Sunday, January 12, 2014
My Body Image Battle pt 1
I've written this post about fifty times in my head. Trying to figure out the best words and even wondering if I should write it at all.
In the end, it all boils down to my insecurities. And, over the next few days, I'm really going to putting all my insecurities out there. Or at least the root of them.
You see, I've always hated my body.
I'm not sure whether the issues started because of childhood trauma or because I was "the first girl in my grade" to develop. You never want to be one of the first girls. And you don't want to be the last girl, either.
My family's poverty didn't help. On top of being "that girl" who had more curves, I also had the "special lunch card" that let the cafeteria workers (and all the other kids) know I got free lunch or free milk.
I withdrew into myself. Not that I was outspoken. I learned to hide. I never raised my hand. I didn't let the teachers know I knew the answer. I could keep up with the "smart kids" in the gifted classes, but the teacher wouldn't know it because my hand never went up. I didn't contribute. I didn't understand the social nuances or the jokes the other kids made. To this day, I am still embarrassed by incidents that happened in grade school due to being so unaware. I am still haunted by the teasing and the taunts from junior high and grade school. The nicknames. The pranks. The shame.
So I hid. I hid myself in my writing. And I hid my body under layers and layers of clothes.
On a recent interaction with a friend from junior high, she commented that she was always "the biggest" of our group of friends. She was wrong. I was bigger. I just hid it. People just thought I was heavy.
Once I got to college, I tried out wearing clothes that fit better, but old habits die hard.
Looking back from twenty years later, first I have to question the hair. But it was the 90s and I think we all have certain hair regrets from the 90s. I also look back and see all my flaws. I see how I wore shapeless things to disguise my shape. You wouldn't know it from the picture, I weighed less than 100 lbs.
Over the years, I learned the value of turning in just the right way to hide my arms. The right amount of layering to make sure I blended in. Or even using props to hide myself...
And this...this is what I looked like when my oldest was only 4 months old.
Do you see it finally? What I have been trying to hide all these years? It was made exponentially worse by being a nursing mother. In this picture, I am a size 6...on the bottom at least. On the top, I was wearing an 18.
Over the years, it hadn't gotten better. Most friends, when discussing bra size were shocked when I shared mine.
After my second baby was born, I wore a 38H. I had no idea about proper bra fitting at the time. I had no idea that the middle portion of the bra between the cups was supposed to fit flat against your chest. The 38H is just what I could find that fit. The volume was 38H but the band size wasn't correct. Knowing what I wore at my most recent fitting and being about 30 lbs heavier, I was probably closer to a 30L.
Not wearing a proper bra perpetuated my body image issues. My breasts hung low, hiding any shape I had. I looked in my pictures and all I saw were boobs. No middle. Just giant boobs.
I was sure every person who met me first noticed my boobs. I heard the whispers. It wasn't in my head. I was "The mom with the gigantic boobs."
I tried to lose weight, but it didn't help. No sooner did I lose weight, than I found myself pregnant again.
The clothes I wore didn't help. Spending 16 years without a break either pregnant and or nursing didn't help. I still hated my body. I tried to accept who I was and the shape God had blessed me with. God made me beautiful, right? My mom told me that. My wonderful husband told me that. They were supposed to tell me I was beautiful, you know?
Then why didn't I believe it? What was wrong with me that I could only see the flaws?
For some reason, I still associated with bullies. None that I could see in person; just ones on the internet. I posted on message boards searching for acceptance. Maybe, just maybe if I could find people who didn't know me in person who liked me anyway, it would be better. Writing this, I have come to realize I understand the mind of a teenager on the internet better than someone my age should. I've been there--subject to cyberbullying because I published harmless pictures of myself and found instead of support, ridicule. Fat. Lazy. Ugly. Stupid.
It led to more depression and anxiety. More self-hate. I tried to do more-- to be super mom. Not only super mom, I wanted to be super crunchy hippie mom. Home birth, home school, breastfeeding, anti-circumcision, cloth diapering, super mom. Why? Because these women celebrated their bodies. They accepted themselves. They thought they were beautiful. And I thought if I did all those things, then I'd think I was beautiful, too.
But I didn't. I still hated my body.
Something needed to change.
To Be Continued in Part 2...
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