I go back and forth like a pendulum swinging when it comes to body image and self-confidence. One minute I’m on a rant about how society has constructed this irrationally small little box for women to fit into when it comes to their bodies. The next I’m complaining about my own body and self-loathing to the point where I am kicking myself for every morsel of food I ate that I didn’t consider to be ‘healthy’.
I have to remind myself to self-love, constantly. Yet, I always find myself looking in the mirror, judging what I see in the reflection. I know that I am about 15 pounds heavier than I was this time last year. That could be attributed to the fact that this time last year I was preparing to move to Toronto and coming out of a long-term relationship. I was exercising, eating well and full of anxiety. For once, my IBS was actually working in my favour. However, this year, I’ve been treating myself to food truck festivals, an endless supply of fresh and cheap sushi and a some-what relief of my anxiety! I live in a beautiful neighborhood with some really great walking paths, but I’m so tired and lazy. I know I need to get into the habit and routine of daily exercise, but it’s so much easier said than done. When I’m exercising regularly, my anxiety is better, I feel better about myself, I sleep better, and I don’t feel as guilty when I eat pizza, poutine, sushi, or all three combined and pretend it’s a normal and justifiable supper.
I have been opening up more to my friends and boyfriend about my problematic self-image. All of them tell me the same thing – that I clearly have a warped view of my own body. I don’t see things they way they do. I am constantly comparing myself to other body types and shapes and I question what I’m comparable to. When I do ask the question, “is my body like that?”, it’s always a very harsh, “no!!!” I receive in reply. To me, the body that I’m referring to, is exactly how I think I look. I wish, along with them, that I could see me through their eyes.
How did I get to this point?
I have always been quite slender. People often refer to my body type as Gumby-esque. I have long arms, legs, and a long torso. I never thought twice about my weight or my body shape until about 23 when all of my poor eating caught up to me. I started noticing that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted anymore. Not only did it cause weight gain, but it made me feel awful too. I would go on bouts of heavy exercise accompanied with healthy eating, only to completely fall off the wagon and lazily binge for months. Then I would hate myself, so the saga continued.
I try to be confident in myself. I tell myself that I’m fine, that I don’t need to look like anyone, I just need to be happy with me. Yet I have this undeniable urge to fit into that irrationally small little box. I think about how good I would feel if only I had a flatter stomach, if my butt didn’t have so many dimples and sat an inch higher up, if my legs were firm and toned and if I could stop referring to my upper arms as “Oprah’s”. I’m beginning to think though, that even if I achieved this, I still wouldn’t be happy. My warped sense of self has to be healed from the inside out. I need to take control over that power that makes me feel good about myself. I need to work on self-love. I need to let go of assuming everyone is judging me. I need to accept the fact that people may judge me, but those who do need to work on their own self-love. I need to stop being so critical.
I want to be in a place so that when my friends have their own body-image issues, I can shower them with the same love I feel for myself. I want to be a positive role model for the little ladies in my life too who will undoubtedly face their own share of body-image issues. Most importantly, I need to stand beside all other women and reject that irrational, small box so that we can all feel beautiful about ourselves, with all of our sizes.
So, here’s my body, in a picture I struggled to post. One of 10 that I didn’t delete because I hated how I looked. I literally posted it with a sigh, having to tell myself that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought as they looked at that picture. I was just happy to be swimming in the ocean for the first time…
When I look at this photo I specifically see the shadow under my bellybutton, outlining the shape of my stomach. I think my midsection looks swollen and chubby. I can see the two lines where my skin rolls when I sit. I can’t help but feel gross when I look at it. I posted it despite these feelings because I know I have to get over it. Just this morning, I put on some pants for work and realized that sitting in them all day would certainly cut off my circulation. I changed into the strechiest jeans I own making myself a promise….to buy bigger jeans.