What does it take to love your body?

As a girl growing up I was always the little sister to a taller, skinnier, smarter more extroverted sibling. She was often described as the tall good looking one, I on the other hand was the short cute one with the fat face.

Over the years there seemed many episodes where looks seemed to count for far more than they should. I grew into my looks and was considered quite attractive; this at times caused its own problems, creating feelings of competitiveness amongst peers. This competitiveness manifested in many of my “closest” friends celebrating every pimple, every bad haircut every gram of additional weight that I had.

I have always struggled with my weight, I am one of those people who only has to look at food to find it attached to my bum. As an adult I have swung between 45 kgs and 75 kgs, variously affected by pregnancies, stressful divorce, wonderful new romance and contentment. I have never been happy at any weight, at 45 kgs I was skin and bones, suddenly at age 30 needing to shop in the kids section again, at 75 kgs I was post baby, depressed and despairing over all the extra fat and those hideous stretch marks.

Over the years I have developed many ways of covering all the bits that I feel don’t measure up, I have found myself refusing to take part in activities such as swimming where I can’t hide behind fabric. As my weight fluctuates so does my interest in the bedroom, more kilos mean the lights have to get dimmer, despite my wonderful husband who loves each and every bit of me and does not understand my harsh personal criticism.

As I have passed 40 I have become even more critical of myself, suddenly age has descended and I have become faced with not being “attractive” but “attractive for my age”. Coping with losing your attractiveness and dealing with your mortality as you descend into mid life is not an easy combination.

I was recently told by a new doctor that I had unwittingly been on a mixture of medicines that had me at a far increased risk of stroke, and had been for nearly 5 years. It appears given my family history and my own ailments that it was somewhat miraculous that I had not had any adverse effects. This gave me great pause and somewhat of an epiphany.

Strangely what it has done has finally made me value my poor tired and imperfect but wonderful body. To think that given all the extra stress, even unwittingly, I have piled on it, it has kept going with barely a missed beat. Suddenly all the bumpy, saggy and lumpy bits do not seem so bad, nor important and I feel a wonderful feeling of release and freedom for the first time in my life.

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5 Comments

  1. Magenta

     /  March 17, 2012

    Why is it that the majority of women and girls are so insecure about our bodies and looks while men don’t seem to suffer from the same problem? How often do you see men with their belly hanging out over their waist bands and they don’t really even seem to care, but us girls find fault with every part of our bodies. Tuck shop arms, boobs too big or too small, hunky chunky hips and thighs our self criticism is like an Olympic sport! Somehow we need to learn to accept ourselves and celebrate the things about us which make us unique and beautiful, so that we can pass on a better self image to the young girls who follow in our footsteps.

    Reply
    • Triana

       /  March 17, 2012

      Magenta – I agree with your sentiment about the difference between men and women’s self criticism but i think it runs deeper then that. I believe that men go through the same process of self judgment but have been conditioned through socialisation to ‘not care’ or make it public knowledge. A man who makes it known to the world that he has body image issues is a man, we are told, who is weak and ‘girlie’. So while i agree that women are scrutinised far harsher then males, I have to suggest that we have been conditioned that way. From a young age we are taught to take up as little room as possible- look at the way we cross our legs when sitting. Until society says it is ok to be yourself and love your body for what it is we will have women criticising women.

      Reply
      • Magenta

         /  March 17, 2012

        Triana you raise some interesting points.

        I asked my husband why he thought men are not so critical and he said that for some reason men are just more relaxed about this area and not so stressed about it as women are and it is no problem for men when shopping just to go up a size, large, XL, XXL, XXXL etc.

        I wonder if it is as simple as clothing availability or whether women are conscious that if we are not young attractive and slim then we might not be able to either find or keep a man at our side?

        Reply
  2. Triana

     /  March 17, 2012

    Ah the big scary “F” word. Feminism. This blog makes me wonder how far we have actually come. Women like to think we have been liberated and somehow ‘freed’ from the chains of judgment and critique in regards to our bodies- but how true is this? Pick up a trash mag anywhere and I can almost guarantee if you flip through it there will be an article about a woman who has put on weight- that is if it’s not already on the front page! We all know what these articles and images do to our own self-esteem but yet these authors and editors are female. We are doing it to ourselves! We as women are surrounded by an almost panoramic view of advertisements telling us we are too fat, too old, too tired or stressed. Everywhere we look we are constantly aware of products that slim, hide and mould our bodies to ‘fit’ into an image of what the perfect woman should be.
    I wonder if the importance we put on our image actually matters in society today, or is it a simple matter of the attention we pay to it sustains its existence?

    Reply
  3. Yes indeed, we have turned criticising ourselves into an Olympic sport and it has become a self fulfilling prophecy. As women we are both the supply and demand in this equation, we fuel our unhappiness with ourselve every time we pick up one of those trashy mags, but the act of buying it also ensures the next edition will contain more of the same. At some point it must stop surely!

    Reply

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