. But very, very slowly with many mis-steps along the way...
BUT...amazingly enough, over the past 6 months or so, I have had this strong sense, that I REALLY have to do some serious work in this area of my life. I have sensed just in the little day to day things in my life, and most especially in my spiritual life as I talk to my spiritual director. I have been battling the "skinny-ish vs. fat-ish" wars for a long time, but I ain't giving up!! I'm going to keep working, learning, and allowing myself permission to NOT be perfect...in how I think I should be or how the world tells me I should be. I want to be an emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy woman...I want to be healthy in all those ways for ME. I want take tack back the territory in my heart/soul that I have believed for too freaking long in my life, the lies that I have let cloud my vision who I really am.
Maybe you're in the midst of your own version of the "skinny-ish vs. fat-ish" wars, but lets work together as women to help support. encourage. nurture each other to embrace our bodies. Together let's work to put a greater emphasis on living a life a virtue, being a good wife/mom/student, etc. over what size we were or what we look like.
I am leaving you with something I have recently discovered that have helped me check myself as I work on my own "skinny-ish vs. fat-ish" wars in my life....may this speak to your heart, mind, and soul as well :)
So go out there you beautifully, bodacious woman...and beat the "skinny-ish vs. fat-ish" wars in your life :)