I feel like I have always been aware of my body as something to be ashamed about. I have always been short and stout, rounded and pudgy. It has always been, and body image issues seem to run in the family. My dad's side has the over eaters, my mom's: the sometimes dangerously under eaters. I grew up hearing my mom talk about how fat she was, how horrible she looked weighing so much. As I was much more rounded than she was, I took that to mean I must look horrible as well. She never intentionally said anything like that about me, it was just the natural conclusion I came to. Even more so, as she always seemed to look slender to me. I rebelled against this ideal of body perfection, at least that is what I told myself. I didn't care what I ate, or keeping active.
I wore my first bra at 8, with a horribly embarrassing trip to K-Mart where my mom just kind of nudged me into the intimates department and told me to pick something. I bumbled through tears and feelings of shame until a suitable item was found. And the following day, being scoffed at and teased by other girls for wearing a bra to "hold my fat in." I recall middle school clothes shopping, when I was to pay for half of my clothing budget, having picked out items from the plus sized area (already) that rang up the wrong price. My mom was helpful in standing up for the price listed, but I was so ashamed to say they were from the plus size section for the price check I would rather had paid the higher price. Picking out clothes my first year in high school at age 14, I was a size 20.
During high school, I was more active. Our school was the largest in the state, so to traverse it's grounds within the 5 minute transfer period was a strain. Marching Band also helped (and shut up of you don't think a couple of hours a day with a bell set strapped to you wouldn't help you drop a few rolls!) as well as forgoing breakfast, and usually lunch. Not exactly healthy, but is what it is. So, when I met my now husband as a 16 year old, I was a size 16.
After high school, my weight climbed again, then would drop off when I changed jobs or started fashion design school. (Walking around downtown Seattle, and spending class time with mostly size 2 girls, and being told I would only being taught how to design clothes for that size did little for my self-image.) But slowly, it climbed up and up. In early 2006 I stepped on a scale to the shock of the answer being 287. I decided that "it didn't matter" and went on, surely gaining a few pounds after that point.
It wasn't until a few months of failing to get pregnant that I realized that maybe my weight was the issue. So, I finally started thinking about what I ate. And the weight started coming off. I was pregnant 4 months later. By 6 weeks postpartum, I was 50lbs less than my first exam. Someone told me if I did that with every baby, a few more and I could be a super model.
Fast forward! (I'm done with the sob story.) L2 is born, with all his food sensitivities/allergies. But, more than that story, was the birth of PRIDE in my body. It wasn't until recently that I even made that realization.
That realization came when I decided I wanted to do more than my twice weekly Zumba. I wanted to run. My doula suggested looking into the Couch to 5K. I am working on week 2. It is still early in the plan, but I am feeling great about it. I choose to run at random times as well. I push myself when playing with my kids. When parking is scarce in my complex, I will jog the short distance home around the pond.
Moreover, I LIKE my body. I still fall to thinking that I am still a "fat girl" and head straight for the plus sizes when shopping, or shirking from photos. I grasp at compliments, sometimes to the annoyance of my husband, to bolster my new self-image. I don't need that plus size section anymore. I take pictures of myself, for the pride I feel about it. I am so proud in fact, that I LOVED finding these pictures to share with you:
This is almost 4 years, 2 babies, and plenty of lessons learned about body image ago. I once believed my body didn't work. I was then convinced of that by Dr's who told me I couldn't birth my baby as nature intended. Then, I found out we were wrong. My body is amazing. It will continue to amaze me, the more I value it. In fact, my body is one of an athlete. It may not (yet) be slender and toned, but it has endurance, strength, and stamina beyond what I ever imagined. Now, I am determined to continue that theme into a new realm of fitness that I have never known. I might even do a marathon. Soon. Want to join me?
When did you discover you LOVED yourself? How can I support you in loving yourself MORE?