Saturday, May 3, 2008

Body Image

The stroll I've taken down memory lane the past several days has brought some old feelings to the surface. Looking through the old pictures to find a "before" shot was painful.

I've never enjoyed having my picture taken, especially when my weight was up. Of course, technically, my weight has always been "up", although there are degrees of obesity. I recognize that I look much better at 215 than I do at 270 ... at least on some level, that is.

However, there is a part of me that still sees the same girl as in my "before" picture when I look in the mirror. I have a boatload of problem areas that I am so not happy with -- my chin and neck, my upper arms, my stomach, my back, my butt, my chest, my upper legs -- the list goes on and on. When I look into the mirror, those areas are what I see. So it's hard.

Like many women, I can look at pictures of when I was right at 200 pounds (down 100 pounds from my heaviest) and think, you know, I looked pretty good. Of course, at the time, I was focusing on how much I still wanted to lose and those darn "problem areas". I didn't see the good when I looked in the mirror ... just the bad.

I do blame our culture for some of this. We continue to be a "thin is in" society, and fat people are one of the few groups of people who are regularly discriminated against with no or little consequence. I can remember having some anger when I lost quite a bit of weight and all of a sudden started getting attention from guys ... opening doors for me, talking to me, saying nice things to me when before they wouldn't have had the time of day. I was the same person and it made me so mad that they only saw the outside ... only cared about the outside.

But for me, I think the biggest source of my bad body image goes all the way back to when I was a little girl. Kids can be very, very cruel and I believe I bore more than my share of taunts and teasing. My parents didn't give me the affirmations that I needed ... that all little girls need. From a young child, I always felt like like there was definitely something wrong with me ... I was not like the other kids, and that was definitely not okay.

As an adult, I've been fortunate to have had counseling for a few different issues in my life, and some of it has centered around my relationship with food and my self-image as it relates to weight. I have learned a lot and I do feel better about myself than I used to. But it continues to be a struggle.

I think it would make such a difference in my life if I just felt like I was "okay" and not like there was some innate flaw in me. What would it feel like to be happy with myself as a person, happy with my appearance and with who I am and where I am? And ... why is that feeling so elusive?

Okay, I am ready to move on to other topics now! I'm not enjoying this...

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