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.

Hated it.

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...

 Here I am, just a week after giving birth to my second child. The baby and dark clothing meant to hide my postpartum body.

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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  1. Micki, I'm so sorry for the pain you have endured. Kids can be so cruel, and the voice in our head can be even worse. You are a beautiful lady and I hope that you will come to see yourself as God sees you- precious and lovely, created in His image. :)

  2. You are an amazing and wonderful woman. You are truly beautiful and I hope you finda way to accept yourself fully. I too am fighting the battles. Hugs, Tina

  3. Micki, I'm so proud of you for sharing such a personal story. I can 100% relate to being top heavy. I was that girl who developed first and was teased and known for my big boobs. I hated it.

    Thank you for being the voice for all of us.

  4. This takes real strength and real courage to be so real on the internet, can't wait to read the whole series!

  5. This takes real strength and real courage to be so real on the internet, can't wait to read the whole series!

  6. Wow Micki, what a absolute vulnerable post for you to write. I'm sorry that you are not happy with your body and never have been. Most of us women are never happy with their bodies, but it seems like it goes deeper for you. I hope that in your Part 2 we learn that you have found some peace and come to except your body for what it is, a precious gift that has, handmade, 4 beautiful babies. That's not some small beans, it's a living breathing miracle. And every stretch mark or shag or lump or bump was put there by your babies. You are a walking masterpiece that 4 little ones worked long and hard at creating. Just for a little comfort, I used to work for a plastic surgeon and let me tell you, I've seen a lot of breasts (lol!), and you my dear are not any size near the biggest I've seen. Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable, that takes guts!!

    1. Thank you :) I now have six wonderful kids. Part two, I will get in to that particular struggle with learning to appreciate the stretch marks. And Part three, I will discuss my healing (both spiritually and physically!) ...I haven't even posted the post baby #6 body photos. But, compression bras became my friend once I found them in a 34G/32H LOL

  7. Micki, Thank you for candidly sharing your story. It takes great strength to be so open and honest.

  8. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I remember feeling something similar to yours regarding the boobs. Only I didn't have any and being a senior in high school taking showers naked with other girls 3 years younger that had boobs already made for some real insecurity problems for me for years. It wasn't until 10 years after graduating from high school, getting married and then divorcing, and then landing with the man (Jim) I am with to this day, that I had the chance to consult with a doctor about implants. In the meantime, my Jim always said he loved the way I was naturally but I just could not believe him. The doctor took Polaroids that I brought back home with me. It wasn't until Jim saw the expression of pain on my face in those pictures that he realized what I was going through. FINALLY someone saw what I felt. It was then I decided not to go ahead with the implants and I could accept how God made me and to this day I am so grateful for Jim and for my decision. I hope you have found some tiny sliver of peace to help you through everything.

    1. I sure do understand! You never want to have too much or not enough. I have prayed that my daughters don't have these issues. It's hard as a mom not to transfer your own issues on to your kids!

  9. If we are honest, all of us struggle with our body image. Looking forward to reading the rest of the story. It's very courageous of you to put this out there.


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